Today in Photo

28 August 2015

Downward dog with reclining cat. It's impossible to pull out the yoga mat without them all gathering around to plop themselves right THERE. #catsagram #yoga

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Today in Photo

27 August 2015

Random Scottish tchotchkes at a friend's house last night: that's good old Nessie with a tam o'shanter and a Scot scratching his bum. Which reminds me, have you been watching Outlander? It is SO good. Sing me a song of a lass that is gone, say could that lass be I?

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Today in Photo

26 August 2015

Chocolate cupcake evening.

One of the best baking related things I invested in recently was a set of measuring cups and spoons and I've been using them to be a bit more methodical about how I bake. Frosting has also always been a challenge. Today though, these cupcakes are buy-in-a-shop good, dense and the icing is unbelievably rich and just mmmm. Recipe adapted from Smitten Kitchen's I Want Chocolate Cake Cake.

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Bitesize: Why are some names more popular than others?

Ruminations on the names of the Mahabharata
Storified by Meenakshi Madhavan · Wed, Aug 26 2015 09:08:55
Muse: some names in the Mahabharata more popular than others. The 5 Pandavas live on today, but no little girls called Draupadi.
@reddymadhavan the other name of Draupadi, Krishnaa is still relevant.
Actually, not all five. When’s the last time you met a Yudhistra?
@reddymadhavan I think Yudhistira is still common up North, but names like Sahadev and Draupadi have fallen out of fashion.
& then the older gen: no Kuntis, no Madris, no Gandharis. All very pretty names. Pritha (Kunti’s other name) still popular though.
@reddymadhavan that's because they're not their names! They're titles indicating origin or parentage.
I guess no one wants their kid to be a Bheema. Poor fellow, full of devotion, but not very sexy. @charitmay
& then deeper into Hindu mythology: no Brahmas (but he was cursed to be forgotten), even though everyone else is a popular name.
No Vyasas or Dritarashtras. You don’t want to name your kid after the bad guy (Duryodhana)
but you’re ok w/your kid bearing the name of a kid who died at 16 (Abhimanyu) or the illegitimate warrior (Karna)
I think it’s interesting what parents want their kids to inherit: hero, swift, beautiful etc. Not virtuous, or strong.
@reddymadhavan Why would then even dhrishtrashtra name his sons such? A school of thought suggests its suyodhan and sushaashan!
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Photo: My massive MASSIVE to-be-read shelf. Have you read any (or all) of these? #nowreading #bookstagram

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When you keep me waiting, you keep me hating

17 August 2015

It struck me just how much the government sees people as little insects—numbers on a file, to be pushed around and stamped and signed, but not actually like people, when I was asked to be witness to my friend’s court wedding. I went along full of great optimism, they only released 10 appointment slots a week, my friend said, so she had to sit up at midnight and book a coveted space. After that, she said it would be a four minute process, sign, stamp, sealed, married!

We arrived at ten to ten, because our appointment was at ten, and we wanted to make sure we had everything before we went in. The door to the sub-magistrate’s office was still closed and bolted, but we assumed he’d get there in ten minutes. After some signing, filling out a form (a different form, my friend tells me, from the one they had her fill out online, thereby adding one extra step to the red tape), we sat on the hard chairs outside, swinging our legs and waiting for the man in charge.

We waited.

And waited.


And waited.

Until it was quarter to eleven, and no sign of this man. We went back inside to enquire how long he’d be. “Oh,” said the man with the papers, with absolutely no expression of guilt on his face, “He’s on a site visit. He’ll be back sometime between noon and four.”

This, disregarding the several people who were waiting there—not enough chairs meant a lot of people were standing, and the fact that they had everyone’s cell numbers on record when they took their appointment, so a simple message to the three or four people (out of ten!) who were waiting, would not have been that much extra work for any of the paunchy men standing outside, looking bored and disinterested in life.

