In which I become a full on crunchy granola hippy and switch to a menstrual cup

2 July 2015


"A young girl tender as a flower" HOLY WOW THAT'S SOME COPY
It looked sort of weird.

The pink silicone cup came in a slightly torn envelope, sitting in a cloth pouch. No doubt some curious courier man en route had tried to fiddle with it, maybe to filch the interesting feeling contents. However, he probably dropped it like a hot potato if he even glimpsed the text on the pamphlet that came with it.

She Cup: “Let Womanhood Bloom Without Gloom.”

More and more I’ve been getting glimpses of our future on this planet, and it’s not so much sci-fi and aliens as it is the grim garbage dump depicted by Pixar’s Wall-E. And it’s not entirely preventable because there are more people on the planet now than there ever have been and this is just going to grow. But, what we can do is make that garbage dump grow a little less faster.

I began thinking of menstrual cups idly when an acquaintance came over for dinner a few years ago and went on about it. She said she loved hers, it was easy to use, especially when travelling through the villages of India where there aren’t friendly local chemists to restock you and disposal is hard. She was the first one to put the image in my mind of a child rooting through a garbage dump and picking up a used tampon. Which is a disgusting picture, but sadly too true.

The thinking woman needs to think about her period. I was reading a Yahoo article the other day that really brought the stats home to me. Called “Why are we pretending there isn’t a growing mountainof menstrual waste we need to deal with?” by Nidhi Jamwal, the article cites some shocking statistics. 9000 tons of menstrual waste every year! This is clogging up drains, filling up landfills and worse: being incinerated which releases toxic gases into the atmosphere. And still because it’s such a taboo (as I have addressed in a previous column), no one discusses the environmental damage out loud.

The article mentions reusable cloth pads as an alternative, but not the cup. The pads didn’t appeal to me at all, and I’m not sure they’d appeal to a modern young woman. All that washing! All that walking around with blood in your underwear all day! It doesn’t sound very appealing. But with the cup, you remove it, dump the contents in the toilet (maybe twice a day with heavy flow?), wash and re-insert. It couldn’t be easier.

Actually, I’m surprised we aren’t being marketed more period stuff. It’s the one thing advertisers can say are “just for girls!” They could pink it up as much as they liked. They could put cartoons on them like Hello Kitty or pretty flowers and girls might Instagram their pads just to show off their designs. And in this space, there’d be room for more companies with healthy alternatives. I mean, since food has already become such an organic space, why not the other things that we put into our bodies—arguably into the most tender parts of us?

So, I decided to take one for the team and ordered a menstrual cup online. The most accessible one seemed to be the She Cup, a bit cumbersome for those used to a smooth e-commerce experience, but delivery was fast after I made the transfer. Now all I had to do was use it.

I folded the silicon cup in my hand until it was a c-shape. Even folded, it looked rather intimidating and foreign, not something you’d be easy about putting into your body. But the accompanying instructions told me to “do it fast” and soon I’d be a pro, they promised. I took a deep breath and tried—and it wasn’t that bad. Granted I’ve been a tampon user for some time, so I’m used to the idea, but there’s a difference between an innocuous small tube and a bulky looking cup, which always looks bulky, no matter how much you fold it. Surprisingly, as soon as I had inserted it, it was just as the instructions promised: I couldn’t feel a thing. The She Cup holds about 12 ml of liquid—which seems like a lot—so you only have to empty it on very heavy days or once a day. I’m so used to pads and tampons I just wrote “change it” instead of “empty it.”

One last thing I did for the environment: as soon as my parcel came, I put it up on Instagram. Now two of my friends have ordered it already, and a few more are contemplating it. “It’s an absolute game changer,” promised one of my Instagram followers. I hope so. Think of all the money I’ll save—not to mention the trees! 

UPDATE: So I used the She Cup all through my last period. The first time removing it was a bit like that shower scene in Psycho, blood everywhere. I was rather agile about it *self back pat* so most of it ended up inside the toilet bowl and not everywhere else, but there was still a little clean up. Also, it helps that in my loo, the sink is right next to the pot, so I could just reach over. That was slightly tricky, and you've got to be okay with blood on your fingers (washable!).

