Saturday, February 23, 2019

My Inexplicable and Unpredictable Daughter

D will turn 6 in a couple of weeks. She is like nothing I could have ever predicted when I imagined having a baby girl.

Things that make me wonder how in the world this little old-soul thinks the way she does:

a) She is wise beyond her age (yesterday she said to me, "I think if Ani and I were not around, mamma, you would have been crying all the time after your Appa and Mummy died". I could only blink at her)
b) She is super-observant (she told RK, "how come when you fake-laugh, you look down a bit?")
c) She remembers everything about everything (I have resorted to showing her any jewelry or silver or previous stuff in the house and where I keep them, because honestly, I don't remember this stuff but she not only does, she will also recall who gifted what to whom and when)
d) She is crazy, crazy, crazy about makeup and clothes and fashion. Recently she pulled out some cucumbers from the fridge, cut out big pieces, lay down on the bed with the cucumber pieces on her eyes since she saw someone getting a spa on TV. She loves painting her nails and lips, she is a menace with the eye liner and getting her to stop putting powder on is an hour-long ordeal. Ani is the only one who can get her to stop by telling her she looks like a clownish raccoon, whereupon she will first sob and then go scrub her face out (with anti-acne scrubbing soap only)
e) What she wants for her birthday: a cycle (expected), and an animal farm where she can take care of cows, cats, dogs and elephants (huh!)

How in the world did I, a fashion unconscious, not-particularly-perceptive, half-blind (literally and figuratively), utter nerd end up with a little girl like her?

She makes me question my worldview a thousand times. She makes me laugh even while she maddens me with her incessant questions, her story-telling, her insistence on being stylish and her whininess when she doesn't get her way.

She truly is a mystery. I hope, wherever my parents are, they keep a good eye out for her. I need her to be happy, healthy and utterly unpredictable always.

Wednesday, February 13, 2019


Tomorrow I turn 37. It will be my first birthday without my parents to wish me.
I've invited myself and the kids to a couple of aunts' places tomorrow- first to one of my aunt's, and then to one of RK's.

I wish there was a pill for heartache.

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Insomniacs, Inc

After a rousing discussion about work with the man, I was inspired to action and sent out a flurry of messages at 12:45am, not wanting to wait for the sun and fully expecting not to receive replies till later in the day  Much to my surprise, 3 out of 4 people replied within 15 minutes.

Huh. I've found my community of insomniacs.

Monday, February 4, 2019

General ineptness

Who makes government websites?

Bangalore, the city with the largest density of software engineers, has been touting its BBMP online services for years now.

You know what, BBMP? Half your websites don't work. Bloody hell, which of these fabled software engineers have you been using to create your dumbass websites?

Take the example of the Death Certificate online request form. I either have to take half a day to go in person to the office in Shivajinagar (by the way, I have to go to different offices for each parent... apparently the offices are ward specific and while requesting for a DC for one parent I cannot ask for the other one.... again, internet age? Hello? Isn't the whole effing point of putting things online so you don't have this nonsensical geographical restriction? Imagine if one of my parents had died in Whitefield... or Timbucktoo... I would have had to keep going there to pick up DCs every few months. Because you know what else? You can't order more than 5 at a time. Just shoot me somebody. Right now.)

So the online DC request: You enter your details... and you know while doing so, that there's going to be a problem because you cannot enter any spaces. So I have to type VarshaShridhar or my father's name without any spaces and hope to God that the thing figures out what has been entered.

Then, ok. You enter all the details and click submit. There's an interminable wheel that goes round and round and then abruptly stop... no loading of new page, no error message, nothing. So what is going on? God knows. The Page. Doesn't. Change. Ever.

The state run or the central govt websites are no better. In the GoI website, for example, you are supposed to somehow be born figuring out that a grant application website that doesn't open in Google Chrome might magically do so in Firefox. Many grant applications through BIRAC, for example, do not allow you to change the data in a form without resetting a bunch of other pages. So imagine you are putting in a budget for a grant. As you change your budget, all your milestones and timelines change as well. So instead of a change of a single line, you now have to spend the next 45 minutes retyping (or copy-pasting) the previous 4 pages of content.

Government guys, I know my company website isn't the greatest. But for all the flak it's gotten, at least it works. And I did on a near-zero budget. Tell me, how many crores of rupees of taxpayer money did you spend on these crappy websites?

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Another sign of aging

... yikes, two in a day. I really must be growing old.

So I had been singing As Long As You Love Me in a high off-key voice to entertain the kids and wanted to show them the actual video.

Aging is when you spend 15 minutes googling Background Boys and can't figure why even Google can't find the song you want.

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Signs of Aging

You know you are growing old when you go to bed an hour late and then can't keep your eyes open the next day .

