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Internet Comment Wars and Me

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I’ve had a lot of the internet over the past few days. I actually started doing what I usually refrain from; I wrote posts about a current issue that I feel strongly about and expressed my opinion. I used to keep out of current issues for various reasons and refrained from posting my opinions about everything because I wasn’t good at handling this phenomenon called ‘comment wars’. 


Like the husband puts it, I have a low tolerance threshold for stupid. But I’m not good at sitting back and letting life pass me by. I’m a writer and I think; I like to express my thoughts too. So I tried to work my way towards being able to express my opinion without getting labeled or becoming shuttered to alternative opinions or just downright frustrated at all the nonesense that people sit and type when in the middle of one of these ‘comment wars’. I figured I couldn’t control what others did. Maybe I could put down some guidelines for myself? Make me a better netizen? So I did. And I think, in the last week, I’ve handled the internet better than I would ever have thought! I’ve narrowed down my learnings over the past year into ten points that I think some may find useful… briefly sharing them below: 

1. Think… never stop thinking. It is the one thing that sets you apart from others; your thoughts. Always process information and think before acting on anything immediately. 

2. Read. Explore. When you learn something new, find out more about it. Reserve judgment for later; just absorb the knowledge first. Find as much info as you can and look for information on both sides of an issue. Don’t get stuck on one side when it comes to information. 
3. When you have all the information, use it and your thoughts to make an informed opinion. Not because you have to declare your loyalties on social media (which seems to be the trend) but because you need to know where you stand. 
4. Be firm about your stand but not rigid; allow space for other points of view and more information. Sometimes, new information may indicate that your stand isn’t correct; be willing to adjust your stand as the new information necessitates. 
5. Invite debates and airing of thoughts contrary to your own. Disallowing an opinion that doesn’t match with yours is the sign of a fanatic; don’t be one. Hear what the other has to say and patiently, respond to information with information. Try to make a point. Trading aggression and abuse only makes for a fight, not a constructive debate. The best way to make a point or convincing the opponent of your stand is not by trading insults. It is by trading information. Refrain from ‘branding’ people who oppose you. 
6. Agree to disagree. Like you should never stop thinking, so shouldn’t others. And different people have different thought processes. Agree to disagree instead of labelling each other as brutes or hypocrites… you don’t have to have the same point of view on everything with everyone. Keep the peace even when you disagree on opinions. You may disagree strongly but you can still walk away from a debate without making it a fight. 

7. Accept a mistake when you make one. There’s no shame in making a mistake other than hiding it. Accept, apologies and move on. It makes you more responsible and thus, respectable. Also, be graceful when someone accepts their mistake too. Don’t rub it in, don’t lord it over them; make it a safe environment for someone to admit that they may have been wrong; it makes people less defensive and more open to what you have to say. 

8. Be fair. We live in a democracy. If you are a part of the majority opinion, you don’t need to lord it over the others; they were entitled to their opposing opinion. If you are a part of the minority opinion, don’t necessarily support the opposite of what you believe in. But be a sport; don’t become a roadblock either. Be fair. If you’d have been the majority, you would have expected support too. 

9. Be responsible. Everything you say, share etc is your responsibility. Did you check its authenticity? Make sure you are not pushing an agenda with unconfirmed data. Rumour mongering, panic spreading etc are signs of a sour looser not a thinker… decide what you want to be. 

10. Be peaceful. At all times, with everything. A calm, peaceful mind makes better decisions than an agitated one. It helps you use good words to make your point without taking recourse to bad language and insults. It lets you see the whole picture without being biased. It brings you solutions when in the most dire of circumstances. So keep a peaceful mind. Even when debating your point, be calm. Keep an open mind; accept an argument if it makes sense instead of dismissing it out of hand because it is contradicts your opinion. But be peaceful. 

I know these things look like they are easier said than done but they are not. If you read my comments on anything, you’ll know I do them. I learnt the hard way that this is the only way to deal with the internet because otherwise, I was prone to flinging my phone, hurling abuses and generally gripped with the desire to slap someone. Now I only learn. I try to help resolve ‘comment wars’ where I can. But where I can, I learn and I try to spread any ideas or thoughts of mine that I think are worth spreading. As peacefully as I can. And I’ve learnt that people are more conducive to hearing me out and even agreeing with me when I don’t use an accusatory, condescending tone of voice in my writing. 

