Knock Knock

Erm….so it’s been a little less than two years since I blogged. The last post I wrote was in June 2014! While my blogging has always been erratic, this is the longest that I have gone without a post, since I first started blogging in 2014. I couldn’t even be bothered to do a post to mark 10 years of blogging. Sigh!

The thing is…..the words seem to have dried up. I started blogging when I was going through a rough time; and writing about it felt cathartic. At that time, I didn’t even want readers, I was writing for myself. After that, the blog slowly evolved into something of a journal, with no particular theme. And then, in 2014, that stopped too. I just couldn’t bring myself to write. I might occasionally think “ah, this would make for an interesting post”; but I was too lazy and too disinterested, to put in the effort required to write a post.

The sensible thing to do, at this point, is to write a farewell post with thanks for all the fish. And I’m a sensible girl. But there’s something in me that doesn’t want to give up. I don’t want to say goodbye yet. So here I am! Giving this yet another go. Wish me luck!

Summer from Hell

The past one week has been the hottest I have had the misfortune to experience. I tried mentally preparing myself for it even before arriving in the city, but nothing can prepare one for this hell. It’s an intense, unrelenting heat that kills your appetite, your enthusiasm, and eventually your will to live. Just standing outdoors is enough to drain all of one’s energy, because there is nothing but hot air that stings and bites and makes you feel like your skin will be set on fire. It’s like being trapped in a giant oven, and there is no way of escape.

And everything is just so relentlessly hot. If I forget to fill up the bucket the previous night, I might as well give up on a shower because the water will sear my skin. And even the shampoo and the face wash and fucking everything gets hot. Despite having the air-conditioner on all day long, the mattress seems to send off hot air, and the blankets feel uncomfortably warm.

Of course, my appetite is just about dead. I survive on an unhealthy liquid diet comprising of juices, cold coffees, and milk shakes. An occasional sandwich – or other varieties of non-hot food as and when they present themselves – are the rare solid food I care to consume. And ice-creams, of course! I’ll go so far as to say that my daily ice-cream is the only thing that is sustaining me through this heat.

The worst of it was the constant cold-hot-cold conundrum. The air-conditioner in the office is conked up to replicate arctic conditions. And then when I step out of the office, it’s like being in the middle of the desert. And then I go home and turn on the air-con again. And my poor body is simply unable to figure out how to adjust to the constantly changing temperature conditions. So I end up with intense headaches, fatigue, fever, hot and cold flashes. And I dream of mild and pleasant summers in a far away land.

Just when I thought I had reached the end of my tether, it rained yesterday. Even as I was typing out this post, I could see clouds gathering, but did not dare hope. By early afternoon, the rain had started in right earnest, and continued intermittently through the rest of the day, brining much needed relief to the parched and suffering city.

I was delighted that I didn’t have to go back after work and hole up in my room for the rest of the evening. I could actually step outside my four walls and enjoy the fresh air. Ah joy! My friend AG was in town for the day so we went out to Hauz Khas Village and sat outdoors to savour the lovely breeze, and had a great evening.

It’s warm again today, but it’s a bearable heat, and after the last week, I am going to count every single blessing the weather gods send my way. I know this is just a little breather before we are pitched into the summer from hell once again. But this was the break I desperately needed, and am truly grateful for it.

I’m going to leave you with this view from my window in the morning today. The tree has pretty much shed all its leaves but it’s still a nice view to wake up to, especially on a pleasant morning like this.

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How to Park in Delhi

The parking situation in this city has been driving us nuts. So much so that we’ve stopped visiting a rather nice coffee shop at the market close to our place because of the parking madness. Since I was in danger of going on a full blown rant, I thought I’d leave you with pictures instead.

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But Delhi is certainly not ‘most places’. Oh, no sir!

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But wait, that’s not enough. This is after all the land of the rich and the powerful.

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The worst part is that if you naively insist on doing the right thing, you’ll get screwed.

