October 31, 2005


Conversation over lunch with ex-Gender student: “Don’t go mad. If you keep absorbing feminism, you will find yourself going mad. I almost dumped my boyfriend. I told him, “You’re exploiting me”. Studying feminism takes the joy out of many things in life. You can’t even listen to a joke without thinking that it is sexist or offensive to women.”

So very true. It’s increasingly becoming a frightening reality for me.

In class today we discussed empowerment. After flogging the definition for fifty minutes, the first step towards empowerment seemed to be the ability to make decisions about yourself by yourself. The example that was chosen by the lecturer was that of a Bosnian woman who had been raped, but chose to remain silent about it so that the irate men she calls brother and father do not kill her to protect the family honour. Her ability to remain silent was portrayed as a form of empowerment.

Ten eager voices spoke about whether rape victims in their countries stay silent or speak up. Nobody was plunged into the depths of despair at the thought that empowerment is silently accepting the gravest injustice that can be done to you, in order to save your life? By the time I reeled back into consciousness and could raise my hand to object, students had dispersed for the day.

I shall try to avoid it, but something tells me that I will go mad, and die alone, and be found half eaten by (female) Alsatians three months later.

October 30, 2005

Sunday, October 30

20st, alcohol units 0, cigarettes 50, calories 500 (v bad, it’s only 11am)

Woke up and set all my clocks back one hour, so that it can get dark at 4pm. Wonder why the Brits first decide that the meridian through their land is prime, and then go about messing with the time twice a year. Think I will write to Tony and tell him to settle for a half-hour compromise and get it over and done with forever.
Ate huge double-chocolate chip cookie while switching on the laptop. Calories rushed to my arse, where they will be as stationary as the arse for the rest of my life
Sister called to say parents were fighting as usual and dumping smelly stuff on her head. Wonder if I will grow into my mother or father. Still keeping fingers crossed and praying that I am an adopted child.
Realised that today’s 9am is yesterday’s 10am and reluctantly went to make breakfast. Toaster leapt into flames while I cooked eggs on the hob. Pulled out fire blanket and smothered fire, and stood dazed in a smoke-filled unventilated kitchen (which explains the 50 cigarettes). Realized I had to get out to stay alive. Opened door and slid out without infuriating fire alarm. Flapped my hands fervently in the air to prevent smoke floating into little white monster that would send 700 hungover students into the cold street for half an hour. Week’s ration of breakfast raw material destroyed in the accident. Surly reception man came up to assess damage. Hopefully will not have to shell out 20 pounds, as I risked my life to prevent the fire alarm.
Told the boy about the accident and he said there would be at least one interesting thing in my biography now. Left in a huff to have huge tasteless breakfast in the cafeteria. Groggy Wendigo let me make tea in her kitchen afterwards.
Should one spend a sunny Sunday pretending to study outdoors or cuddled up with book in freshly laundered bedlinen? Must not be lazy slug, but too emotionally drained to get out of nightclothes that smell of burnt toast. Must redeem self, but not today.

I will not:
Cook eggs and toast bread at the same time
Buy a week’s ration at a time
Eat huge chocolate chip cookie without even realizing
Convert my weight into stones

I will
Either beat the boy into shape or replace him with one who sympathises when I almost die to prevent fire alarm
Do some interesting things to fill up pages of biography
Choose the pretending to study option over the bedlinen option next weekend
Finish reading Bridget Jones’ diary for Thursday’s class

October 28, 2005


After two years of matrimonial ads, horoscopes, meetings and whatnots, a suitable boy was found for my cousin earlier this month. The engagement ceremony happened a couple of weeks back, and all seemed well. However, it turns out that the groom’s family is quite unhappy with the arrangements made for the engagement ceremony, and want to have a much fancier wedding ceremony than was originally planned. My aunt and uncle had done their best at the engagement, and are now faced with the prospect of running up a huger bill than they ever anticipated.
I’m tempted to lash out against Punjabis for their ostentation, but I’ve come to realise that this happens in many parts of the country now. And it happens not only with arranged matches.
Is it worth getting your daughter married into such a family? Apparently it is important, because I am almost certain my aunt will yield and arrange a spectacular wedding as is expected of her. Because the boy’s family is supreme. Because my cousin is past the age where marriage proposals come everyday. Because after the engagement, calling the wedding off would lead to public humiliation. Because the happiness of knowing that you’ve toed all the lines society has drawn comes at a (very expensive) price.

October 26, 2005

At Long Last


Bench Seating
Limited View
10 Pounds
Who Cares?

