How I stuck it to Snellen

1989 was a tough summer for me. I got my specs when I was vacationing in Bombay, swerving my extended family’s attention towards me where it came to a screeching halt.

Till then I was only faudee. In 1989, I became fauddi-dhapni. 

It was a lesson in ‘Be Careful What you Wish for’. For years I had pointed out to my parents when I couldn’t read the addresses on shop signs. They said I was pretending to have weak eyes because I wanted to wear spectacles. They may or may not have been wrong.

So that year, we went to Gangar optician on Dadar TT circle and I walked out proudly with a prescription of -1.25 and -1.75. It was a lesson in ‘What happens if you read Agatha Christie in a moving car at night’. 

 I was so excited. I practised absent-mindedly wiping my glasses in conversation. I peered over their rim intently. I pushed down the tee over one shoulder, and bit one of the temple tips flirtatiously. All in the taxi after ordering my prescription.

 Then I reached home and announced the big news to my grandparents and mama-mami. I was the first in their bloodline to need glasses (my father is the short-sighted one).

 My family leapt at the opportunity with all the good intentions and enthusiasm of a coloniser. Every waking minute had to be utilised for the betterment of my fallen organs. 

 “Wake up early and walk barefoot on grass. The dew helps.” 

 “WAIT! Do your eye exercises the moment you wake up. Up-down, side-to-side, rotate clock-wise and anti-clockwise.”

 “Eat carrots.”

 “Drink milk.”

 “Pinka, PALAK KHA!”

 “Why are you doing nothing while the [train/bus/car] moves. Look faaaaaar into the distance. Then quickly look at something close-by.”

 “Look at the sky.”

 “Look at greenery.”

“Put your palms over your eyes and open them.” 

 My “condition” was discussed when we had visitors (twice a day).

“We know a homeopath in Dadar…”

“This boy in our building, he got rid of his specs by staring at a star every night after dinner…”

“Look at a candle flame placed at a distance.” 

“Wet your index finger with your morning spit and apply it like kajal.”

When I threw a tired tantrum, my grandmother sagely explained to me: “Rani, eyes are our most important organ. If you lose your hands, legs or hearing, you can still get other jobs. But if you lose your sight, you can only man a PCO booth.” 

I had LASIK last week and at my post-op check-up, I laughed at the chart. I wish I could see my grandparents’s faces.


I listen all night for your step on the stair

So, I’ve been doing a lot of fun work. I’m still writing, but I’m also training dogs, taking people shopping, conducting garage sales, and conducting walks for people. I thought I’d enjoy being holed up in my room, getting all hot and bothered as I torture myself like any self-respecting writer.


Specifically, I miss clever people who like chutyapanti. I miss all my gullible co-workers who could be rallied around to order disgusting food. I miss verbal fencing. I miss thinking up things we can get away with slipping into a newspaper (have you noticed how we spin metaphors from an unrelated theme around the context?). I miss building poor puns and towering metaphors. I miss the ever-gushing, polluted river of inside information and baseless gossip. I miss the inspiration of every else’s talent, being able to see all the wheels in their devious minds turn and click. I miss being horribly offensive which you can only be in the safe space created by other horrifically offensive and lowly people in high stress conditions.

I have been going through past posts like a nostalgic pensioner. Did I tell you about the time I had to edit a copy about a man who had to have a glass bottle surgically removed from his anus? Did I tell you that since we couldn’t give out his real name, we considered the moniker Batliwala? I miss the war-cry of PRESS CLUB! I miss Press Club. I miss sitting in Press Club until the waiters changed into lungis and start spreading their bedding around you. I miss walking back from Press Club on empty SoBo roads. I miss the sweet surprise of the bill after three hours of ordering whatever the fuck you want and pre-ordering drinks at Press Club. I miss how all the food vendors knew my name and customisation. I dream of the dosa-wallah slowly smearing his garlic chutney all over himself. I miss asking juniors for sexual favours.

I suppose I can hang out online, but I haven’t been on Instant Messenger since MSN. Back then I creatively (and with telling originality that would lead me to newspapering) called myself God and YOUR DYING MOTHER. Imagine the little box jumping up at the corner of your screen: YOUR DYING MOTHER says: Lunch?

