The 18th March Project – post 26

Here’s a bandwagon I’m more than happy to jump on to- #BeatPlasticPollution.

It’s amazing how many people are interested in cutting down their use of single-use plastic. Or is that just what the algorithms are feeding me?

I’m personally very concerned about being as low-waste as possible, especially when I travel.

Why particularly when I travel, you ask. What about when you are wherever you live (home or expat-land)?

Needless to say, I’m careful at (nearly) all times. I do my best to make conscious choices. When you’re home, you know what your options are for disposal, recycling, take-back schemes. Plus you have access to your own arsenal of reusables. But when you travel, it’s easier to slip up, as I did in SG (sorry, SG!)

I recently visited Kodagu aka Coorg, Karnataka, India for the first time. I was impressed by the fact that we were given only one plastic carry bag in our week there. Even food deliveries come in cloth bags.

My best friends either used the metal straws I carried for them or drank straight from the glass (you know, like regular folk). People looked at me funny every time I said “No straw, please”, but not when we held out our cloth bags to put stuff in. Education?

Did we get through the whole trip without discarding anything inorganic? Nope. We just made better choices than we would have before:

  • We bought bigger bottles of water, and used our sippy cups and straws when we could
  • We ate at restaurants rather than have them deliver to us
  • To blow our noses after all the masala and chilli we ingested, we used hankies/towels

My waste-related goals for my next trip:

  • Drink tap water if feasible. If not, buy the biggest bottle possible, and fill my bottle with that.
  • Carry a tiffin for food so it doesn’t need to be put in bags or even boxes. A paper bag I’m okay with.
  • Take the Metal straw along.
  • Reuse plastic cutlery that I already own, perhaps carry metal cutlery.
  • And a cloth bag. Always a cloth bag!

But what do I do about the waste created in-flight?

Another challenge to surmount…

The 18th March Project – post 25

I took a break from writing for a couple of months because work got really intense and hectic, and I didn’t want to beat myself up about yet another thing I couldn’t achieve.

But now I’m back(ish), ready to start putting my heart back in my words and laying them bare on a sleeve… (This mixed metaphor is all awry.)

Awry is a funny word. When we were kids, my sister and I read it as aw-ree.

Tsk was tisk.

Epitome was epi-tohm.

There’s a right way to do some things, and some things you can muddle through because the end justifies the means.

But the things that have a right way- you need to be open to learning that way, and you can’t go on saying aw-ree, tisk, and epi-tohm.

And if you insist that your way is right, you end up looking like an uneducated fool.

It’s the same thing when you’re dealing with other people. If you insist that your history or your perspective or your aesthetic sense is “right”, without a care for other histories and other perspectives and other aesthetics, you risk alienating amazing people while looking like an uneducated fool.

Will everybody just take a breath and listen to other people instead of trying to justify themselves? Or worse, gaslighting?

Then we can figure out the right pronunciations, together.

The 18th March Project – Post 5

I’ve just finished reading An Era of Darkness: the British Empire in India by author, politician, diplomat/ Indian candidate for the post of UN General Secretary a couple terms ago, Shashi Tharoor.

It’s his take on why the British owe the subcontinent.

He definitely makes a number of valid points.

Did the British do a lot for India? No. Neither did the Portuguese, or the French. (At least the French considered the people in their colonies ‘citizens’. The Portuguese did too, for a split second, a little bit before Salazar grabbed power.)

Do the imperialist nations (including but not limited to the Dutch, the Belgians, the Spanish, and the Japanese to some extent) owe the rest of the world? Yes.

And you know the easiest way to begin making up for it? Don’t charge us for clean technology. Give it to us for free.

Why? You ruined indigenous industry so your own would flourish, and decimated and degraded indigenous populations for centuries because they didn’t fit in the neat little box of your insular culture(s). You can at least help us protect the planet while raising our people out of poverty. Let’s face it, they are probably in it because you moved populations around to suit your needs, and messed up our economies. (Fun fact: India’s economy was equal to roughly a quarter of the global economy in the early 18th century, but is at maybe 9% today, nearly 70 years after Independence.)

