2019: Three Hundred and Fifty Three

I’ve spent the day today with my childhood best friend. I think there’s a lot of joy in our friendship – because a lot goes unsaid, but recognized, a feeling I don’t get with several people. The fact that we’ve kept in touch is a credit to both of us, and the fact that we’ve kept in touch despite diverging interests is perhaps testament to how early childhood memories are those you latch onto the most, and how much of a role they play in shaping identity.

2019: Three Hundred and Fifty

I burned myself a little twice today. Twice, in a single day. They’re both very very minor burns thankfully, and they don’t appear to be scarring or leaving a trace at all. Both were cooking incidents, and both were a result of my attempt to be overzealous in my efforts to be a part of the kitchen activities. My overzealousness led to some forgetting of the basics, and therein lay my downfall.

Things I learned today: know your limits.

2019: Three Hundred and Forty Eight

Yesterday tired me out. I genuinely didn’t do much, just sat in the car and then observed proceedings in another city. We got back home a little late, but I napped almost instantaneously. This morning, I couldn’t wake up at all. My mother said “I’ll make oats for you”, which I heard as “I’ll make smuggled goods for you” – which is the moment I realized my dreams were intertwining hard with reality. I’m lucky my mom realized as well and let me sleep in for a while.

I cooked rasam and rice for lunch today. Spent the afternoon doing some work, and then ran errands with my parents in the evening. We ate some great chaat and ice-cream, and I bought myself a lot of cookies. I’ve got about 20 days left in my holidays, and believe me, they’re going to be good snack days. It’s not like the previous month and a half hasn’t been. I’m just keen to carry things forward.

I also spent some time in the afternoon thinking about what I want to be doing. I have a lot of interests at the moment, which I’m able to engage with at a frequency I’m happy with: in terms of the amount of time I get to spend on these things I enjoy. However, something I’m not too happy with is the depth at which I engage with them. It feels a little superfluous. I’m trying to figure out ways in which I can continue to spend time on them – at the same frequency, but explore and engage with these interests in fresh ways. That includes my writing. As of right now, the daily blog (which is daily in 2019 after 3 years of trying) chronicles my days. It doesn’t tell the stories I want to, nor does it tell many stories at all. Something I’m hopeful of changing next year is the kind of stories I tell. Maybe I’ll write an actual full-length story from my life each day. I don’t think I have that many – nor do I think I want to tell all of them. What I want to do though, is to write more creatively, and to express myself more. On all the days: the good and the bad, and the downright ugly.

On days when I don’t have stories, I think I’ll pick up writing prompts and write from them.

These appear to be solutions to the writing hobby. I need to figure this out for the other hobbies I have – and hopefully I do.

Also: quick footnote. This blog uses the WordPress Block Editor and I don’t know how to justify my blog post text on the Block Editor, which is incredibly frustrating and very tiring and I absolutely dislike the fact that all my text isn’t justified and I hope it isn’t bothering as much as it’s affecting me. If anyone has a solution to this, please let me know.

2019: Three Hundred and Forty Seven

We drove across the Emirates to Ras Al Khaimah today. As with other road trips I go on, I invariably fell asleep and dozed off for a few minutes on the way there. I woke up when we were halfway through the drive (which isn’t too long in the first place), and saw these sand dunes around me, with sparse grass growing where you least anticipated it. The sand had an orange tinge to it, which was easy to explain because of the rain.

A few kilometres later, we saw these camels that had broken through the fencing on the side of the road eating some of the grass grown there. These were wild camels. We were close enough for me to get a peek of its teeth. My mom asked if she should stop so I could take a photo – and in that moment I should have said yes. Unfortunately I did not, so I’m going to attach a photograph from the internet here for you to look at. Actually, here’s something better:

It sort of reminded me that this country is a desert. It’s build upon a desert. That’s difficult to remember when you see the kind of luxury you see around you on a daily basis, but it’s really important to remember. That people toiled, worked, and dreamed, and built those dreams. That they envisaged what they wanted their future to be, and they constructed it, building up from the sand.

Shows you what time and effort can do.

