Saturday, June 23, 2012

Conversation killers

Technology has made things more difficult. People expect you to keep in touch with them all the time. First, it was okay that you called them and spoke in great detail about everything that happened in the past since-you-last-spoke-them but now, you have whatsapp everything that happens as it happens. While this is okay if you have an awesome and amazing life, if you are unemployed, bored and home, almost 24*7, you really have nothing to say, do you?

On the flip side, since I am bored and unemployed, I ping my friends all the time. God bless whatsapp and free texting. These are people that I talk to everyday and while I appreciate their effort to keep the conversation going sometimes, they can't help but fall into the rut of conversation killers. These are words that make you wonder if the person is bored, busy and trying to kill the conversation, whether they mean to or not. A good conversation is a game of catch, A throws, B catches and then, B throws and A catches and it goes on. A conversation killer is when A throws and B catches and that's that. To keep the conversation going A has to procure a new ball from somewhere and A might not have an unlimited supply of balls, you know.

I asked on twitter which words end up as conversation killers and here's a short list:

1. ":)"  - Actually any smilie will do.
2. Okay or any of its cousins, worst of all, "k"
3. Hmmmm
4. Nothing much or worse, NM - This generally follows What's up and isn't met with a "what's up" in return.
5. Lol - Come on, you can better. Tell me what you found funny or ask me what happened next?
6. Yes/ No - Similar to okay.

Most of you can do better I bet. What word irks you the most?

(Thanks, @milcom_ , @sloth13, @AnjuJaison, @paripooj , @violetcrab, @riccu for your suggestions)

Tuesday, June 19, 2012


After barcamp, someone suggested that I do a podcast and I am taking the suggestion seriously. If you have questions regarding rape or rape laws or just have something to say, let me know so that I can answer them in the podcast.

So you can mail me at with your questions and I will try my best to answer them.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Barcamp and peanut butter slutty brownies

Weekend was stressful. BarcampMumbai09 was yesterday and it was amazing. There were brilliant sessions and I gave a talk to a packed audi. It was recorded and hopefully, I shall get a video for you soon enough. Yes, I mean you, my sole reader.  The most ego-boosting experience was reading the tweets post the session. A person asked me to do a podcast on issues like rape (which is what I spoke on) and I might actually consider it. 

Another brilliant part of yesterday was that most people who had my brownies, actually liked them. (Psst: Even though they didn't come out well). I promise people I would put the recipe up on my blog. I used the recipe from PlanetByn and yes, they are called Slutty Brownies but these ones use peanut butter and hence, they are not as sweet as the original all chocolate slutty brownies. 

Peanut Butter Cookie Layer
1 cup creamy peanut butter
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla essence
1 1/4 cups flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup chocolate chips
Brownie Layer
1/2 cup + 2 tbsp butter
1 1/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup cocoa
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp vanilla essence
2 eggs
1/2 cup flour
+ around 16 Oreo cookies
  1. Line a pan with tin foil and butter it so that the brownie comes out clean post baking , and preheat the oven to 350F or 180C.
  2. For peanut butter cookie dough layer, cream the peanut butter and sugars together in a medium sized bowl. Add the egg and vanilla and mix again. Add the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt and stir to combine. (Don't over mix, just combine) Mix in the chocolate chips.Be sure to mix this properly or the cookie will be crumbly and not an effective base for the brownie. Press the dough into an even layer in the pan.
  3. Add a layer of cookies on top of the peanut butter cookie dough, and press in slightly.
  4. In a medium saucepan, melt the butter, then add the sugar and cocoa powder and whisk everything together to combine. Remove from heat and add salt, vanilla and eggs, and whisk in to combine. Add the flour and mix just until blended. Pour over the top of the Oreos.
  5. Bake for 35-45 minutes (mine took 40 minutes) until a toothpick inserted into the centre comes out clean.
If you do try this, let me know how this goes.

I am going to start using this to bribe people.

Sorry there are no pictures. Maybe next time, I should bake with a friend.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Of beauty and distance.

I had this conversation of sorts with a friend and that got me thinking, "do we appreciate beauty when we are closer to the object or when we are further away?"

Somethings are better off far away. All mistakes, blemishes, faults seem smaller when you are far away. And magnified when you are closer. Similarly when you are closer to an object, there are so many aspects of a thing that you can notice that small faults seem irrelevant.

I have no answer to this yet. Will sleep on it and see what I think tomorrow morning. 

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Three shades of regret

There was something about her, you got to admit.

Today began like just another day. Who would have known it would end this way?

It was her eyes, I think. Or her smile. Maybe it was the way she played with her hair while she thought about something. But she definitely had something that made me want to go upto her.

