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Wednesday, 27 May 2015

Moving Out

Hello lovely readers,

It has been a while since I started writing on MentalFloss. I have grown immensely since then and writing has added massively to this growth. In order to take this forward, I am moving my space to WordPress. 

My new blog is called Scribbling Sheet : 

Please subscribe to the auto-mailers, and I hope my scribbles will continue to floss your mind.

In all honestly, I feel MentalFloss is a much better name than Scribbling Sheet but then a fellow WordPress-er beat me to it! 

Thank you for giving me the excitement of looking on as my page-views ticked on beyond the 10,000 mark. 

See you on the next block in the blogging world!


Saturday, 14 March 2015

Food comes with a language of its own

I walked into the pizzeria around the corner from my house and I knew I wanted to try something different from the regular Margherita. The place was neat, crisp and even pleasing to the senses with its turquoise and white interiors. Everything about the bright, sunny day told me that I would enjoy the wonderful meal. 

Then, came the moment of truth. 

The menu was in Italian and I needed serious help from Google Translate. Not wanting to make the tedious effort, I turned to the server to ask for suggestions. Almost as soon as I uttered my request, I realized my mistake. The server was not bilingual and my food habits were unusual for this side of the world.

 I am a vegetarian
 I am allergic to eggplants 
 I don’t like zucchini 

Minutes into the conversation, which included some parts of the sign language, I resorted to the regular Margherita. 

When I see someone who appears to hail from some part of the Indian sub-continent, I realize that I may have said my prayers well. 

There was a time when I met a Bangladeshi server at a restaurant, and managed to strike up a conversation in Bengali to order a finger-licking vegetarian lasagna. I can never forget the look on his face, after conversing with me in his mother tongue. He served me well, and brought me chili oil realizing that my taste palates are accustomed to the strong flavor and I went back there every week just so that I could enjoy the meal and the conversation. 

Another Bangladeshi once came to my rescue at a take away joint.  I visited the place because their menu included a veggie burger. Excited that this would be easy, I went there to grab a quick lunch. The description of their tortilla wraps called out to me and my love for Mexican food was doing summersaults in the pit of my stomach. The tortillas had pieces of chicken but I was happy to buy it with the other fillings at the same price. This place was an open kitchen and the chef, a Bangladeshi. I presented my request to him in Bengali. He was very happy to hear his language in this foreign city and even happier to accede to my request! He saved me the trouble of decoding my innocent request for the Italian cashier. 

Some times the half Italian-quarter English-quarter sign language conversations flow into tones like 
“Oh vegetariano! No chicken, fish okay?” 
“No we cannot make the pizza without the salmon toppings” 
“Yes, we have vegetarian soup” - “Are you sure?” -“Yes, its all vegetables in chicken broth” 
“Yes, we can provide split bills” - Brings separate bills for each item! 

If what is served, does not meet my expectations there is no way I can complain because the server conveyed the specifications of the dish. Just, not in so many words! 

Wednesday, 18 February 2015


I talk to myself often. 

Its probably the inner voice or I am simply dumb. Whatever the reason be, I talk to myself and have been doing so for as long as I can remember. Back in school, I used to talk to myself and in several contexts and conversations I had promised myself that I would not walk down the beaten track, when I grew up. 

Talking of humdrum(s) and habits, I realize that it doesn’t take long for activities, routes, tasks and to-do’s to become routine.

One such recently picked up habit of mine, is trespassing through the subway station on my way to work. I do not use the subway to make my way to work because a bus ferries me across and saves me the walk to the subway station from my house. However, it drops me off very close to the station near my workplace and instead of walking across the bus-stops and onto the street - the beaten track, here - I choose to step down into the subway station and trespass through its adjacent entry-exit points until I reach my place of work-ship. 

I’ve been doing this for two weeks now without realizing the oddity of it. Every morning, I go down the steps from one side, buy a no-flavour croissant from the small-time baker within and make my way out of the adjacent side to reach the doorstep of my daytime abode. I realized that it was odd and my presence in the station was not normal considering that I did not take the subway, except on weekends (another oddity amongst the humdrum!) 

I think I do it to beat the cold. The subway runs underground and the singular flight of stairs take me away from the biting cold for at least a couple of minutes. Or maybe its the croissant which appeals to my sub-conscious mind, and I run down the stairs, initiating the act of trespassing. Was it the child in me urging to go by the unbeaten track, in whatever little way I could ?

Why or how I started to walk in this direction, I can’t tell but I sure do enjoy those few minutes underground every morning. 

Those few minutes of people watching come back to me even when I meditate almost 14 hours later, and that’s when I know that its had a lasting impression on my mind. The young group of people fetching for loose change in their bags before issuing their tickets, the lady making her way to work in her bright - possibly new - red woolen scarf, the man who walks his child to school and lives up to good parenthood, the policemen duo chatting casually on the side, the tourist trying to find her way across town with the map in her hand, the old woman who clutches on to her purse more tightly than her cane for fear of being robbed and of course there is the ever-smiling baker who brings me my first meal of the day. I see all this and more in a matter of minutes. And I would not trade these moments of color in the morning for the solitary walk on the straight road that would leave me empty stomach, shivering in the cold with my hands fisted in my coat pockets.

What’s your moment of taking the unbeaten track in your daily routine?

Thursday, 25 December 2014

Settling Down

Sitting in 8 degrees celsius, with unwashed hair and tucked under the quilt on Christmas Day, I’m thinking a zillion things and have my brain running around in different directions right now. 