In the last few years, I have been hiding on IM, because they say: Hi! and paste the entire press release before you can hit Block. They also say: and inform you it’s all small caps. The things I have read, one forehead is not enough to bang against desk.

So every other day, I consider applying for a job and then I remember I have to catch a movie at 10 am (morning shows are cheaper and there are less chances of running into people you know. Important when the movie is Twilight: My Secret Shame). And now I know what the weather is outside. The cheques tear me up a little, but can you put a price on freedom? (It’s all relative, but you can. In my case, It’s a good 73 per cent of my last salary).

So it’s fun to have non-writing work which makes me go out and meet other people. But not I have to actively schedule socialising like a normal person. That’s so hard. Everyone is at work. Everyone is also writing or publicising their book. So many ppl ask me whether I’ve quitten to rite a bk r sumthng??? Dude, I don’t even have a blog post in me. Wat bk????

People who work from home, what do you do for company? Add me?

* Sorry, you guys are hyper good professionally but weak-willed. Say mava jalebi three times. How do you feel? Exactly.

Closet Sweep: Day 30

Picture 004

Top: Hundred-rupee top from Vile Parle station. It has buttons down the back.
Pants: Linen funny pants from H20. They are extremely roomy, with deep pockets and an elasticated belt. I bought two of them three years ago, and have wore them thin. But they are essential to my wardrobe, so I’m going to keep one as sample.
Shoes: Coral espadrilles. Used as home shoes.


We had a cook-out at home (more on that later), so I wanted to wear something comfortable but not pajamas. Chocolate splatters look good on these pants.

Closet Sweep: Days 16 and 17

Last week, I attended the wedding of a dearly cherished friend in Pune. I wish I could tell you more about it, but he’s a high-flying lawyer now and the Internet does not need to know what a low-life he really is. He is also son of the most charming man on earth. The man who introduced me to his granddaughter as, “This is sweet sweet Mitali. She’s a big princess.”
I laugh the most when I am in the company of TR and NS. When I have my own city and get to populate it with all the people I love, TR and NS are going to live right across the road. An evening with them fills me with sunshine, just like a meeting with Rio.

Have I told you about Rio?

***I digress***

Rio is a German Shepherd with floppy ears. He has conveniently moved into the building opposite us, and the minute we wake up, we go to the balcony to call out to him. He’s ferociously friendly — one hello, and he’s on his hind legs taking a closer look at your face; tall as a pony and as silly as a dandelion. Actually, he looks like a dandelion.


This is our first meeting. The neighbours sensed that we liked dogs (us jumping over the balcony to meet him might have given it away) and asked if we would baby-sit him while they ran errands. Me and TB sat on the sofa till he did a recce of the house, came back, climbed on the couch and wedged himself between us. I don’t think he noticed that TB was human and not part of the couch.

***I come back to the point***

SO! I was really excited about this wedding and since it was not family, I could dress eccentrically and pass off as the loony friend with a creative job.

This is what I wore to the cocktails


Dress: Red Valentino in champagne sequins. I hesitate to reveal how much I paid for this dress, lest you cast an evil eye. Let’s just say it was a figure between Rs 499 and 501. From Stall no 66, Fashion Street.


Jacket: Faux leather jacket for Rs 1500 from Kalapi.


Shoes: Naturalizer wedges for Rs 3500. At the end of the function, everyone was rushing to kick their heels of and make weak analogies about the pain. I was smiling and flipping my middle finger at fashion.


Accessories: Charles and Keith envelope bag on a chain, which I bought on sale in Singapore. A mixed material cocktail ring from Aquamarine for Rs 550. I didn’t wear any other accessories, seeing how I was wearing sequins and my rack.


This is what I wore for the wedding.


Blouse: Silk tank from JCrew. So, I get sari blouses stitched when I get a new sari. Then when I reach for them the second time, they don’t fit. It all ends in tears. Instead, now I wear maverick blouses and caramel custard for breakfast.

Sari: A light chiffon one with a velvet border. I needed to pack light.

Accessories: Gold bonanza, baby.

Shoes: Gold Kolhapuri chappals

This is the reception outfit


Blouse: JCrew silk tank in orange/rust. Clearly, I need nothing in my closet other than these silk tanks and the existing striped tees.

Skirt: Shaadi ka lehenga. Can someone make me a buckram to go under this?