By day three, I was an old pro. I even managed to rinse it out right over the pot instead of leaning over to the sink. What was also fascinating (for me) was watching how the blood changed as my cycle finished. From the torrential gush of days one and two, to a more lady like cup of deep burgundy to finally just a few droplets every day. It was quite cool learning what my body did and what my body produced, something I never thought of all these TWENTY ONE!!! years. 

Also on day one, I miscalculated how often to change the cup, so I had one little accident, but after that, I started to change it every four hours or so. It's easy enough to pick up once you get used to the rhythm of your body. 

When I was done I washed it with the accompanying soap strips, boiled it in a saucepan to sterilise as recommended and left it there till the water cooled down. Then I popped it back into its cloth pouch. For the squeamish, it's best to sit with your legs really far apart, breathe out a few times to relax and then try and insert it.

Also, there's Silky Cup available on Amazon for easier ecommerce/cheaper.  

(a version of this appeared as my column on mydigitalfc.com)
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Fans of Cats & the Facebook group as a bonding exercise

22 June 2015

A few months ago, a friend of mine who also has a cat was looking for a good vet in her neighbourhood to get him spayed. I would have—and did—offer my excellent vet, but she wanted to stay closer to home so transporting him around wouldn’t be such an issue. (Have you ever driven in a car with a cat? It defines Einstein’s theory of relativity. Even a short two kilometer drive feels like it’s been going on for three hours.)


Asking on Facebook seemed to be the best idea, but all the animal activist groups I belonged to were all dogs all the time. Now, I have nothing against dogs. Perfectly fine animals in their own way—and very nice pets if you’re looking for children who will never grow up and never be able to fetch you a nice cold vodka tonic should you need one. What a difference from the rest of the world where cats are not only the most popular household pet there is, but also have forums devoted to each particular disease they can get. I decided then to start my own Facebook group for people like my friend and I and call it Fans Of Cats, Delhi. The first question? Who is the best cat vet in the city?

Since that time, Fans of Cats has grown. Not very significantly, I still know more dog owners than cat ones, and still, in my own particular group of friends, know more people without furry friends than ones who have made the commitment, but the 65 member strong group has a lively discussion almost every morning on everything from how to cook chicken and fish the best possible way for cats (they can’t digest carbohydrates very well, so you have to make sure they’re getting the right amount of vitamins from chicken, that makers of dry cat food already add to it) to kitten adoptions, to people looking for pet sitters while they are away on holiday. I myself use it as an invaluable resource, collating information from cat owners across the city to help with behavioral problems, messed up medical exams and more. With three cats, I find myself both offering and asking for advice more regularly on this forum than I do anywhere else on Facebook.

The Facebook group is not a beautiful thing, like say, the Facebook page. In terms of design, it stays strictly old school: a picture on top, a description on the side bar, and rotating posts by group members. However, it is the easiest way to see and search for information in this age of almost too much information. The Facebook group Eat Treat, for example, a community of foodies that writes reviews and talks about food, recently received funding to the tune of $350,000 to turn the community-based group into a fully fledged website. The website called Eattreatonline (a bit of a mouthful, no pun intended) will offer vaguely food, fashion, home chefs and other such trendy things.

But perhaps because the Facebook group is so unbeautiful, advertisers are not jumping on it as much as they should be. And they really should. Your average popular group usually has tens of thousands of very engaged, very active members, more than you can say about the most well-liked Facebook page, where users can “like” the content but may not contribute to the active discussion. Occasionally, a savvy group creator will turn this around to their advantage, at another food group called Gourmet Planet, for instance, the founding member organizes meals at fancy restaurants where members can pay a fixed sum for a prix fixe menu. Or, in another group meant for real estate in Goa, the moderator earns a commission on each house rented out through the group. It’s a clever way to be, because it doesn’t require you to actually do any extra work, seeing as your community will do that for you. If you get lucky, and popular enough, you can use it for good.

Meanwhile, on Fans of Cats I’m feeling happy because a first time kitten owner has just posted an update. He had been feeding his kitten milk and she was listless and weak. The group told him cats are lactose intolerant, and to shift her to another diet with more protein. His kitty is now bright eyed and bushy tailed, leaping in the garden, and “it’s all thanks to some of the members of Fans of Cats,” he said.

That’s almost worth $350,000, I think. 

