Maybe Science Fiction Ain’t So Bad

In all my years of reading books and watching movies and TV shows, there is one genre that I have avoided like the plague. And that is Science Fiction. Sue me, but I just don’t find spaceships and laser beams that interesting. Which is why I haven’t watched ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’ yet in spite of my cousin brother insisting that it is a confusing albeit wonderful masterpiece. I can count on one hand the number of Sci/Fi movies I have watched – ‘Inception’ which I watched only because Leonardo DiCaprio was in it, ‘Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind’ which I watched only because it was classified as a romance movie and ‘Chronicle’ which I watched by accident while I was channel-surfing. Okay, maybe there are more, but these are the only ones that I can come up with off the top of my head. Anyway, my point is that Sci/Fi is a big No-No in my dictionary.

At least it used to be.

See, I just started watching this TV series called ‘Firefly’. Maybe you have heard of it, but in case you haven’t, it is a science fiction show created by Joss Whedon of ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’ fame. Here‘s the Wikipedia link for the show, if you’re interested in knowing more about it. I’m here to talk about why I like, nay, love this show.

Simply, ‘Firefly’ is about the lives and adventures of the crew of the Firefly-class spaceship Serenity as they zoom through space engaging in illegal activities like smuggling. Honestly, when I first heard what the series was about, I wasn’t that interested. So I didn’t watch it until a few days back when God-knows-what made me watch it. And, let me tell you, I have been hooked since then. I don’t know what I’m going to do after I’m through with the fourteen episodes and the movie. I just know I am going to have a bad case of post-Firefly hangover.

A few awesome things about ‘Firefly’:

1) There are a lot of sarcastic quips in the show thanks to, well, most of the characters. And sarcasm, mon ami, is always my preferred type of humour.

2) Even though Serenity’s crew smuggle and kill, the show is ultimately about the triumph of good over evil. The crew have their own sense of honor.

3) Captain Mal and his crew live in a multi-cultural future, a fusion of Western and Chinese cultures. Hence, the characters speak English as well as Chinese in the show.

4) All characters are equally awesome. Although every character has its flaws, they all feel real. And they are all necessary to the plot. Except maybe Inara. She feels a bit like a last minute add-on.

Okay, that’s all I can come up with right now. Note to self: You’re bad at making lists.

Anyhoo, there you go, folks. This is how I’ve come to the realization that maybe science fiction ain’t so bad. So, now go and make yourself watch ‘Firefly’. It will be the best decision you ever made. Or at least one of the top five.

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Passion

I have known passion. Passion that claws you from the inside, dragging its sharp nails through your innards, shredding your soul into bits and pieces; passion that makes your blood boil and makes you feel giddy with excitement all at the same time; passion which seeps through every living cell in your body, the only thing driving you forward in life.

I knew this kind of passion when I was fifteen, sixteen years old. I would long to come home form school just so I could read more books. I felt most alive when I was writing, building characters and stories in my head.

Now… Well, now, my passion has mellowed out. My life is no longer a simple equation like “dreams + free time = realization of dreams”. The variables have increased. My life equation now is more like “dreams + unavailable free time + working my ass off at the office + exhaustion + washing + cleaning + cooking + worrying about my future + listening to my parents worry about my future + maintaining good relationships with my school, college and work friends = realization of my dreams after a decade (maybe)”.

The sad truth is that even though I’m not chasing my dream (of becoming a writer) right now, even though I’m, as I mentioned before, working my ass off at the office, I don’t hate working in an IT company. It’s really not so bad. The people I work with are amazing and I actually have fun at work. Which scares me. I am afraid that I would soon become too complacent about my lot in life and not even attempt to attain something more. I have been feeling more and more guilty about this for the past few days.

And guilt, my friend, can be a powerful motivator. Guilt made me boot up my laptop and start a fresh draft of a story that has been building in my mind for some time. Guilt made me pick up my pencils and start sketching again. I wouldn’t say my creative juices are a-flowing like the River Nile, but they are definitely starting to trickle.

After the one hour writing sesh and another one hour of sketching, I felt spent like I had just had the most amazing sex of my life (I’m only guessing that’s what the most amazing sex of my life would feel like because, psst, I’m a v-v-virgin). I feel good. I feel light and happy.