The problem with this country is that no one places any value on your time as an asset. Delivery men call at all hours and say, “Oh are you home today?” as if your entire day is dependent on them and not the other way round. You then spend a day you could be running errands or stepping out of the house, just waiting. Waiting for the broadband man to come and fix your wiring, four hours after he promised. Waiting for a government service you’re paying for, because the people in charge have decided making you wait is a way of them showing off their power.

Of course it is about power, mostly. The more you can make someone wait, the more you can indicate your senior position compared to them. It’s a common business trick, but is the man sitting on the other side of the desk, picking his teeth and drinking another cup of tea going to pay you the two rupees or five rupees or unquantifiable amount your time is worth? He is not. So, by waiting, you’re wasting massive amounts of money as well, if you consider your productive hours and how much you get paid and how much work you’d be doing for those extra four hours you have to sit around at someone else’s whim.

In the end, we went out and got a bite to eat, and returned when we were called at noon, but then the waiting began again. We waited and waited and waited, and finally my friend had enough. She kicked up a fuss asking the men who worked there why no one was willing to give her an answer, why they thought it was okay to make everyone sit around for so long. The people gathered around to watch her, mouths agape. It was the most exciting thing that had happened all day. Furiously, my friend, her new husband, and the two of us witnesses, following fascinated in her wake, barged into a meeting where she made the same points again, and wouldn’t you know it, by kicking up a fuss, the sub magistrate decided he was ready to stamp some papers after all right that moment. Great message to send society. Sit quietly and nothing will happen. Shout at people and doors open.

Maybe it’s because “people like us” are more entitled, and more aware of our time that we decide it’s our right to storm into offices and demand to be seen. Certainly no one else there was doing anything, though their waiting faces took on a hint of desperation. My friends are both lawyers, so it’s unlikely that anyone could have threatened them with bad paperwork as a result of their rocking the boat, but not everyone is so fortunate. We met a woman as we were walking out of the office finally, and she turned to my friend and said, “Thank you for saying that. I did that last time, and my matter got even more delayed.” It turned out they had been seeking a resolution for the same case since 1958. 

(A version of this appeared as my column in

(I made up the title myself, and now I think it should become a common proverb)
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A list of things I would like to propose we get "independence from"

14 August 2015

1) Long lines.
2) No lines at all and everyone just shoving their way in anyway.
3) That horrible IRCTC website and how long it takes to do anything on it.
4) People who smell bad.
5) People who hurt weaker people/animals because they obviously have small penises.
6) People who think the world begins and ends with their penis.
7) People who drive really fast in residential areas and don't slow down until the very last minute making an "eeeeeek" sound with their tires.
8) People who flake on plans at the last minute when you're already all dressed up and perfumed and you have to take everything off and resign yourself to an evening in instead of an evening out.
9) The heat.
10) The cold.
11) The mugginess.
12) People who check my name before they bitch about other religions, so they know they're not offending me DIRECTLY.
13) People who gather round a scene and watch, I seriously want to slap all their faces, STOP FUCKING WATCHING ME.
14) People who win an argument just by shouting.
15) People.
16) Things.
17) Petrol prices.

Happy 69th Independence Day, India! 

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Random memories triggered by songs on NOW That's What I Call The 90s

11 August 2015

* Gangsta's Paradise by Coolio: This was in that Michelle Pfieffer (fffer? Something) movie! The one with the kids who came around to her way of thinking after she printed out Bob Dylan lyrics and passed them round. The kids eventually loved her. You know what happened to me when I tried to be all teacher-y for like two weeks with an NGO programme? I almost had a nervous breakdown. Kids are not easy man. And no one is singing fun songs.

* I Can't Help Falling In Love With You by UB40: You need to read my whole essay over at Ladies Finger to get my memory of this song, but mostly, there was a boy and he wrote this on his t-shirt as a sign of his love.