I walked to the bus stop kicking the can all the way. Suddenly, there was a voice that caught my attention, it was the shopkeeper fighting with a customer. Mr. Baker was always a disgruntled man and I think I learnt most of my swear words, hearing him yell at others. Today too, I watched him with a smile. I heard the general string of cuss words and then, the customer slammed the door as he walked out. He saw me looking through the glass, raised an eyebrow and said, "Don't go in there, if you are smart. He is crazy old man." I didn't. I looked at my watch and realised I was late for work, I hurried. This here was my regret #1 - I didn't walk in.

I remember seeing her for the first time, not knowing what to say. Tongue-tied and sloppy. I dropped wine all over me. She made me do it, I say.

I ran to the bus stop and almost missed my bus but I made it. There wasn't time to wait or even catch my breath, as I reached work, a colleague said, "Let's leave. Emergency on PA Street."  I was surprised. " Dude, that's why I am coming from. Who is it?"  "A Mr. Baker, I believe. Heart attack, after he exchanged a few words with a customer. Come on."  I waited while he drove. It isn't easy being a paramedic on days like this. There is always a casualty and you always have to get there on time. Today wasn't one of those days, we couldn't save Mr. Baker. Even though, we tried. If only I had got there in time. This here was my regret #2 - I didn't get there in time.

Then she twirled her hair around her fingers and came and sat next to me. "Am I making you nervous?" she asked. "Yes" "Don't be. I don't bite." "I hope not." 

As we carried Mr. Baker's body back, I kept wondering the "What if"s of today. What if I had walked in then? What if I had got there in time?

Mr. Baker had always lived in his shop, said the newspapers the next day. He had a wife. I chuckled. Who would live with an ill tempered man as him? Since my childhood, I never seen Mr. Baker with anyone. I was told he got married the years that I was away at university. There was no picture of his wife.

Years later, I would tell her how she made me feel that day and she would smile. She would say, she knew I was looking at her, she liked the attention. She would make me feel like a fool, all over again. She always knew how.

I decided I would go to the funeral. I have no logical explanation for that decision but I decided I wanted to know more about this man. I had to call my mother and ask her for my suit (Hey, I move around a lot) and poured over the papers to find the details. There was only one church in town and that's where it would be on Saturday evening. I called Bob and asked him to cover my shift for that afternoon. He reluctantly agreed. This here was my regret #3 - I went to his funeral.

"What if I had never come to speak to you that day?" she asked. "I would have taken time but I would get there, eventually. You just had me under a spell. I would have you one way or another."  "Yeah right" she said. Yeah right, I said to myself.

Saturday came and I got ready. His family was in front and the church had a few people who seemed to know him. The priest called me a family man who had lived his life. A kind man even though he had a harsh tongue. He then called upon his wife to share a few words.

And then that's when I saw her. And I immediately thought, "There's something about her."

So if you really see, I regret nothing at all.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Places to drink in Chennai

The 2 years in Chennai were awesome, for a lack of a better word. This was mainly because of the amazing people I met and all the hard work put in at the university. The latter would mean meeting the former over drinks. (Sorry, family)

Since a lot of people have asked me to do this, I am going to do this.

(In no particular order)

  • Ten Downing Street - (Free diluted drinks for Ladies on Wednesdays upto 9.30pm) - Brilliant place and lovely ambiance. Going on Wednesdays ensures a lot of eye candy for men. Friend and I would go there by 7, have a few drinks by 9.30 (their watch always a couple of minutes faster than yours only on that day) and then be on the dance floor till it closed.  The place is generally filled with young college students on Wednesdays. 
  • Good place for lunch on most days. Good menu and they too have a decently priced combo.  
  • Bike and Barrels - (2 free drinks/ 1 large free drink for ladies on Thursday) - I like this place and it was almost like a second home. They have 2 sitting areas - lower and an upper deck. The upper deck is for stags - men only while the lower is for couples. Large groups can sit down as long as there is 1 female per 2 men in the group. Once, a friend and I were the only 2 females in the upper deck. As she said, "2 pairs of boobs and so many pairs of eyes on them." can get a little weird at times. But the upper deck does have a pool table in their smoking room.
  •  The nicest thing is I like about this place is the bike suspended as wall decor. Food is not too bad and they have a decently priced lunch menu, as well.
  • High Time - (20% off on all drinks between 11am to 6pm - the last time I checked even on weekends)  I haven't been to this place every often and always in the afternoon. It was new and it was swanky and more importantly, it was purple. I love the giant bottles of alcohol they have there, a 6l vodka was what caught my attention. The 'chakna' keeps coming and is not sundal, for a change. 

  • Distil - (2 free drinks for ladies on Fridays) I think I went to this place every Friday for a month. Things we do for free alcohol. The TenD routine was repeated of having the free drink and dance till it closed. This place can be filled with middle aged people looking for a drink (and there isn't anything wrong with that but the vibe can be weird) I am not the biggest fan of their decor or the ambiance but it is a good change on some days. (Why I went there 4 Fridays in a row is a mystery to me too.)

