Posted in Life, Me and moi, Mumbai

Insect Bites.

It’s Monsoons in Mumbai, which means a lot of very good things, but also means that you’re suddenly very aware of the food chain around you, ignored in any other season.

First, you have the tiny, tiny insects that get in your books and die almost instantly, leaving you with black marks all over the pages. Then there are the fuzzy grey ones that hover over any food item that has the misfortune to be kept in the open for longer than half an hour. Then, of course, you have the more recognizable insects like ants, spiders and cockroaches, with their more specialised cousins, flying ants, spiders and cockroaches. I seem to attract the latter quite a lot.

Speaking of flying, you will also be made aware of exactly how many different types of insect bodies you can possibly stick wings on. We’ve learnt some entomology in school and now in Community Medicine, but nothing beats actually getting to live with these creatures.

Of course, we should not fail to mention our slightly larger friends, lizards and rodents. I’ve been known to name and domesticize my lizard neighbours, but I can’t seem to bond with the ones I have now. The rats around my hostel are so adapted to medical students by now that they know exactly where to find my ramen and exactly which important textbooks to gnaw. I want to internalise my textbooks too, but I have to say, my commitment falls far short of theirs. The resident squirrel outside my window does not show academic leanings, thankfully. However, it does prefer my textbooks to shit on, so maybe it’s still developing its interests.

All in all, it’s a wonderful way to teach yourself that not everything you read in a textbook is true. For example, that human beings are supposed to be at the top of the food chain  No, you’re not. You’re a nutritious food source for an entire ecosystem.

Posted in India

We had our Revolution in 1947. When’s our Renaissance?

India is now just short of 70 years old. Actually, to paraphrase our Prime Minister, post Colonial India is now almost 70 years old; Indian history goes thousands of years back.

Why then, do we still have so many basic problems to deal with? Poverty, hunger, pollution, scarcity, overcrowding, droughts, floods, riots, rapes, yes, and rage.  So much anger. Anger on the roads. Anger at the government. Anger at your neighbours and your country’s neighbours. Anger at someone who said something, who showed something, who wrote something. Why are Indians so angry?

In my humble opinion, it’s because we are unsure of our place in this world. India is a mixture of diverse cultures, languages and climates, with no unifying factor apart from the conviction that we are one nation and one country. The fact that we fought together against the British is what tied together many kingdoms into one India. This brought with it political upheaval, but we never really self-actualised as a country. Europe began truly developing after the Industrial Revolution, and along with it came the Renaissance. We’ve had our Independence Revolution of sorts, but we never really got the chance to have our own Renaissance. From the 15th of August, 1947, after a thousand years of being ruled over, we were expected to be a new-born nation of a billion different people and figure out how to be one on the way.

We’ve figured out quite a bit, in 70 years. I don’t think we’ll ever have a Renaissance, per say. In this beautiful country of paradoxes, it’s just not feasible. No, we’ll have to figure it out bit by bit. Better ourselves bit by bit. We need to live our days better, push our limits, try a little more to see things from the other person’s perspective. The more we find out who we are as a country, the less angry we will become. Because, in my opinion, we’re angry more at ourselves than anyone else.

UPDATE: I just saw this video. It’s AMAZING.

 

Posted in Food, India, Life, Me and moi, Mumbai

Monsoons in Mumbai: There is no other heaven.

I always read about how ‘it was a lovely, sunny day’ and ‘her smile was as sunny as a summer afternoon’ like sunny is somehow equal to happiness. I can see why people from temperate countries find the sun something to be happy about. Sometimes, as is the traditional Indian way, people from here like using the phrase too just because Westerners use it. I promise you, however, in India –especially for me– happiness is an overcast sky, lots of wind, and rain.

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Marine Drive when it’s heaven

 

I have always found extreme heat more intolerable than extreme cold. I know some of my friends disagree, but especially after my time in Kota, me and my extremely photosensitive skin try and stay away from direct sunlight. You can imagine then, the monsoon season is an absolute godsend for me.

How could I not love it? Harsh, sweltering days where you can’t escape sweat even in the shower are replaced by bright grey mornings and windy afternoons. The usually brown and dry Sahyadri mountains (while beautiful even then) are transformed into a million shades of green that will take your breath away. The sky is dynamic, changing from clear to cloudy in seconds. A mild drizzle could change into a thunderous cloudburst in seconds, and it feels like it will never end but then vanishes instantly like it never happened.

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Sahyadri when it’s heaven

 

Oh, and the food! Anyone who hasn’t had kanda bhaji and chai in the rain is missing something in life. Or bhutta with lemon and chilli, standing under an umbrella, bought from a gadi wala on the street corner.

I know, I know, I’m lucky that I live in a hostel five minutes away from my place of study and work. I don’t have to commute, and commuting in the monsoon is not fun because every train is always late. However, I counter with this- commuting in the summer is even less fun. You’re drenched in sweat till you reach your destination, and it’s not always just your own sweat. I will say no more.

Posted in Life, The things I like to do., Totally non-scientific theory Tuesday

Totally non-scientific Theory Tuesday: I told you so.

The righter you are about something, the harder it is to say “I told you so.”

Take, for example, my best friend. I love her to bits, and I know she’d do anything for me, except actually take my advice. She was dating a d*****bag (who I warned her about the day they started dating). After two years with him, she rebounded by beginning a long distance relationship with an ex (oh no). She rebounded on him by having a very brief fling with her other friend’s on-and-off boyfriend, (while it was off, obviously, but still no no nO DON’T DO THAT SWEETIE DON’T DO THAT!) I must have said “Please don’t do that you’re going to regret it very quickly” in all the variations of the English, Marathi and Hindi languages.

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Every time I turn out to be right, I never want to gloat. Because my caring, generous, brilliant friend has had her heart broken. She’s so accomplished professionally that she just got a PhD scholarship to study in one of the world’s top research facilities, at the age of 22. She’s so put together that she’s living alone in a strange country to do her MRes, and thriving. Personally, however, she really needs to listen to me more.

Because this is my Totally non-scientific Theory for this Tuesday: The righter you are, the harder it is to say I told you so.