* Wannabe by The Spice Girls: ZIG A ZIG AH! Also we were in South Ex the first time this song came on the radio and we sang along, and felt Spice Girl-y ourselves, so that was nice. This was right before the Spice Girls Explosion, and you wanted to be Posh or Baby, sometimes Ginger, Sporty too asexual, Scary too Scary, plus her hair was all curls and we were Dally girls and curls were only a post-bath thing, except for me, and I brushed my hair straight so it stood up with static. Poor Scary Spice.

* Cotton Eye Joe by Rednex: Okay, first of all, FIRST OF ALL, I did not realise the singers of this fine earworm were called Rednex. REDNEX! Holy appropriateness, Batman. This was the night I got very very stoned in Goa with just another acquaintance for company and all the trance music turned into Cotton Eye Joe and I wandered through the crowds searching for the DJ to ask him to change the music. (I'm lucky to be alive.)

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Words have power and you've gotta stop calling your friends "sluts"

10 August 2015

You’re not allowed to use the word “whore.” I mean, I guess you could use it if you wanted to, but if you considered yourself a feminist in any sense of the word, you’d probably want to stop. And here’s why.

The word “whore” comes originally from the Old English and meant, back then, a term of abuse for an unchaste or lewd woman, whether or not she accepted money for her favours. From as long ago as 1200 AD, language has been shaming women who enjoyed sex, and perhaps had sex with multiple partners. It was also synonymous with “lupa” for she wolf, from the Roman times and “pumcalli” from the Sanskrit, which translates to “one who runs after men.” (Reference from the Online Etymology Dictionary)
Well, if you MUST give all your power to a big white guy in the sky   

But in our current times, the word “whore” while still derogatory, became also used for men and women who lower or debase themselves in some way for some form of attention. See: “media whore,” “attention whore,” and so on and so forth. I myself used it in an article—in which I mentioned that men were wont to look upon any woman who had sex as a whore—which puts the onus of the blame on the woman herself, and not on the men who are so blithe and easy with labels.

A few years ago, women around the world organized themselves into a “Slut Walk” to reclaim the word that had been used to spew abuse at women for centuries now. I wasn’t very comfortable with the movement, though I accepted it for women choosing to step out and become empowered, but it wasn’t until I came across a blog post on a website called Feminist Current, that I understood my mixed feelings. The author of the post titled “It’s Not Slut Shaming, It’s Women Hating”, Meghan Murphy, says, succinctly, “No matter how hard you try to take back ‘slut’, people will still use it to shit on you. And it still won’t feel good. Just because you’ve painted ‘slut’ across your chest and proudly tromped down the street in fishnets doesn’t mean that assholes across the continent are going to stop using sexist language. A lot of people like to make comparisons around ‘taking back’ the word ‘slut’ to the n-word. But as we all know, racists still use this word in a racist way. Because they are racist and because racism is a thing that still exists in our world. You can pretend that, in the last year, ‘slut’ has been taken back to mean ‘awesome-fun-times-sexy-lady’, but it’s not true.”

Using it in casual language therefore, might seem to some as a way of taking the sting out of its intended meaning—certainly no one bats an eye when you say “slut”—but in reality is just a way of making sure this word lives on and on and on in our collective consciousness. Justine Musk, another blogger, says in a post about the subject: “When you call a woman a slut, it’s not because you necessarily believe that she’s slept her way through the entire NBA. You do it because there’s nothing more base than female sexuality. You want to cut her down to size, to put her in her place, for whatever transgression she’s committed that took her outside the box of ‘proper’ feminine behavior and made her such a pain in the ass.”

Why should a word that means you might have (in society’s view) had sex with more than one person, or even several persons, be such an insult? The vernacular Indian language abuses are even worse—you can call someone the son of a whore, or a vagina, and these are words that are just parlayed around, because wow, nothing is lower than someone who is born to a woman who wasn’t married to your father, nothing is lower than a female’s genitalia, so let’s use that to mortally insult someone.

