Real costumes for a real Halloween

How many of you have gone through the drills of panicking for a last minute costume on 30th October and deciding that you will be ready way in advance next year? Both of my arms are raised high up.  So far I have been Hermione, Katniss, Minnie Mouse over the years. After dressing up as a minion for the last 2 years, I have decided to mix it up a bit. That remains the plan as of now, but can change depending on the last minute mood and panic. Also I, ideally, do not want to be the most dressed person in a sea of s*xy koalas, rodents and felines.
In my bid to come up with innovative, scary, Halloween-worthy costume ideas, I drew up a list of some potentials for real-life horrors. What is scarier than real life, right? White-walkers have got nothing on seeing the depleting bank account. So. here are some ideas for realistic fearful costumes:

  1. Fund investment sheet: They say adulting is hard. But no part of it is harder than learning where to put your money so that you don’t starve eventually. If you want to spook everyone out, grab a giant sheet of paper and write 401K(Pension plan, if in India) and stick it to yourself, or hang it around your neck. It may also work well, because you will attract some Gujju who will leave you with the best investment advice.
  2. Tax document: After the first costume, how can the taxman stay far behind? You will not only spook yourself out, but also make the group quite nervous. After all, they obviously come after the most hard-working, earnest citizen(me!) right?
  3. Wedding priest: If you are my age, there are chances that you will be around plenty of single people being harassed by their well-meaning family members and friends to get married. If you know you are going to a party with those singles, give them the scare of their life by dressing up as a wedding priest. Just start chanting the words every time you are within an arm’s length from any 2 of them.
  4. Driving License photograph: The internet is full of DIYs on Instagram/Snapchat filter costumes. But we are talking about a spooky Halloween here. What is scarier than a passport or DL picture? The actual answer is my TOEFL id picture, but we will stick to this for now. Pretend that you finally got in front of the camera after 2 hours at the DMV, in the balmy 95 F heat, smelling like a mix of we*d and Walmart perfume, and there you have your shot.
  5. In the name of Starks: Everyone from that family is doomed. For anyone who is not a GOT follower, they are practically the most cursed family(but also the most badass). So you will have a dual nature-ed costume. Nobody would want to be you, but everyone would want to be you.
  6. Stressed Engineer: Welcome to a real life costume of about a majority of 30 year old Desi population. We are a stressed lot, working in stressed environments, to please a stressed boss, and stressing out our stressed minions. We don’t have time for costumes. We are going to get up from our chairs, and go to the bars directly to have a happy Halloween.
  7. FLOTUS: Have you seen her? She looks permanently spooked out! I don’t know whether to feel bad, pity her, or be happy for her. Many local parties have explicitly mentioned not to wear her hub’s costume in fear of igniting violence(against the costumee?). But she isnt any less scary. So, go be her!
If you do end up dressing up for this Halloween, let me know what you went as! I may or may not use that as an inspiration for the next year.

Fight to survive.

I refuse to lose.
You try to bring me down. You try to crush me under harsh reality. Every day, you leave me hurting, trying to breathe. While I am gasping for air, I hear the sound of your laughter. You try to win over me everyday, making me feel small.
You try to make me feel inconsequential by showing your might. You may have the power of ‘blitzkrieg’ over me, but I am trying. I am trying to survive, and not drown under the cold blast. I am desperately clawing for some warmth in the wet air, to keep up.
What do I do? Face the situation, or turn my back to it? I have to tolerate the cold wake up call you send my way each morning. I breathe in, and breathe out, in the hope of standing up to you.
This is a daily fight. But dear morning shower, one day I will win.



30 on 30.

  1. Chocolate is my best friend and my worst enemy.
  2. Financial investments and a saving plan may not seem cool, but are extremely important.
  3. I definitely love to be surprised.
  4. I crave, need, thrive on attention.
  5. I am way cleaner than I used to be when I hit 20.
  6. It is difficult to live with parents.
  7. It is difficult to live away from parents.
  8. My indecisiveness is going to kill me.
  9. I like ambitious people better.
  10. Independence is extremely important to me, be it financial or emotional.
  11. I have learnt that it is ridiculous to pick a side and stick to it through thick and thin. There needs to be openness to ideas.
  12. Politics is complicated and no one is clean.
  13. Flexibility is the key to happiness.
  14. I have accepted that ‘never say never’ should be my life motto.
  15. I am a social bird who loves to actually cozy up in her nest on Fridays.
  16. I am quite hypocritical and most people are anyways.
  17. I am a people pleaser a la Monica Geller. I am also materialistic a la Rachel Greene.
  18. Health must be a top priority and fitness and regular checkups should not be ignored. 
  19. Technology gives me a headache.
  20. I am not into the whole iPhone vs Samsung debate, and I am firmly in the ‘Its just a phone!!’ category. But my last 2 phones have been Apples.
  21. I am a hoarder and have way too much stuff for a single person.
  22. I am definitely not cool.
  23. I am generally cold.
  24. If I could have puppies instead of babies, I would pick that option.
  25. I am toeing certain lines and I really want to cross them, but I am too much of a chicken.
  26. I definitely need to work on being a good host.
  27. Coffee makes my tummy happy. 😉
  28. Steps are not the right way to get into a pool.
  29. Respect and courtesy go a long way.
  30. Life is not a joke, but also shouldn’t be very serious.

