Feminist TV is a soothing salve(ation) for the soul

There’s melancholy, which is undefinable, and then there’s anxiety, which is like when you have to pee but you can’t, and then there’s depression, which is like nothing.

And then there’s that moment when you find yourself vacillating between the three, and you have just enough control over your emotions to choose which one you want to descend into.

Which one do you choose?

Answer: Choose to watch the Orphan is the New Black (damn right) bonanza of feminist goodness on TV right now. #GOWOMENS

Aside | Posted on by | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Villette (Part 1)

Charlotte Bronte was a fucking genius.

I absolutely do not understand why she isn’t considered the best thing that ever happened in that century. All the romantics and fops and Victorians, all those social novelists and gothic romancers and religious moralists are left in the dust by this chick. She was the voice of her generation.

Reading Villette right now and I am just astonished at her powers as a novelist. Her fantastic descriptions of Lucy Snowe on drugs! It was disquietingly accurate and exciting to read. And Lucy Snowe’s tortured desire for a man she will never have, her continuous struggle to avoid emotions whilst being an extremely emotional person and that brilliant vacillation between depression and joy. I don’t think a more complete picture of a young woman struggling to survive in that time, or really, any time, has ever been drawn.

And she goes so much beyond a realist analysis of social structures.

Her writing is almost a kind of music at times, in that you know what it makes you feel, but when asked to describe how that process works, you draw a blank. It’s just the perfect symphony of deep emotions and phantasmagorical illusions. 

And it’s really like my life. I don’t know if, reading Bronte novels even as a precocious teenager, I adapted the style of thinking of their protagonists, or if I was drawn to the sisters because we are of similar molds. I have that same sense of a vast and tumultuous inner life often unjustified by circumstances or stimulation. That same outer obscurity and that struggle with identity. To be a watcher of the world, and thus, safe and sound from extremes, both joys and harms? Or to participate in, and almost certainly be disappointed with, a world prepped with a thousand different knives to prick my soul and heart? This is the struggle all Charlotte’s heroines face, and so does Emily’s Katherine, in a way.

Some people might read this and think, what nonsense! Just get on with your life and the lot you’ve been given, and stop thinking so much about these inconsequential things which will only create further imaginary problems for you.

I congratulate you if you’re that person. You have found the off-switch I’ve been searching for ever since I began to think.

Or maybe I haven’t found that switch because I don’t really want to find it, because thinking and feeling is what makes me feel human. Feeling human is awesome at a very profound level, while also keeping you in misery a lot of the time.



Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , | 1 Comment




Whatever. It’s good. Chill. Calm your pants.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Lashings of Ginger-beer

I hope I mentioned at some point I love lists, because here is another and I’m too bored to write an exciting introduction to lists. They’re neat. Let’s move on.

A List of Quintessentially English  Authors I Like For No Earthly Reason:

1) Enid Blyton: Um, yes. She is unabashedly racists, sexist, xenophobic, and simple. Even for a children’s writer, her style borders on laughably limited. Every story she ever wrote has at least one of these things:

– a girl being told she can’t do several things because she is a girl, by boys who are her peers, and her accepting it or at best, rejecting it but only because her helpless struggle against the patriarchy is such an excellent source of humour.

– a disparaging remark being made about foreigners of any and every category

– stereotypes being perpetuated for any and every category of people that are not English, and/or are the lower classes, other races and women.

– straight out declarations of the superiority of the English

– absolute skin crawling racism


2) Roald Dahl: Much better. He’s excellent, a very good writer and really comparatively lacking in overt sexism, racism, and classism. But really, you know, all his stories are set in England and feature little English boy and girl protagonists. The whole set up is so alien to anything I ever knew. So it’s really a mystery that I felt so violently in love with his books.

3) Agatha Christie: OK, so you could argue that her books have a universal appeal.  The plots are brilliantly intricate and deliciously shocking even today. In a way, her style provides this quaint little window to the past, to this long gone era of little old ladies, war time rations, English manors and manners, and the colonies. All very satisfying.  IF you happen to be white, anyway.

But I’m not white. I’m brown. I have no place in this beautiful golden era she describes. I’m not one of ‘us’. I’m the ‘them’.  What drew me to her books, yes, were the amazing plots. But why have I gone out of my way to read every single thing she ever wrote? Why have I re-read my favourite Christies multiple times? Why is it that reading her books, including the racism and sexism and classism and god-awful  hypocrites reaping the benefits of the blood-soaked tyranny of colonization , make me feel so…nostalgic? It’s nothing to do with me, except in the most distant and negative terms. I could and probably never will be a part of that world. So why is that I love it so? Why is it that I find myself wanting more and more and more from that period, knowing that it’s all just a fantasy that never really existed anyway?

Gah. Hence this stupid list.

4) P.G. Wodehouse: Same period as above, but oh, infinitely more justified in enjoying! For one thing, it’s all parody in his world. No holds barred. Pokes fun at any and every aspect of English livin’. For another, he is a genius. The quality of his writing is nothing short of sublime. And the subject he chose is the perfect instrument to convey that sublime, perfect language.

And yet you know…

I know nothing IRL of what he speaks. What do I know about the people he is making fun of? I’m not in on the joke, not at all.  So why am I laughing?

5) Jane Austen: She is so English. Loving Jane Austen is what white girls with English degrees and brains but no curiosity or guts do. So what am I doing, loving her? What does she have to say to me or to my experience in life, that I should love her enough to seriously consider devoting my life to her work? Do you know how much imagination it required, getting into the mindspace of those Bennet girls? Do you know how much I was hurt, when, later, I learnt that it was these same people in these novels who sent their brothers and husbands and fathers to systematically exploit, loot and drain the wealth of my ancestors?