Of course, needless to say, these pointers don’t apply in a hundred percent of cases. You find a whack job trying to justify objectification of women or rape or something, you abuse away please. These pointers are only for non stupid topics that actually do have two sides. 
#EndRant

Marriage Changes Everything

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When we were courting, my husband and I were widely known as that annoying, lovey dovey couple. We held hands, and gave each other nonsense names which made people roll their eyes. Yes, we were exactly the sort of couple that would have made you either want to leave the room or throw up a little in your mouth. And if I begin counting the number of people who said, ‘Enjoy now while it lasts. Marriage will change everything’, I’d need a number roughly the size of a small country’s population.

They were right.

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Photo Credit: Meraki Pictures

All those people who said that things will change after marriage, were absolutely correct. Things changed. A lot! It’s been a year and a half since we got married. The excitement of living in our own house, free to do whatever we wanted, lasted a while. But then things changed. Being freelancers, we spent most days working at home, in each other’s company, thus no stories to swap at coffee shops every evening. He no longer won my heart by insisting to drop me home every night before heading his way. In fact, now he often asks me to take a cab to work if I have to step out for a meeting. We are done telling each other about all our hopes and dreams and stories of our exes… Now, we spend hours discussing our finances and debating pros and cons of buying something expensive. On days when we don’t have work, he watches videos on his iPad while I read books or cook or something. Candle lit dinners in fancy places have now been relegated to one, probably two times a month, maximum. They were right. Things changed. A lot!

But they were wrong about one thing. We are still enjoying it!

People said the romance goes away after a while. Well, I think the romance doesn’t really go if you don’t want it to. It will change however… Back then, we had special dates and grand gestures. Now, we spend hours trying to bully our bank accounts into agreeing with our demands. We don’t go on dinner dates to expensive places like we did and we don’t do a lot of those romancy things as regularly as before. That part has changed. Not because the romance is gone, but because we don’t need those things to feel the love! Our love has changed. It was hot, fast and exciting back then. Now it is warm, fuzzy and comfortable.

We have days filled with nothing but lazy sunshine and food. We have days of fighting and arguments. But we no longer have to play guessing games about what the other person is thinking/feeling because we know each other so well… I feel loved when he takes one look at my face and knows that it’s ice-cream time.He loves that I always know exactly when he is going to get hungry and have something ready for him to munch on. We stay up entire nights reading books to each other or solving massive jigsaw puzzles. We have long drives and disagreements in equal proportions but through all that, we are certain of one thing; the love is always there.

Someday in the years to come, when we have kids and college tuition to worry about, people may smirk and say, ‘See? Told you, marriage changes everything’. They may be right. By then, our love may change some more. We may stop reading books to each other and having tickling matches. We may stop holding hands all the time and calling each other nauseatingly sweet names.We may move on from solve jigsaw puzzles to brushing up on our math for our kids. But even then, the love will be there. I am sure of that.

And when we are old, we may spend hour long phone calls with our kids, complaining about each other. We may not go out for dinner for months on end. We may fight like little children over stupid things. But even then, the love will be there. You know how I know that? Because I won’t let it go. I know that he won’t either. I think that even when we are an inch from heaven’s doors, I’ll know when he is about to get hungry and he’ll know when I want ice-cream. I will still bite his shoulder with my toothless gums when I see a cute puppy and he will still make up silly songs for me when I have a bad day.

Because we choose to find romance in the mundane everyday things. We make a conscious choice to keep the love alive everyday. We don’t plaster our social media accounts with endless selfies. (no offense to those who do!)  Our ideal is not that hot sexy couple, very obviously in love. Our ideal is that old couple who sits on the park bench, watching the sun go down in silence. And I think that kind of love lasts a lifetime. It won’t be the same as before but it will be there. Everything will change… but inside, it will still be the same.

 

The Yucky Glob In The Kitchen Sink

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Growing up, our mom insisted on us helping in the kitchen. Simple stuff.. Setting the table, cleaning up after dinner etc. There was one thing however, that I could never really do without making faces… Cleaning the kitchen sink.