October 24, 2005

Class Notes

My class today was about a very interesting topic: the production : reproduction binary that links men to production and women to reproduction in a hierarchical relationship. This creates an economically unfavorable situation for the person who brings up future citizens, and at the same time ensures that women are delegated this task for the simple reason that they were the ones who gave birth to the baby. Being economically disadvantaged was a vicious cycle, because it took away women’s bargaining power in household decisions. The only solution in sight was the recognition of household work as socio-economically productive and deserving of monetary recompense.
The professor was “cool” 25 years ago, which means that the whole class thinks she and her ideas are outdated, and I think she is the only person whose ideas make sense to my cobwebby mind.
I was wondering if this lecture was really relevant today, and were not minds opening up to sharing the responsibility of bringing up children, and weren’t wage gaps being closed… when this guy (a visitor - we castrate all regular male students in our gender class) raises his hand, and throws a tea bag into the coffee pot by making it plain that nothing has changed. He asks: “But, aren’t women, by neglecting their home and children, and by refusing to have babies in order to work, reinforcing the hierarchy instead of valuing the role of caregiver?” He is a compatriot, and I am sorry to say that 80 women will attack him with a scalpel if he shows up in class again.

October 23, 2005

Happy Birthday Kiddo!


Breaking News

So my friend finally started blogging and four entires down it looks like she was born to blog. Also, she saves me all the trouble of trying to muster up vocabulary and imagery to describe where I’m living. Expect a lot of links to her posts.
And oh yes. My life is ruined. My Amma commented on my blog (don’t go looking, I deleted it). Now I’m right below Nokia 3315 on the coolness index.

October 19, 2005

This n That

It has to be raining every Wednesday when I set out on my long journey home! Today, it’s pouring! This is London. It’s supposed to petulantly drizzle all the time, but it’s not supposed to pour! This is cheating! We want our money back!
And nobody will come with me and spend ten pounds to watch Kevin Spacey play Richard the Second. And the show gets over at 11:30, so I can’t walk back by myself. So Kevin Spacey is losing out on a helluvalot because of my cheapskate friends.
There’s a tiny machine near the Millennium Bridge that lets you shoot a video of yourself and send it to people by email for free. So my friend and I keep creating updates for family. Last night we were walking in the rain and our umbrellas were blocking the view of the bridge, but people we send the video to only want to see our faces anyway, and no matter what drunken-sounding crap we utter, they’ll go oh, sooooo sweet! Thank God for people becoming blind and deaf in love!
Mushroom soup is the best in the whole wide world, especially the four-cup soup powder pack from Tesco (cheap student cheap student) which comes with nuclear resistant croutons that surely do not go soggy even when the sewage from my hostel flows into the Thames (now THERE”s an image!)
Trafalgar Square had Diwali one fortnight in advance, and the stupid lights whose pictures my friend took were all they had in the name of illumination. It was about Punjabis and loud music mainly. Eeks. The Thames, on the other hand, is decked up Diwali-style every night!
I borrowed my friend’s camera and took pictures of my messy room and sent them home, and nobody appreciates the fact that dirty laundry and unwashed dishes are absent. They have to ask stupid questions like why is it so messy? And where are the books? You think I came here to keep house and to study? Naah! I came to stand on the Millennium Bridge on rainy nights, watching nuclear-resistant mushroom soup croutons catch the light as they flow lazily by.

October 13, 2005

Hot Choc

The man in the small snack bar calls everyone “Darling” and has a big BIG drum of Cadbury’s Drinking chocolate, of which he puts two teaspoonfuls in a Styrofoam cup and tops it with sugar and hot milk and places it in your wet and shaking left hand and takes 60 pence from your wet and shaking right hand. At first the chocolate is so hot that you can only sniff at it. The cup has a plastic lid with a little hole in it, and that hole is not for a stirrer, but for sipping from. If you are too scared that you will spill hot stuff all over you, don’t be. The lid is on pretty tight, and is designed to avoid spillage. By now your hot chocolate should be ready for drinking. The first few sips are all milky, and taste like the hot chocolate your mummy made you drink as a kid, a whole lot of milk with very little chocolate. But as you keep drinking, the chocolatey flavour keeps increasing, and by the time you take the last sip, you are drinking heavenly stuff. When you are done, you can take one last sniff through the hole in the lid, and if nobody is looking at you, you can peek through the lid to see the brown deposit at the bottom of the cup. But there is no way you can lick it in a fancy school, so if you are unable to control yourself usually, don’t take a peek. Just throw the cup away, and wait for another rainy day to do this all over again.

