Tag Archives: let me drink my lunch in peace

Conscience Called

Sometimes other people’s honesty can have a profound impact on the way you perceive yourself, leading to introspection that can change your life forever. It doesn’t have to be a bang-and-whistles speech – it could be just a throwaway moment in ordinary conversation.

There is that story a professor of mine shared about attending her mother’s funeral, for example. The way she told it, she was sitting at the kitchen table with her aunt who said to her, “You know, you die the way you live.”

I forget the context in which this came up, but I remember other things – the fleeting, faraway look on my professor’s face; the dip in her voice as she said to us: “And I thought to myself, what a terrible thing – to die as you live. I wondered then what people would say of me and I hoped they would say I was kind.”

I don’t think anybody else was really paying attention. At least, I remember the topic changed pretty quickly thereafter. But it’s always stuck in my head, perhaps because I’d just emerged from a rather unhappy two years of deep unkindness that I had perpetrated and suffered in equal measure. That whole mess had ended mere months before that class, marked forever in my mind by the passing of a woman known to be unkind to those who loved her best and needed her most.

That day it all came together and knit itself into a lesson people had been trying to teach me for years to no avail – that a bit more thought and flexibility could do wonders for my personality. I knew how to apologize and mean it, but that day it occurred anew to me that nine times out of ten, life gives you ample opportunity to avoid creating situations that end in meaningful apologies.

It’s been ten years since that day. I’d like to think that I’ve changed and evolved since then, to what degree I’m not certain but enough that I’m satisfied not to be the same person I used to be. Or rather, I’m satisfied that everyday I try to be a better person than the one I know myself to be.

That itself is growth, I think.


Posted by on September 17, 2010 in Personal


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Running Away

You chose to run away.

Everyday you came back home and unpacked that invisible satchel. In that corner went the regrets, the other one was crowded with complaints. Scattered all around you were the remnants of your failures; the true monsters under the bed, waiting to surprise you unwary.

You said nothing. Everybody asked you where you’d been – how was the day – what did you do – who did you talk to and what about? They meant it kindly, unaware that you lived in a world all your own that they could never enter. “Nowhere,” you said. “It doesn’t matter,” you said. “Nothing,” you said.

All day you listened to other people talk. A smile for them, automatic and correct. A nod in agreement, handshake for goodbye, wave for hello, frown for concern, shrug to pass the buck. Questions to signify interest. Cloaks of invisibility are neither rare nor fantastic – you know them as quite ordinary gestures.

One day, you told yourself, you would leave all that behind. The secrets, the lies, the safe silences that left you unsure of your words when you finally let them form in your mouth. The questions, the codes, the stock answers that became transparent bricks of the wall around you.

Then why, now, do you feel abandoned this day? The chains have been cut, it is a liberation, you know. The ropes have been sawn through, you were set adrift, you feel.

A bird in the sky or a lion on the plains – neither; you are you. Solitary magnificence is for other creatures. Human beings live tethered. In yourself alone are you free.

Free to run.


Posted by on September 9, 2010 in Life


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The Shame of Young Adults

Video NSFW

Auntie: What are you reading?
Child Amrita: Gone with the Wind. Have you read it?
Auntie: What?!
Child Amrita: I don’t really understand all of it but I think it’s great! The drama is out of this world! I think I’m addicted to good trash for life now. In fact, I’m gonna get the movie now and watch it.
Auntie: Stop it immediately or you will lose your childish innocence too soon!
Child Amrita: *grumble* When I grow up, nobody’s gonna tell me what I can read or not.

Teacher: What are you reading?
Tween Amrita: The Giant Book of Murder. It’s great.
Teacher: What?!
Tween Amrita: Look, it has sections devoted to axe murderers, serial killers and poisoners. I’m totally going to mine this for information that I will cunningly introduce into my English school essays to blow my competition out of the water!
Teacher: Stop it immediately! Or you will grow up into a psychopath.
Tween Amrita: *grumble* When I grow up, nobody will tell me what I can read or not!