And this was a headline recently on the website,, owned and operated by Zee, PMC, and United Internet. “Sapna Bhavnani: Whore, Feminist or Woman of Substance?” It’s enough to make you bang your head against the wall. First of all, that the idea that a “woman of substance” cannot be a “whore” or a “feminist” (because it’s “or” not “and”). Secondly, the editor who let this headline pass. They may as well spell it out in big words: whore/feminist = bad! Especially, since the article is about Bhavnani, a stylist, who opened up on an online forum about the time she was raped. Seriously.

Is it any wonder that “whore” is tossed around so loosely then when even our media can’t seem to come up with alternatives? And now that you know the problematic connotations of it, maybe you’ll stop. Maybe we’ll all stop.  

(A version of this appeared as my column in
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There are a few things I want to say to young people having sex

6 August 2015

Which is not don't have it, because duh. Sex, when done well, is everything they say it is.

Which is how you know it isn't done well: pro tip, btdubs.

Which is there is a point in your life when you feel like all everyone talks about, all everyone is doing, all everyone EVER seems to give one good goddamn about is sex.

Which is true.

But then, you need to have all that sex so you can move past it and be in your thirties and occasionally talk about other things.

Because the people who only talk about sex and getting laid and how many and for how long are probably the people who didn't get it out of their systems when they were in that phase where everyone else was.

Which is--OMG SO IMPORTANT--ladies, pee before and after, if you can. Otherwise you will know the wrath of the angry vagina.

(Which is seriously the most painful thing ever, unless, I assume you have given birth, which you probably have not if you need this advice, but at LEAST at the end of labour you get to go home with a baby and with a UTI all you want to do is sit on the pot and try to pee even though there's nothing left in you to pee out.)

Which is you might think it's easier to have unprotected sex, just because you're DRUNK and HORNY and the person you want to bang is right THERE, and even though you don't have a condom you might go for it anyway, but DON'T.

Which is, waiting for test results is a pretty nerve wracking experience.

Which is, there's a point when all your partners start asking you if you've been tested and you have to tell them something.

Which is, you should start asking your partners the same thing.

Which is try everything once, because that's the way you'll figure out what you want.

And--eh, if you're feeling squeamish about something, you can skip it, but don't skip it on your partner's account because you think they'll think it's weird.

(They might think it's weird.)

(But that's okay.)

Which is blue balls are not a real thing.

So say "stop" whenever you like, ladies.

Gentlemen, please stop.

Which is talk about this shit with your friends.

Which is porn is not real sex.

Which is touch yourself often.

Which is it doesn't matter who you're attracted to.

Which is be all of you and the sex will be five hundred times as good.

Which is a promise.

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The best TV I've watched this summer

5 August 2015

I'm huge TV lover--I really believe the television show is the new movie--I'm fairly up-to-date on what's showing, thanks to "working" from home, large chunks of time where I hate myself and binge watch television without doing anything else and subscribing to several TV and pop culture websites to see what's hot.

July through September is a fairly bleak time for those of us who watch American television. All the shows you're into are off the air for the summer and you have to settle for random rubbish or *gasp* not watch TV at all. Luckily, I have superior Googling skills, so I managed to find some TV that did not suck, although a lot of it does: this time of the year being when channels experiment with shit.

Books? Who cares about books?
SO, here's my list:

(Finished): Big Love. HBO show about a polygamist Mormon, his three very different wives, the politics of the polygamist sect and MORE. There's drama! Family relations! Mafia! It's seriously awesome. I cried at the series finale. (Complete show, five seasons)

(Ongoing) Everwood. Recommended by one of my TV forums as something that MIGHT fill the Gilmore Girls shaped hole in my heart. It's not quite the same as fast talking Lorelei and Rory, BUT, it gets quite interesting. Surgeon Andy Brown moves to Everwood from NYC with his two kids after his wife dies suddenly, and becomes the local doctor. Only, there's all sorts of interpersonal relationships, and stuff happening and not just feel-good stuff either, real shit. You'll like it if you like that sort of thing. (Complete show, four seasons)

(Ongoing) The Fosters. A show about two lesbian moms who open their home to a bunch of adopted and foster kids. DO I NEED TO SAY MORE? (Ongoing show, on season 3 at the moment)

(Pilot watched) The Astronaut Wives Club. I'm a huge fan of anything period-drama-y, and this is very Mad Men or more like Pan Am (RIP) focussing on the wives first bunch of astronauts to orbit earth. I'm not sure how it'll pan out, but I did really enjoy the pilot. (1 season, 10 (?) episodes.)

