Archive for May, 2012

So this week, on vacation, I challenged myself to learn to ride the bicycle.

Yes, I can’t ride a bicycle. Laugh it up, bitch.

I think I tried it out when I was about 8, but I fell off. It was brutal. Naturally I shunned the contraption forever, and rode my tricycle around instead.. till that got too weird, socially.

Now I wish to face my nemesis again. Besides the obvious glory in conquering the two-wheeled creature, there’s also that fun feeling of flying down my lane on the bike with the wind in my face! Whee!

At first, I advertised for a tutor for bicycle-riding. The tutor would have to be friendly and patient and kind and stuff, because being on a bicycle is pressure enough without having a mean coach blowing a whistle in my face and yelling at me for failing. So after lots of offers from friends to teach me (most of whom just want to laugh when I fall and secretly YouTube the entire fiasco), I finally picked my cousin who I know won’t be mean. Before he starts lessons down my lane next week, I thought I’d try it out by myself in my garden.

The aftermath of a violent struggle between me and the bicycle

Firstly I consulted  my father on technique. Dad, what do I do when the bike tilts to the right – I guess I should tilt my body to the left to balance it out? I asked him. And he said, No, nothing like that, it’s all about momentum, you just have to not look at the wheel and keep peddling and gain speed. 

WHAT DOES THAT EVEN MEAN?
I tried this, by the way, the not looking at the wheel and randomly peddling thing, and I almost died. DIED.
i.e. got my pajamas stuck in the pedals.

So far my quick cat-like reflexes have kept me from falling though. But this riding a bicycle thing is really difficult, man. How are you supposed to balance this thing?! There’s like zero structural stability, it’s practically like riding a unicycle. I googled ‘how to ride a bicycle’ and everyone’s being so VAGUE about it. Keep your back straight. Increase speed. Keep your balance. No shit, Sherlock.

Today I couldn’t ride it for more than about four seconds, and it ended with the front of the bicycle crazily careening into the wall on my right, but I didn’t fall off either. I think I’m making progress. I did this about 10 times in the concrete part of the garden, within a small 25 foot long space, trying to gain balance. I get it, the idea of maneuvering your body and the bike to be perpendicular to the ground, just that I don’t have any freaking idea how. After lots of loud swearing and raging against the bicycle and its inability to DRIVE IN A STRAIGHT LINE FFS – I kicked it, and vowed to return for another round the following day. Then I went inside and played this Ludacris song and danced around making gang signs; to keep the morale up, you see.

Honestly, wouldn’t it be way easier if we all rode giant tricycles instead? They’re practically trishaws, except with just one seat. I think such an invention would greatly contribute to reducing the death toll in this country.

So apparently Aishwarya Rai had a baby this year, and Jessica Simpson is expecting one too. They’re both going to produce miniature celebrities who are going to be coochy cooed over by all loyal followers of the tabloid for years to come. Worldover, people love talking about these hot mamas and their movies and music and enviable good looks, but lately, Aishwarya and Jessica have committed a grave and heinous crime. An unforgivable sin, which has caused critics – yes, there are actually official ‘critics’ for such situations – to huff and haw about the nerve of these women, about their utterly despicable ill manners. How dare they! scream former fans and ‘experts’ on the matter in outrage in several blogs, magazines, articles.

Apparently… Aishwarya — in the process of nurturing life, a human being, inside her uterus, for nine long months of most probable painstaking cramps, morning sickness, painful hormone-induced mood swings, ending with insane gut wrenching enough-to-make-a-grown-man-cry labour pain, to produce presumably a hefty healthy 7 pound baby — had the audacity, the nerve, to get fat! That bitch. Who does she think she is?

I mean, just because your body is completely transforming itself into a rapidly-growing-baby’s nest, and demands a crazy amount of food to nurture it, just because you are experiencing motherhood for the first time, and have decided to (irresponsibly) express more concern for the nutrition of the precious life growing inside you than for your looks, just because the only momentary solace from 9 months of unpredictable physical and mental ups-and-downs is a bit of soothing feeding, just because it is basic biological convention for all mother mammals to put on pounds during the birthing process, just because you think you have the right to spend some post-birth time nurturing your child than slaving on a treadmill — it is no freaking excuse, lady, to not look like a runway model a week after squeezing a seven pound baby out of your body.

I mean you’re a celebrity. We, the random people all over the world who you’ve never met in your life, own you. Your job, like that of a circus monkey, is to entertain. And as a hot female celebrity who is glorified for her great looks, you are not allowed to go around having normal human experiences that affect those great looks — turn into an efficient robot, I mean if Madonna and Victoria Beckham can pull it off why the hell can’t you? You gotta buck up and stop being a selfish slag, and go to the gym and start working your ass off RIGHT NOW. What? I don’t care if you were on a hospital bed two days ago and think you’ve experienced the most profound thing a woman can experience and you’re going through a vertigo of overwhelming emotions — you’re FAT. Quit your whining and give me 10 push-ups, fattie.