  • Havana - (Free martini for women on Thursday) I can't remember much of this place because the weird disco lights gave me a really bad head ache. But from what I have heard from friends, this place is expensive and has a really small dance floor.

  • Leather Bar - Went there once to celebrate giving my first international presentation (yes, in Chennai in front of an international audience). It was expensive and the crowd consisted mainly of corporate looking men. It also gave a slight feel of a gay pub, I remember. 

  • Geoffrey's Pub - I like the place. It is apparently an English Pub and though it is a little far away from the city bounds (i.e my house), I really like the decor of this place. I can't tell much about the prices because the only I went there was for the Kingfisher Beerup. But I know they have live music once in a while.

  • Dublin - ( Free entry for women on Friday and free drinks worth Rs. 500 - if I am not wrong) The only club in this list. It is expensive and has 3 levels. It can get crowded once in a while. I believe this is one of the few places which doesn't necessarily close at 11pm. 

  • Zara - This place prides itself as a Tapas bar and it is one of the best places in town. I prefer taking people who come from out of town to this place. It can be a little expensive but by now you have figured out that drinking out in Chennai is kind an expensive affair. It has 2 outlets and the one at the Airport is open till a good 3 am. 
  •  I love the cocktails of this place and it is a nice place to stop for lunch.

  • Star Rock - (Free domestic white liquor on Friday till 10 pm) - Interesting place. Plus they have started to have interesting stand up on Sunday nights for a cover of Rs. 500. This place has special memories, I saw India win the T20 World Cup here. 

  • Minus 1 - (Happy hours from 12 to 5pm - I think) I had to think really hard for the name of this place because I have only thought of this place as the blue bar. I have no idea why it was so blue. It was close to university (Kinda) and we went there once or twice when there was a huge break between 2 classes and you can't sit through some classes completely sober.

  • The Pirate's Bar - (Some discount if you go there before 6pm) I think this was the bar I frequented the most often. It is a little creepy and there is no reduction in prices for a lack of ambiance. But but the best thing about this place was that I could walk back home.

    Walking in as a woman could easily mean you would be the only one of that gender that. But the best part of this place is that it has no dress code.
  • Diesel - A dingy little weird place. The only reason we went there was because we wanted to be the only people there and be able to do our own thing and that's what we got. Another brilliant memory here.If I am not wrong, this too doesn't have a dress code.

  • Hotel Ranjit-  This place definitely doesn't have a dress code and let's you smoke if you are on the roof top. Service can be a little slow and if there are 12 of you, you might be asked to keep your volumes down. One of those few kinda cheap drinking places. Also it has funny sounding kebab names. 
There are many more places that you can get a drink in Chennai, of course. But these are just the places that I visited while I was there.
Having said that, the best place to drink in Chennai is to find a friend who has a club membership and is ready to take you there. (Thank, Mihir for being that friend) Also, you could buy alcohol from TASMAC and get it at home and drink in your own special ambiance. Always my preferred thing to do.

Sunday, June 03, 2012

Blank pages

This post has been published by me as a part of the Blog-a-Ton 28; the 28th Edition of the online marathon of Bloggers; where we decide and we write. To be part of the next edition, visit and start following Blog-a-Ton. The topic for this month is 'BLANK PAGES'.

There was an accident 6 years ago that had damaged Simran's vocal chords. She was 2 then. The house that was waiting to be filled with the laughter of a child was left waiting.

Simran's parents were not the kind to give up. They taught her to write and write she did. She wrote hello when she met a new person and shoved the book in their faces. She learnt to write before anyone her age, she had to.

Soon, Simran could be found at parks and museums scribbling away on her notebook, she would then run home and show it to her parents. They would discuss art and books and music. Nothing slowed Simran down. Until one day when a regular checkup, the doctor revealed that maybe a small operation could fix Simran's voice. Her parents were hopeful but they saw the fear in Simran's eyes. They asked her to write whether she still wanted to go ahead with the surgery. The page had a lone 'Yes' written on it.

The day of the operation came and it went. Nothing really has changed, Simran's zeal for life continues, you can still find her in parks and museums running back home waiting to share her discoveries and ideas to her parents. What is hard to miss is the look of happiness in her parents' eyes when they see the blank pages that follow the 'Yes' in the notebook.

The fellow Blog-a-Tonics who took part in this Blog-a-Ton and links to their respective posts can be checked here. To be part of the next edition, visit and start following Blog-a-Ton.

PS : Writing after a really long time. Be nice? 

Friday, June 01, 2012

No one reads me anymore

I don't think anyone reads my blog anymore. I don't shamelessly plug it anywhere and pour all my secrets out on twitter. Must rectify. Yes, the blog was my first love before twitter came along.

Also, what an amazingly attention seeking title, eh?