Gratuitous Lord Squishington photo. ("We're still getting the paper???")


(A version of this appeared as my column on mydigitalfc.com)
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Twitter rant: why does it matter that a drunk driver was a woman?

15 June 2015

A set of tweets I did last week on the drunk driving of Jhanvi Gadkar. 


I didn't like the way the media was reporting it at all, so I wrote down a list of things I thought were relevant or not.



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Maggi and the food-loving children of the 90s

12 June 2015

Maggi. There’s a word that hasn’t been part of my vocabulary since I left college,

and is now all of a sudden all anyone can talk about. By “Maggi” we mean Maggi

noodles, the pale yellow ones with their distinct Maggi-ness, not the oats or atta

imposters that came in later. Maggi was never more than a junk food, even

though the advertisers tried hard to make it some kind of nutritious home meal.

“Dress it up,” they begged, “Put frozen peas and carrots in it! It’s all your child

needs.” Rubbish. 

Yum, I love lead.



Maggi in my home was such a junk food, it was a special treat. I remember when

I lived in one of those housing societies where everyone’s kitchen was in the

same place, and if you walk through a certain vent, you could smell everyone’s

dinner cooking. This was the 90s, the height of the Maggi explosion in India,

when everyone sang along to the happy mother in Maggi ads who said, “Two

minutes!” when her kids clamoured for food, and banged their forks on their

empty bowls. I smelt Maggi wafting out of at least four windows. “It smells like

home,” I told my mother wistfully, a story she does not fail to trot out now with

great indignation. “Here I was making sure you had healthy, balanced, tasty

meals, and there you were craving Maggi!” she says now. Of course, now that I

live alone, I would love to have my mother’s home-cooking any day over some

over-preserved instant noodles, but there’s kids for you. 


The same really happy, really healthy looking kids toured all the food on

television in those days. There was a kid who boing-boinged out of bed when he

smelt sunflower oil on the stove, his mother making puris, and such was his

delight that he did a cartwheel right there, yay, sunflower oil! There were the

kids who drank Complan without complaining (a pun the copywriters should

have used back then, if you ask me), going so far as to boast about it, while an

undiagnosed lactose intolerance made me gaze gloomily into my glass every

evening, the milk brown with Bournvita or whatever, and already forming a skin.

I envied them as I envied the children shouting about “doodh, doodh, doodh!”

Then, there was the little girl who had a whole pitcher of Rasna, the lucky thing,

and who tilted her head to the right and said, “I love you Rasna” with such a glow

of health on her face that I wanted her life immediately. I wanted all of their lives.

But none so much as the Maggi kids, who demanded a snack and were given

something their mother was so pleased to serve them, so healthy, she told us, so

easy to make!

Of course, as the years went by, we realized that “two minutes” was that

standard Indian lie. More like two-minutes-ish. I grew suspicious of food that

was that easy to make. Just add water served me well through exams and late

night sleepovers at friends houses. I don’t think I ever ate as much Maggi as I did

in college, when we were discovering the joys of a midnight snack after drinking.

Maggi, made the way my friend did it with loads of chilli garlic paste and cheese,

was perhaps the opposite of the way the Maggi Mother intended, but it was

much, much tastier.

But even I, nostalgic in spots, child of 90s, haven’t picked up a packet of the

instant noodles in years. I eat them in extreme weather conditions on mountain

tops somewhere, where the starch and the warm and the feel of it are comforting

and soothing. On a pass in Ladakh. On a ski trail in Gulmarg. But after two days

up in Gulmarg, my body longed for something not so instant, so I got boiled eggs

instead, halved and stuffed with masala, and just as warming, if not more than

Maggi. In Ladakh, I veered for the chocolate section, great for altitude sickness,

and probably still not as bad for you as Maggi, it turns out.

Why the furor then on social media? Why the sadness? It came as a great

surprise to me. Surely people aren’t still eating Maggi as a regular thing, not

when we have access to so many other good instant foods out there? (MTR’s

range of home-cooked food comes to mind.) It must be the memories. We’re

conditioned to think old is good, and Maggi has somehow entered our

consciousness—this Swedish brand—as quintessentially Indian.

