Hello, extra 10 KGs

I rant about why and how I put up weight everytime I am in Delhi.

The thing that I hate the most about traveling to Delhi is all the food that I eat when I am here. I stay at home, with my parents. And since we are a typical middle-class Haryanvi family, all the affection comes out in form of food. And since my parents love me more than they love anything else (am hoping), they present me with so much food that I go back to Mumbai 10 KGs heavier! I often lament that amount of food I eat in a day when I am in Delhi is easily more than what I eat in a week when I am in Mumbai.

More than just the love and affection bit, there are quite a few reasons for this. Lemme list.

1. #ForeverAlone vs Family

In Mumbai, I live by myself. Been living like that since 2013 or 14. And that means that all the taste buds I had, I have sort of brought them under control. I can now go without eating tasty food for days. Food has become this functional thing that I need to consume to stay alive. I know there are foodies and food photographers and whatnot.

Plus I have focussed way too much on work and that means I have had limited time to indulge in finer things in life (food, friends, recreation, etc). And thus I’d eat whatever is presented to me.

Finally, I hate all the mess that cooking makes and I am a freak when it comes to hygiene and cleanliness. And I decided a long time ago that I don’t want a kitchen in my house till I am rich enough to have a full-time staff to manage it.

On the other hand, in Delhi, life revolves around food. And the times when people eat. Not just my family but all others that I know of. Meeting a friend? Let’s do lunch. Visiting relatives? Dinner! When you ask for ideas around what you could do, they’d say, go grab something to eat.

2. Access. Availability. Ease.

Thing is, in Mumbai, I don’t have a kitchen. And thus I don’t have anything stocked. Unless I am on a subscription, each meal is ordered. And that means I don’t have anything that I could munch on, in between the meals.

Plus since the pandemic, I have been working from home. So no kachra.

More recently, I’ve been working from a Starbucks. And the snacks there are expensive af and tasteless like a wet piece of cardboard. So, even though, I’d love to keep chewing on things, I can’t. And that means I am eating less.

At home in Delhi, it’s a home. And there are magical things that only a mother knows how to pull off. At strategic locations in the house, “healthy” food is strewn all over. Like this small bowl near my father’s desktop. It’s always filled with soaked almonds! There is this drawer in our kitchen that has roasted almond stocked in. Then there is this barfi kinda thing that my mom makes – again of almonds and again placed on top of the ref, easily accessible. The point is, at each part of the house, there are convenient eating options.

3. Distractions galore!

At Mumbai, I am so distracted all the time by so much action all around me that I forget to eat. Really. Some people may call it flow. Some may call it being in the zone. Some may not have a name for it. But when I am in Mumbai, I am really really busy on I don’t know what! There’s always work to do, dreams to conjure, projects to kick off. There’s always one or two fires that I am fighting out all the time. So, no time to eat.

In Delhi, I am mostly free. And even when I do have work (like this trip, I am loaded with work) and I am scrambling hard to meet people, get things done, for some reason, I am still eating like a whacko! May be its availability. Or may be it’s planning around food. Whatever it is. I can’t seem to keep my hands away from my mouth.

4. Stress?

This is unique to this trip and I did not really want to include it here. But I think I must. So, I think I have managed the pandemic well, in terms of my mental balance and stress levels. But the last two months have been terrible. For a variety of reasons that we shall not get into. A large part of coming to Delhi (see footnote) was also to take a pause, take a break, get away from humdrum, and the muck in the head. And may be, just may be, I am eating all this food this time around cos am stressed?

Footnote 1: If not for this random stress, I would have still come to Delhi. Just that I used stress as yet another rationalising input to justify the travel during the pandemic.


So yeah, that’s my story on how I always go back to Mumbai 10KGs heavier. What’s your story? Of food? Of when you are at home?

This is part of 30 minutes of writing everyday challenge. Others in the series are at 3010, 3110, 0111, 0211, 0311, 0411, 0511, 0611, 0911, 1011, 1211, 1311.

The Coffee Consumption Confession

I talk about what exactly I love about a Starbucks Coffee store near me. And why I had coffee today after almost a month.

For someone who’s a big Starbucks fan and spends almost 5 hours every day and 4000 bucks a week there, I have a confession to make.