So why is it that I continue to love these authors, none of whom ever paused to consider that a young brown-skinned Indian girl might someday read their work. None of whom thought of how their words might shape her life. None of whom probably could imagine the natives to actually have intellectual and emotional depths, or consider them equal.

The truth is, I got invested in their world. The English idyll: manners, conversation, tea, and a beautiful country day. Honour, courage, drive, and honesty. The lovely, beautiful English language and wealth of English tradition and culture. But this world that I love so much, it isn’t real. It’s a fantasy. A fantasy that was rudely shattered the day I started doing modern history when I was 13. Because the same civilization I so love and want to be a part of, rejected me long before I was born. The manners and the tea and the values and the culture were all created to keep me, and people like me, separate.

Is it possible, for me, to extract the goodness from the horror and thus adore it? Or is the goodness too inextricably tied to the horror: to adore one is to condone the other and commit an unforgivable blasphemy towards my dead, colonized ancestors, not to mention display a perverse kind of masochism?

In any case, I do adore that particular brand of Englishness. In spite of everything and it’s post-colonial cousin, I do. Inexplicable stuff, what?

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

I like living. …

I like living. I have sometimes been wildly, despairingly, acutely miserable, racked with sorrow; but through it all I still know quite certainly that just to be alive is a grand thing.

Agatha Christie, describing the difference between all other emotions and depression. When you feel this quote no longer applies to you, GET HELP. 

Quote | Posted on by | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Love and Like; Mirrors

Why is it so hard for me to write something honest? So much of what fiction I write rings with insincerity. I used to think perhaps it has to do with my choice of genre which is so often speculative fiction. But all fiction derives its power from the reality it is interpreting. My words just ring hollow sometimes. My style seems so contrived. I have a way with words, yes. But does that amount to me being a writer, much less a good one?

Have you ever watched yourself in a video? I don’t mean a video where you’re acting or reciting something prepared. I mean a video of you just being you, without artifice. Its disturbing. I mean, we all mythologize ourselves. But the size of the gap between what I imagine myself to be on my best days and what I actually am astounds me. I think if I met myself I wouldn’t like myself. I’d be annoyed by myself. And I don’t mean just the big things. I mean the little things, too. I have this really annoying way of pursing my lips. And my smile is lop-sided, in a non adorable way. My stare is disconcertingly smug. I have an air of forced reserve combined with hearty brusqueness and nervous insecurity that is really grating. I could be cute, if I wanted. That is the only kind of attractive I ever could be, if I abandoned those personality traits that cancel out and indeed, make a grotesque joke out of any potential cuteness. Such as that empty intensity. But who the hell wants to be cute? I hate cute. Cute is the thing I never aspired to. I would rather be ugly and loud than cute.

I so often state, to others and myself, that I don’t care what people think. It’s so comforting to think that. Then you don’t have to feel miserable when others judge you and don’t like you, or, worst of all, don’t think much of you. It’s empowering in a way.

But what if all that bravado is built on a lie? If I don’t care what people think it means I don’t think their opinions are worth changing my behaviour for. But what if their opinions are right? What if I’m an annoying, sanctimonious, lazy, uptight, angry little person with little wit and no banter? What if all the things I thought were good about me don’t really exist at all. And what if the rest of my life I have to choose between these two horrible options: either always maintain that facade of being a cute, pleasant, kind, non-confrontational, calm person I’ve actually already perfected until I’m basically everything I hate, or embrace my annoying personality and instincts and be left with a few people who love me and no one who really likes me?

(One thing is certain. Throughout it all, narcissism will prevail.)

Because this is my life right now. This is my big problem. I have people, wonderful people, that love me. But I’m beginning to suspect that no one really likes me anymore. And I love myself — I always have, because I’m an aspiring writer and this grants me vanity if nothing else — but I’m beginning to wonder if I ever liked myself. I keep doing things to ‘improve’ myself. I think I’ve matured and grown and learnt and changed. But then suddenly a mirror pops up, and I have to laugh at how ridiculous I really am.

Ah, well. Maybe a little dose of revelatory self-ridiculousness is good in the long run.


Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Home, heat, and happy families

Oh my dragons, I’m back home! It’s extremely weird, unsettling, enjoyable, joyful, and painful.

For one thing, my tumblr feed is full of Community and Sherlock gifs that I don’t get because I’m so behind on my TV because I’ve actually spent the last 10 days like, meeting people and being social.

This is essentially what happens when you get back home after a year or more:

1) you eat like a motherfudger, anything and everything, and your stomach gets motherfudged

2) You constantly meet people you haven’t met for a year, and realize that some people stay exactly the same, while others grow; and old friends are the best and questions about your future are the worst and that if you suck at keeping in touch people WILL hate you a little bit.

3) You learn to appreciate your family and especially your mother and her unconditional love and care a thousand percent more, after the year of eating crap and being sick and mucus-ful ALL BY YOUR LONEZIES.

4) Some things you only get in your home country. For me: the ability to stand on any fucking side of the escalator I want (CHAOS!), affordable food and shopping, really flavourful food, SUNSHINE, Bollywood, auto rickshaws, cheap public transport, and that feeling that you belong.

5) You miss your lonely, stressful, challenging, exciting, scary travels and travails already.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged | Leave a comment