(Pilot watched) Mr Robot. It's sort of hilarious this show, how it puts exciting music over the image of someone typing on a computer (it's about hackers and cyber security in a way) and yet I found it completely engrossing. Definitely going to watch more.  (Season one is airing now, up till episode 7.)

(Ongoing) UnREAL. Really, really, REALLY like this show. It's a dark drama set on the sets of a reality show sort of like The Bachelor. So, fictional, but also showing us how reality TV is manipulated. (1 season, 10 episodes)

(Finished) Catastrophe. An excellent rom com, but also dark humour about a one night stand that extends into forever when the woman gets pregnant. Hilarious in a it's-funny-because-it's-true way. (1 season, 6 episodes)

And also shows that are good but I haven't finished yet, because HOW MUCH TV CAN ONE PERSON WATCH.

Daredevil: I wish they'd use some more lighting in this twisty adaptation of a Marvel superhero. But fun, action-y thing to watch with your boyfriend.

Wolf Hall: I'm putting off watching this till I have a huge chunk of time to watch it back-to-back which is basically never, but I watched the pilot and it is AMAZING.

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When even veggie sellers know your name

4 August 2015

So many nice things happened to me yesterday and I can't tell you about ANY of them. *sigh* One because even though it's a done deal, I'm waiting for it to be so irrevocable that it's basically a life change (NO, NO MARRIAGE OR BABIES) and the other because at this point it exists only in two emails, so when those two turn into an actual contract or something, I'll let you know.

My veggie seller just rang the doorbell and handed us a packet of very strange looking zucchini, if this is zucchini after all and not just some misshapen squash with stripes. "How does he know where we live?" asked the Good Thing, who is very We-Will-Not-Even-Put-Our-Names-On-The-Door. "I've lived here for four years," I told him, (I'm a pro names-on-door myself. Like claiming your territory.) "Everyone knows where I live." True, but not very comforting, I suspect.

I joined my friends' book club a few months ago, and this thing happens each time it draws closer, I've read every single book in the whole world except for the one we're supposed to be reading. This month's selection was actually my idea, and it's this massive book (Hangwoman by K R Meera ), and I now have to spend the whole day reading it in entirity. Poor ol' me.

Of course, thanks to this whole death penalty thing, the book is very topical and we should have some good debates, which is always the goal of book club. We also drink a lot of wine and eat a lot, so there's that. Which is basically the ideal book club.

I've had a lot of emails asking if I'll do sponsored posts/native ads on this blog, and the answer is always YES. Well, no. Not always. But if it's a nice brand, and I can make some money, why not, I ask you. WHY NOT. I don't know where this sudden splurge of popularity came from, but I put it all down to the post I did yesterday because after I published it, all the emails started coming in. The perks of blogging regularly!

TODAY IN CATS: So, we lock Olga and Squishy out at night and let Bruno sleep in the bedroom with us, but when he wants feeding he climbs on the bed and starts licking any part of my leg or arm that's out of the sheet. And that SOUNDS sweet, but he has this little raspy sandpaper tongue, and if he does it hard enough, I'm sure he'll give me a friction burn or something.

Also I bought a book on the history of the cat, which is actually really fascinating, and you should get a copy yourself. (BUT FIRST I NEED TO FINISH HANGWOMAN BY TOMORROW!!)
My name is Lord Squishington and I endorse this book

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