Just something that I thought of worth jotting down when I hit 30. Yep, bring on the ‘over the hill’ jokes. Well, my knees actually do hurt, but I am so glad to be alive! Let’s see what the ‘dirty 30s’ have in store for me. Cheers, you guys! Have a shot(alcohol, pani puri or pink lemonade) for me!


The next phase…

Gee, you guys!

I feel like so much has changed with a tiny step. A few months back, I was fed up of my professional life and I sat in bed at 10 pm applying to new jobs on Indeed. The next morning, I had a call for an interview! That process led to my move back to San Diego, with a U-Haul and my parents in tow. I cannot thank my folks enough because they were such troopers, staying in Orange County for a week and packing while I joined work, commuting from Abhi-Nish’s home. It took me 2 hours of driving everyday from their place to work to and fro and I was ready to drop dead. I had Kunal Nayyar’s audiobook for company and that may have saved me.

My parents had actually done most of the packing for me. I just had to wrap some loose ends, which were way more than some to be honest. Shawn arrived bright and early the next morning with the rental truck and we got to business. I could have tried, but would have failed to choose a worse day for the move. We were on the last and strongest day of the heatwave, and I had sweat pouring out of pores that I did not know existed. Shawn would shake his shiny head and sweat would fall off like rain from his head. He looked like a shaggy dog, except that his head is shaved. Also, I am amazed that I have so much stuff for a single person living in an apartment. The previous place had lots of storage, so of course, I expanded. The new place does have good storage, but nowhere like my apartment earlier. Every evening I find myself at my wit’s end trying to push a box somewhere in a corner. Yet, I have atleast 3 pieces of furniture that I need to buy. Even through all this, Shawn kept saying that I didn’t have too much and wouldn’t let me hire movers. What would I do without him? Big bro is the best!

We are mostly settled in now, but I still need to dot some i’s and cross some t’s. I don’t feel fully satisfied right now. All this is above and beyond the separation anxiety that keeps cropping up every now and then. OC was my home for 5 years. 2 years more than San Diego. It was my first job, and I credit many of my achievements, patents, owning a home to that job. However upset I got, my relationships over there did not sour. During my first week here at the new job, partly fueled by exhaustion(all that commute), I was close to tears, wondering what the heck had I done! This company is poles apart form my previous one. It is much smaller, is not highly organized owing to the fact that they are family owned, but they are ready to expand exponentially. They have never had someone with my job title before(no pressure there, girlie!) but they did not bail out after I negotiated and accepted my counter-offer right away. I guess there is no way of knowing if a decision is right or wrong, if you don’t live it, but you can always hope for the best and put in all your efforts. My last week at ACD was full of goodbyes. Every single person, from shopfloor and office, came in to say bye to me and we were a huge group for my farewell lunch. My friends and I celebrated my last weekend in OC with sushi and the big Mayweather-McGregor fight. It was the best.

Now about moving back to San Diego, I am living in a super central spot. It is close to practically everything and everyone and I am very excited! It is still far from office(from 3 miles in OC, to 22 miles in SD, gulp!) but it takes me exactly 25 min owing to the freeway and being in opposite direction to the flow of the traffic. I get to see SDSU everyday on my way! When I am driving around, or walking around in the malls, I feel this sense of familiarity from my grad school days shenanigans. I recall moments spent at those exact same spots with my buddies, and with the boy that time. Things do get bitter-sweet but mostly they stay sweet.

I hope this new phase brings a whole lot of positivity for me. Please wish me luck! Also update me with what is going on with y’all, since it has been forever!


Lessons from a tomato…

Some of my friends may know that since last year, I got involved with house plants and growing some vegetables after I started renting my own apartment with a nice patio.. I started off with tomatoes, cucumbers, mint and jalapeno. I went through a bunch of cilantro, pole beans, spinach and carom seeds(ajwain) too during fall and spring and have some more tomato, bell pepper, basil in inclusion with last year’s stock. Most of this enthusiasm was from reading gardening articles, friends and this episode of Chef’s Table on Netflix about a Buddhist Monk growing all her produce and creating beautiful dining experiences combined with spirituality. She let her plants grow and did nothing about pests considering them to be natural forces of nature.