Friend: What are you reading?
Teen Amrita: The Wheel of Time. It’s great!
Friend: What?!
Teen Amrita: Yeah, I’m really into fantasy fiction! It’s like science fiction but better! There’s parallel universes and alternate realities and magic and strange creatures and –
Friend: Stop!
Teen Amrita: Why?
Friend: I dunno. It sounds stupid and I’ve never read any. Here, read Chicken Soup like everybody else.
Teen Amrita: *grumble* When I grow up, nobody’s gonna tell me what I can read or not.

Internet: What are you reading?
Present Day Amrita: Young Adult fiction. It’s great!
Internet: What?!
Present Day Amrita: Yeah, I was too busy reading regular adult stuff when I was kid but now I find that there’s a lot of YA fiction out there that’s really good. So now I’m catching up.
Internet: Stop! Or at least have some shame! You’re reading stuff meant for children.
Present Day Amrita: *grumble* When I grow up…

I didn’t even know I was supposed to feel inferior about it. Should I cover my copy of Mockingjay with brown paper the way some women who read sexy romances on the subway do? What about graphic novels? Are those cool? Or is everybody sneering at me for choosing to read a comic like a little baby?

If only I read less and monitored the reactions of random strangers to my choice of reading material more, I bet I’d have the answers to all these pressing questions.


Posted by on September 2, 2010 in Books, Personal


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Femina Dentata

Banno, not content with my posts about goobers and how much children suck, wants further proof that I’m constantly sinning against my gender.

Anything for a friend:

1. Phone. I remember the phone as an essential part of my teenage years, stuck to my ear as I ate, studied, watched TV, listened to music, or even went to sleep. I’d wake up in the morning and my dad would hand me the ringing phone along with my morning chocolate. I spent so much time on it, I developed code systems through which I could communicate when unfriendly ears were near. I was a living, breathing teenage cliche and my parents had the bills to prove it. No longer. These days I can’t wait to get off the damn thing. I hate everything about it – the sound of the ringing, the feel of the handset against my ear, how I can’t just hold up my end of the conversation through expressions alone… email me if you want better conversations.

2. Walk. I don’t walk, I stride. Charmingly, or so pervy men have said (thank you, pervy men!), but it’s definitely a stride. Walking with my mother is a test of patience because I’m always half a block away by the time she’s out of the car and then I have to wait for her to catch up while she asks me where the fire’s at. In my belly, Ma, where it’s always been.

3. Hunch. Another thing about my walk – I do it with my spine straight. Shoulders back, full height plus generous heels, eyes ahead. I’m not ashamed of myself nor am I sick, why the hell should I slouch and bend over like I have osteoporosis when I’m going about my business? I was once depressed about something and all hunched up on my way home when a homeless man passed me on the street and asked me to walk with pride. He might have been living out of a shopping cart but he knew what was important. I wish I’d thanked him but he strode away soon as he said it and left me gobsmacked on the sidewalk. So I’m just going to pay it forward and tell you to walk with your chin high.

4. Handshake. Okay, I don’t know how other women shake hands but every time I do it, I get these surprised looks from people like they were expecting to be handed a dead fish and found a human hand instead. And it’s usually men who give me those looks. Why are men so obsessed with handshakes anyway?

5. Love. Sorry, but I don’t play. No love letters, no gentle weeping at the thought of goodbye, no “our song”, no monthly anniversary, no dried flowers in poetry books. I tried when I was young and didn’t know I could say things like, “Dude, no offense but this makes me feel really stupid so I’m not going to do it.” I make up for it in other ways. Besides, men are much better at this sort of stuff, I find, and it’s a lot sweeter when they beat gender expectations and do it.

6. Cry. Obviously, I cry. Duh. Human beings do. But I don’t do it in public and never to manipulate. I’ve met men and women who do this (and sadly, most of them have been women) and I don’t like it. I have nothing against genuine expressions of grief but this is something else entirely.

7. Smile. “Smile less! No, no! Not like that! Try smiling with your lips closed then!” How many times have I heard that? And all it does is make me smile harder, longer and even more widely. Hee! I also laugh loud enough to make heads turn. In public. Sue me.