No, the people who live in and legislate for the ex-imperialist countries are not the same ones who came and took over something that wasn’t theirs. But you’ve benefitted from your ancestors’ rapacity.

Let’s make the world a better place now, because we can’t undo the past.

Let’s have some form of reparations.

Day 44 100words100days write a how-not-to, such as How not to become a bridesmaid

Well, that was fun! 418 words.

So many people I know are getting married, including one of my younger cousins (she weds next month).

I’ve been a bridesmaid just once, and I’m fine with that. But there are a couple of people I expect to ask me. However, I won’t hold it against them if they don’t.


How not to be a bridesmaid

Being a bridesmaid is not everybody’s flute of champagne. Some people are just not cut out to be part of the bridal entourage. Good for you if you know that the responsibility for the rings and bouquets and colour scheme cannot be safely entrusted to you. Not everyone has your level of maturity. Some people still think weddings are fun. These people are also the kind to think they might meet their soul mate at someone else’s knot-tying. Let us pause for a moment to swallow this strange truth-fiction.

Depending on the situation you are in, the resources you have available, and the relationships you are willing to destroy, you can choose one of these routes to not be a bridesmaid:

1. Say no when you are asked. Do it consistently, and soon people will stop asking you. Do it graciously and they will still love you and might send you a Save-the-Date. However, if you never want to see them again, and if you definitely don’t want to be invited to the do, throw a tantrum

2. Do a bad job- a very very very bad job- the first time you are guilted into joining the bridal party. For example, you could “accidentally” stub a cigarette out on the ivory/cream/eggshell gown.

3. Ensure that your job takes you out of the country at the time of the wedding, or make up a story about having to travel for work. Alternatively, if you do not live near the nuptial location, find a reason to stay where you are. Let the bride know about this as close to the wedding as you want to (your proximity to the bride is inversely proportional to how much in advance you let her know you can’t be part of the troupe)

4. Record yourself badmouthing the bride and or groom and anonymously send the recording to them, or to their family

5. Come up with reasons why each choice for the bridesmaids’ dresses is hideous. Even better, go the extra mile and make it known how incredibly lame you think the entire theme, scheme and meme are

In short, do not do the thing bridesmaids are supposed to do, i.e. support the bride. If she doesn’t think she can trust you to catch her bouquet when it falls, and to hold up her dress and retouch her make-up, and starve with her to look stunning for her big day, she definitely will not ask you to take the plunge with her.


Day 45: Riding a bike/driving a car for the first time

Day 31 100words100days Navigating the internet for a senior citizen.

305 words. Love you, Ma and Da *grin*


The background:

Where I come from, a person becomes a senior citizen upon turning 60.

Additionally, where I come from, using computers and such new-fangled technology, including smart phones, are the norm among my cohort. Our parents are crossing into their senior phase now. Many of them are comfortable with PCs for such simple tasks as writing a letter and then printing it, sending and forwarding emails, playing solitaire, and using spreadsheets.

The situation:

Using Google the way we do (i.e. several times a day) is not something most of their generation is prepared for. They also haven’t yet realised that there is no such thing as “just five more minutes” when it comes to the Internet (it feeds off your time, didn’t you know?). They are unprepared for the poor representation of humanity that can be found in the average YouTube comments section. They don’t know when something is a spoof, or how to distinguish between faking news and the real deal. They have not seen enough Internet ads to tell when something is genuine and when it is some creepy spam/virus-laden nonsense.

They are gullible, naive, trusting, and they need practical exercises to help them remember how to get from point A to point Z in two clicks or fewer.

In this natural switching of roles, they are the children, and we are the wise ones who must teach and defend them, without losing our tempers at them for asking for the zillionth time where files go when they are downloaded (to the Great Folder in the Sky, of course).

And if you feel the irritation welling up inside you: keep calm and consider this prep for when you have children of your own. (If you don’t plan on having kids, consider it prep for when someone you love has kids of her/his own.)


Day 32: Famous people (real/fictional characters) you didn’t know were (partly/fully) from your country or state.

Ooh History!

Day 23 100words100days Write about a social issue from home in free verse.

