2019: Ninety

So the last post had a lot about Mumbai’s rap scene, because DIVINE performed on campus yesterday. But the first Indian rapper I heard was Brodha V, so, if you haven’t heard him already:

I got super into Indian music and into the Bangalore music scene after I heard him. There’s so much out there, it’s pretty phenomenal.

But today has marked the end of Pentagram. It’s been a wild three days of festing. Today I saw my only real opportunity to make some money slip past me – because of an incredibly long quiz finals set, but I ate biryani and pancakes, and my world is completely fine.

In other news, I’ve managed to meet all my writing deadlines for this weekend (and there were a lot) – so that’s something I’m happy to celebrate.

Tomorrow marks the beginning of a massive week and month in my life. There are two moots I’m involved in starting this week, and GloPoWriMo generally. Also, it’s my final month of fourth year – so my final month before I’m away from campus for a good three months before coming back for final year.

That’s insane. Time has gone by so rapidly.

Also birthday month is coming soon too. So, exciting days lie ahead.

2019: Eighty-Seven

Very honestly, the worst part about having traditional day on campus is that it’s my annual reminder that I forgot to pack a panche (a Kannada dhoti) when I came to campus after the break.

However, I think all Indians look better than normal in traditional attire, and the effort it takes to dress up in good traditional attire is amazing. It’s also a reminder of how diverse this country is – something I really enjoy learning more about.

Also, and I can’t stress this enough: cotton kurtas are ridiculously comfortable.

2019: Eighty-Six

Today was cosplay day. And my friends and I – who had well-meaningly decided on an outfit theme ages ago, ended up throwing things together in the last minute. Some of the outfits were easy enough. Others were half-assed. Which has made me nostalgic for the time I used to put in a lot of effort for outfits. I wonder where that went.

I remember this one time there was some garbage fashion show thing. Where we had to use the trash to come up with outfits for a fashion show. And this was when I was trying really hard to be “cool”. So I dressed up as a skateboarder. Wore whatever I felt like, because that’s how I roll. And used a Pepsi can (two) to create the elbow and knee pads. If I recall correctly, some other item from my garbage formed a helmet. This was Grade 5.

But I think my half-assing also came out well. I’ve put on some weight at home, which gave me the look I really needed.

Tonight was also ball night, and dressing up for that was a lot of fun. I had help with my wardrobe, got photos, and then went back to doing moot work.

Pentagram is an exciting time for everyone on campus. The SAC does a pretty great job of ensuring people are happy. Both this year and last year, I’ve joined the Organizing Committee for the event – and while last year I could do absolutely nothing, I’ve been helping out a little with social media coverage and the Treasure Hunt we conducted this year – which was a lot of fun!

The Treasure Hunt, conceptually, has been a huge part of my life. When I was younger, we celebrated New Years’ Eve and Day every single year in Abu Dhabi, with my family friends and their friends. It was just a grand party, and was one of the few gatherings my parents took me to where I had people of my age-group. I really, really loved the company there while growing up, and although my family only met everyone together only once a year, we always felt included and welcome. One of the events was the Treasure Hunt, that 2 Uncles would set up – and absolutely rattle our brains with. I struggled with the clues every year. And the Treasure was always small, but cute & worth it – like gold coin chocolates. Or something of the sort.

I remember one of the clues when I was younger being my name backwards. Sajet – some “South African jet” puzzle that you had to crack. It was insane.

This year was pretty special that way too.

I’ve felt guilty not being able to contribute to some of the committees I end up joining – because of moot work or other commitments I have during the time. But I guess contributing even a little gives you some satisfaction. The Treasure Hunt did that for me. I’m looking forward to helping out as much as I can over the weekend, for I know I’ve not been able to help as much through this week.

Pentagram, man. Probably the only thing worth walking out in the Gujarat heat right now.

2019: Eighty-Five

This year I’m participating in a moot court competition but I’m not traveling with my team. This unique situation has given me an opportunity to involve myself in a lot of what my team does – but also, understand where the sphere of my influence ends, as a team member, and how much I need to trust individuals on my team, to know they will make the right call when it matters, and do the best they can, always. The same way they trust me.

I’d like to say this at the outset. I’m not traveling this year. This is the first moot in which I’m participating as a researcher. It’s been a lot of learning in the last eight months. The moot is happening in the next week, but I wanted to take time to write about how I feel right now – because I know I’ll be too caught up with things next week to write about the moot itself.

Our University has done well at mooting. This is evidenced by the mooting accolades we have managed to collect. There is a culture that surrounds mooting euphoria that is impossible to describe. As with other places, that culture has changed: there are fewer people mooting these days. However, the intensity of mooting as an activity has not.

The positive aspects of this I have written about before. But, the negatives are not often things we talk about. There’s an over-emphasis on mooting (I say this as a mooter), and there’s also a lot of politics that has surrounded the activity that has taken away from it’s enjoyability. The biggest criticism I have of the mooting set-up at our University is that it created a culture that undervalued research sometimes. And the role of a researcher.

I’ve honestly hated that – on several moot teams I have seen researchers get sidelined when oral preparation begins, or, a disproportionate burden put on them, or, the worse, second-class treatment. That “they’re not equal” on the team, or that their say doesn’t matter as much. I’ve been blessed enough to work with 3 researchers who became some of my closest friends, see some of my closest friends evolve into being excellent researchers, and generally, witness what good researchers do, up-close. I’ve also seen them struggle with the role: feeling like they don’t contribute as much at the oral stage of preparation. And I’ve sympathized, but never been able to explain to them how much I thought they mattered.

