Tag Archives: food

The Decade of March

You realize the smallest of human interactions add up to a lot, when they’re all collectively taken away. It was a long March. The March they hung three rapists in India and plotted against the virus outside. The virus outside was vicious and unforgiving, and all anyone ever spoke about. Every news channel, every website, at work and at home, outside at the grocery store. Momentarily they nodded at the rapists being hung and expressed their thoughts for or against capital punishment, but then they got back to the virus. Of ways to avoid it and what it had done to the economy and how everyone would get fat during the quarantine. Of ways to keep your immunity up and anxiety at bay. Of the lost lives and lost jobs and lost time, statistics we tracked closely and continuously. Back to the economy, a moment of thoughts and prayers for the doctors and nurses and others fighting at the forefront but not for the silly people who dared step outside and catch the virus and spread it and die. All this extra time on hand but not a moment spared for those who fought for their lives in vain, because we had the economy to worry about, and also the living.

I never wondered what it was like. I never thought to wonder. There was so much new to process, the days looked different and the different began to slyly seem perennial. Scattered people on empty roads, masked and gloved, walking hastily to their destinations that could be one of three – to the grocer, the chemist, or back home. Some of us walked hastily to a friend’s house for grass and vessels to take it in. Some of us still risked booty calls. All of us understood that none of us bought flowers for those we loved. This was hardly the time to express love with grand gestures, and hardly the test one should put love through.

He had started smoking again. His hair grew longer and his nails, shorter. I, on the other hand, ate for two and lost weight from worry. Some nights I would cry because there was there was little to laugh about. Other nights I would cry because he was being kind and polite and understanding and I didn’t have it in me to continue with the sanity. This little bubble of time had come like an unwelcome guest, scheduled to leave in three weeks but with no tickets booked.

We learned to cook a thing or two. An easy pasta recipe, a decadent French toast, one for him and one for me. I don’t miss my house, but I miss things about it. There’s a pigeon’s nest outside the window of my living room. I used to eat breakfast everyday and watch her protect her eggs. I once leaned way out the window and craned by neck down to see how many there were. Three, smaller than the eggs we eat. The mother pigeon stayed in the same position for hours, not moving a feather. Days, maybe.
I wonder if the nest is still there. Although why wouldn’t it be?

Here we have each other and we have a balcony that feels like we’re outdoors. He plays the guitar in the evenings and some days I paint. The days overlap and intersect in strange ways. I may not individually remember them enough to look back on them fondly, but if I were to be reminded to them, I’d look back on them fondly.

We’re all here sitting in our nests patiently, indefinitely, trying to keep warm the ones we love. It’s not the worst of times after all. March has ended, and this will too.

The Nest

There’s a pigeon in my kitchen. She’s a lovely grey, if there’s even such a thing as lovely grey. It’s not silver, it’s just a clean warm earthy grey, accented by highlights and shadows from the sun catching her feathers. She frequents my kitchen window, and there’s a twelve-twigged hint of an upcoming nest on the parapet outside. I presume they have something to do with each other.

But today, for the first time, I find her inside my kitchen. She’s crossed the windowpane, a feat no other bird of this bashful species (or any species for that matter) has dared to attempt before. Somehow the birds always know to stay out of houses, even when windows and doors are left ajar. I imagine the thought of the imminent confinement scares them away.

And yet, and yet, Pidge the pigeon (I have decided to name her) is in my kitchen, stomping on the cold black granite with her orange claws, pacing up and down the kitchen counter in a hurry, like she has important business to attend to on the top of the fridge, but this can hardly wait for the important business that needs attention on the opposite end by the sink.

She stops for a breath every now and then, her neck’s purple green plumage vibrant in the sunlight, and cocks her head up to look at me. I must seem quite unthreatening to her, for she gets back to her many businesses immediately, marching across my kitchen counter, no time to waste.

***

I’m back in the kitchen. There’s the human standing at the doorway and looking at me. She lets out a low gasp at first, but I look at her and calm her down. She switches on the fan, and continues standing at the doorway and staring at me. I can tell she’s scared, but also curious. We’ve seen each other before, but always across the windowpane. This is the first time we are on the same side.

She smiles at me, and I can’t bear it. I think she’s named me in her head. The other birds warned me this often happens when a bird crosses the windowpane in the presence of a human. This, or death. I’m glad it’s the former.

My heart beats faster in my chest, and I don’t know what to do. I’m walking from one end to another frantically, trying to get my thoughts in order. I look at her, time and again. She seems calm now, her beautiful brown skin smooth as the insides of a worm on a warm summer afternoon, her black eyes darting across the room at things she’s worried I will kick over as I scurry around, trying my best to buy time.