It was fun while the party lasted though. And I’m glad we’re getting more

stringent food checks. The last time I saw someone buy Maggi was ironically my

mother, who now that she lives alone at home has taken to eating it as a “guilty

pleasure” in her own flat. Meanwhile, I who longed for it so much, whip up three

course meals made out of organic materials.

(A version of this appeared as my column on mydigitalfc.com.)

(More Maggi? I wrote an article for Scroll on books that came out in the same era)
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Kids these days

25 May 2015

There’s a little kid who seems to live on the stairwell of my apartments. He’s not the only little kid; across from me is a four-year-old and below me, in the house where his mother is employed, are two others. But this little kid is unique because unlike the others, who occasionally nod at me and say hello before being ushered indoors by their parents, this kid will ring my bell a lot and when I open it, he’ll look at me with big hopeful eyes and say, “Didi can I get you anything from the market?”

It gets irritating, especially when he wakes you up from a sound nap, or when you were right in the middle of that perfect sentence and there’s this child, demanding your attention. You just want to shout at him to go away. But he has big, hopeful eyes and a rare smile that lights up his whole face when he chooses to use it. And I can’t help thinking how many people must have already shouted at this kid, destroyed some hope or another and how many more he will have to face and let me not add to that list.

But the problem is, I have no errands for the boy to run. I manage to pick up groceries the night before (once in a rare while, I might ask him to get me some milk, but not enough to warrant the daily doorbell ringing), I have everything I need: a maid who cleans and cooks and a guy to clean my car. Also, I want to be politically correct about this — I want him to go to school and do normal childhood things (what do they do these days? Cricket?) rather than worry about money and what little tips he can earn from this door-to-door soliciting. In my building, it is only us and one more flat downstairs that don’t have full-time help and we don’t have anything for him to do. He is not a beggar, I can’t just hand him money and be done with it, but at the same time, I don’t feel right sending a child out to do my work for me.

I wish I could say the same about the local shop, that periodically uses a young boy (about 12) to cycle around the neighbourhood dropping off groceries. Or even the employers of my little kid’s mother, who use him in a pinch when they need to. Sometimes I’ll go to a fancy mall and there’ll be this kid — obviously not one of the family by the way she’s dressed and behaved — looking after another kid. Sometimes I’ll be surprised by a child when I go to a friend’s house and a young person brings me a glass of water.

I was thinking about this kid and the others in the same state as him while reading the recent news about India’s child labour laws. The boy in my building goes to school, but often he’s rung my bell during school hours — hiding from his mother —so that he can earn a little extra. What can I tell him? No, go to school, you’ll earn some more money when you’re grown? What is the point of future money when the present is so urgent and pressing? At the same time, I’m fully in agreement with the fact that kids should be kids: get an education, play, frolic, be kids for as long as they can, because adulthood and all its pressures will knock on their door sooner or later. But how do you argue with cold hard cash available right in front of you? I suspect the issue is knottier than what we can see on the surface.

Domestic help is the biggest employer of child labour in big cities, as far as I can tell. Little children sent from their villages to big cities, where they live alongside other more fortunate children and learn to work in a home. Their impoverished parents are happy to have one less mouth to feed and one more earning member for their family. Tell them about school and they’d likely tell you that they can’t afford it. In a country where every mouth is a liability, you want your liabilities to be off your plate and earning you money as fast as they can manage it.

The only way we can fix this is by going to the root of the problem. Help the people with the children so that their children don’t have to. And I suspect this will take more than just an amendment of a law.


(A version of this appeared as my column in mydigitalfc.com)
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Some thoughts on Salman Khan, drunk driving & rich people

12 May 2015

Drunk driving in India is a peculiar thing. For one thing, it usually happens to the rich: it’s someone flush with daddy’s cash taking their new toy out for a spin, or someone deciding that that getting home in five minutes is more important than following traffic rules. I’m not speaking of the truck drivers who take drugs along the way to keep themselves awake. That’s a different kind of under the influence altogether. But as far as I can tell, if you crash your car because you’ve had one too many shots, you’re usually rich and have been brought up in a life without consequences.

