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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?