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And that, ladies and gentlemen, is how to park in Delhi.

 

New Wine in an Old Bottle

The much awaited election results are out! And what a roller coaster of emotions they’ve brought on!

At the local level, I am grateful and relieved that Y S Vijaya has not been elected to represent my constituency in the Parliament. Going by her track record, she would have doubtless seized every spare inch of land in the city, and introduced political goons to a hitherto peaceful and calm place. I had resigned myself to her win, so to see that she had lost by a margin of over 100,000 votes was a wonderful and welcome surprise.

At the state level, I am excited and optimistic about having Chandra Babu Naidu as the Chief Minister of the residuary state of Andhra Pradesh. This state comes with a debt of over Rs.10, 000 crores. A new capital needs to be built in the next ten years – and that doesn’t just mean physical building but also institutions, systems and processes. I believe that CBN is well-suited for the job of setting this new state on a path of growth and development. Of all the candidates in the fray, he was the only one with a clear vision of the way forward for the state, addressing the needs and challenges of different regions.

At the national level, I am thrilled with the way voters have decisively voted out the Congress. This is a clear message that we will no longer be taken for a ride. Galloping inflation, institutionalized corruption, stagnating economic growth, policy paralysis and a welfare state on dole – there are many reasons to justify the intense public anger against the party, and the people gave voice to this anger through the vote. This, this, is how democracy works! I do hope this is the beginning of the end of dynasty politics in this country.

I am still hopeful that this is not the end of the road for the AAP. Yes, they have made some major mistakes this year. Their biggest mistake was to give up the government in Delhi – when it’s people voted for the AAP. Their second mistake was to context from 400+ seats. This did not make any strategic sense because their limited financial and organizational resources were stretched and none of the candidates received adequate support during the campaign. To make things worse, Kejriwal decided to contest from Varanasi, so even the limited resources were mostly diverted to him, leaving the other candidates in the lurch.

Despite these mistakes, I believe that the AAP is honest, well-intentioned, and even revolutionary. They have changed the way political discourse is conducted. Hopefully, the party will introspect and learn from their mistakes and build organizational strength in the next five years. To me, they symbolize a viable option for a thriving multi-party democracy.

I look to our new Prime Minister with both hope and trepidation. I don’t expect miracles from him. I am reasonably confident that he will introduce good governance and economic growth into the system. And these are much needed. But they are NOT enough. We need an increased focus on social development – access to quality healthcare, affordable higher education, protection of and support to vulnerable groups, creation of safety nets for the poorest of the poor – and these are the areas where I worry he will not pay attention.

We need strong safeguards for our personal freedoms. And even more so for vulnerable groups. My worst fear is that religious fanatics may take this decisive win not as a vote for growth but as a vote for their own version of Hindutva. Modi can, and should, control these elements. He’s intelligent and politcally savvy – and it’s clear that he wants more than just five years as the PM, so I hope his political ambition enables him to keep these fanatical elements in control.I hope my fears are unfounded. And I hope that this man that so many millions have reposed their faith in will pay them back by delivering on all these counts.

Meanwhile, I will leave you with this wonderful piece by someone who expresses my own feelings more eloquently than I even can.

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Happy Fridays

Have you heard ‘Happy’ by Pharrell Williams? It’s one of the most infectious, fun, happy songs ever.

So infectious, in fact, that cities across the world have been shooting ‘happy videos’ for this song. So about six weeks ago, a friend shared the happy video for Bangalore on Facebook. And I was so taken by the idea that I spent the whole Saturday looking at happy videos from across the world. I shared some of the videos with a friend from Vizag, saying ‘we should do this for Vizag’.

Now, that would have been the end of that. Except that I tore an ankle ligament and ended up with a badass cast for about three weeks. This happened exactly at the beginning of my three week vacation – during which time I was supposed to go trekking in Nepal – so all travel plans were cancelled and I found myself sitting at home in Vizag with nothing to do all day. That’s when the idea of a happy video for Vizag began to really take shape.