October 11, 2005


No. of days in London: 21
No. of miles walked: Many, Many
No. of local bus rides: 0
No. of tube rides: 4
No. of kilograms of weight lost: 0.5
No. of rounds of laundry: 2
No. of Shakespeare plays seen: 2
No. of concerts attended: 1
No. of bookshops visited: 7
No. of books bought: 1
No. of sponsored meals: 2
No. of parties: 0
No of books issued from the library: 5
No. of books read properly: 0.1
No. of visits to Millennium Bridge at night: 12
No. of good female pals: 2
No. of years since this was last observed: 5
No. of times Delhi was missed: 0

October 10, 2005

How I Know This Is The Last Of My Formal Education

This is the conclusion of an essay I had to read in preparation for today’s lecture:

“Phallogocentrism was the egg ovulated by the master subject, the brooding hen to the permanent chickens of history. But into the nest with that literal-minded egg has been placed the germ of a phoenix that will speak in all the tongues of a world turned upside down.”

October 09, 2005


I open my book, and thereby engage
years of research to speak to me
But a playful smile dances on the page
and makes the English Greek to me

For my friend, who has a crush on her (Greek) Prof

October 07, 2005


I’ve discovered a new feeling in myself lately. Gratitude. For people who hold the door for me. For the people who thank me if I hold the door for them. For the cool weather. For maps and directions that make me independent in a strange land. For the infinite variety that is London. For the gift of a pair of legs that work, and take me around the city. For the neighbour who knocks at my door to return the wallet I have forgotten in the community fridge (long story). For my parents, who have loaned me their life’s savings to fulfill my dream. For Google Talk, which keeps me connected. For my sister, who bridges the gap between what is said and what is intended. For the lunatic who worries if I am not online by 7am. For the neurotic who is probably spending her days worrying that I am not eating right…

I could go on forever.

Thank God for all this and more!

October 04, 2005

Lost in Translation

I spent a good fifteen minutes trying to explain to my friend from Hong Kong what a “behenji” is. I failed miserably. I don’t generally fail miserably at describing Indian things to people I meet here, so I am quite sure it was not a lack on my part. It’s just that there are no behenjis in Hong Kong.
I am worried now. Amitabh Bachchan and Sachin Tendulkar are on TV all the time asking me to take my children under three years of age for polio drops. But nobody is thinking of keeping up with the world as far as eradication of the behenji is concerned! Maybe a celebrity should be on TV asking us to take out little girls to the nearest health centre for immunisation against salwar suits, oiled hair, spectacles, and suchlike.

Observation: Just because he sounds like this chap, don’t turn around and look. There’s every chance he looks like this chap.

October 03, 2005


7:00am: Inky shakes off the duvet and climbs out of bed. Her eyes are red. This happens everyday. Inky suspects she gets drunk in her sleep.

10:00am: Inky goes to the library, which looks like it’s from “The City of Angels”, but shakes like it’s from “Jurassic Park”. Inky vows never to go there again if she can help it. She can’t, by the way.

11:00am: Interview with tutor. Inky tells tutor that she has an uncomfortable relationship with word limits. She cannot write enough to reach the word limit. Tutor says she will whip Inky’s lazy ass. Only she says it more lady-like. Inky is in trouble.

1:30pm: Inky splurges on a scholastic planner that will hold a million little notes and detail, and shock the world with its pinkness. Inky is penny wise and pound foolish. But Inky kind of loves the diary.

2:00pm: Inky attends her first lecture. A 50-minute apology by a hassled little boy explaining why he knows nothing about the course he is teaching. Inky dozes off, but not before making a note in her little pink diary to get a pillow in the next class.

3:00pm: Inky attends a lecture by a female version of Dumbledore. Dumbledora is bitching about Aryan boys, when one walks into the room to borrow a chair. Seventy feminists angrily stare him out of existence for disturbing their class. He will never sit on a chair again.

5:00pm: Inky goes for the welcome party, and eats papad and drinks orange juice, both of which she hates. She escapes and walks along the Thames under the newly-dark sky, both of which she loves. Inky will suffer parties only when they come with a death-threat attached.

7:30pm: Inky is turning into a bluddy phirang having “supper” at 7:30. But not really, because she adds copious amounts of ketchup and pepper to her stir fried vegetables and noodles, to make chowmien.

8:30 pm: Inky realizes she has run out of a supply of certain garments that will not be seen but will be needed the next day. So Inky bundles four kilos of stinky clothes and marches down to do laundry while the world dresses up as hookers and pimps to go for parties. Maybe not hookers and pimps, but definitely not anything Inky can relate to from the world as she has known it.

9:00 pm: Inky posts her online diary as Ariel washing powder does good things to her clothes.