Most of the time, it would be mom who’d take care of that and as I watched her do it, I often wondered… How did she do that?? She’d reach into the sink, scrub it clean and then (the worst part) stick her fingers into the drain and pull out that.. Glob! I mean, it looked like cleaning out Satan’s bellybutton! 

  

I would shudder just looking at her doing it and wonder how she did it? Just like that… Effortlessly… No signs of revulsion or indication of wanting to throw up… Just a dip of the hand, a few swishes and done!  I was certain that I would never be able to do that! 

I was wrong. I just cleaned out my kitchen sink. It’s been over a week since we moved into the new house and things are still finding their places around here. Since the husband and I have decided to see if we can manage without a maid, we were cleaning the kitchen for the night. While he took care of all the general cleanup, I got busy with the dishes. 

The good thing about having him around when I’m cleaning is that not only does the work get divided by two,  the conversation makes it feel less dreary. So we chatted and before I knew it, the dishes were done, the kitchen was sparkling clean and I was reaching into the sink to pull out the glob. I’ve done it several times in this past year but yesterday, I actually looked at that yucky thing… And smiled.. 

I suddenly remembered standing next to mom, making faces as she did this.. And here I was, doing what she did. I’d found the trick. It had nothing to do with growing up or getting less eeked out by things. It was about being happy. There we were, two adult-outside-child-inside people, cleaning our kitchen. 

OUR kitchen. 

That’s the key. The magical word. When it becomes ‘ours’ the glob in the sink becomes just another thing to take care of. As a kid, I would have let that glob be where it was. As far as I was concerned, it could have taken permanent residence right there in the sink. But now, this was our kitchen; where I made food for us everyday. Where he spends hours chatting with me about life, decisions, morals and soap bubbles. This is the warm gooey centre of our home. And that yucky glob had to business being there… So I took it out! 

Simple as that, yet it took me all these years and being married to learn that. Strange how life works out… And how a glob in my sink can remind me how much I’ve grown up… 

New House: Week 1

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It’s been ages since I last posted. It’s not because I have nothing to say… It’s because I make up these posts in my head but never have the time to post! So I’ve decided to make small posts as and when I get the time and work on the bigger ones too and post them at intervals. Nice plan, no? Let’s see how that works. 

Anyway, it’s been over a year since we got married. Last week, we had to shift because the lease on that flat ran out. We could have renewed it but the building was going down for reconstruction so we found ourselves a new place. In a matter of days, my home was packed into boxes and sacks and here we are, starting it all over again. 

I’m not gonna lie to you; it was painful, leaving that house… It was the first place we called home. I guess this will happen a few more times before we finally get a place of our own and never have to move again. 

So now it is the two of us, a dog, and a whole room of boxes to unpack and settle. I’m obviously starting with the kitchen because I’ll be restless till I don’t have that sorted out. 

I’ve also got a bunch of diy’s that I’d like to try out once everything is in place. I’ll share pictures when I get to those. In the meanwhile, check out these boxes and feel my pain!  

 

5 Secrets To An Effecient Kitchen

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Fun Fact: A single, basic domestic kitchen can give you nightmares… not figuratively… literally! I mean, waking-up-in-the-middle-of-the-night, cold sweats kinds nightmares. I just had a week’s worth of those. I’d wake up sweating profusely, my already troubled sleep completely shattered by images of my kitchen on fire, or all my utensils turning to sand, or opening the fridge to find it filled with foot long maggots… yeah.. Kitchens can cause nightmares.

And like all dreams/nightmares, these had a root in reality and I didn’t need a shrink to tell me that. I’ve had a tough time getting a handle on things but I ain’t the sort of crazy to give up, plonk down in the middle of the kitchen and cry hysterically.I’m the sort of crazy that pulls every movable object out of the kitchen and restarts. I’ve done that thrice since we moved into our place and after weeks and months of trial and error, I finally have some kind of control over my kitchen. It isn’t as efficient as I’d like it to be, but still, a meal that would take me 3 hours to prepare now gets done in 45 minutes to an hour. What did I change? Just a few things…

1. A Place For Everything: And everything in its place. Mom wasn’t kidding! My great grandmother used to say, keep things so orderly that you should be able to find them in your sleep.