172 words. I couldn’t pick just one topic. There’s a lot about my country that worries me.


I’m from a land that is steeped in tradition,

A tea that has gone bitter from an infusion decades too long.

A civilization that’s survived for thousands of years,

We do not seem to want to thrive as a cohesive diverse group.

We will maintain the old ways! we thunder,

Clubbing over the head those who resist.

Do not preach to me of old ways, Guruji.

Some of the old ways are done for and yet you would cling to them:

Patriarchy, religious intolerance, moral policing.

Some of the old ways are worthy and yet you pay them no mind:

A love for nature, a welcoming society eager to learn, a stewardship of a nation.

You wish desperately for us not to -air quote- ape -end air quote- the West.

But your markers of progress are all market-based, just as in the First World

You want to join .

Dear India, to conclude- you get the same remarks as the rowdy kids:

“So much potential, not enough focus.” No air quotes this time.


Day 24 Fracture a fairytale

Day14 100words100days Write a sonnet or two

I cannot lie- this was tough. So tough that my brain decided it needed a day to process, which is why this post is a day overdue.

Phewy- 113 words that fit into a more-or-less pre-determined structure. I ended up using the Shakespearean sonnet’s rhyme structure (abab, cdcd, efef, gg). Determining feet was not my strongest takeaway from college, so it is possible I didn’t get the iambic pentameter quite right. I did try to have one perspective in the octet and the contrasting view in the sextet.

I am painfully aware that some of the rhymes are forced. Forgive me: it has been many moons since I last attempted structured poetry.

Read, but please don’t weep.

On days when I have nothing else to do

And e’en on days when I should know better

I find myself logging in to Facebook

And Instagram, and YouTube, and Twitter.

I let my soul be barraged by news feeds

And I feel pressured to like lots of posts.

My mind is cluttered with all that I read.

My eyes roll and throw daggers at each boast.

Social Media is a good way to know:

About those ideas that are worth spreading,

When babies I know have started to grow,

About memes that are currently trending,

When people I’m fond of are doing well ,

And with which of them I can be myself.


Day 15: Describe the nicest meal you’ve ever had (fiction/non-fiction)

Day 13 100words100days Make a list of ways the average person can be an Earth steward

Ahhhh, the how-to. I didn’t want to put a number in the title, because I like to be contrary on occasion. 375 words.


Are you a current inhabitant of Planet Earth? Congratulations! You have the necessary qualification to be an Earth steward. All you need is a little dedication to this funny little spheroid and her people, and you are good to go.

You require only minimal training to fulfill your duties. Much of the knowledge that will help you do your job well can be gained from other people through such means as talking to them, reading books and articles they have written and understanding why some of them refuse to get involved.

Detailed below is the job description. You may perform all or some of these duties, as you are able to.

  • Educate somebody about the benefits of looking after the environment. Make sure you do this properly. Beware: you don’t want to come across as bossy, because this will detract from the positive work you are trying to do. (#TrueStory)
  • Recycle, upcycle. This includes accepting gifts that are recycled or upcycled. Money is sometimes a better gift than a poorly-assembled, though thoughtful, present. Related: Do not shame a recycler.
  • Reduce, but always bear in mind that you are also a steward of the economy. Consume responsibly.
  • Accept that not everyone wants your lifestyle. Keep telling them that they have to accept that you don’t want theirs either. Dialogue is important, as is setting a good example.
  • Encourage policy makers and businesses in your village, town or city to adopt practices that are good for the planet. Every little bit counts, but the big bits count more.
  • Prepare to do a little to a lot of research. Some suggestions: Calculate your carbon footprint and work on reducing it. Find out what a carbon footprint is.
  • Invest your money in clean technology and programmes encouraging clean development. A solar charger for your phone, perhaps.
  • Don’t waste, especially what is on your plate. If you can’t eat it in the restaurant, take it home.

Regarding your appraisals- future generations of animals (including humans and humanoids) and plants will judge you.

As for remuneration, you will be paid in clean air and water, a prosperous green economy, and not so many natural disasters (if you’re lucky). A possible, but not promised, bonus: you might get to save the world.


For tomorrow, Day 14: Write a sonnet . Or two.