P.S.: When I was writing this post, “Adam’s Song” by Blink-182 started playing in my head. Especially the following verses:

I never conquered, rarely came
16 just held such better days
Days when I still felt alive
We couldn’t wait to get outside
The world was wide, too late to try
The tour was over we’d survived
I couldn’t wait till I got home
To pass the time in my room alone

My Weakness

I love food. Food in any form. Soups, breads, biryani, pulao, curries, stir-fries, pastas, pizzas, burgers, fries, cakes, cookies and any kind of desserts, parathas, rotis, papads, milkshakes, icecreams, tea, coffee, milk, even WATER. Yes, I admit it. I am a foodie through and through. In fact, I believe everyone in my family is a foodie – my obese father who constantly criticizes my mother’s cooking, my timid mother who spends the time spent not cooking, watching culinary shows on TV and my brother who would rather have a slight paunch than control his food habits. Growing up in a family like this, is it any wonder that I have a relationship with the food I eat?

When I am miserable, I cry into a bowl of creamy macaroni and cheese flavored with just a hint of garlic and topped with herbs and chili flakes. When I am ecstatic, I celebrate by baking my world famous (okay, famous within my family) double chocolate brownies. Yes, I am that girl from Mean Girls – the girl who eats her feelings. On most days, I look fairly normal – not fat, not skinny. But there are days when my feelings run amok. On those days, my hands constantly reach for the fattiest food items that I can find and stuff into my mouth.

Last week, during all seven days, my feelings were running amok due to some personal stuff (which I will share on my blog later, if I feel like it). And now I’ve gained a few kilos which, trust me, look like a few dozen kilos on my small frame. So, starting today, I am going on a diet indefinitely until I feel like I’m skinny enough. Or until I get fed up with eating low fat food, which is more likely to happen.

When I diet, I don’t suddenly start avoiding the fattening foods like yogurt, chocolate, potato crisps, cheese, milk bread etc. I would if I could, but I can’t. Instead, I switch from normal fattening foods to less fattening foods – low-fat yogurt, sugarless chocolate, baked potato crisps, you get my drift.

So, I went on a little shopping trip to the local supermarket today to buy some dieting prerequisites – whole wheat crackers, baked chips and diet nutrition bars to snack on during hunger pangs, sugar-free natural fruit juice, fruits, whole wheat bread, low-fat yogurt, nuts, green tea etc. When I was cruising the canned foods aisle, next to a jar of canned apricots, I saw a familiar yellow-capped jar with pale brown contents. I knew I shouldn’t, but I couldn’t help it. My hand reached for that jar of creamy peanut butter as if of its own volition. I told myself “You’re on a diet. Put it down right away.” But my traitorous hand wouldn’t let go of the jar. I stood in the middle of the aisle staring at the jar of peanut butter in my hand as if all the mysteries of the world were written on that sunny yellow label on the jar. My rich-food-starved mouth was already watering, anticipating the taste of that creamy, divine flavor on my tongue. After a couple more minutes of staring at the jar (which caused one of the salesgirls to look at me weirdly), I arrived at a compromise. I wouldn’t buy the big 450g jar. I would go for the smaller 330 g jar. Although I felt good about myself for not going for the bigger jar, I knew I would finish it off within two weeks and I would come back for more.

Yes, I might love all kinds of food, but my real weakness was the harmless sounding peanut butter. My self-control vanishes when peanut butter is around. It is like I am Jack Twist and PB is Ennis Del Mar, and I wish I knew how to quit it.

Getting Reacquainted

Before yesterday, I hadn’t read a romance novel in three years. That’s a big deal because I used to be crazy about romance books, especially when I was a teenager. I used to read everything from PG-13 YA books to R-rated bodice rippers. I even gave the erotic stuff a try, but decided that they were not for me. Like porn movies, these books had a sex scene in almost every page and the plot was ridiculous and exaggerated. But still, they fell under romance and so I read them.

But slowly something was happening. Romance books were losing their lustre in my mind. Maybe it was because nothing much was happening in the romance department in my own life. Maybe it was because I realized how stupid most romantic books were. I started to hate romance books. I hated their formulaic plots and their cliched tropes and their misogynistic portrayal of women. Mostly I hated that reading romance books didn’t make my pulse race anymore. I hated that they didn’t make me hug a pillow and sigh dreamily anymore.

So, I gave up romance books and moved to other genres – fantasy, sci-fi, thriller, horror etc. Basically everything under the sun except romance. Sometimes a pleasant memory of me enjoying a romance book would pass my mind and feeling nostalgic, I would carefully pick out a romance book that had earned great reviews and start reading. But ultimately, they all let me down. I decided I was too ruined for romance.

Then, I came across a list of feminist romance novels on the internet. The term itself seemed like an oxymoron. How can a romance novel be feminist? It was like saying that a porn movie was a piece of cinematic art. But piqued, I downloaded a few of the books from the list onto my Kindle and started to read.