The very first drunk driving incident that registered on my radar has probably gone off yours a long time ago. It involved a young man called Sanjeev Nanda, a BMW and mowing through six people including cops, back in 1999. Once he had killed them, he hurriedly drove his car to a friend’s house and had the bonnet and bumper cleaned of blood. Nanda captured everyone’s imagination —even in that long-ago pre-Twitter age — and most newspapers reported the anger and hatred people had for that Rich Person Entitlement he carried with him, almost waving it before him like a flag. The car was a BMW (strike one), he killed policemen on duty (strike two), he had a friend’s servant wash off the car (strike three), that friend lived in Golf Links, Delhi’s poshest neighbourhood (ding ding ding, you’re out!) If Nanda had turned himself in, if Nanda had maybe gone to the cops and paid them off, if, if, if, who knows, maybe we wouldn’t even have heard that story.

I’ve been thinking of Sanjeev Nanda since the Salman Khan verdict came out. I’ve never understood the blind hero worship of Salman Khan — he’s muscle-y, yes, but he’s not that talented an actor, he’s known (publicly!) to have beaten up his ex-girlfriends, some of them Bollywood’s most loved leading ladies, his reputation as a thug exceeds his reputation for fine cinema, and yet, “the fraternity” as I suppose we must call the opportunistic, much made up stars of Bollywood were behind him to a letter. “One mistake should not define a life,” one of them definitely said. But in this case, one mistake was a big, huge mistake. It’s not “one mistake” when you kill someone, it’s a choice you made to take someone else’s life. And by driving drunk, you’re indicating exactly that: I don’t care very much for my life, and your life is laughable. Plus the better designed the car, the less likely it is that the driver will be injured in all this. No, it’ll be the humans he chooses to mow over like they’re characters in a video game, plowing on till there’s blood everywhere and screams, and yet, the people you work with, the people you work for will still defend you, still call you the greatest human being since Mahatma Gandhi, and am I missing something here?

On the other hand, if Salman Khan’s car had bumped yours, loyal fan, would you still think he was amazing or would you be ready to go, an iron rod in your hand?

It was entirely his fault for driving drunk and people who argue that other people shouldn’t have been sleeping on the footpaths anyway, are barking up an idiotic — not to mention elitist — tree. As someone familiar with Mumbai, you’d know there are people everywhere. If not asleep, what if it was someone taking their dog for a walk? Or someone who couldn’t sleep going for a stroll? It’s not unheard of in Mumbai for people to be out at all hours of the night, and it’s not their job to mind the footpath for any crazy drivers who might decide to run all over it.

If I sound angrier than I normally do, it’s because I am. In two years at college, I lost two people (one a very dear friend) to drunk driving. One was because of one of those above mentioned truck drivers, plowing through city streets and into a car full of people. The other was a passenger in a drunk driving incident. Such a waste and a loss to all of us, and how we mourn them still. All because people like Salman Khan and Sanjeev Nanda think the world is theirs without consequences. Lock them up, put them away. Make it impossible to drive a car when you’re over the limit.

Maybe if you’re one of his supporters, you’ll think a little more about his crime now.


(A version of this came out in mydigitalfc.com)
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Mingling Singles: Attending A World Alike Party

9 May 2015

A few weekends ago, I went to a singles mixer.

Not because I'm single--I am eternally grateful in the words of When Harry Met Sally to "never be out there again" but because it was run by a friend, and because I was curious and they were like, "Hey, can you come and write about it?" I live for new experiences.

A World Alike is an upmarket event company a "curated network of well-educated singles" that puts together like-minded singles across Delhi (and coming soon to Bombay!) in fun situations. The event I attended was at Pan Asian, and they had a psychic tarot reader and drinks and music.
Pretty Pan Asian party room


To be honest, given my allergy to a certain kind of Delhi person, I wasn't sure how much I'd enjoy it. {You know the kind of Dallyite I mean. They're entitled, they live off Daddy's bucks, in Daddy's house and they don't seem to have any ambition beyond their next good time. People like that make me seriously itchy.} But, thanks to the vetting system they had in place here, I actually met a bunch of really interesting people. (My friend does intense interviews to make sure each member is a proper fit.) 

"The point is not to meet the love of your life," my friend and co-runner, Devina Badhwar assured me, but I did a very unscientific poll, where I spoke to some of the people standing next to me and asked if they were hoping to meet their person. "YES" said the ladies, "NO" said the gentlemen. So there's that. (Later my data got a bit mixed when the ladies said no and the gents said yes, but hey!) From which I surmised that there are always people looking for their next big date, and there are always people looking for a good time. Neither of which is a bad thing. I like dates. I like good times.