Accessories: Stacked the bangles on one arm; gold cocktail ring on another and my grandmother’s chapla haar, which is so ugly it can only be an heirloom. But I wear it because I know it would annoy her.

Shoes: Naturalizers

The blazer is TB’s.

The outfits let me enjoy the evening without feeling uncomfortable, which is more important than looking good.

Closet sweep: Day 3

It was going to be a day of shooting for Swasta Ani Masta, so I wanted something that kept me cool, covered my bum if I sat down and abetted walking.


Top: A grey silk tank from JCrew. As I mentioned here, I have been drawn to silk. I regret wearing this silk top so early in the game, cause I pair it with EVERYTHING.

Jacket: FabIndia. I had gift vouchers and since I rarely wear Indian wear, I was looking for stoles. I chanced upon this felted wool vest, which I am going to try to get lots of wear out of. It looked like a yummy cranberry under the yellow light of the store, but in daylight, it’s a deep maroon. Still a nice colour, though.

Trousers: Chemistry. Since I am such a chindhi shopper, it really takes the Gujju out of me to spend money in a shop. Bags and shoes I can justify playing full price for, but clothes is just so hard. And Chemistry disappointed me. The finishing on these pants is crap. The buttons hang by a few threads and the seam on the zipper placket is uneven. I love the material, colour and the way the pants fit, but the pockets are a sham.


Shoes: This is going to take a while. I always have a pair of these indigenous shoes about. I have a strange sort of sexual attachment to them. They are hand-woven in Kolhapur and are like no other shoes I know. They are a bit like huaraches and extremely versatile — I wear them at home, on the beach, at work, while driving, etc. Because they are so cheap (Rs 250 to 350) and light, they make great travelling shoes; you can walk them out and guiltless-ly discard them. I love feeling things with my feet, and these feed them sensually — the leather creaks when you walk, the soles are thin so you can feel the ground underneath and the shoes eventually take the shape of your feet. If they become loose, all you have to do is soak them in water and leave them to dry. The first time I wore them, I knew what Pratchett meant about Mister Vimes’s boots. Aesthetically, I love how rustic they look and the surprise ending they bring to an outfit.


Accessories: If I were allowed to own only one watch, it would be this G-Shock. It’s a present from my mishter, who buys me all my watches. I never take it off when I am travelling and it has the chime of money well-spent. In my ears were square geometric moonstone drops. Remind me to take a picture of my bag. I’m supposed to change that every week too. Also, I’ve discovered belts! They hold pants up! The closet is a magical wonderland if you are not lazy. One more thing, I pinned my hair up and used a barrette. I am the new sophisticate.


Closet sweep

I am embarking on a stupidly ambitious project: To wear everything in my closet and not repeat anything thing till I have exhausted every item. Every little pin, bauble, sock, scarf, lipstick has to be enlisted.

This promises to be humiliating because it might provide proof for something I have long suspected: I buy faster that I wear.

One rule is to wear things immediately after buying so that they don’t get sucked into the abyss of my closet. Second is to let go of clothes that don’t fit or feel good.

So here goes:



Dress: Nightie from The Shop. The Shop bridges the gap between FabIndia prices and Anokhi aesthetics and this is from their nightwear section.

Navy blue tights

Black cap-sleeved cardigan from Colour Plus

Shoes: Ballet flat from Woodlands. Now Woodlands makes shit shoes. Serious runny feces quality, and of course I remember this only after I buy one more pair. I loved the pale pink shimmer of this one, the broader toe and the exposed seam. But two months later, the insole is out. Bad, bad woodlands.

Accessories: Silver hoops, Panerei Homage watch and a midnight blue hair claw which I have since 1999 and don’t use because it is so pretty and will get spoiled!

Anti-anxiety mantras

1. Just because you saw it, were told of it or were present there, doesn’t make it your problem. It’s your problem only if it affects you directly.

2. People are not thinking about you. They are thinking about what you think of them.

3. Cog in the wheel. Cog in the wheel. Cog in the wheel.

4. Staying silent is better than being rude. Or talking too much. Or answering back. Or expressing anger verbally. Or defending yourself.

5. If I don’t like you, I don’t have to have you in my life.

6. Money does not equal love. Effort equals love.