There is something calming about darkness
A perception of silence
Like closing the door to the outside world
Will shut them inside your mind
It is darkness that I seek
To hush the jumping eels in my head
There is a tiny light seeping through the door
Reminding me that its all there
The abysmal thoughts waiting to rush in
For this moment let me sink deeper
Without fear, within
Deeper.. and deeper…


The routine is getting mundane
With no sight of the end
Usually there is light at the end of the tunnel
This time the tunnel stretching more than it should
Moving from room to room is a journey
Dishing out trials on plates the sense of achievement
People in boxes sans touch, the new social
Beating boredom the third war
Words being said, perspectives being thrown
The mind pushed and shoved in all directions
Nothing like this has man seen before
Not the previous or the one before that
Stuck in our walls of brick and mortar
The mind freezes within its walls
It will change, some say
This is the norm, say others
Will I be able to hug you my friend
Hold your baby in my arms
Sit next to each other picking the brussels
Laughing without masks and gloves…

My grandmother’s house

I have spent about seventeen summers there, the house now long gone, the memories coming in flashes now and then. Like the sun peeps from within dark clouds, my gransmothers house was nestled between tamarind and jackfruit trees. They waited for my mother, my brother and I to arrive to bring down the sweetest yellow fruit I had ever tasted. I touched the outer skin and felt the prick, as they cut it and scooped out the fruit, I saw how skillfully they tackled the gum inside. The raw ones were chopped to make chips, the ripe ones eaten faster than they were plucked. The gates to my grandmother’s house were not metal. A few feet from the road, you went up and down some boulders to reach the three horizontal wooden logs supported by two more on either end. The tiny tots were lifted across the fence. If your legs were long enough you crossed them like a hurdle, one leg at a time. For mid-range people, you could move one horizontal log so the hurdle was shorter. There were two steps stacked of mud before you landed at another rocky terrain, the sideyard of the house. If you looked from here, you would see a two storey rectangle, with six equally spaced windows, the wall was a white and faint blue, the roof was a dark brown tile. It had seen better days, but as we aged, the house aged as well. There was a side step all along this side, the spot where we sat as an extended family while my father clicked pictures.

You walk to the right side to get to the entrance. Before you could reach the door, there was an ‘ummaram’, a roofed space with a half wall along three edges for people to sit and talk. The floor I remember, was a black colour, a variant of red oxide flooring. Right above the door to the house was a picture of guruvayoorappan. Surrounding him was a picture of my grandfather and pictures of us as children, neatly framed, gathering dust. Sitting here you could see the wooden fence entrance to the right, a huge tamarind tree in the front and a grove of mango trees to the left. Sitting here felt like sitting in a nest. My cousins and I played under the tamarind tree, every summer a swing was attached to the strongest branch with a rope and plank of wood. I remember my father taking afternoon naps under the tree. Right behind the tree was the walkway to the temple. Everyone who went or left the temple would stop to talk to anyone sitting at the ‘ummaram’, To the left side of the ummaram was a side-step, the place where my aunt powdered rice in here ‘uruli’, or we sat around her as she plucked jackfruit and threw them into the bamboo tray. There was an imaginary line beyond this point which we were told not to cross, as a huge well was there covered with a fishing net.

Inside the house was a wooden staircase to reach the only room on the second floor. It was my mother’s younger brother’s room. The staircase had no railing to hold onto, so coming down was scary. As I grew older, I mastered the art of going up and coming down those stairs, feeling proud of my accomplishment. As a child, we needed an adult to hold our hand or carry us down. On either side of this staircase were two rooms. One belonged to my uncle and the other my grandmother. In her room was a wooden box with hidden treasures. My mother always opened that box and went through the contents of the box. It usually had a new ‘set-mundu’ that my grandmother had got from someone for someone’s wedding. It had photographs of my parents wedding, a copy of the Manorama magazine on which my mother’s photo was published on the cover, letters that my mother and aunt had written to my grandmother from Bangalore and other nicks and nacks.

Beyond this room was the kitchen, it didn’t have a door, but a step, my favorite part of the house. I loved sitting there, from here I could see what was happening in the kitchen and look straight at the entrance door to see who was in the ummaram. On one side of the kitchen was a ledge with two fire kilns. They blew through a tube to kindle the fire as food was cooked in mud pots. In one corner of the kitchen was the bath area. It had an aluminum sheet door, fastened to the wall with a metal hook. A window from the bathroom had the pulley to the well. To take a bath, you drew water from the well, filled the buckets, closed the window and went about your business. The toilets were outside the house, which made night visits scary with the sound of crickets.