But what struck me most was the atmosphere. It felt like an upgraded house party. People shifted from group to group chatting, and if I were ever alone in a corner (as I get sometimes when I get the Shys) someone would wander over to me and ask me about myself. It was nice. It's definitely something this city needs. Imagine if AWA had existed when I moved back to Delhi four years ago, looking for new friends. It would've been awesome.

WHEE NEW BEAUTIFUL PEOPLE!!

Listen, it's really hard to make new friends--especially in a city like Delhi, especially when you're in your 30s and everyone around you seems to be all about marriage and babies--sometimes you'd just like to kick back with a few people who are in the same place as you, thinking about your career, hoping to meet someone, yes, but not making that the entire focus of your life.

It's a really good thing they're doing--and if I were single myself, I'd join and go to a bunch of their parties. Sometimes you've gotta do things for yourself. That's the biggest lesson I learned when I was single: doing new things opens up the door for others.

As for the tarot reader? She predicted I will never be rich, but I will hit Big Fame by the end of next year, so, um, watch this space?
Terrible photo of me and the lovely Devina

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My feminism: a spoken word rant

8 May 2015

My feminism is not your fashion accessory.
My feminism is not your catch-all statement to the press where you try to please everybody but wind up pleasing nobody.
My feminism is my great-grandmother who hid on a roof to keep from being married at 13.
My feminism is my grandmother who was a grandmother when she was my age.
My feminism is my other great-grandmother who was a Sanskrit scholar and very admired.
My feminism is that I bear her unwieldy name.
My feminism is not scary, because it has nothing to do with you, it is my own personal and political view and why am I threatening you?
My feminism is short and feisty, and mostly soft-spoken.
My feminism will burn you with a cigarette if you attack it.
My feminism is tired of seeing you use it to sell things all the time.
My feminism is up and down and quiet and loud but it never goes away.
My feminism is really puzzled how you can't see equal rights for women as a basic human right.
My feminism is inclusive, I want to fight for me and I want to fight for people who are not me.
My feminism is surprised that your feminism is only about you.

(Inspired by seeing this truly aggravating Chanel clutch that says Feminist but Feminine. Seriously, fuck off Chanel.)

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Me wan' girl to make me roti

30 April 2015

I was with a gay friend—this was before the whole 377-debate, and while gay-ness was not “illegal”, a lot of people still didn’t come out—and we met another couple, also gay. One of the men in the couple took a liking to me, and spent the rest of the evening telling me his secrets over wine. One of them was: “I can never tell my parents I’m gay, so I’m getting married.”

This was both shocking and saddening to me, but as the years went by, and I met more people, both openly gay and not, I heard similar stories over and over again. I hesitate to pass the blame on to anyone, because I think this is a many-pronged problem.


For one, consider the parents. You have a kid, but you don’t have ownership of the kid, if you know what I mean. You have created a person, and you have to eventually let that person go into the world and do what they do. Sometimes you can try and stop them from actively harming themselves or others (parents of rapists, parents of drug addicts), but at the end of the day, your kid is a fully formed individual who will have to follow his or her own path. Too many people believe in the “emotional manipulation” school of parenting.

Let’s recap: you can’t force your child to do something you want him to do by claiming a) illness, b) I want to see my grandchildren before I die c) you are ruining your family’s good name. Be a good human being, parents, and let your kids be who they are and unafraid of telling you.

For two, consider the men themselves. I’m going with the assumption that they were forced or coerced into a heterosexual marriage against their will. Men, I know the stereotype about Indian men wanting to be perfect for their mummies (and daddies) but you need to learn to be honest about yourself. If you don’t want to get married, just say so. 

I know it’s easier said than done, but I lead by example: I’m in a committed live-in relationship with no immediate plans to get married. Granted, mine is a heterosexual partnership, but there is still an amount of pressure for me to take the plunge. Marriage is overrated anyway, but that’s the subject of a different column.

Imagine this: by making your parents happy, you are making a stranger, a person who never did anything to harm you, very unhappy. Is that the way you want to live your life?