She leaves momentarily, and I make the most of it. I rush to the clothes stand, and peck the fragrant pink towel as it dries, picking up each strand of her delicious black hair from it. There’s thirty six in all, and I carry them lovingly back to my developing nest, ready to spend the day weaving them in. They are weaker and finer than twigs, but smell like mogra some days and rose on others.

One day, when it’s done, I’ll invite her in.

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The minutes you spend.
Looking at her clothes. How the neckline of her blouse is just shallow enough to give away her delicate collar bones. You spend a minute too long on this, in fact. And sigh.
Onto the next. Your fourth grade crush has bought his own BMW. Ah but, you think to yourself, it’s commonplace in the states.
Onto the next. Your ex boyfriend’s ex girlfriend. You make a mental note to unfollow her. Another time. Right now she’s got a cute puppy and you’ve forgotten you hated her.
You scroll down. It’s your mum’s cool friend, showing way too much cleavage.
Further down, your own ex. A post about his football non profit. Unfollow.
Next, your other ex. Married now, posting a picture of his brand new six pack abs. You smirk and don’t unfollow him, because it mildly amuses you to see his scantily clad calls for attention, the same reason you’re still following the girl from high school you never spoke to, who makes an appearance in the next picture.
You continue scrolling, fast now because the promise of entertainment from this app is slowly waning and making you restless.
And then you stop.
Scroll up just a bit.
There.
Right in front of you.
The tiny thumbnail picture of the man you have a crush on.
It’s funny, you never thought you’d say man and crush in the same sentence. He’s posted something after two months. Not his face, not the weather, not some wannabe poignant picture of a derelict alleyway with a cheap filter and a borrowed caption. It’s a post of his latest animation, that he probably coded lying down casually in bed on a Sunday between his morning dose of Economic Times and his afternoon reading sesh (you think he likes reading Manto but you’re not sure it’s his Sunday vibe, so you don’t feature that into your imagination).
And then you scroll further. Slow now. Not really taking in anything. Memes. Selfies.
Comic strips come and go. By the time you’re back to the present, you’re already looking at pictures posted last night. With a pang of guilt you continue.
A quote with a bright background. A close friend’s terrible attempt at sketching. A stranger you follow in her latest gym attire (holy shit she got so fit so fast!). Because you like to know what exactly is up in their lives, three celebrities one after the other.
Your ex best friend with her new best friend. Your token cool colleague. And (just before it’s time to get off the cab) the guy who took his life last night.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nom Nom Nom *Sigh*

I had cookie batter for lunch today. All of it.

I feel like I have a hangover now. Without all the happy memories and mystery bruises. I feel guilty and sorry and I want that cool device that Hermoine used to use to get to classes (time-turner?) to undo my eating of this cookie batter.

People do it all the time. Everywhere. I think. People want to lose weight, they don’t eat the cookie. But then they get so hung up on not having eaten the cookie that their whole life is about the cookie. And then they eat the cookie and stare at the rest of the cookies and sigh because saying ‘Fuck’ out loud is not appropriate in most guilty-cookie-eating situations.

I just… I don’t know… I really appreciate chocolate. I live alone. I am single and unemployed. My closest relatives live in Oman, which, let’s face it, isn’t even really Asia if you come to think of it. Chocolate just seems to make it all feel alright. But I can’t even enjoy some nice cookie batter without some part of my mind questioning my actions.

Are you sure you don’t have the munchies?

Why did you even start with cookies? Who BAKES cookies?

Do you know how much cardio it will take to burn all those calories? Do you know how many calories you have to burn in the first place?

And I’m just here like AAAAAAAAAAAH THAT’S SO OUT OF SYLLABUS!

So I got out for a run in the evening but got back after a kilometer because I forgot that I’m out of shape and can’t run more than a kilometer. I ran slower than internet explorer on 90’s dial up, but I ran. Turns out, no amount of motivational quotes or health facts can get me to exercise the way an ‘L’ label on the Zara pants that (finally) fit me can. And in the hour that I took to complete my kilometer run (ok I wasn’t that slow, I had to keep stopping because my ponytail wouldn’t hold), I thought of the deeper things in life, like how raisin cookies pretending to be chocolate chip cookies are the main reason I have trust issues.
And somewhere between stopping from excitement because I thought I was thinning down (I wasn’t, my sweatpants came untied) and re-tying my ponytail for the billionth time I realized, nobody cares. What does it matter if my waistline is 24 or 34, whether I have a thigh gap or bat wings (fitness-freak terminology for arm-jiggle), whether I can run a kilometer or ten? Besides, I’m in India. There are people who live as vegetarians or don’t eat egg all their lives (so half the desserts are off the table). I can’t compete with people who’s religion has a built in weight loss plan. No. If I’m not getting any joy out of it, nobody else is either.

If you gotta force it, leave it alone.
Relationships, workouts, ponytails. Just leave it.
Life is too short to not have cookie batter for lunch. 

P.S. I also finished that jar of Nutella. Yes.