I don’t really love coffee as much. To me, any roast, any bean, any method of making coffee is the same, as long as there’s no milk in it. I HATE milk!

I think marketing team at Starbucks understands people like me. At Starbucks, they keep tinkering with the fabled Starbucks menu, they can’t seem to get my attention. I always want that regular Earl Gray Tea (at least for the last few weeks). They even tried the gimmick of reducing the price of Starbucks Coffee, I remain non-committal. I simply can’t love what they brew!

What I rather love is their ambiance, the comfortable seating, the jazz (that people world over love to hate), and the general sense of ease and familiarity and niceness all around. I know a large part of it is faux but at least for the time you are there, the duration you are hanging out, it’s cool. You feel you belong to that place.

Plus, most times, the patrons hanging out at an outlet tend to be the same. You start knowing them by their faces, even if you don’t know their names. They tend to sit at the same spots. You start knowing those spots and the paraphernalia that they would use to claim the spot. Like at this Starbucks near me, this girl comes in at around 11 and she likes to first take out some 10 books, place them all over the table and then, start her work. This another girl, all she cares for is a charging point and whatever she’s lost into, in her phone. This young couple always takes that corner seat and are oblivious to the world outside. To a people-watcher like me, a Starbucks is a gold mine. At some point, I need to also get comfortable being a Sherlock and start making deductions 😀

Anyhow. The point of this post?

Well, two points.

a, I had to write for 30 minutes.

b, Today, I had coffee.

Yes I did!

After may be a month or so. And no it was not from Starbucks. But from some random place. And no, I did not have a reason per se. Just that I was meeting a friend after really long and I have this really strong association of coffee and her. And breaking the coffee consumption chain while I was with her felt like a great way to reinforce the association.

No?

Part of 30 days, 30 minutes, 30 posts project. Others in the series are at 3010, 3110, 0111, 0211031104110511061109111011, 1211.

The Delhi Discipline Discussion

Why do people from Delhi act in a certain manner? I put on an amateur anthropologist’s hat and investigate.

I am in Delhi as we speak. I am here for Diwali. I know COVID is wreaking havoc on how life is, especially in the two places that I call home – Mumbai and Delhi. And I know this too shall pass. And I know words are of no use per se in such situations. But I do know that us humans are more resilient than even cockroaches and we will prevail. And with that self-assuring message, lemme get to the rant post of the day.

The Delhi Discipline Discussion.

Delhi has always been subjected to those loud opinions about the lack of discipline (when compared to residents of other large cities) and I think these accusations are very true. We are loud. We are vociferous. We like to assert our opinions, even when we aren’t really asked for those. I mean, look at this essay. Who asked me to write this? No one. Who cares for what I write? No one. Who’s flip their opinion about Delhi after they read this one? No one. And yet, I am writing this.

Of course, this is an attempt in writing for 30 minutes. And thus I am happy to post anything that comes to my head (which, today is Delhi). But I do have an important point to make.

Don’t shoot the messenger.

While people from Delhi are known to lack discipline and thus are hated for this, I am proposing that rather than chastising them (and me – I call Delhi home), we need to look at what drives this behaviour. I am no anthropologist but I am an amateur people watcher and that means I have a perspective on why we are, how we are.

Let’s investigate…

The roots of Delhi

Delhi, like any other old city, is like a melting pot of cultures and people and tribes and opinions and ideas. One of the lores I read once, it says, Delhi will go through seven cycles of prosperity and doom. Each time it dooms, it would rise from the ashes and create an even more fabulous, grander city on top. Of course, the fables are more romantic than factual but it says something about people here. That they are survivors. And they know how to build things from scratch. And that means there is something in their DNA that makes them take initiative. Not in the starting-up sense but in taking-a-stand sense.

The ones that go thru the cycle of doom and bloom are known to have no patience. They say Mumbai is the city that does not sleep. I’d say Mumbai does not sleep because if they do, they’d perish. It’s more like they are on their toes all the time. Delhi, in comparison, is made up of go-getters. They know that life’s short and they need to do things now. And this manifests into aggression on the roads, disdain for rules, love for shortcuts, and all that.

So, next time you see a Delhi guy trying to break queues at a cinema hall (now that they are open), don’t hate him. Hate the genes that have been passed to him over the years. You know, don’t hate the player? But the game?