2019: Three Hundred and Forty Six

I detest being emotionally guilt-tripped into doing anything. I’ve noticed, however, that my parents employ the trick whenever they want me to do something I don’t want to do, inherently. And I’ve noticed my urge to resist that guilt-tripping has reduced with age, the guilt-factor becoming far more, and my caving-in becoming more frequent. This isn’t to say that they guilt-trip me often, but that when they do choose to do so: it’ll have a 100% success-rate. I dislike that. I also particularly dislike the fact that it comes down to the emotional plea at all. More often than not the scenario is such: a parent will make plans, I will be pooled into the plan without my knowledge, oppose the plan altogether, and then end up going anyway because of a guilt-trip. Sometimes, the scenario is more me just saying No to things because I have extreme inertia. It’s very, very difficult to get me out of the house. Once I’m out of the house though, more frequently than anything else – I don’t really display a desire to go home.

Today, I was the subject of an emotional plea to participate in an event I displayed a little reluctance (not too much) for. My mother launched it upon me, out of nowhere. I told her I didn’t like it, especially because I’ve heard the same plea numerous times as a young adult (particularly around Grades 11 and 12, when I launched into my studies like it was nobody’s business), and because it was frustrating for me that I let it come to that. Except, when she asked me why I disliked the fact that she used an emotional angle – I had no response.

Right now, I do.

I was actually really frustrated at myself in that moment, because I didn’t like that she felt the need to use the emotional plea in the first place. She hadn’t asked for much. She usually doesn’t. My parents generally do not ask for too much: they’re very, very straightforward when they do. As the years have passed, I’m fortunate that our relationship has developed insofar as they understand when I don’t want to do things, and they haven’t forced too many experiences on me.

I don’t like being asked to do things on the basis of the emotion overriding things. I’d rather just be asked to do things and then, do the thing. That way the focus is on the thing rather than the emotion involved in getting me there.

It’s too much effort.

One of the things my mom told me is that I need to be saying “Yes” to things more. Maybe I’ll start doing that today and see the kind of things it opens up for me.

2019: Three Hundred and Forty Five

I went to bed last night with food-dreams. I craved for some food I hadn’t experienced in some time, a flavour profile that was familiar, but distant in memory, and time, and space. I am privileged and fortunate to get good, home-cooked food everyday when I’m on break, and lucky that my parents take me out from time-to-time, so I wasn’t sure what brought this on (it was a food video I watched that reminded me about Taco Bell). I craved Mexican food. But I didn’t want anything except Taco Bell or Chipotle, neither of which operate in the city where I am at present. The next best thing, I felt, was to make my own Mexican food. So I pleaded that we soak some kidney beans (of course), and went to sleep cooking up my own concoctions. Literally. I told my mom I’d tell her what I wanted to do with rajma once I woke up.

Cut to this morning. I enter the kitchen and see the rajma she soaked. I know we have a capsicum in the fridge. I know we have spreadable cheese. And I know we have sauce stuff. I also know we have rice. Of course my brain thought about making some good wraps. With Mexican flavours. My mum’s a master at this. She cooked this amazing wrap for me in Grade 12, during my board exam study holidays, which I ploughed through.

All I wanted was to taste a Tejas variant of that same wrap.

Then I saw the quantity of rajma we had soaked. And I knew it was way too much for wraps. I still craved some awesome, distant-flavour-profile food though. So I thought I’d make some rajma masala with jeera rice for the parents (and for myself). A few hours later, and we’ve belted it for dinner.

This was a very satisfying day.

I still crave Taco Bell though. Soon.

2019: Three Hundred and Forty Four

I love watching cricket and reading about cricket. I’ve played the sport, and enjoyed that too. Hopefully I get back to playing it soon, but in the meanwhile, I satiate my thirst for the sport by watching as many matches and highlights as I can, and reading everything I can find about it on the internet. In several ways, my relationship with cricket perfectly encapsulates my relationship with all sport: I’m thrown into it as a child by an adult, I play it, I fall in love with it, I play it to a particular level and give up, but keep in touch by playing occasionally, and end up reading/following the sport like a madman. More crucially: I follow it to learn the statistics.

I don’t know what it is about statistics that make me go crazy. I love knowing how players perform mathematically. It’s why one of my favourite subreddits is dataisbeautiful, which posts these amazing statistical expositions presented beautifully.

I’ve rediscovered my love for cricket in recent years. ESPNCricinfo has helped, as has the rise of rival websites which offer different commentary features and featured statistics to latch on to. Aside from that, I think the sheer nostalgia of learning the stories behind matches I enjoyed as a child has really fueled the passion. Nothing, however, has made me more committed to following the sport than my cricket-crazy roommate, who lives and breathes 2003/04 cricket like its nobody’s business.