8. Funeral. I accompanied my grandmother’s body to the crematorium when she died. People gave me funny looks but I thought she deserved to have someone who loved her, remembered her as she used to be at her best, of her own blood, be there for her at the very end. My dad threw his arm around me and simply bundled me along when various old uncles looked as though they might protest. I think when I die, I’d like a woman from my family to be there when my body’s about to enter the fire. We spend so much of our lives surrounded by our sex, how is it fair that the last human touch we take with us is exclusively that of men?

9. Travel. I wish I could travel alone to all the places on my bucket list without worrying twice about my physical safety. Not all the self-defense classes and pepper spray in the world can give me the feeling of freedom that I imagine even the puniest of men must carry within himself.

10. Pee. Every woman who’s ever felt the need to relieve herself in a public toilet has wished that she too could pee standing up. No lie.


Sins Against Gender Stereotypes: open to men and women. What does your inner tutu/plaid shirt say?


Posted by on July 7, 2010 in Personal, Video


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I Hate Luv Storys: A Listicle

<i>I Hate Luv Storys</i>: A Listicle

Punit Malhotra’s directorial debut, the Karan Johar-produced I Hate Luv Storys is an inoffensive little romcom about the inevitability of the love bug. As my attention was unfortunately caught by quite another bug in the theater (see: previous post), I thought I wouldn’t review it.  I didn’t have much to say anyway:

Jai (Imran Khan) is too cool for his name and the romantic Bollywood fare he helps produce, so he calls himself Jay and displays horrible work ethics. Apparently, the job for which he ran away from home isn’t worth putting in his 100% unless it also satisfies his intellectual snob quotient. Expect producers to beat his door down with offers in 3…2…1…

Simran (Sonam Kapoor) is that annoying girly girl whose bedroom is dedicated to her neighborhood Archies Gallery and she’s super into romantic Bollywood fare, which is convenient because she’s the art director for a collection of cliches movie called Pyar Pyar Pyar. (This is supposed to be a satire and it is – the laziest one in the history of them, basically a string of outrageously romantic scenes from various movies cobbled together verbatim so we can laugh on cue i.e. when Jay rolls his eyes.) She’s also Jay’s boss and his instant crush.

If you don’t know where this movie is going by now, you should get your noodle checked coz it’s turned into soup. It’s a frothy little number that rests on the chemistry between the lead pair who’re perfectly charming together even if their tendency is to fizzle rather than sizzle.

Whatever. It’s… pleasant? I dunno. I have a cold. Don’t bother me.


But here’re a few notes I made about people and their motivations that might be of use to you, young lovers, as you go about your modern dating ways.  It’s too late for Jay and Simran but it might still save you from years of passive aggressive dating. It is presented in the form of The Holy Listicle, the only way to understand anything in these modern times.

1. When someone is nice to you, it does not automatically follow that they are in love with you. It could be that they’re just being nice. But how can you tell? Some helpful clues:

  • He tells you he doesn’t believe in love
  • He makes horrified faces when you ask him if he’s changed his mind about that little detail
  • He is dating other women
  • He gives you romantic advice
  • You are his boss
  • You have previously shot him down when he tried to flirt and then fucked him over in front of his employer so he got the message loud and clear
  • You already have a fiance and he knows that

2. Your boyfriend is not a mind reader. If you want something different or he’s doing something wrong – Tell. Him. Yes, you too can use language for something besides gossip and tall tales. I believe you have the power!

3. Do not date co-workers. It is a path to misery.

4. If you want “magic”, I hear David Copperfield is single.

5. Judge a man by the way he treats his mom. A fucking man-child who won’t pick up the phone when his perfectly nice mother calls to check whether he’s alive is not pinging my radar as a good candidate for a successful relationship.

6. Judge a woman by her previous actions. Did she proposition you while keeping Ol’ Second Fiddle on standby? Cheater, cheater, pumpkin eater! ABORT MISSION.

7. Step One of settling down with a man stupid enough to have one night stands in this day and age: ask for a medical check up. Romantic? No. Smart? Hell, yeah!