There was a back door to the kitchen which led to the side step with the grinding stone. The round one for dosa batter and the flat one for chutneys or spices. Behind here was a gooseberry tree, the small variety. We plucked those on some afternoons, dipped them in salt and squinted our eyes as we relished the first sour then sweet berry. A few mud steps from here led to our cousin’s house, a call away from my grandmother’s. 

The back, side and front yards were covered with mud. If the monsoons started before we returned to Bangalore, then the sound of the rains, the trees rustling in joy, the splitter splatter of raindrops in the mud, was heavenly bliss. The Hawaii chappals soaked in wet mud left marks on the side step. As the rainwater poured through the edges of the roof, we put our foot forward to wash the mud off our chappals and feet. 

This was my mother’s favorite place, the house she grew up in until she was eighteen. I can see her walking from the door, towards the ummaram, in a set-mundu, with a thin red border and a red blouse, smiling and brimming with happiness. Or she is sitting on the wooden plank swing under the tamarind tree, holding to the rope with one hand, and holding my brother on her lap with the other as she sways nested in the warmth of her home.


I am still reeling from the hangover of #SushantSinghRajput’s demise. Not that I knew him, but as an ardent movie goer, I have enjoyed watching him on screen. In the last couple of days, I watched Raabta and some of his previous interviews. I think what is getting to me or gnawing me is that a handsome looking, famous, rich person decides to end his life. Like a lot of people I cannot stop myself from thinking why? I am not attempting to probe his thoughts before he did what he did but the hypocrisy of the Hindi film industry has bared its soul once again. When eminent persons like #SekharKapur and #FarhanAkhtar point fingers at the industry itself, one tends to think, there is some truth to this. So this is my take.

I have watched #KoffeewithKaran, almost all seasons and I am embarrassed to admit that I have enjoyed the ticklish gossip that #karanjohar makes such a big deal of on the show. His rapid fire questions of rate these actors in order of potential, or looks, sex appeal, whom would you kill, marry or hookup are so biased. It seems to me that all he wants to do is to create gossip. Look at some of the interviews in the Tamil industry or Malayalam industry, they are so innocent and focus on the craft and the person. The games are simple, the questions are meant for fun, not to put anyone down. I don’t think I’ve seen any show as derogatory as #KoffeewithKaran.

The second ridiculous practice is movie reviews and ratings before people watch it. Self proclaimed stalwarts like #rajeevmasand and #anupamachopra to name a few, give one star or two stars based on what they feel about the movie. A large population looks at this and does not go to the theatre and support the movie. This review comes out the day of the release. When movies are made for the audience what right do these people have to call it good or bad on day 1. Who has authorized these people as the collective conscience of the audience who go to the theaters to watch movies? I support #banmovieratings.

The third one is the lowly and shameful #awardshows. Any TV channel or media house that has money can host these award shows. Actors pay these media outlets to get an award. Media outlet is happy, the winner is happy, but they don’t see the dreams of really talented people being crushed. In the Malayalam movie industry, recent trend has proven that you don’t need to be a Mamootty or Mohanlal to draw audiences to the theatres. If one can portray their characters with sincerity then the audience will flock the theatres. Why isn’t this followed everywhere? Why isn’t there space for everyone to carve their niche. #banmediaawards

Fourth, is the #croreclubs. The producers made money, does that mean the actors did a good job? Definitely not. Is the success of movies like Mr and Mrs Iyer, Taare Zameen Par, Iruvar, Kireedom measured by the crores they made? No!! Their success is measured by brilliant performances. Acting is an art, and the only yardstick to measure it should be the performance, not the moolah the producer makes. He made money, good for him. What we want to see is better performances not richer producers.

Yes, I am passionate about movies. I have experienced a lot of emotions watching movies, it has picked me up from my routine and mundane life and placed me in a world of make belief for those few hours where I can drift away from reality. So make it worth our while and let everyone carve their own space based on their ability and not stupid practices.

#sushantsinghrajput #reformhindimovieindustry #everyactormatters

All-purpose flour

Yes, this post is titled ‘all-purpose flour’. You read it right.

It is day 60 of the “stay-home stay-safe” mantra the world has been chanting in different languages. In this part of the world, more specifically in my house, it has been complete lockdown owing to the high risk cases of men around me. Two with asthma gods waiting to crouch down anytime and the other one an ex-Kawasaki (I get it, ex-Kawasaki is not necessarily a risk case, but I would never spend another dreaded 10 hours in the hospital looking at that thick liquid pierce into my son’s arm). Anyways, 60 days of lockdown has been beautiful, nothing like we’ve seen before, with four of us locked into four rooms of the house most of the day, taking calls, doing homework, showing our face on zoom/webex calls and creating a world of make believe that nothing has changed.