For three, the women themselves. We do not know what goes on behind closed doors, what mental torture someone must have undergone to take an extreme step like suicide, but before it gets to that, please leave. Leave. Slam the door shut behind you. To hell with the consequences. The only one capable of living your life from inside your brain is you, and this is not the way you want to spend it.

It’s very hard to leave an emotionally or physically abusive relationship. You have years of building up feelings like “this must be my fault” or “this is my fate.” Most Indian women move in with a whole family once they’re married, so it’s not bad enough that their husband is cheating on them, there’s usually the unsympathetic mother-in-law, the absent father-in-law and a whole lot of relatives you have to put a brave face on for.

And finally, we’ve got to blame India’s draconian laws in the first place. They are capable of evolving—I watch with interest as live-in partnerships are given more and more legitimacy—but on this one subject, they refuse to move, forcing people to spend a greater part of their lives in darkness. We need to be able to love who we love, embrace who we wish to embrace. In other countries, gay marriage is moving forward in leaps and bounds, in ours, we can’t even acknowledge that such people exist.

Let’s move forward into a world where gay marriage doesn’t mean you marry off your gay son or daughter. 


(A version of this appeared in my column for mydigitalfc.com)
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Living The Bachelor Life

29 April 2015

The Good Thing has been away for almost a month now trying to get a new visa, and while it has been quite lonely without him, it's also forced me to get out and meet people more. (Which is also why I have a mild hangover on Wednesday. This is what socialising gets me.)

So, I've made a few new friends and done a few new things.

ROUND OF APPLAUSE FOR ME
* KARAOKE has returned, and guess where? GUESS WHERE? TC!! Full on old-school now, and on Tuesdays and Sundays they have karaoke night. None of the old staff is there, the basement is gone and now all the "regulars" are people I don't recognise, but I've been going for the last three weeks--so often that the waiters now say hello to me when I walk in. TC is also perhaps the only place in the city that lets you smoke inside so by eleven, you're surrounded by a fugue of smoke, and you have to wash your hair the next day.

* A lot of this socialising has been done under the tutelage of my friend at Fifty Dates In Delhi, who I will call just 50 for brevity's sake. 50 and I were already well on the way of becoming close friends before the Good Thing left,  and now we hang at least once a week, if not twice, so YAY SO NICE HAVING NEW GIRL FRIENDS!! I made another new girlfriend too, but it's early days yet, so let's not say anything.

* I realise I am talking about friends like I would about boys, but here's what happens when you're in a serious committed relationship in your 30s: you don't make any new friends. You TRY, oh god, how you try, but you never get around to actually following through on your plans. The only exception to this rule is if you've both just moved to a new city, and then of course, you're bringing your friend game to the table and leaving with a new BFF if you die trying.

* I think I prefer the word "bachelor" to "spinster." A) I do not wish to spin, so thank you. And b) bachelor just has a lovely, swingy sound to it. I'm claiming it.

* Since you been gooo-hoo-ne.. I have eaten at Cafe Lota TWICE and it is amazeballs. At the Crafts Museum. Go go, run don't walk.

* SO MUCH TV! My favourite discoveries have been: the short-lived Studio 60 On The Sunset Strip. The longer but harder to obtain Everwood and the super-drama-OMG-rubbernecking of Big Love. All excellent. Please watch.

* At 50's suggestion, I read Bet Me by Jennifer Cruise Crusie (thanks commentor!) which is awesome, but I wish Cruise didn't keep describing her main character Min as "soft" or "round" or "lush", I'm like, "Ok ok, I understand, she's not a skinny girl, let's move on." But is hilarious and warm and lush and oh god I'm doing it now. Read it anyway.

* SHOPPING IS AWESOME. I do so much online shopping I forgot how much fun IRL shopping is too, and I bought loads of things.

I still miss the Good Thing terribly though. I wish he'd come home. I feel somehow unmoored, even though I am a strong independent woman of the twenty first century. Are you allowed to miss your boyfriend and wish he was around to be with you and help you and support you and still be a feminist?

HELLS YEAH.


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Why am I still blogging?

28 April 2015

Dooce, one of the blogs I've been following for the last ten something years, has quit to focus on other stuff. Back when we used to do this thing regularly, when blog meet-ups meant you actually knew everyone's URL, I had a lot more people I knew here. Regular commenters, I commented on other people's things, we met, we talked, we had an Indian blogging community.