The cucumber’s gone though. It got powdery mildew right after the first fruit. It still braved on and gave me atleast 10 cucumbers before I decided to let it die. I tried milk, neem, and a bunch of DIY and store bought medicines, but nothing really seemed to help. The mint is trimmed off every now and then, but the leaves are getting smaller and more hole-ridden despite constant neem oil or insecticide sprayings. The tomatoes last year were good, but many had to be discarded because of pesky greenworms boring through fruits or spots because of temperature and moisture changes. Jalapeno is going strong. It keeps looking like it will die and then it springs back with 8-10 flowers and fruits suddenly. Same goes for the bell pepper, and that has hole ridden leaves too. The insects are everywhere and there is no escaping. I have still tried to stay on the organic path with all my insecticides being natural and not harmful to the bees. The temperatures are not helping either with fluctuations between 70F to 100F in a matter of few hours.

Yesterday, I noticed that one of my tomatoes had ripened nicely with a bright red color and I decided to pluck it off. When I harvested it, I noticed that it wasn’t as nice as it looked.

I had a new perspective dawn upon me. The humble farmers have to face way more issues than being given credit for. Because I went through the actual ratio of fruit eaten to fruit harvested, and the lifecycle of my plants, I understand a miniscule part of the horrors faced by them. The plants and the crops are their livelihood. Each fruit is important. They have to fight the forces of nature which include heat, cold, rain and shine. Just a change in couple of degrees turns a ripening round tomato into an oddly lobe-shaped fruit. A small difference in moisture content of the soil will introduce the unsightly black spot on the fruit which will lead to discards. Too much rain or too little rain can wreck havoc in the life of a farmer. Same goes for too little or too much crop. A bountiful crop will drive the prices low with a nullifying effect on the profit. Back to square one.

We complain so much about pesticides and the higher costs of organic fruits which use natural herbicides and fertilizers. But I saw the other side where they have to resort to heavy sprayings to prevent pests from literally eating up their money. There is practically no winning.

It is a thankless task to work on farms. They have to fight against nature, flora and fauna to bring food to your table, all the while toiling for almost nothing.

So what am I doing with my tomato? I am cutting that quarter off and gobbling down the rest if there is no sign of a pest inside. I have worked hard(sort of!) to grow it and I am not wasting it. The quarter goes back in the pot to decompose and fertilize. I have done the same for my mint leaves. If there is no sign of pest remnants like eggs or droppings except holes in the leaves, they just get washed nicely and I make my chutney/sauces. The next time you go eww about a couple of black spots on bananas or a soft spot on a tomato, before discarding it, think of that one person who bent his/her back under the afternoon sun to tend to it. Maybe now you have a new perspective on the words ‘Farm to Table’.


N-N-1 7-16-2017

Here we go with N-N-1 again, this time hosted by Norm.

I took this picture while out and about at Newport Beach in the middle of a dolphin and whale watching cruise. We did not see any whales, but we saw a number of dolphin pods gamboling and playing in the boat’s wake. But I found these sea lions(dogs) most amusing.

“You can’t sit with us!!”

Sea Lions can be such ‘Mean Girls’.

Check out rest of the pictures in his post.


Classical Gasbag

Once again N-N-1 has brought a variety of pictures and thoughts from different parts of the world. If this is your first view of N-N-1, the first N stands for the number of participants, the second for the number of photos (they should be the same), and the 1 stands for one time. All of the pictures were taken by the participants at 4 p.m. their local time on Sunday, July 16th.

We’ll start with a new voice who has joined our N-N-1 family. Natalie Garvois from https://wildriversrunsouth.wordpress.com sent us the following:

I was walking along the bank of the ‘Little Elbow River’ at 4 p.m on Sunday. I was admiring the trees, and the idea for this poem came into my head.

By the Little Elbow

The trees stand stately

And true by the Little Elbow River

That runs through my town.