Oh dear. That will not be easy.

Day 12 100words100days Write an article about women in stand-up comedy

More op-ed than objective piece (I really need to work on that). 194 words.


Type “Stand up comedy” in your search bar on YouTube, and it is more than likely that YT will reward you with a list of the usual suspects: Russell Peters, Gabriel Iglesias, Kevin Hart, Trevor Noah, the Achmed ventriloquist and a host of other funny, funny guys. But that’s just it. They are Funny GUYS (and I don’t think it’s only because I’ve been watching male comedians).

Where are the women in stand-up comedy? The strong, or soft, female voices that present the other half’s take on the world?

It turns out that they are there; they’re just way down on the list . Thank goodness for women like Ms. Bossypants Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, and of course, Ellen, whose names do come up when discussing the funny.

What is bizarre is that female comedy is still a bit counterculture. Women are part of mainstream society. Therefore their comedy should be too. Humour has no gender.

The next time you are looking for someone to amuse you with a story about the human condition, try one of the following:

Kaneez Surka
Aditi Mittal
Radhika Vaz

Consider it part of your diversity training. LOL at that.


Thank you to Merl, MC, AMD, Mandy, Cyn and Ros for their suggestions, and to my sister and father for enduring all the comedy I shoved down their throats!

Day 13: Make a list of ways the average person can be an Earth steward

Day9 100words100days Write a letter to your future self

It turns out that writing to oneself is really easy- 492 words to moi! If technology still functions (meaning we don’t have any of those apocalyptic, no-tech scenarios the movies warn us about), I should re-read this in a decade and a half and see how my life turned out.

Dear Me,

Congratulations on getting your third book published! Considering I did the work, I should share the praise, but I’ll let you have this one. I hope you like what you have created. I hope it and the work that preceded it were worth writing and worth claiming authorship of. If they were, then I’m sure they are worth reading, and remembering, and passing on. (This won’t guarantee that they will sell, so please market them as best you can. Your past self thanks you on behalf of your future self for the money I hope we make.)

The family tree must have grown some by now. And lost a few branches as well. Don’t forget to update that mess of names you love so much. I hope you have a digital copy by this point. What about the friend forest? Does it fare well? It had better. The people I want to grow old with and get cats and dogs with- you’d better not have lost any of them.

Have you managed to read 100 books a year yet? Try to read work that teaches you something.

What are Dubai and Goa like? How has climate change affected them? Have you seen the tropical forest in Dubai? I wonder if thousands of years from now it will be a new source of petrol. (Neither of us will be there to see that though, so we needn’t worry our head about it.)

Does social media as I understand it still exist?

I really hope you have had a chance, and the money, to see the places you wanted to under conditions that were favorable.

Good luck for your plan to take over the world and or rid it of misogyny. And misandry. And, in general, people treating other people like objects. Whichever comes first. Also, good luck with your eco-friendly business, whatever shape it takes!

Dance at people’s weddings (and their funerals too, if it’s acceptable). Carry babies, even though they are going to pee on you. Pet dogs and cats, and watch turtles hatching and scuttling to the sea. Listen to the rhythm of the falling rain. If it tells you that you have been a fool, disregard it. Everyone has been a fool at some time or another. Grow vegetables and plant trees. Make preserves (preserve them properly or there will be a repeat of the Strawberry Mess of 2015). Support a football team (I hope you know the one I mean.) Speak the languages that you know even a smattering of, because, God knows, people do that with English ALL the time. Be happy, healthy, creative, confident.

One last thing: I hope you don’t watch as much TV as I do. Remember what Roald Dahl said: it melts your brains.

With all the sincerest best intentions I can muster, and a set of rose-tinted glasses (even though I do not like the color pink) in my pocket for future use,


Oh wow- this is absolutely the last thing (can’t believe I forgot to ask earlier)- do we still have The Farrel?


Obrigadinha to the Commerce people for suggestions and input, as always. And support in even these little things (which add up to all of you.) Oh dear- a 1D reference. And to the Artsies too, of course.

Tomorrow, i.e. Day 10, brings *drum roll* a description of your favourite exercise routine or class