The upbringing in Delhi

Now that we have established that Delhites are gifted with genes that are little, well, fast. Now, let’s look at how they grow up. Unlike Mumbai (the only other place where I have lived for long) where kids are privileged (even in the poorest of the poor locale, kids have this sense of belonging and identity), Delhi kids don’t have it. And intuitively, a child wants to assert it. You know, genes at play. And there is so much competition that the kids in Delhi are forced to ace the Darwinian struggle. And thus, the already raging genes are nurtured to become even angrier assertive.

Plus the super swings in Delhi weather and the Delhi temperature that varies from -5 to +50 cooks the grey matter in your head in this curry that is more potent than that open bottle of aam ka achaar in a tightly packed bag of clothes in a third-tier AC compartment.

The grown-up man-child of Delhi

This applies to men more than it does to women (for some reason, almost all Delhi women I know have been at par with women from other places). I’ve been called a man-child since I become a man. And I am proud of it. And even though people in Mumbai hate this about me, I think it adds to the character. Lemme elaborate.

They say that progress in the world is made by the unreasonable man. The troublemakers, the misfits, and the round pegs in square holes. If left to the regular ones, we would probably be still in the caves with leaves as clothes and a chisel as our communication tool. If not for these, we would still not have discovered all the countries that are the epicenter of consumerism and progress and growth. If not for these, we would not have that mad dash at asserting and discovering the new that has pushed us forward. If not for these, we would be a timid bunch of species that would cower everytime we hear a distant rumble!

I can give numerous examples. But I hope you get time drift. At least the ones from Delhi would. In fact, the ones from Delhi, ladies, and gents, are as round as they come. And thus, I postulate that these grown-up man-childs from Delhi are all responsible for all the progress that we’ve made!

Think about it.

And with that, over and out. See you guys tomorrow (hopefully – I have a long day and I may not be able to take out time).

Part of 30 days, 30 minutes, 30 posts project. Others in the series are at 3010, 3110, 0111, 021103110411051106110911, 1011.

The Missing Magic of Metal Tubes

A satarical piece about the missing magic of flying. From the lens of a former event manager.

Its no secret that I love to travel. And the two modes that I love, apart from walking, are cars and planes. Both are essentially metal tubes that take you from one place to another.

When you are in the car, you are, sort of, in control. You are navigating, you are changing gears (automatic cars – go eat shit!), you are seeing the rear-view mirror and the road up ahead and you are zooming around.

In a plane, however, you are merely tied to a seat and are hurled thru the thinnest air we can imagine, to your destination. Even though a large part of flying is getting tossed around in a pressure-controlled metal tube, there is some charm, some magic to the entire experience of air travel. You know, fussing over the airline, the seat, the plush interiors of an airport, the comfort of a lounge, the pseudo sophistication of people that are regulars and the inside tricks of people that are more regular than regulars?

I’d say I am more regular than most regulars. Even though I may not have the suaveness of thick sunglasses or the Tumi bags with my initials monogrammed but I have been in my share of planes. Of course, since the COVID crisis hit us, I haven’t really been near a rick, let alone a plane. Ok, that was an exaggeration. I’ve been working out of a Starbucks as I type this, I am in a lounge at the Mumbai airport, waiting to catch a flight to Delhi, Y class. The lounge was made accessible by a credit card that I paid a fortune to acquire.

While the entire ordeal of check-in, seat selection, security et al was better than the regular days, I miss the fun of traveling by air. I miss the fuss that I would create over people not behaving when in queues. I can no longer spot kids running amok while their parents take selfies. I am no longer inconvenienced by pushy salesmen trying to sell their overpriced wares (including the ones at Tumi), while secretly hoping I had the money to buy all the crap they were selling. There is no stores selling raste ka maal un-saste me. Btw, these sasta maals have actually saved quite a few days for me when I would take em as gifts for people I was gonna meet.

Like I said, there’s no magic left in travelling by air.

It’s now akin to traveling in a local train where you are merely using the tube as a mode of transport and you can no longer be a humblebrag about the flight you just took and the extra things (baggage, upgrades, etc) you got the airline guys to dole out to you.

