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.

I MISS PEOPLE.

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: Email.Id@website.com 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.

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About Thailand…

Guys, I ate Thailand. I know how much you were looking forward to going there; but sorry, it’s gone. Parts of Cambodia too — most of Sihanoukville.
I wasn’t expecting much from my trip to Thailand. In fact, we pinned the destination with some reluctance. All the desis go there, so we were wary. I am not fond of meeting my kind abroad. But it was cheap and a good place from which to kick-off some travel writing since I will be funding it myself until fame catches up.
But as we found out, it’s very hard to not have a good time in Thailand. I opened my mouth the minute I got off the plane and shut it only when I got back on.
We were there for nearly a month, with about a week spent in Cambodia. If I had to give you one piece of advice about travelling to the latter, it would be: Don’t exchange your dollars. If you asked for more, I would say: In Siem Reap, ask for Mr Hong. In a land of survivalist rickshaw drivers, you’ll want the gentle Mr Hong. Call him on +85512325405.

About Thailand, we did a bike trip, we went to Krabi, and we ate through the land. There’s a lot of food that went undocumented, but here’s some that didn’t:

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In Angkor Wat, when you order pancake with sugar and lemon, it’s an actual cake made in a pan. Dessert for lunch.

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I am not one for unidentifiable meat. My usual routine for meals was to point to the noodles, the vegetables I recognised and dump in shrimp. I are shrimp like it was salt. I ate variations of this mix, but my favourite was one with glass noodles. Cambodia does a spicier version.

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Sorta the same thing in a soup-y base. Point, point, pay.

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The Khmer barbecue makes you work for your meal. We no-thank-you to crocodile meat and settled for prawn, fish and chicken. Into the moat flow the meat juices, in which cook noodles and vegetables.

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Prawns in white pepper. Unremarkable. Siem Reap.

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Snakeskin fruit. Tangy. Bitch to peel.

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Most commercial establishments in Sihanouville are run by foreigners. We stayed at SeaView hotel which had happy hours for meals. This is vanilla ice-cream with a hot, fresh raspberry dribble. I’m sure it had a fancier name, but this is what it was. I had some nice salted orange liquor crepes from the French guy next door. Called again by a much fancier name that I can’t recall.

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Caramelised banana chips. Sugar is a vital component of all my meals.

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Sugar dusted bun filled with sweet rajma mash from a Japanese coffee shop on Sukhumvit Road, Thailand.

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I have recurring dreams about this Japanese bun. The fragile and crisp shell is a Swiss Bank for custard cream. Green Tea flavour is omnipresent in patisseries and the plain custard is good too. It’s at the Central World Mall food court if you are going. Pick up some for me please.

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An eggy-pork bun from Chatuchak weekend market. Not a fan.

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Also at Chatuchak, water chestnuts covered in a sort of jelly, I suspect China Grass, and served with chilled coconut milk and ice. Did not do it for me.

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Lemongrass juice. Too sweet. Even for me…

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Grilled various things. I had the banana and the sweet potato. Good for breakfast if you can’t find a fruit vendor.

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Deep fried dough coil covered with crystallised sugar syrup. At Chiang Mai night market.

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Passionfruit juice. Without sugar.

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Chewy waffles with coconut. Chiang Rai

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Mint flavoured candyfloss. Chiang Rai. My civilisation lacks flavoured candyfloss. My culinary inventor friends and I have often discussed how to amend this. This came in coils, that sat upon each other. Much fluffier and denser than our variety.

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Coconut milk dumplings. Meh. Chiang Saen. Saved me from eating food that couldn’t be bothered to disguise the fact that they were dead bodies.

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Like a sweet uttapam folded over coconut gratings that have been lolling indecently in sugar.

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Bangkok crepes are crispier, like dosas.

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Noodle soup in Krabi. Did not do it for TB.

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My travelling companion loves burgers. This one was at Good Dreams Hostel in Krabi town, and quite acceptable. Mike’s Original Burgers in Chiang Mai was our favourite.

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Green curry with shrimp.

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One of my favourite things to do while travelling is check out the bhaji market. I usually buy fruits for breakfast because I’m crankiest on an empty stomach. Fuelled, I am all set to look for a second breakfast. Thailand handed me little packet of cut fruits at every corner. Some I forgot to photograph in my havratness. Raw and ripe mangoes, Chinese apples, berries and some I didn’t recognise. Above are mangosteen, rambutan and a kind of pear.