Monica_s_Reaction_When_Chandler_CleanedAssign specific places for everything. Ideally, all the utensils, grain jars, spice jars etc that you use on a regular basis should be within reach from where you stand to cook. Make circles of proximity from your cooking position and arrange things in outward circles according to frequency of use; the most frequently used being the closest to the rarely used being the farthest. It makes cooking much less of a run around the place and you save energy as well as time. This will require some trial and error but you’ll eventually find your groove. Also, make it a conscious habit to put things back into their assigned places the moment you are done using them. Keeping things for later only adds to the stress and makes cleaning up a harder chore. A clean, well organized kitchen contributes to your peace of mind.

2. End-Of-Day Wipe Down: No matter how hectic a day you’ve had, make it a habit of leaving your kitchen clean when you go to bed.

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This generally means putting the left overs into the fridge, taking out the trash, piling the used utensils in the sink and wiping down everything. Through the day, when you use small objects like knives of potato peelers etc, instead of dumping them in the sink, try washing them immediately and keeping away because chances are, you’ll need them before your maid does the dishes. But definitely do clean up before tucking in for the night. That way, when you enter the kitchen in the morning, it is clean and fresh and one less thing to do. In the long run, it also keeps your kitchen cleaner for longer.

3. Make A Schedule: This might sound a little OCDish but it is not.

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Make broad categories of dishes per meal and schedule them according to the days of the week. Pick a few breakfast items and keep two or three options for each day of the week. Then make broad categories like ‘pulaao/khichdi’ or ‘continental’ or ‘chicken/fish’ or leafy vegetables’ etc and put them in for lunch and dinner through the week. This way, you can plan well in advance without going into a tizzy every day about what to cook or what to buy. Keep several options for each meal on your schedule so that you are not restricted to a monotony and make sure you don’t decide to cook more than one complicated meal every day. If nothing else, it saves you the effort of trying to figure out what to cook; its all there, tacked up on your fridge!

4. Take Breaks: A stressed you is a messy you and that spells doom for the kitchen. So take a break.

giphyTake breaks while preparing a meal. Drink water, play music while you work. It all helps. And every once in a while, shut the kitchen. Go out to eat or order in or ask your better half to take over. The moment cooking begins to feel tedious, take a break. Stress sucks all the joy out of cooking and if you are not used to it, it will completely turn you off. So make sure you allow yourself that much needed break.

5. Innovate: Routine can become boring and get you stuck in a rutt. Unstick yourself. Try something new.
Chefs_Do_That_Geena_DavisPick out a recipe you’ve never tried before. Make your own recipe. Or learn how to ‘recycle’ leftovers. Trust me, it is enormous amounts of fun to serve a dish made of leftovers and no one figures it out till you tell them. innovation in the kitchen brings life to the mundane, day to day routine. It builds confidence and gives you something to look forward to.

Cooking can be fun. Therapeutic. I always think of that line from Julie and Julia: “I love that after a day when nothing is sure, and when I say ‘nothing’ I mean nothing, you can come home and absolutely know that if you add egg yolks to chocolate and sugar and milk, it will get thick. It’s such a comfort.”  It really is. You can get lost in your kitchen… and you can find yourself. I know the everyday mundane tasks make it very difficult to think so but trust me, the kitchen can be a glorious place. You just need to know the secrets.. 😉

How To Train Your Finances

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 More than six months of being married, living on our own, managing rents and expenses has taught us a lot. Add to it, getting a car (a Volkswagen Polo!) has been the kind of thing that leaves a lot of lessons in its wake. Especially being freelancers, our bank accounts have this nasty habit of soaring and plummeting at random. There is almost no discernible pattern to our incomes. So managing such rowdy, unruly finances is indeed a task. But I know now that it isn’t impossible. First and foremost, I bow to the man of the house, the husband for his awesome instincts for all this stuff.. Left on my own, I’d probably have fluctuated between buying out a mall and selling everything I own to manage a few meals… So here are a few things that we’ve done to help smooth things and grant ourselves a semblance of peace. 