It’s now akin to flagging a rick and posting about it on insta cos the cars get stuck in traffic and ricks are “oh so convenient”. It’s like still going to a CCD when you have a Soho House membership, cos, “why would I go to Juhu for a coffee?” It’s like buying a Samsung or a One Plus, cos, “what new feature does an Apple have?”

Get the drift?

I hope so. It’s time to board the flight. While boarding may or may not happen, the seat next to mine may or may not be empty, the flight may or may not be bumpy but I have to mock people on how they want to jump over each other to open the overhead bins before the plane has even landed! Assuming that’s still happening. You never know. Like I said, there’s no magic left!

Part of 30 days, 30 minutes, 30 posts project. Others in the series are at 3010, 3110, 0111, 0211, 0311041105110611, 0911.

The Confined Spaces Complexity

A rant on the new house that I have just moved to.

It’s no secret that I am not a big fan of confined spaces. And yet, I know that I need to embrace those. In fact, here are three situations I can think of where I actually look forward to trapping myself in these confined places!

  • I love airports and travel. And I thus need to be ok with confining myself in those metal tubes for hours as they hurl me through the skies. And if I am on the road, I need to of course get in them cars and navigate.
  • I love highrises and rooftops and the birds-eye view that these heights give you. And I thus need to use those lifts to reach the top and enjoy the view.
  • I love Mumbai more than I love Delhi. Actually, I am not sure of this one. But I do like to be in large port cities (at least the ones I have been to – Mumbai, Calcutta, HK, NY etc). And these cities are typically cramped. I have no clue why.

Staying with the bit about staying in Mumbai, lemme talk about this house that I just moved into.

Even though this is fairly decent for a house in Mumbai, this one is probably the smallest I have lived in (except the 1 tiny room where I was a paying guest for the first two years of my life in Mumbai between 2007 and 2009 — it had just half a bed, a tiny cupboard sized “thing” to be used as a washroom, one-half cupboard, and just enough space to stretch my arms).

Funnily, the day before yesterday (my second night at the new place), I realized that the new house gives me the same vibes as an airplane! The same that I get when I am in a lift. Or a car for that matter.

What vibes? Stay with me. Lemme talk about the house for a bit.

To be honest, it’s not bad. Just that it’s in an old building and it’s small and has all the paraphernalia that comes with a house that’s, well, well-lived in. You know, a bed that’s too high and big for the room that it’s been plonked in, those wall-to-wall wardrobes that are deeper than what they needed to be, fake ceilings that bring the roof lower, the weird color of paint that makes space feel even smaller. You get the drift?

Coming to vibes, so, when I was drifting to sleep, even though I was on a bed, it felt as if I was sleeping on a flight. And when I woke up, I realized I had curled into a foetal ball – I can’t recall when was the last time this happened to me (I typically sleep on my back). I felt as if those walls are closing in on me. Reminded me of that scene from some horror movie where the protagonist is trapped in a room, and the walls and roofs of the room are closing in on the protagonist, purportedly to crush him! That!

For some reason, I also was reminded of this quip by a friend about highrises in Mumbai. She says that these towers are merely urban chawls without any respect for humanity. These are made to stuff as many people in as less an area possible as if we were mere cargo and they had to optimize the storage. All this while, I did not agree – I’ve always had some space to move around in the places I lived at. Not in this one.

I was also reminded of my abhorrence for things like aquariums, birdcages, muzzles, leashes et al. And the hatred for clothes in general (and the ones that fit way too well). I’ve always wondered how do people operate in such cramped quarters. The experience at this house will probably teach me that.

As someone who’s been a sponge when it comes to learning, I think this house will teach me a lot over the next few months that I will live here. Like I said a few days ago, these are interesting times, indeed!

With this, it’s over and out. See you guys tomorrow.

This is part of 30 minutes of writing every day for 30 minutes challenge. I missed the post on the 7th. Yesterday, I wrote on the Hero’s Journey for Deewaar. Today’s is this. Others in the series are at 3010, 3110, 0111, 0211, 0311, 0411, 0511, 0611.

PS: Though I have not been able to cover this per se in the post, I will miss inviting friends and family over. To be honest, I don’t really extend the invitation to a lot of people over but the ones that I do invite, they OWN my house (and my life) as much as I do. And the one that I have moved into, I am not sure I can invite any 🙁