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A whoopee pie at Bangkok

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coconut icecream with roasted peanuts

Coconut ice-cream at Bangkok and Chiang Saen. I liked the northern cousin better, topped with roasted peanuts.

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A Japanese cheessecake with green tea layer. That rosette felt like red bean paste. Most curious.

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Ancient ice cream in Taro root flavour. Creamy. Didn’t have a chance to try all the flavours — my stomach could not process as quickly as I ate.

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Crispy pancakes with sweet egg cream and salty desiccated coconut. I met these guys on our second night in Thailand and only weaned myself off after I ate 25 of them in Chiang Rai.

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We did a road trip to the golden triangle and enroute, there were roadside vendors selling pineapples. I scored this little fellow. Juicier and less tart than the Indian variety.

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Dragonfruit juice. A lot of our gluttony played out against the background of the Chiang Mai night market. I was a real lady of the night there.

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I don’t remember what juice. Not pineapple, or dragon fruit. Chrysanthemum?

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Classic waffles with plum sorbet. Tart. Chiang Mai night market.

Malay crispy pancakes2

Malay crispy pancakes2

Crispy Malay pancakes, more visible as you go south. I was introduced to them on Ao Nang beach and promptly consumed three. The lady selling them was flattered. They come in dozens of versions and so many escaped my clutches. My favourites were the crispy, lemon and sugar, and cinnamon avatars.

Things missed:
Fried seaweed: Available at 7/11.
Sushi by the penny: Rows of sushi arranged by price. Five to 15 Baht tops. So for under Rs 500, you can pack in a lot of raw fish and rice foreplay. I beginning to find my food-sex references disturbing.
So many burgers
Chicken satay
This glass noodle, shrimp thing at a street vendor in Bangkok
Kaukswe at a noodle house in Bangkok

A common situation

I have trouble saying ‘No’. And when I say Yes, I take complete charge of the task, convinced my reputation, relationship and future depends upon it. Sometimes, I can’t execute the task for reasons beyond my control. I can’t just explain that to the people depending on me. I don’t use the simple truth, no no. I rely on a grand lie. I am not only letting you down, I’m letting you down TO BROKER PEACE BETWEEN NATIONS. Sorry, I can’t style for free because I need to fly out to Pakistan. I’m sure you understand.

What do you do?

Hello

Allo peoples,
I has done something stupid. I’ve quit my very rewarding and satisfying job to become a freelance travel (and otherwise) writer and closet consultant. I am terrified and excited at the same time. And grateful.
Making this choice was not easy. I worked at that newspaper for nearly seven years and this *dilemma of choosing between a fulfilling vocation in a place with enviably talented people who cast about fun; and an abyss that may hold secret treasures, is of the best kind. I wish it upon all of you.
But it was time for bigger things and to recognise what I want, which is simpler things. I am not terribly ambitious and want to distribute my attention among various interests — animals, clothes and exploration. I felt my world shrink and shape my work accordingly.
So now I’m on my own. And I need your help.
One of the things I want to change is that I don’t have intimate knowledge of any Indian city other than Bombay. I’ve had brief affairs with Pune and enjoyed them, but I’m a fair weather friend. Where do you live? Can I come over? I’m not weird at all and have an all-India Press Club membership. Press Clubs have cheap booze. We can go. I promise I won’t get you drunk and murder you. Here are my other Unique Selling Points:

1. I am a responsible houseguest.
2. I make my own meals and don’t need chaperoning or entertaining.
3. I may be able to correct your canine’s troublesome behaviour (some of it).
4. I can edit your wardrobe.

*The opposite of Horns of a Dilemma. Is there a term for this?

Closet Sweep: Day 43 to Why-the-Fuck-Did-I-Promise-This day

Essentially, I am vomiting my looks out. Sorry about the mess. After this, we’ll talk about books and quantum physics because I am uni-dimensional enough to think fashion and intellect are mutually exclusive. Now you know what I think of myself.

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This is still from the sombre week, I am guessing.

Pants: Gap skinnies
Cardigan: H&M
Shirt: Black ASOS (Rs 200, Fashion Street)
Shoes: Red mojris (Rs 200, Linking Road)
Watch: Swatch Touch
Bag: Office sling

I was heading out the door in my nearly mono-tone outfit, when my SIL from Canada came home. She’s particularly gifted in choosing the right presents, and for that, gets an extra serving of my affection. She brought me the watch and cardi — both my favourite colours and colour-blocked my outfit just like that.
The cardi is perfect because:
a) It’s not one of those shrunken ones that look XS when buttoned, even when they are XXL.
b) Three-fourth sleeves
c) FUCKING YELLOW.