They witness the good and the bad,


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A tail of sensory delights…

It would have been Moony’s 17th birthday. It has been 2 years since he has passed on and has been gamboling at the rainbow bridge in a pile of chicken, boiled eggs and sukhi bhel(an Indian snack that he would relish with mom every evening). But the chasm that Moony has left behind  will not be filled easily. I would like a furry sister or brother to come into our lives, but as of now we aren’t ready. A gazillion amazing things have been spoken about how amazing dogs are and how they enrich our lives and every bit is 110% true. But while driving, and reminiscing about my days with Moony, I thought of how he regaled every sense of mine. I thought of how dogs excite, amuse, confuse and delight every human sense. Every pet owner will be able to relate to this, I am sure!
1. Sight : If you haven’t felt a warm gush in your heart at the sight of a dog’s big brown eyes and sloppy, drooly smile, you, my friend, are made of stone. They bring such happiness by just existing in front of your eyes. Have you noticed how warm a dog’s big beautiful eyes are when they are looking at you with all the love their little bodies could hold and quivering from head to tip of the tail for a hug? Have you seen how naughty those same eyes look when your dog has spotted a squirrel and sensed a slack in the leash? I feel giddy just remembering how happy the sight of my dog’s fan-like wagging tail would make me after a long day. The blackberry eyes, the giant smile, that big tummy!
2. Touch : Trust me when I say that no fabric in the world is softer than a new puppy’s pink tummy. No velvet is smoother than running your fingers over a dog’s floppy ears. I used to love patting my dogs legs, right between his thigh and his tummy and even keep my palm there to take in all his warmth. Absolutely nothing beats pulling your dog close to your body like a giant teddy bear at night and just nuzzling into his fur, not even a better half! I miss running my fingers over his temples, on his cheeks, tummy, just about everywhere. His big doggy hug would end every stress and worry right there and soothe me. The softness and the warmth was unbeatable.
3. Smell : Dear dog owners, please tell me that I am not the only weirdo who totally loves the odd smell of a dog’s paws! Moony’s feet used to have this funny smell of corn chips mixed with old cooked rice, I have no idea why! He would invariably push his paws on my face when deep in sleep. I would still hold him close and take in that part atrocious, part mesmerizing scent. Aah, how can I forget the stink of his ears when we would clean them. Even his mouth smelled like a fishbowl for some odd reason. Such a jumble of weird smells they are, but so lovable!
4. Taste : If you are living with a dog, and haven’t casually ingested enough of it’s hair to have a hairball in your stomach by now, you are doing it wrong. The hair finds its way into your stomach however hard you try. After picking it off everything, I learnt to just roll with it. It was on my clothes, in my bags, every rug, sweater, hairbrush, and floating around in the kitchen. And, also, kisses are a big source. 😀
5. Hearing : The cutest part of bringing home a puppy are the adorable sounds it makes. Those little grunts, snores, burps, squeaks, toots become such an indispensable part of your life. Agreed there were times when I have thrown a pillow at Moony to shut his barks at the invisible monster, but then he would throw in a squeaky whimper and all would be forgotten. And then he would start barking again. Trust me, dogs talk to you, and you only have to respond back anyhow you like, and watch them go at it.
I miss every bit of Moony and what he would do to my heart. I miss all the love he held for me and his various moods and his king-size personality. I miss the effects his sight, touch, smell, taste and voice had on me and how soothing that all was. All of you who have a furry friend to go back to, go give your dog a biiiiiggggg hug and tell them PB loves them.
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What to do when you spot your crush…

… A La Princess Butter.

  1. Stare at him from crowds, hiding behind people, or between the machines at the gym.
  2. Consider talking to him, and keep considering that till the allotted 30 days time period for ‘over-thinking’ is over.
  3. Forget how he looks like, and mistake someone else for him and get yelled at by your buddy for being a ‘floozy’.
  4. Try not to stare like the said shameless ‘floozy’ at his lean, tan, physique…………
  5. Try not looking like you and your buddy are a thing, specially when you both enjoy silly antics in public.
  6. Make your buddy catch signs, like engagement/wedding rings, the slogan on his university tshirt, the year on his school jersey, etc.
  7. Finally make a decision to smile at him.
  8. Attempt to smile, and then stop midway, and look like you are trying to cough up something nasty and watch him return an undecided half-smile.
  9. Cringe in embarrassment for being a chickensh*t and continue staring at TV at the oddest angle from your machine while doing chin-dips.
  10. Go crazy on the internet looking for the guy and get other friends involved in your utter stupidity.
  11. Disregard any advice about the sane method of ‘smiling , saying hi and a normal introduction’.
  12. Continue being a weirdo and make #foreveralone your motto.

Yes, I am vegetarian…

1. No, I don’t care if you eat Beef/Pork in front of me. 

2. Yes, I do eat eggs. Yes, I do feel conflicted.

3. I do consume dairy. I am not vegan. Yet.

4. Even though I like salads once in a while, salad bars are not my ideal places to eat at.

5. I do get things outside to eat. Even at steak houses. Heard of Mac-N-Cheese? Karl Strauss has the best one I have ever had.

6. No, I don’t care if we are all going to a meat spot to have a good time. I will drink and make merry. Except, Korean BBQ. Nope.

7. My health is fine, thank you very much.

8. I have all the protein I want.

9. I don’t just put fake meat in all my food.

10. India is not 100% vegetarian. In fact,60% are meat eaters.

11. Again, not all Hindus are vegetarians.

12. I don’t ask you 10 questions about your food, so I can expect the same, hopefully.

13. I CAN live without meat. I promise you I am not a zombie.

14. Yes, this food that I am eating right now is vegetarian. You KNOW I am vegetarian.

15. If you sneak meat in my food for shitzengiggles, I WILL pull a Ramsay Bolton on you.

Every. Single. Day.