This quest to follow cricket more played a pivotal role in my life when I got to University. I used to follow the global edition of ESPNCricinfo, but switched over to the Indian website after entering campus. Karnataka performed ridiculously well in my first-year, and as someone who is a Kannadiga who was separated from Bangalore and everything he associated with his Kannadiga identity, I found Ranji Trophy cricket becoming something I could latch on to. It became something I found comfort in. The worst feeling has become reading about Karnataka losing a non-televised match. It’s truly awful.

Of course, I’m joyful at this season so far. The team has won the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy and the Vijay Hazare Trophy. They enter the Ranji Trophy season with a lot of confidence. But as with every year, this competition is relentless, long, and challenging. I’m hopeful that we will win. And then win the Irani Cup. But you can never tell.

I’ll be following along intently.

However, what I will be following along more for, are the stories. The Ranji Trophy season, because it’s spread over a larger time-frame than competitions like the IPL, provides an opportunity to better get to know about players’ temperaments and players’ stories. It also allows cricket journalists to go beyond players: into the governance structures and association office-bearers, into profiling support staff and curators. It is in this journalism that I find the most joy, for it tells stories of those who are ignored often in the entire spectacle that is cricket.

In players too, there’s so much to know – because there’s such a range of experiences competing against each other.

The Ranji Trophy is one of the most beautiful tournaments I have seen. I love the format, though I think there is room for improvement. I enjoy the opportunity it provides for the Indian public to get to know players who may never don the Indian cap, but are successes for their State.

Most of all, I love that it helps us identify and enjoy cricketing stories and cultures, and how distinct they are from State-to-State. For me, that makes watching the Indian cricket team play a test match more enjoyable, because you see strategies and cultures merging together into one dressing room to represent the nation. Selection is based on a number of factors, but the Ranji Trophy performance is right up there, and often, I’ve marvelled at a players’ numbers leading up to a Test position rather than the Test performance itself.

There’s a tenacity to the tournament that is now promoting a return to the competition for players who are on national-duty. You see more players representing India and their State on back-to-back days, which says a lot about how competitive team selection is, but also how dedicated players are becoming to proving themselves day-in, day-out.

That’s helpful for the sport.

There’s a lot to critique about the tournament, and enough has been written about that. For me, though, there’s a lot more to enjoy about it.

2019: Three Hundred and Forty Three

Today’s been an interesting day, with some interesting adventures in the kitchen. I was pretty hellbent on baking some lasagne for my parents this evening, despite the fact that we ate a pizza only two days ago. And despite my best effort, all I could think about was the lasagne, all day. Lasagne always reminds me about Garfield, a piece of associative memory I’ve held on to since my childhood.

We messed up with the oven.

It’s the most unfortunate thing, but after painstakingly making sauce and getting proportions right and stacking up layers of lasagne sheets and putting in the right amount of cheese for my parents and I to consume,

We messed up with the oven.

What I mean by messing up is the fact that we didn’t check how hot the oven is capable of getting. I’m sure there’s a flaw in the machinery/equipment, because we preheated it for 20 minutes and then let the lasagne cook for about 40 at 220, but the darned thing didn’t cook at all. The most surprising part was that the lasagne sheets softened, a sign of its “cookedness”, but something I put down to the heat from the pasta sauce than much else.

These errors later, we ended up moving the lasagne to a microwavable dish and microwaving the thing.

It tasted bloody good. I just wish we figured out the oven properly. To make things worse, I dreamed of cake while the lasagne was supposedly baking in the oven – and hoped to bake some before leaving, to leave for my parents to consume.

Alas, that is not to be. Unless we figure out the oven.

2019: Three Hundred and Forty One

I cooked sambhar this afternoon for my parents, and subsequently convinced them to take me out to eat pizza. In the evening, I watched Manchester United beat Manchester City, which brought me a lot of joy. Now I’m off to work – and hopefully I’ll complete a bunch of things I have lined up before I sleep.

I’ve noticed that I eat more snacks at night, rather than during the day. I’m not sure how the habit’s developed, but the craving for good food (especially the sugary kind) grows exponentially as time passes. Maybe it’s science. A quick Google search revealed the possibility of that link. It’s not a habit I loathe, but it is something that merits some watching – especially given the number of cookies we’ve purchased in the last 10 days.