Your kid is beautiful and all that, but look at what that thing has done to your hips, your calves, your chin! Disgusting! I can’t even bear to look at you. And as a responsible citizen who is campaigning for the holy laws of Stardom to be respected (article 34 of the holy laws of Stardom states that being pregnant is not an excuse for a hot celebrity to look fat), I will whine like a little bitch about your offensive girth till the cows come home, achieving nothing much else besides the 200 hits got by my crappy slideshowy Windows-Movie-Maker-made YouTube video about your detestable pregnancy fat, and congratulating myself on getting published my pretentious articles about the same. It really doesn’t matter that most of us ‘critics’ are 18 year old high school brats who think pregnancy is ‘like, so not sexy’, or 35 year old male tabloid editors who deal with the meaninglessness of their lives by bitching about richer and more successful people, before later crying themselves to sleep at night — both categories of which, have no idea in hell what you’re going through. Why does that not matter and why should you still just do what we, the Critics, so rightfully demand of you? Because you’re fat (not obese, but still fat). And everyone knows fat people (which in our context usually means people beyond a 25 inch waist) are just a waste of space.

Anyhoo. On a serious note, people, I would just like to take this opportunity, to say on behalf of Aishwarya Rai and Jessica Simpson (even though I aint even a big fan of either of their work), to the self-declared aforementioned ‘critics’ who demand these stars focus on the superior priority of Getting-Stick-Thin rather than on motherhood and their babies – specially since I doubt they can say it to them themselves – Fuck you very much. 

I was packing last night for my flight back home, a long vacation, and this is what my luggage looked like:

This is not counting the first layer of library at the very bottom.
I had to close it and sit on it and bounce on it a few times to be able to bring the two edges of zip together. My roommates are always immensely amused by this ritual.

Some of my friends were like, what is wrong with you? Buy a Kindle! I’ll admit that the Kindle, I think during the time it just broke into the market, appealed to me — the idea of being able to have a thousand books in your bag without carrying the weight, the options available when you’re commuting, or travelling out of the city, the prospect of reading books you can’t find at the local store.

But at the time I was thinking all this, I was going through a temporary no-time-to-read-books phase.
When I got back into reading a new book every two days, I decided that yes, the Kindle was an excellent invention, and it’s great for people who are constantly on the move and still want to read a lot, but…

1. You can’t smell a Kindle
I do some really weird things (this goes without saying if you’ve been a regular reader of my posts, but still) one of which is going to the bookstore and sniffing books. The smell of a library gives me a high. When I’m walking back home and I’m in a bad mood and I happen to be passing by Makeens or Vijitha Yapa I’d literally walk in to take in the scent of bound pages to cheer myself up. The store managers know me well as the weird Muslim chick who sniffs books and leaves. Kindles smell like dry plastic.

2. You can’t turn pages with your fingers
I like the feel of paper between my fingers, and turning the page, and folding corners or reaching for the bookmark lodged in the middle of a chapter. The Kindle has a button for page turning. Now, usually I love pushing buttons (the elevator button, telephone buttons, calculator buttons) but in this case even buttons < manual page turning. Plus, the plastic barrier keeps you from marking out your favourite parts with a pencil or pen. Also I think you have to keep scrolling up and down a page no? What a pain.

3. There’s no last page
You know, that feeling of coming to the last page of a book, with the hard cover in your right hand, and you’re like, damn that was a good book or what kind of stupid ending is this or I wish there were more pages or phew glad that’s over or you’re thinking other deep thoughts? A book in a Kindle ends with an anti-climax, with probably just a defunct Next button to indicate it’s over, or an abrupt Back to menu option. It just isn’t as satisfying.

4. A Kindle can’t have creases or turn yellow
Now, normally, one would assume this is a good thing. But what’s better than new books? Old books. Creases in the cover, frayed edges, pages yellowed with time, the smell of old paper – this is what my Harry Potter collection looks like, from reading them 5-10 years ago, and I love the nostalgia triggered by these signs of age. The books in a Kindle show no trace of aging, the pages you look at when you are 40 will show no sign that they were turned when you were 20 and first setting off on that naive expedition into that story.

5. Kindles just aint good lookin’ 
Any book enthusiast will understand the pleasure of looking at a shelf stacked with books, of different colours and ages and sizes. A Kindle is a plain grey slab.

So basically, I’m an old fashioned godaya. I think it’s because I’ve been a lover of books for two decades now, with too much sentiment and nostalgic love attached to the form and feel of a book, that switching it for a Kindle is like throwing all that away. So I think for now, I’ll settle for stuffing 20 books into my luggage and bouncing on it.

I like doodling…

Posted: May 8, 2012 in Uncategorized

with my Atlas Chooti pen during study breaks.

Image

ANEY mata badagini!

Posted: May 7, 2012 in Uncategorized

So it’s only a week till I get on a plane back home, and as usual the last few days before take-off have me turned into a grumpy mumbling fidgety little thing constantly reminded of homely comforts. And the number one thing at home I yearn for?

FOOD.

Oh god. Yesterday I literally stabbed a pillow with my fist and yelled ‘CHICKEN CURRAAAYYYY’.
I’m hoping none of my apartment mates heard this. It would not bode well with my cool-foreigner status.