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I know this is the next day because I couldn’t wait to wear the cardigan again. It was a Saturday and I was a nursery school teacher.

Skirt: A line, Earth Something. One of those Earth Mother stores that turn human turds into fragrant incense. I love the colour, the geometrical pattern and A-line skirt is great for travelling within India — your legs are covered up, you can go to religious places and the clothes don’t soil with whatever is on the public toilet floor.

Top: Rs 150 navy blue tank

Shoes: Mancini brown Mary Janes

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Dress: From The Shop. It’s complicated, so I had to buy it. The dress has no side seams; the panels are open and you tie it the front and then at the back. This makes support-wear tricky — what’s the point of buying a airy dress if you need so much support inside.

Inside: Cycling shorts from the 90s (I was taking this challenge VERY seriously); tank top

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Chappals: Coral and gold from the streets.
I’m going to wear this with a churidaar next.

And then it got really hot and I wore this:

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Dress: Nightie from The Shop
Jacket: Linen from Lokhandwala
Shoes: Dansko Sandals

As you might know, Tushar has strong opinions about my clothes (and I have strong opinions about his nose). And he tried his hardest not to let me go out in a short nightie. And because I have a 13-year-old’s regard for authority, I went ahead anyway. It’s the small wins that add up.

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This is a lot more recent than the rest, which is untruthful to the chronology of puking. I hope you don’t mind.

Top: Navy blue tee with pocket from Cotton World. Very nice grown up tee.
Pants: White, I like white pants now. Rs 200, Fashion street. They have roll-up tabs, but I prefer wearing them like belted trousers. Just a few days before this I was wondering why I buy so many pants and then it got hot and sweat trickled down my hairy legs and I remembered why. You are welcome for the image.
Scarf: From Causeway. Like colours and tassels.
Shoes: Mancini Mary Janes

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This was one of the blah days in between.

Top: The Cotton World Tee in Pink
Jeans: Mango
Blazer: Vintage Missoni
Accessories: Three-strand chain off Hill Road
Shoes: Suede loafers from Clarks.

I put the jacket on just to look ready enough for work.

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This is what I wore on the first day of the fashion week, because I was feeling cheeky. And then I felt stupid. I call it the Tintin look.

Shirt: The chaddi shirt
Pants: Chemistry let-down pants
Shoes: Clarks Brogues
Vest: Tushar’s
Accessories: Yellow socks, my dad’s round glasses and some watch.

I am through 70-80 per cent of my wardrobe and there is a lot more, but I don’t think I can continue this. see you when I have something nice to wear and share.

Closet Sweep: Day 42

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Top: Mango basic
Skirt: Applique skirt from Colaba. I wore this once more, when the weather got warmer, with a muslin racer-back. It has since been set out to graze; the applique’s fraying.

Vest: FabIndia bundi that I put on without realizing it would pick out colours from the skirt. A surprisingly nice finish. I should have bought the camel one while it was still available.

Accessories: Charcoal gray stockings from some drugstore. It was the kind of day when my mother would say, “Stockings ghaal” if I was in school. Seiko watch.

Shoes: Danskos. Stockings and sandals is such a late 70s/80s look. It reminds me of my childhood. I really heart it.

Closet Sweep: Day 41

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I had some really dark days two weeks ago. I just noticed so many of my outfits are melancholic and in the same colour family. I like this.

Top: Dark blue silk tee from Zara with exposed zip detail. Beautiful colour.

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Jeans: Mango.

Blazer: One button, Zara. I wore it turned up to show off a brooch.

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Accessories: A loosely spun wool stole. Tie-dye. Looks like the sky to me. A brass brooch shaped like a dog with semi-precious stones. And a bangle composite.

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It was one of the last cold days of the season.

Closet Sweep: Day 39

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Top: Silk Zara tank with gold stitching.
Trousers: Rs 200, Colaba Causeway
Cardi: Color Plus
Shoes: Brogues from Clarks. I love well-made brogues and ordered this before the cardboard versions hit the shops. Now of course, I’m going to stow them away till the trend dies out.
Accessories: Gold chain and pendant. Panerai homage watch

This is a nice outfit for a blah day. I must remember it.