Some seven of us got together one Friday evening to discuss it, spent the next day planning, and started shooting from Sunday morning. We managed to get over 35 people to take part in the video, which we shot in just four days. We spent another week editing the video before finally uploading it on YouTube.

It’s been just a little under two weeks since we uploaded the video, and we’re close to a 100,000 views already! We’ve been featured in three local newspapers and one magazine. We’ve been approached by commercial establishments offering to sponsor the video! And we’ve received overwhelmingly warm and positive responses for the video from people across the world. Nike, who directed the video, is so inspired by the response that he is now working on a short film that he wants to do next.

So all I really wanted to say in this post is: go watch our video, right now! And I promise it’s going to make you happy.

Hello Again

Alright, I know I just disappeared for the last year and a half without so much as a by your leave. It’s the longest I’ve gone without blogging. And I don’t really have any valid excuses for the disappearance. Except that I just couldn’t bring myself to put pen to paper…..or finger to keypad.

And while I do have a draft explaining all that I’ve been upto in the last year and a half, you don’t want to read it. I mean, even *I* don’t want to read it. So this post, it’s just going to be about the here and now and it’s going to be all positive and sunny.

Two weeks ago, I joined my dream organization. My aunt tells me that I wanted to work here right from my undergraduate days. I don’t remember that, but this has been my dream organization for the last many years, so I am indeed very excited to be here. Every time I look at my ID card, I feel a thrill of excitement. Every morning when I come into office and see the organization logo, I can’t help but grin. I am also *this* close to sending emails to myself, just so I can see my own official email address in my inbox, but have thankfully resisted so far!

Now this is all well and good, but I am not really a full-time employee here, but only a consultant on a contract for a few months. But that’s enough for me for now – I atleast have a foot in the door –and hopefully this will eventually lead to even bigger and better things. So yes, after a string of disappointments over the last one year, I’m finally at a very happy place.

I’ve also moved to Delhi two weeks ago, to take up this new job. I was ambivalent about moving to Delhi – and the husband was downright unhappy about it – but it’s been lovely so far. We stay in a little house (little being the operative word here) in one of the loveliest areas in South Delhi. The windows look out on to the park behind the house. There’s nothing nicer than sitting down with a book in the living room couch, while looking out on to that view. Or waking up to see a lush and rain soaked park from the bedroom window.

When we step out of the main gate, we find ourselves in front of a 13th century pillar built during the time of Alauddin Khilji. And a few more steps lead us to the park behind our house, which houses a 17th century building from the Tuqhlaq dynasty. It’s incredible to be living in the midst of so much history! A little further is *yet* another park, this one equipped with a jogging/walking track, and sellers of fresh fruits and flowers lined along its walls. There are atleast four parks within a 50 metre radius of my house! I wanted to post pictures but I dropped my phone and cracked it, and now it needs to be repaired before I can use it *sob*

The weather is still rather nice. The city may have bid goodbye to spring, but summer is yet to arrive; so it’s actually very pleasant right now, and we’re trying to make the most of what’s probably the last of the good weather before summer bears down on us. I’m usually home by 6pm so there’s enough light to still go for a stroll in the park and enjoy the mild breeze.

We’re off to Rishikesh for the long weekend. We set out early on Friday morning, and will return by Sunday evening. We will be staying at resort owned by a friend – it looks lovely in the pictures and has been getting very good reviews, so I am quite looking forward to staying there. Nike plans to go white water rafting. I wish I could join him, but I injured my ankle a month ago and have been advised against physical activities for the next one month, so I’m going to resign myself to playing cheerleader. For my part, I’ll be carrying along a few books and doing the three things I’m best at – reading, eating and sleeping.

Have a good weekend. And while I make no promises, I hope to see you on the other side of the week!