The first thing I did on March 15th was, I summoned my boys and told them, we are going to be in here for a long time. I don’t want to resolve PS4 fights, and arguments over how he got 5 minutes extra time and how the next day he owes the other one 8 minutes. 🤦🏻‍♀️ Yes, it is ridiculous, I know. And I also know there are a lot of parents on this boat, its full. So I told them, there is only one thing I need from them, ‘be nice’. We have never been inside the house for a long time in a long time, so this will be new. We will get frustrated, but we have to live with it. I made them talk to each other and draw up a ‘mutually’ agreeable schedule for the PS4 based on when their friends were available. If I hear high pitched arguments then the PS4 is mine for 24 hours 😂. Touchwood, day 60 and no sword fights over the PS4. I get the little banters here and there, but those are manageable. So lesson one of this quarantine, ‘be nice’.

Monday mornings are still the worst, whether we venture out to office/schools or not. There is a shit ton of work for the kids, calls at work and the usual grind. It just feels like the start of the beginning of a long week. The only saving grace is, you don’t have to wake up early, make lunch, pack lunch for the kids, get ready and drive for 45 minutes to get to work. My half tank gas is intact for the last 60 days. The gas tank that saw a gush of 14 gallons every week hasn’t seen a gas station in 9 weeks. Yes, I am cashing in on all the money I save from gas. Lesson two – Monday will always be Monday.

Eating food was a compulsive disorder 60 days ago. We had to eat breakfast, lunch and dinner at set times. The last 60 days has just thrown that schedule out of the window. It doesn’t matter when you eat, you just eat when you are hungry. Whether that is healthy or not, who cares. There is really nothing healthy about this quarantine, neither physically not mentally. But this time has taught us the value of essential ingredients. Mine being all-purpose flour. I ran out and there was none online, until finally I got some delivered last week. After a week of being put away while the virus died, I opened it yesterday and I never thought the sight of all-purpose flour would make me so happy. I got baking bread and hamburger buns. At midnight I was sitting in front of the oven, watching the buns turn brown and scrolling through Facebook. The meaning of ‘essentials’ took a whole new direction and just whipped through our lives.

Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, Disney+ etc. are the new messiahs of joy. The English Game, Self-made, Little Women, Jane the Virgin, World War II in Color and the list is ongoing. A series is the new addiction. It’s funny earlier when you went to work, you rushed to get back home, now I finish work to rush to watch a series. I guess it’s the feeling of seeing the outside world, although make-believe, even for a few hours. The importance of getting out of your house and meeting people assumed a whole new meaning in the lives of people all around the world. While we could do it, taking turns to pick a place to eat, deciding who would drive, walking upto the garage, my friend teasing me about my tiny car, giving me directions, getting to a restaurant, ordering food, sharing food, talking about everything under the sun, from babies, to politics, to work, to gossip, paying the bill and heading back to the office, seemed like an accepted everyday truth. And now, I crave to have one such afternoon with her. I want to say, I’ll pick the place, I’ll drive, let’s just go. The role friends and people you see everyday fills your life and that void now is gaping at you.

With the way things are, it seems like we will be right where we are after another 60 days. The heart wishes for a lunch with a friend, maybe we will go back to work, maybe this.. maybe that.. It is sad that will all the advances medicine has made, with all the brilliant minds that walk the earth, we live in a world of little hope, politics dictating when I can drive to the store without a mask, park my car, walk into a store, find the baking aisle, and pick up that packet of all-purpose flour and drop it into my shopping cart… but more realistically I see myself scouting for all-purpose flour online.

Its real

Depression is real but it’s not sadness. Sadness is more mentally or lasts a finite time but depression manifests itself in different layers and stays a longer time. It is difficult to explain how depression feels and and that is why it is left untreated for longer periods of time. Depression and normalcy are so similar that it takes you time to realize that you possibly could be in depression. You could be fooling yourself that everything happening around you is the way it is so you convince yourself that nothing is wrong, and you need to adapt to your surroundings. If you think someone else can tell you that you are in depression then know that it will never happen. You need to assess yourself or get a person with a medical degree to assess it for you. 