I am more or less vegetarian here, because my landlady cooks my meals – she lives with her mum-in-law who as a devout Hindu is like Captain Ultra Vegan and is very nazi about people who eat meat. And I remember the first day I landed in India with my parents – we went to a typical Indian restaurant, had typical Indian vegetarian food, and it was freaking DELICIOUS. I ate some curry and was literally like, this tastes like chicken, except it’s vegetarian… what sorcery is this?!

My point being. Vegetarian food in India can be really tasty, because it has a majority vegetarian population which can’t be satisfied eating salad on a regular basis. So they got super creative and invented a jillion different types of vegetarian dishes to choose from.

But what’s on my landlady’s menu? Chapati. Dhal. Every. Freaking. Day.
If it’s not dhal, it’s some weird grey or brown pulses in grey or brown fluid which tastes like dhal.
And when I say tastes like dhal, I mean tastes like soggy paper.
Occasionally she’ll make some curry with potatoes; one day while forcing myself to eat it – in order to sustain some energy throughout the day – it occurred to me that it felt like I was eating a cigarette wrapped in a chapati.

So in terms of food here I have managed to harness great self control, discipline and tolerance. I tried cooking at the very start of my stay in Delhi, but then I got lazy when classes started (plus I have quite a few battle-scars from my cooking attempts, I don’t think the kitchen part of the apartment is very fond of me). Then I tried ordering take-away everyday – Pizza Hut, McDonalds, KFC, in loop – but that isn’t very healthy at all, plus it’s relatively expensive. The awesome restaurant food I mentioned earlier is unavailable because the part of Delhi I live in – very residential and all – isn’t famous for restaurants. Also important to note, Delhi is nowhere near the sea, so if you wanna buy seafood it’s gonna be crazy expensive. So I settled for the affordable deal of landlady-meals, which were deceptively edible at the start, only to later become a routine of a daily dose of gross pulses. Once in a blue moon I meet up with another Sri Lankan friend / fellow blogger in Delhi and go eat at an amazing restaurant; and on some days when I go nuts (like the stabbing pillow incident) I give in and call up the Zinger burger guys.

Anyway, it’s a few hours before my first exam paper (end of my first academic year), and I’d like to distract myself by indulging in a little bitter-sweet masochism and go through the meals I’m really looking forward to when I get back home.

Potato perattal
I don’t know what this dish is called in english, but ‘perattal’ in Tamil means mixed up, usually with chilli powder, onions and all sorts of yummy spices. I think it’s tossed about for a while in the pan in oil. It’s a very spicy dish with no watery curry, just soft potatoes in the residue of spices. Served with lots of rice and ordinary chicken curry.

Isso vadey
What a cliché right? But I would give anything to be at Galle Face now, eating two or three fresh, warm salty-spicy isso vadeys.

Macaroni and cheese & fried chicken
This is home-made stuff made by this epic cook of an Aunty – featuring just macaroni seeped in abundant creamy white cheese, served with a coupla fried chicken legs. The dish just cannot be given justice to with a description, you have to eat it to know.

Home-made Pizza
Cannot be described again. By another epic cook of an Aunty. These aunties, I tell you, mad skills only.

Lasagna
Again home-made – courtesy of mummy! Lots of cheese and self indulgence and such.

Pilawoo
Home-made – by the dad. His job is in Business, but his real calling and talent is the art of cooking! Master chef only. Served fresh from the pressure cooker – have not yet been able to find the equal of his pilawoo in any shop.

Hotdogs
This sounds like a petty thing to miss. But I haven’t been able to find even a freaking hotdog stand where I live. I want to have one awesome Tomato hotdog with extra chillies from the Stardogs stand at the Majestic City food court. Or get dad to make one – with Norfolk + a slice of Happy Cow cheese + 30 seconds in the microwave = pure perfection!

Prawn Curry
Big red jumbo prawns, sauteed in lots of red chilli and onions, served with a side of rice. Mmmmmmmmmmm!

Eclairs from that shop near the Dehiwela junction
I don’t remember the damn name of the shop – but you keep walking towards the junction from the Wellawatte side and there’ll suddenly be a small flight of steps to your left, descending into a quaint little bakery. An eclair is only 20 rupees I think – brimming with chocolate cream, totally delicious. Once I ordered 20 on the spot, but there were only 10 available, so the baker actually went to the kitchen and made 10 more for me in a few minutes.

Chicken Cordon Bleu
I want to just go to Burgers King and say SHUT UP AND TAKE MY MONEY and eat all their burgers. Om nom nom!

Milk-rice
Oh god it’s like food-porn to think of Kiribath with some red hot katta sambol! Sigh.

So yeah. Basically, during my 2 month vacation at home I’m going to eat mountains of food on a daily basis and slowly metamorphosize into a giant ball with a face. Till then, I’m going to have to settle for a warm dish of Maggi noodles at the college canteen. And maybe some mournful binge eating at KFC later. And then maybe I’ll stab another pillow for good measure.

In other news, to read more of my nonsense, but in real life instead of on the interwebz, look for this pretty little logo in the Teen Inc supplement of Ceylon Today:

Yes, they’re actually paying me for this shit. What is the world coming to?