I think researchers are equals on teams. And it’s time they get that credit. I’m experiencing the researcher role now – and I know that I can’t do it to the full extent, because I’m not traveling with my team. But, I also do know that I can say with full confidence that the involvement in the moot is factually not at all deserving of the kind of treatment that some moot teams give their researchers.

Think about going researcher-less into a moot. Then talk.

(I do know of a team that did this and found it difficult although they overcame it with grace, but difficult, it was.)

I just wanted to highlight that one thing about moot culture.

Other things this time have been great. I’ve been blessed with good teammates again, a nice problem, great guidance, interesting Law.

I do know what I’m missing out on, by not traveling. But I can’t say I’m regretting it because I know my teammates are doing everything they can to enjoy themselves and give the moot their best shot – something I would have tried to do as well.

2019: Eighty-Four

Being back on campus after spending time at home has incited mixed feelings in me. I feel rejuvenated and all that, but I’m also incredibly sleepy and feel very tired – an effect, I attribute, in part, to the fact that I was lucky enough to sleep a lot at home when I was there.

I’ve also brought back some food supplies with me – which is exciting generally, because I’ve always got stuff in my room that I can nibble on in case the food at the mess truly gets to me. Again, there is a downside to this: I need to carry out the incredibly arduous task of rationing.

Finishing all my supplies will mean suffering during exam-time – a sadness I am not quite prepared for.

Today is also the first day of Pre-Pentagram week – pyjama day. I’ve marked it by wearing a paper airplane pyjama, and some headgear a friend loaned me. So of course, this is the only song in my head:

2019: Eighty-Three

I can’t quite piece together how I feel about home,
Because I’ve found that in the last four years, I carry home
In a suitcase,
With food my mother packs me, and
Formals my dad has helped me pick out.

I carry home with me in my pocket,
To class when I’m running and typing,
“Good morning” on my family group,
Or in the scent of a freshly washed, square folded, white
Handkerchief,
That I’ve seen my father carry everyday.

I carry home in my wallet,
With different currencies,
And home on my wrist,
With different timezones – tracking the movement of each family member.

I carry home everywhere,
But feel at home only when I’m surrounded by the people I track,
The people I fight with the most,
And the people I joke about most often.

I feel at home only when I turn off the lights in their room at 9:30pm,
And switch on the AC in the hall.
When I secretly drink Schweppes Ginger Ale when they’re asleep,
And when I half-stumble awake to hug my dad before he goes to work.

Which is why I realise,
I don’t carry home anywhere.
Home carries me.
Home carries me when I am weak-willed,
When I am tired.
And when I am sick of the dal in the mess.

But home also carries me when I receive good news,
It carries me atop a small mountain and says,
“Look up”,
Reminding me that several peaks are yet to be scaled.

 

2019: Eighty-One

I really like eating sandwiches. They’re some of my favourite foods when they’re made well. Board exam time was great for me because my mum used to concoct all these amazing ways to make sandwiches the best things in the world. Whether it was grilled cheese, veg salami (which is just grated carrot), cutlets, Bombay grilled, I basically had the world in my kitchen, with everything I wanted, in a sandwich.

In fact, the history of the sandwich in my family goes way back. Three generations, to be precise, each of whom appears to enjoy their own variant of the wonderful snack. I don’t like jams and sauces as much, but I know both my grandparents would happily chomp on either of those sandwiches. Especially mixed fruit jam – it really gives them a kick. My dad has a soft spot for the Bombay grilled – when it’s made without cheese at Haji Ali. Or made well,  generally. And my mum, she has a passion for all sandwiches, but has found her enjoyment of these sandwiches limited in recent years. My favourite weird concoction of hers is when she introduced me to the banana sandwich – something I didn’t quite think I would like, but I ended up loving.

So this morning we ate cheese sandwiches, and I ate mine with olives. We put butter on the grill and made the sandwiches like we would make grilled cheeses – and we toasted the bread.

And immediately, as I took that first bite, I was reminded of how, post swimming, my mum would sometimes have pizza or sandwiches ready for me to eat at home.

We had this triangular griller – I think – it basically made these perfect pockets of filled triangular sandwiches. And my mum used to whip up the best corn cheese sandwiches in those. All the leftover curry found themselves in sandwiches too. Warm and wholesome.

And now, all I want, is more sandwich.

2019: Eighty

I want to see my mother feeling a lot better when I leave. And if anything, I’ve figured that one way to do that is to ensure that I treat her the way I would if she had full energy. Unless she’s really tired, in which case I won’t.

So today, I spent the day with my mum, irritating her the way I did as a child – by flicking her nose, or pinching her arm.

I also watched a movie with her.

And we ate pasta.

Basically we did everything we would do for comfort at home. Mine, more than hers – but I know it made her feel better. On the inside.

2019: Seventy-Nine

I dropped my friend off to the airport this morning and came back home to my mother.

And we did nothing the entire day. My mum and I chilled, laid on the bed, and did absolutely nothing except wake up to eat and to bathe.

I then went out for dinner with my best friend’s parents. I really enjoy their company because I’ve seen them really take care of me over the years. My first sleepover at their house, I was a nervous, homesick wreck who puked out all the food he had eaten because he had overeaten. I stayed at their place for two weeks once. And then, as I grew older, Uncle and Aunty have kept me grounded – with their advice constantly reminding me that both my friend & I, we’re doing good – but we’ve just gotten going.

I wouldn’t trade that advice off for anything. It makes me feel optimistic, and it really makes me feel motivated to work harder. Knowing that if 20 years of my life has brought me this much – both joy, and disappointment, the rest of my life is a journey I have to look forward to and learn from.

I also got to eat really good paneer. I wouldn’t trade that off for much else either.