8. The correct response to a girl who tells you that she’s been pretending all along to be the person you like is not to then promise her that you’re sure you’ll love the real her. Because the real her is crazy and the reason she’s been pretending in the first place is because she knows you won’t like the real her. Put on your track shoes, brother, because the time has come to run for your life.

9. Take a happy ending where you get it. Simran didn’t and look what happened: we had to sit through another hour of pointless plotting.


Posted by on July 4, 2010 in Entertainment, Movies, Review, Video


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I Get It: He’s Gay.

It’s one thing to make jokes about the bromance going overboard, wish two actors of the same gender would make out, or call out the leads for packing zero chemistry. But when your entire response to a movie is to mention that you think XYZ actor is in the closet, you’re just an idiot. I have decided.

This whole phenomenon of people showing up on various movie threads to hit “GAY!” and run really didn’t bother me that much until Knight and Day released last week. That’s when it reached critical mass and crossed the line from “Trapped in the Closet was one of the funniest South Park epis ever!” to “fuck you! I get it! y’all think he’s gay!”

I can’t believe I’m sticking up for Tom Cruise, an actor who left me cold even when he was a bonafide superstar setting panties afire but the point needs to be made – No, he does not reek of toxic gay in the poster, the trailer or the movie itself. It’s not the best damn movie ever made nor is it a vortex of extreme suckage but whatever problems the movie has, the preferred gender of its lead male actor’s schtupping partner is not one of them.

The list of male Hollywood actors who’re Maybe Gaybes is a mile long (as certified by some anonymous person’s Aunt Besty who has a best friend who lives right next to the actor’s housekeeper’s best friend’s son’s ex-girlfriend who told her the information under the strictest confidence) and it’s become a way of gauging heat – you knew Jeremy Renner had arrived not from his Oscar nomination but by his gay rumor. Cruise is at the very top of this list, a position he has maintained ever since he oversold his romance with Katie Holmes while simultaneously becoming the front man for Scientology.

Whatever the truth of those rumors and no matter how much he pings your gaydar, let’s get this straight: Tom Cruise is not less of a superstar because he is a closeted gay man. Closeted gay men are, in fact, very good at being superstars. He is less of a superstar because he let the mask of cool slip for one disastrous moment back in 2005 on the one show that his base of female fans would never miss and once that went viral, he could never find the way back.

You think you’re being funny or sticking it to him when you leave the mandatory “GAY!” comment to every single post mentioning his name, but all you’re really doing is fortifying a very ugly argument engineered to keep actors in the closet i.e. that gay men can’t act straight.The subtext is very clear: look, even a star as big as Tom Cruise can’t make it work and he never even came out of the closet!

You really want to call him out on his closeted status because you hate hypocrisy or want to protest his church’s stand on homosexuality or simply find it funny? Just give him time. He’ll provide you with opportunities aplenty. From what I can tell, Nicole Kidman took the location of the top secret OFF switch on his 24×7 performance machine as part of the divorce settlement. He’s bound to walk down the street holding his wife’s hand like he’s never held a woman’s hand before in his life or talk about the perfection of David Beckham’s body or how Will Smith is such a special friend.

Just stop making me feel sorry for him.


Posted by on June 28, 2010 in Celebrity, Entertainment


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Saying No

Saying No

Is it really that terrible not to want kids?

The earliest I remember someone saying as much to me was when my then BFF told me her cousin, who was the same age as us (maybe 11 at the time?), didn’t want kids because she wasn’t looking forward to experiencing labor.

“Have you ever heard anything more selfish?” she seethed with the intense outrage of someone yet to get her period. “What a shallow reason not to want kids. Because she doesn’t want the pain!”

I maintained a discreet silence. I hadn’t really considered the issue before but my friend seemed to have such a strong opinion on the matter, I felt I might have been derelict in my duties as a ponderous 11-year-old not to have given serious thought to the idea of procreation before this unhappy day. Worse, as I listened to her rail, I began to feel the stirrings of sympathy for the cousin – a long stretch of intense medical upheaval lay just a couple of years behind me and as I remembered all those hours of getting needles stuck in me and blood sucked out of me… I thought maybe she had a point.