1. Pre Wedding Planning: When we decided to get married, we discussed and decided that we’d be living on our own and not with our families. That meant a whole host of expenses that would crop up… Just the electronics would take away huge chunk of our money. So we did a smart thing. In the months prior to the wedding, we purchased our electronics as and when possible… The fridge, the washing machine and the microwave. With those out of the way, it kinda eased the pressure on the post marriage budgets. Think of it as building a home in instalments. This helps a lot… A LOT! 

2. The Wedding Fund: So we did this thing on our invitation cards, where we mentioned that instead of gifts, we’d really appreciate cash gifts. I am so relieved that almost everyone took the hint. Barring a couple of other gifts, we got cash which created a huge cash reserve for us. When we were setting up home, we used money from this pool, thus making sure that the set up expenses did not eat into our bank accounts. We got furniture, fixtures, appliances, etc. but we put a limit on how much we would spend so that some of that money could be kept aside as a reserve. I recommend this idea very much. Two fold advantage: you are not stuck with the gifts that you don’t want and you have plenty of resource to aid you through the first steps of married life. The leftover cash is also a helpful fund to fall back on for later. 

3. Unconscious Savings: We read about this idea somewhere and used it. As mentioned earlier, it becomes difficult for freelancers to plan savings because of the no fixed income thing. So we started this thing a few months before marriage and continued it even after. Whenever we spent money and got change in return, we kept aside the small denominations in a separate pocket in our bags. At home, we have a jar and a piggy bank; the coins go into the pig and the notes into the jar. It doesn’t pinch you when you put away a couple of bucks everyday but you’ll be surprised how much money can get accumulated like this! In the long term, when the jar and the piggy are full, remove the money and put it into a fixed deposit. Viola! You have a small savings pocket!

4. Chart Expense: At the end of each day, make it a habit to make a note of where you spent and how much. As you do this, you develope another habit; every time you are about to make an expense, you ask yourself if this is really needed. Don’t always hold back from giving yourself and each other a treat but  make sure that you are not over doing it. Just simply acknowledging where the money is going makes it easier to control it so that you are never in a place to ask, where did all the money go..? You’ll know where it went and why!

5. Watch Your Loans: This is my husbands brilliant mind at work. When we decided to get the car, we knew we’d have to take a loan for it. He wrote a long piece on a forum for Volkswagen car owners about getting the right loan. You can find it here. But one of the most interesting things that we have begun doing is that when we pay each instalment, we pay a little more than is due. In the short run, it doesn’t bother us much. Instead of around 8500/- per month, we put in 10000/-. What this does is that it keeps reducing the principal loan amount and in the long run, saves us a lot of money in interest. It also gets rid of the loan in a shorter period of time. We’ve also decided to put in as much extra money into the loan account as and when possible towards the same end. 

6. Have Fun: This is the most important part. I know people rolling in gold who lead miserable life. Don’t let your finances become a cloud over your head. Whatever the situation, you can handle it. In the meantime, life is happening to you. Don’t miss out! Have fun! My husband and I don’t need big, expensive things to be happy. He often brings me some funny shaped lolly pop or some simple flowers or candy and it makes my day! Be willing to be happy and anything you have, will be enough. Money does make life comfortable but it is not all that you need to be happy. Find little things to make each other happy. We are currently reading out Harry Potter to each other… We call it co-reading. I’ve almost swallowed the books as a child but he hasn’t read them so it is fun! And not expensive at all 😉 

Bottom line being, despite doing all this, finance is not gonna be an easy pet to keep but it is one of the many joys of being an adult (sarcasm detected?). Take it in your stride. Never pass an opportunity to make money. The legal, fair way.. Don’t go getting involved in nefarious activities and say I suggested it! And there is one more thing. Generate goodwill… With everyone around. Be good to people even if it is the guy serving your coffee. I believe the universe takes care of the people who care. Karma is very real, and she takes very good care of those who do good. As long as you can look yourself in the eye and sleep well at night, I think the rest falls into place. Don’t you think? 

My Birthday Wishes For Me

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Yesterday was my birthday. The first one as a wife! This is one of the perks of being married.. I got thoroughly pampered! It was a fun day! The husband took so much effort to make sure I had an awesome birthday! He threw me a party at our place with a cake featuring Om […]