I am wondering what exactly do we adults mean when we use the phrase ‘settling down’. In India, it usually indicates towards marriage, but of course it has several connotations. 

Being on the move is cool, trendy and probably in some minds it reserves the image of Ranbir Kapoor movies. When you’re the one with skates on your feet, you feel the pinch on your toes and the bruise on your knees. When you’re in the middle of being young and heading towards seniority in adulthood, you land up asking yourself several questions about stability, settling down and peace and quiet. 

Cut to: You’re on one of those short-lived phases of being stationed at one place in life and then you feel the youth pumping in your veins urging you to get out there and see even more places. That is what happens when your hormones go through waves and curves which could beat even the Atlantic Ocean because you’re not sure yourself what you want and what makes you happy. 

Adults (of the senior wing) often tell you that time will do the needful and let time takes its own course et all. And then, when time has come around and you’re settled in life you will miss those nightly walks on cobbled paths, the solitary times by the beach, the camping trips and the scuba dives. And then, the adult you will crave for the cells of youth.

Such is life: always a cycle between what you have and what you crave. 

Friday, 12 December 2014

People Watching: He

He makes his way to work every morning, knowing fully well that today will be no different from yesterday and tomorrow, none the brighter. 

He hopes the rude man in his office would be on leave, or at least away on client calls. He wishes that the sweet group of new joinees will over-estimate their appetite, order more than they can eat and pass on the leftovers to him. He would usually avoid the leftovers and considered it disrespectful but these newbies have a polite way of passing on food that seems less demeaning. He likes that about them. 

His days are never his own, always based on the temperament of the people in his office. They wake up from the wrong side of their bed and he stands on the receiving end of growls. Their diets sustain because of him, their binges and cravings are his to handle, their spills and drops are his to clean and their impromptu demands are his to fulfill. 

He never understands them, and has now stopped reading much into it. He finds no sense in their hypocrisy and narrates these tales to his mother sometimes. They share a hearty laugh at the plight of the man with the paunch: how he struggles with his food and sustains Mondays on fruits, carrots and cucumber. The week rolls by and when Friday arrives, he is back to his oily roll and the cheese layered cake. Then there is the woman who always seems to drop her drink on the table leading to screeches by people who share the space. She drops her water, ice tea and juice and has ruined many a documents in the aftermath. There was a girl who’s now quit, but she came in every morning with her muddy shoes and stained the marble that he had painfully sparkled. He wondered where she went to make a mess of her expensive shoes and urged to clean it for her. He didn’t care much about the girl herself but wanted to do her the favor to save his floor from her wrath. 

People have come and gone, joined and left and some have even moved on to other cities, they say. But the bunch at hand right now keeps him well and therefore when he takes a quick nap in the noon he wishes them well, too.

Thursday, 4 December 2014

Memories on Sale: And they're pricey!

With the world and its relative getting married, my social media feed is overflowing with the news. There are notifications for every part of the process; A to Z. 

The notifications bubble and the virtual PDA is something I have accustomed myself to. But the new one in the kitty is the unending albums that people upload before they get married. 

It is a ‘to each their own’ world but, in my opinion the photo shoots that to-be couples setup are just too unreal and artificial. The hug and the kiss, the warmth and the wink, the concern and cajole: none of it is true. Its not like someone is watching your life pass by and snapping up those moments that you can call memories. When you look back at those pictures, its not like you will remember that day you spent with your loved one by the waterfall; all you’re going to recall is how the day was spent with the photographer on your tow. 

Out of curiosity, I had once checked one of the photographer’s profiles and stumbled on the price card. They charge per set per attire for the couple in question. So, memories are sold depending on the backdrop and the settings of the scenic beauty around you: you can set up even memories now! Sigh! 

Sunday, 30 November 2014

Uber Cool

I wake up everyday and tell myself: “God is biased towards me”. Whether or not She is partial in my favour, is a question I cannot answer and maybe in times to come I will be proven wrong. But, in the present moment; this bit of optimism makes my days happier, my choices simpler and I have my own joyful moments everyday. 

Following the tradition, karma handed down a wonderful taxi offer to me last week when Uber decided to launch its #FreeUberWeek campaign for the exact days which made up my casual leave. Now you might agree with the idea of biased behavior but well, there is no court of law to fight this one out. 

I enjoyed the offer end to end, exhausting my quota of free rides and then riding some of my credits too. I took cabs back and forth from my outings, and because I hate to drive (Friends and father have given up the coaxing and convincing to show me the face of the driving school) this removed a lot of my dependency, when it came to moving myself from point A to point B. 

When I took these rides and enjoyed the gifts of technology, I worked my mind around how this company would function, read up on stuff about the operations I was delighted to notice the coordination that was demanded and thus, being done. Its no easy task to tie the loose ends on the backend of this cool thing.

Click a few buttons and have someone show up on your doorstep in under 20 minutes, to take you where you want to go, sounds like the apt description for what Uber does. But that’s what this is: only a gist of what really goes into the making of it. 

Working in a startup myself, (which by the way is awarded the startup of this year) and understanding the true spirit behind the numbers that reflect in a company’s valuation at this stage of expansion and growth; I can imagine the kind of effort put behind the scenes at Uber, as well. 

Give it off to them for running the show so brilliantly because here, it is also about changing the consumer’s habit of stepping out and hailing the yellow one. Fingers tapping on the mobile screen are gaining more and more power as the days are ticking.