I had started menstruating very early, a side effect of those medical issues I’d experienced, and once a month I found myself in bed, curled up in the fetal position around a hot water bottle, dosed on strong painkillers, as my uterus prepared itself for a baby that wasn’t going to come for a very long time, if ever. Childbirth was not endearing itself to me.

The next time somebody mentioned getting pregnant, I was 14 and it was my mother and she was expressing just how unhappy she’d be if I ended up “in a situation”. Halfway through this latest experiment in good parenting, even she realized the absurdity of telling a child under constant surveillance and a 6 p.m. curfew (more importantly, braces and thick spectacles) to practice abstinence. It’s not like I had a choice, much less the opportunity.

So not only did getting pregnant promise to end unhappily for the most sensitive part of your body, but there were conditions attached to it actually being a “happy event”. Timing was everything. Post-wedding ring, everything was roses. Put it pre-wedding ring and it might well end up on the evening news: Grisly Murder of Skank Teen, details at nine!

Then there was the old lady I met on the street who was rabidly pro-life and wanted to know how I’d feel if I found out my mother had planned to abort me. Answer: I’d be fine with it because it’s not like she wanted to abort me after I was born and she had a chance to know me. Now that would have hurt my feelings. Not to mention, the man who didn’t want kids but was only ever attracted to women who wanted kids because he felt it expressed something positive about their personality.

I don’t want kids,” I said.

“You think you don’t want kids,” he told me. “When you meet the right person, you’ll feel differently.”

The certainty in his voice ought to have bugged me but in a way, I couldn’t fault him. I’m single and when I think about having a child, the potential father figure is very much a shadow person. I hope he’ll be a good human being, of course, but the only reality in this fantasy scenario is myself. And I, personally, feel no compulsion whatsover to procreate.

I see women say all the time, “I want a child”. I do not. I don’t want to leave a little me behind in this world, I don’t want to clone myself, I don’t want to experience “the unconditional love” of a child (which, and here’s my turn to be judgmental, has to be the most selfish reason I’ve ever heard to bring another human being into this world, second only to “When my baby cries, I hear my rich baby daddy go ka-ching! ka-ching! ka-ching!“), I don’t want to leave a little mark on the genetic map of the world to announce I was here for a quick minute.

The only reason – I think – I would want a child is if I met someone so utterly fabulous and so very dear to me, that I might want our child. Perhaps that is what these women mean when they say “I want a child”. I don’t know. All I know is that it doesn’t sound like that a lot of times. And that’s fine. The best part about being a woman and wanting a child, especially in this day and age, in many parts of the world, is that this is a very real option for you. You can have a child.

I think it’s much harder to say you don’t want a child. It invites roughly the same reaction as confessing to some sort of deviance.

“You like to wear diapers when you have sex?”
“You garden in the buff?”
“You voted for Sarah Palin?”
“You think 9/11 was an inside job?”
“You don’t think Obama is a Manchurian Candidate?”
“You don’t want kids?”

The judgment is immediate and universal: what is wrong with you as a person that makes you dislike kids? First of all, I don’t see what’s wrong with not liking kids. Some people feel uncomfortable around them or are just not interested. It’s like there are cat people and dog people. But sometimes it’s not a matter of dislike. I love to cuddle babies and I like kids, especially when they’re not screaming, throwing up, sassing me or asking me to do things like play with them (basically, what I really like are very short adults). I’m very fond of quite a few, some of whom I’ve only ever seen growing up on the internet, and honestly enjoy their antics. That does not mean I want any of them. You’ll never find me on the news as a child-hungry supermarket kidnapper.

Of course, I’m Indian and single. Nobody asks me any of these questions because… well, I’m Indian and single. All the aunties are too obsessed with my approaching spinsterhood to much wonder about my thoughts on childbirth. So all I have to do, is not get married until I find someone I want to have kids with.

Done! :mrgreen:

[Image via]


Posted by on May 19, 2010 in Desipundit, Life, Personal, Video


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