Does it make sense to keep writing on this thing? What purpose does it serve if you're going to read me on other forums anyway? My blog gets the least amount of engagement now, if you consider all the other social media I'm on.

It's not about the money, it was never about the money, but we live in an age where if you have an opinion and an intelligent way to put it down, you can publish it pretty much anywhere. So all the stuff that you could save for your own blog, you'd put on other forums. And get paid for it too.

Why am I still here? Partly because I'm holding on with my fingertips to something that was once awesome, and that I believe can be awesome again. Partly because this is the only space which is all my stuff all the time, unlike Facebook or Twitter or Instagram which has other people's thoughts as well. Partly because after close to eleven years of doing this, I've grown accustomed to this place.


This may not be the future, in fact, I'm fairly sure this is the past. The blog as we know it is dead and it's time for those of us that are left after the great social media shakedown to see what new things we can do with it. If you're listening, talk to me.  

UPDATE: HOLY SHIT, THANK YOU GUYS! I am so, so touched with all the outpouring of good wishes. You're the best and you've convinced me. :) This blog isn't going anywhere: I'll stay if you will. 


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Titty Woman: Five Rants For The Big Boobed

20 April 2015

UGH. Being large chested is hard and not in the smug-hard way when you look at your lesser-chested friends and you think, "Oho, look at how stacked I am." I'm fully aware that in my thirties, the road is only downhill from here for my ladies. I envy people who can walk around without a bra, and in this summer, I have constant sweat marks on my tops for the section between the bottom of your breast and your chest. Not to mention whenever I gain weight I gain it right up there on my chesticles, and this means all my clothes are straining at the top but don't ever fit right around my waist. Seriously you guys. It's a CURSE.

Anyhow, here's a rant I did for PopXO a while ago, annotated with notes.


I learnt how to put on a bra the right way as late as two years ago. I developed early, and developed a bad habit of hunching forward to hide new growths, and ever since then, my bra become My Enemy Number One.
In school, I put my bra on front to back, so it was around my stomach, and hooked it that way so I could get it over my back. Later, I perfected the agile hands-behind-back movement that looked so easy when done in the movies. But it was only at 28 that I learned to lean forward, breasts in cups, so that the bra properly fit. 

***
  It is a truth universally acknowledged that a person in ownership of breasts must endure loads of chatter about said breasts. It doesn’t matter if they’re big or small, your breasts are the elephant (or the mouse) in the room, and the sooner people bring it up, the sooner you hope (fingers crossed) they’ll stop. 

 ***

 
The ever popular androgyne look just doesn’t work for anyone with more than an A cup. Hard as it is to find clothes that make you look nice, but not slutty, it’s even harder to find a button up shirt that won’t gape sadly around the second or third button. Further problems? The buttons snap in the middle of a meeting and you’re left flashing the whole office. This literally just happened to me the other day, wearing a shirt dress. I had to tell my friends to look away while I put the ladies back where they belonged. Gah. Also, I bought the most beautiful dress in a sale, and it doesn't zip up the side, no matter how many times I envisage a small chest and breathe out and wiggle, so now I have to have the tailor put a panel in it made out of the belt of the dress, and it won't be the same. {sad face}

***

Ever had that awkward moment when you go to hug someone and don’t want your breasts to touch them? You’re not sure how much gap to leave, so you put your arms up with an elbow shield and wind up elbowing them in the stomach instead. That. 

*** 


I’ve realized that I can walk around in short-shorts all I like, but the minute I throw in even a little bit of cleavage, I have a crowd following me. Your average Indian man is a boob guy. It’s true. The answer? A modesty scarf. I have several. Also it kinda sucks being constantly sexualised (from the time I was only a kid), just because your t-shirt tugs a bit more in the front than other people's.

***

Like the full moon, your breasts too will undergo considerable changes each month. There’s right before your period, where everything hurts, there’s right after your period, when you feel you could run a marathon without a sports bra, and there’s weight gain, which sometimes makes even a modest B cup turn into a double D. How do you keep your ladies from changing? You can’t, but that’s just the way with ladies.  Pro tip: buy a few looser bras with no underwire just for that time of the month. Hey, if you can have period chaddis, you can have a period bra.



 
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