You have probably read that it is difficult to explain how depression feels, like labour pains. It comes in cycles, the labour pain and depression. There are periods of self-confidence followed by  a phase of self-doubt. During the high wave, you are up for any challenge, you want to overcome the obstacles, you want to move ahead. It is a false sense of optimism, because it is short-lived. A truly confident person will stay confident for a longer period of time and have fewer bouts of self-doubt. So I feel, it is an act, or a way your mind plays tricks with you. Very soon, usually there is a trigger, that this false persona falls. You withdraw into yourself and stop yourself from doing anything. Yes, getting up from bed every morning is a Herculean task. All you want to do is curl up somewhere, not talk to anyone and sit in your hiding spot. It is very easy to go from a high wave to a low wave, a small trigger questioning you and you will fall flat. But that’s not true about moving from a low to a high. It takes a lot of effort and support to get back up there. It is a state where you are waddling in the water supported by a few hands around you, most definitely your therapist.

There is no answer to what depression feels like, but there is an answer to how one feels when going through depression. Life goes about between these bouts of high and low waves. There is rarely a middle layer. Even if you find the middle ground, it is hard to establish yourself there because you are used to being at the high or low wave. This middle ground is new. However, starting to find the middle ground is like starting to discover yourself, the real you, not the one clouded by judgement all the time. So how does one feel? Not very happy, not very sad, not content, its a blank state of the mind. It is easy to not react instinctively to something or anything. You will seem calmer on the outside, but inside there is a constant churning. It is confusing, yes, very much. Your focus is elsewhere. You are sitting with your friend listening to his/her story, but you are not registering anything. You will not be able to ask a follow-up question tomorrow, because almost everything they said did not register in your mind. You are in your own world, a world you cannot define for yourself. 

When depression occupies most of the space in your mind, focus is what you lose first. Focus on yourself, your job, your friends, your family, your children. There is a basic functioning, you live from moment to moment, however, you are absent from the moment. You may seem very normal on the exterior, but you know there is a storm inside you. You want to burst into tears, you want to sit and cry for hours, in the hope that maybe then, this turmoil will leave you. Unfortunately, you cannot cry. Your mind knows you want to cry, but every cell of yours does not support it. You want to laugh continuously for hours, but the most hilarious joke doesn’t seem funny anymore. At the most you will let out a smile. You want to sleep for hours, and this is probably you will be able to do, for hours and hours, because this is an escape from your otherwise turbulent mind. Watch television for hours and hours, because you are in an alternate world away from the mess inside your head.

I have thought hard about does one incident start depression? And my conclusion is no. Every experience in life manifests onto itself and leaves behind a memory. Either a strong one or a weak one, but it exists. Some are good and some are bad. When the bad memories accumulate and if you have a lot of these, over time your mind weakens over this accumulation and makes you vulnerable. Your mind is prone to attacks easily. So when a person comes by who stays in your life for a long time and punches you in your soft spot, your mind caves. It could be anybody. A friend, a spouse, a parent, a sibling. The hard part is you don’t realize while the bad memory is accumulating until much later when you have become completely vulnerable. Actually most people don’t realize when they have become vulnerable, but much later when they feel trapped. Some get help, seek out therapy, swallow a concoction of chemicals to balance the mess up in your brain. It is unfortunate that most people live their life in this vulnerability because either they don’t know they need help or are too scared to seek help. What will everyone think. This is the year 2020 and even today mental health is a taboo. It should be given equal or more importance than physical health. It is easy to heal someone physically and extremely difficult to heal someone emotionally. 

Employees cannot speak freely of therapist appointments with their employer. Spouses cannot talk about it in their family. The immediate reaction is that there is something wrong with you. Yes, there is something wrong, but it is not with me, it’s with my environment. And the counseling I am seeking is to help me cope with my environment. My environment has become so toxic that it is impossible for me to navigate through the toxicity without an alteration of chemicals in my body or without being able to talk to someone about how I feel. Nobody in my environment wants to listen to me or understands my position or wants to understand my state of mind. They are biased by their own opinion of the situation. In this situation the only person who can help is a therapist who is outside this environment and can see clearly and provide a neutral perspective. A therapist primarily allows you to feel how you want to feel and tells you its okay. That you can get through this. You will not be here all the time. That the sun will rise tomorrow and it will be a new day. Rejuvenate your hope.

There are extreme cases who try to take their life. Either they are successful or end up in a psychiatric evaluation center with others who are either in the same situation as yours or worse. I have thought about what makes them take that extreme step and I believe its their lack of faith in anything or anyone. They don’t believe they can come out of their situation or environment and there is no one to lend them a hand and pull them up. It is sad, in this world of billions of people there is not one person who can extend their hand. So it becomes all the more important to seek help early on. The only person you need to listen to in this situation is you. Depression is real and it is not sadness.