The first book I read was a novella called “Ember” by Bettie Sharpe. I have to say the book totally pulled the rug from beneath me. It was unexpected and absolutely enjoyable. I finished it in three hours and started with the next book from the list – “The Governess Affair” by Courtney Milan. At first glance, “The Governess Affair” seemed like a normal Victorian romance novel about uptight lords and ladies. But it is so much more than that. I haven’t finished it yet, but I can tell you this: I have thoroughly enjoyed the book so far.

Now, I’m not saying I’ve completely crossed over to the dark side… er, the I-Love-Romance side. I have both of my feet firmly planted on each side. Maybe the reason I hated romance books was because I was reading the wrong ones. Maybe the right ones needed a little effort on my part to be found.

On a totally unrelated note, Gerard Way’s debut solo album “Hesitant Alien” totally rocks and if you haven’t listened to it yet, you should get out from under that rock and listen to it. It’s a really fun record, I promise!

Roommates

Unlike a lot of people, I enjoy being alone. I love when I can spend time by myself. It’s like when I’m alone, I can finally drop all the masks and just be myself. It’s so peaceful. Even when I was  a teenager living at home, I didn’t spend hours texting or talking on the phone with my friends like other girls my age. I preferred reading a book or watching a movie on my own. My mother always thought this was weird for a girl of sixteen. She was always telling me to go and hang out with my friends. I knew I was different, but I figured once I grew up, I would start liking people’s company better. Well, I haven’t.

I’m now twenty two and I am still the same as far as I can tell. In fact, I suspect I’ve become worse. When I was sixteen, I would never be rude and ask someone to leave me alone so I can have some peace. Now, I would have no qualms doing that.

Which brings me to the matter of roommates. See, I would love to rent a room just for myself, but my infinitesimal salary doesn’t allow me such luxuries. I have no choice but to go for a shared room. But the thing is I am incredibly unlucky when it comes to roommates. I always get the bad ones.

My very first roommate was in college. To put it plainly, she was a passive-aggressive bitch. She hated it when I touched her things. And when I say touched, I mean touched. I didn’t use any of her stuff. If I moved one of her books from the table to the bed, she would give me the evil eye. If I was working on a project late at night, she would piss and moan about how she couldn’t sleep with the lights on and I would be forced to work outside the room just to be away from her constant whining. If she found hair on the floor, she always assumed it was mine and sulked. During exams, she would read ALOUD like a fucking kid and would get mad if I told her to keep it down. And when she was mad at me, she wouldn’t tell me if she was angry or what she was angry about. She would bang doors. She would intentionally take long baths so that I would be late to class. She would lock me out of the room and not pick up my calls. Man, how I hated her. I still do. Oh, and she also smelled gross. God, she was the worst roommate I have had till date. I’m glad my two years with her are over.

My next roommate was sweet enough I guess. She was not all that bad. But for the one year that I roomed with her, I didn’t get a good night’s sleep. Because she was always on the phone with her long-distance boyfriend at night, fighting and crying. Her snivelling sounds would reach my ears even when I was blasting rock music in my headphones.

My next roommate was okay. I have no complaints about her except maybe… No, strike that, I have no complaints about her. She was sweet, friendly and kept to herself. She took kinda long showers (I’m talking forty five to sixty minute showers), but it was a small price to pay. I liked her.

Then, there is my current roommate. I wouldn’t describe her as a bitch, but there is something definitely a bit off with her. She is still in college and at first, she seemed pretty nice. She seemed a bit nervous about rooming with me. Maybe I was her first roomie. Or maybe she thought since I was older than her, I wouldn’t like her. I dunno. Anyway, at first things seemed okay. But then the crazy started. She ate my food without asking me. She wore my shoes without asking me and now they’re all stretched out. See, I don’t mind my roomies borrowing stuff from me, but they have to ask first. Borrowing is a privilege, not a right. She rifles through my stuff when I’m not in the room. I paid for her dinner once and she didn’t return the money. She borrowed money from me once and when she paid me back, I didn’t count it. That was a mistake because the amount was lesser than what she owed me. She lies. She is manipulative. She nicks small stuff from me like clips. And on top of that, she doesn’t SHUT UP. She is constantly talking my ears off. In short, she seems annoying, unstable and untrustworthy. I want to move out really bad.

After working my ass off at my office, I just want to come back to my room and unwind. But I have to put up with this brat’s bullshit instead. Fuck me.