Saturday, January 19, 2019

The Plastic Ban

You know, we had a big plastic ban in Blore a couple of years ago. People literally stopped using plastic bags to bag their stuff for a whole like, day, and then went right back to using plastic bags left, right and center soon afterwards.
But regardless of those thin white bags that are used for bagging things, it's actually all the other plastics that causes just as much, if not more, harm to the environment. Every plastic bottle of water, or bag of milk, yogurt, rice, lentils, biscuits (God, do you know biscuits use as many as 4 different types of plastics just for a single package! Ridiculous! I'm looking at you, Dark Magic and no, I really don't need individually wrapped and stacked-in-a-row biscuits.
So here's a thought experiment (because before I actually do it, I would like to think through every aspect of it: can I go one day in a wholly plastic-free manner?
I'll give myself 3 passes, where I have to shrug my shoulders and deal with reality.

Let's see... when I wake up and go to the bathroom... hmm, will have to replace the plastic toothbrush with maybe... a neem stick? Will have to find someone with a neem tree first. Can't use the toothpaste from a plastic toothpaste holder... so will have to depend on... hmm... do they still sell tooth powder in those little aluminium tins?
Hmm... cap looks plasticy. Probably can't use this one.

Will need to use this one instead....

Can't take a bath using water from a plastic bucket, no.. will need to replace that with a tin can or something. Crap! Can't actually crap because the commode's lid is plastic, the water chamber is plastic, the little toggle that releases the water is plastic... will need to fill water in the aluminum tin can and pour... which means I'll need two tin cans, one for bathing and one for the loo. If I were truly obsessive about the details, the water pipes through which the water comes is also plastic, but jeez, let's give myself a break here- my first pass.

Ok, then clothes on (good thing my cupboard is wood, not plastic. Will have to choose something with no plastic buttons, zips or hooks... Fortunately, most buttons, hooks etc on salwar kameezes are metal), then into the kitchen, where I would promptly stumble. Rice, lentils both come from plastic bags from the grocery store. How would I go about this? I would have to take steel boxes with me when going to a place like Spar and go to their loose grain sections and will have to weigh the boxes before and after filling it up. Veggies and fruits... much easier here. Plenty of loose veggies that I can imagine have never touched plastic (yes, there may be plastic in the soil where they grew or they may have been transported in large plastic bags, but this will be my second pass for myself).

Loose grains

Oh but you know what? They don't sell mustard, jeera, turmeric and other additives loose. They all come in plastic bags. What to do.... ok, salt from the sea directly (Where to get sea water in Bangalore!!) and turmeric from the plant root and for spice... no red chillies (they come in plastic bags too), would have to switch to green chillies sold loose in small carts outside the house. Oh and no tamarind either, unless I get the raw fruits. I could switch raw mangoes (from our own tree!) for tamarind maybe.
Oil: nope.... all those olden day shops where oil used to be stored in big metal containers are no longer around. I would have to make things oil-free (in that case, why bother with mustard etc?)

For clean water: Our Aquaguard water purifier container is plastic, so will have to boil water from the tap.
No milk, coz that's all from plastic packets. Will have to find cows (and I know where!) to get pure, unadulterated milk directly from the udder. Will have to make curds... but the culture for this will come from curds in a plastic packet. Darn it! Will have to strive really hard and long to make plastic-free ghee... do this whole thing for a month or two, collect the cream, beat it by hand (because the food processor is plastic) and then make ghee... err, I think I'll just have ghee-free food.

Amazingly, I just realized, the whole system for cooking using gas cylinder is plastic-free. Metal cylinder, rubber tubing and metal stove. Hurray! No need to wonder where to get kerosene from! Phew!

Can't use a knife to cut the veggies or fruits, will have to switch to the traditional aravamanai.

 Ok, I think I might be able to cook a decent meal, at least once in the day. Other times, if I'm hungry, I'll have to eat fruits. No coffee or tea, because they come wrapped in plastic.

Money: no cards... actually even the new notes (cash) have plastic in them these days. Only coins then... that too only Rs.1, 2, or 5 since nobody will take a Rs. 10 coin.
Phone and computer- nope, too much plastic, both for charging and for actually using. That itself might be the deal breaker... not sure if I could survive without these two, but then again, it's only for 1 day. So maybe yes.

How to get to work? Plastic seats on buses and autos... will have to go standing, either in bus or in the metro and walk.

How to write at work? Nobody makes metal pens anymore.... okay, shall use pencils. Can't sign anything important though.

It's a good thing I don't do any wet lab work anymore- nearly all laboratory ware is plastic.

So that would be my day. My third pass would be not worrying about how to get plastic-free with kids. They have plastic book wraps, plastic baskets and food carriers, plastic pencil pouches, plastic food containers and even plastic pencils!
Even thinking about it is enough to drive me a bit insane.

It's simultaneously depressing to realize just how much plastic we use on a day to day basis, surprising that there are alternatives and disconcerting to discover that even just 20-25 years ago, we were using these alternatives and it's only the past few years that we have completely switched over to such a wide use of plastics.