The Tiffin


Nothing spells ‘alive’ like a hot, home cooked curry.

Imagine sitting at your cubicle at work, your tummy just about to grumble for its midday meal, and in rolls lunch.

A tiffin of two or three different curries, a chapatti and some rice.

You open up the insulated carry bag just to get a whiff, and OMG…

Hungry yet?

This hunger is really the premise behind “The Lunchbox”, a movie Ms and I saw on a desperate, mid-winter whim the other night.

Set in the heady bustle of Mumbai, it’s a story about Saajan, a lonely widowed accountant on the brink of retirement, and the misplaced tiffin of Ila, a neglected young wife.

The food is cooked with love, and delivered to the wrong man with the right appreciation for the cook’s craft.

A conversation begins through a series of illicit hand written notes, passed back and forth in the tiffin, courtesy of the dabbawallahs’ flawless delivery system (as declared by Harvard University).

From the moment Saajan encounters the first note, we are transported to our childhood – to the days before iPhones and email, when kids wrote notes and traded sandwiches.


Everything about this movie is real. The noise, dirt, sweat. The claustrophobia. The smell of yellowed office files, hot curry and cigarette smoke. The graininess of analogue video and romance of handwritten notes.

Looking at the overcrowded transport, there’s the sense of a city under strain. Development misplaced. Out of context. Fucked up in a million different ways.

And that is part of the reason the film has a universal resonance.

When Ila shares her dream of escaping to Bhutan, where the value of one rupee becomes five and the only GDP is “Gross Domestic Happiness”, we understand.

We’ve all been there. Longing for a simplicity lost to the world as we know it.

A world constantly filtered through a digital interface that screams for our attention, day and night.

While most of us manage some kind of escape – a tree change, a sea change or a holiday to Bali, for Ila and Saajan, there is no escape.

Except through food.

The poetry infused in Ila’s cooking comes alive in Saajan’s writing, as the very act of taste reignites his joie de vivre.

There’s a moment in the film where we hear the voiceover of Saajan as he writes to Ila. We see him standing on his balcony, drawing on a cigarette and Ila, pouring herself a cup of masala tea, as she sits to ponder on his note.


Right in that moment, there is nothing else in the world except two people connected by a single piece of paper, and the freedom to reflect.

It made me want to throw out my computer and write, the way I used to.

Uncensored and unencumbered. With a piece of paper and a pen. No thoughts. Just a feeling bleeding on the page.

A real page.

I’m heartened by that thought, as I am by the number of requests I’ve had these past two weeks for hard copies of the Hello Pepi books.

It’s a 3D world that tugs at us, reminding us that we are more than just a hologram.

We crave touch. And taste. And smell.

The kind we don’t even know we’re missing until we feel it, once again. We are alive!

There’s an oft repeated line in the film that goes:

Sometimes the wrong train will get you to the right station.”

Maybe books aren’t dead. Maybe it’s time to go and find a publisher.

And so the journey carries on… 🙂

When was the last time you tasted something so divine, the world stopped spinning?

Speaking of joie de vivre

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She is Infinity

Twelve years ago, give or take some days, two women introduced themselves over the call centre partition that separated their desks.

We both worked ingloriously in the personal loans department of a finance company, and the office had decided to move floors. We’d never met, until that day.

I might have passed her off for your average wedding band toting Indian woman. Except she dressed wrongly. And spoke the Queen’s English too loudly. And exhibited the kind of dark humour that instantly recognised my own.

She might have passed me off for your standard snooty white girl. Except for the book lying on my desk, boldly announcing my current ethical dilemma, The Battle with Beef.

“What’s the book you’re reading?” She asked, and so began a lengthy conversation about my studies, and anthropology, and the general state of the universe.

Then she asked to read one of my essays.

From that day forward, she read every single word I put to paper. And in the course of time, reminded me what it was I once dreamed of becoming. She still does – and a whole lot more besides.

I wouldn’t say her twelve years of belief in me have been well spent. There’s only one thing scarier than having no one who believes. And that’s finding someone who does.

Somehow, despite my flair for self sabotage, she still has faith.

In all the years we’ve known each other, I’ve never been able to put into words what it is she means to me. I’d say it’s past time, wouldn’t you?


Gustav Klimt – Water Snakes II

Seems like a lifetime ago, yesterday
Our names were introduced.
What’s in a name?

It’s a cataclysm
A beginning and an end
A whole new looking glass.

You gave me, me.
You gave me, you.
You gave me, infinity.

Who knew that worlds apart
We would find a home?

Sometimes I think I ruined you
And even as I do
Your eternal hope meets my eternal gloom…

Never too late, you say.
Take my hand, and shed another skin
Of new tomorrows.

Secret lives and
Sacred lies and
Finally we come into the light.

Sometimes I wish time stood still
So we could be who we were yesterday

Everyday I wish that I could be
The woman you make me want to be

The one who turns to You
And says
It’s all going to be alright.

This is not the end.
This is the beginning
Of the Age of Us.

Twelve years to infinity
And not a moment left to lose
Except with you.

Thank you, Aneeta. My Heroine. My Goddess. My Infinity. 😉

If you had to thank someone for the person you are today, who would it be?

This Messy Little Thing Called LOVE

Last week I read a post that completely unravelled me. It was one of those innocent moments when something catches your eye…

You click…

Screen shot 2013-06-20 at 10.39.05 AM

You read…


And somehow the words slip past your defence and turn you inside out.

Judy Clement Wall spent a year in 2011 “publicly committed to fearless love”. I’m yet to find out what that means in her collection of essays, but the manifesto took me back.

I wrote poetry as a young girl. Copious diary entries and stories and poems.

At the age of about eleven, my best friend and I shared a little boy crush. Even then, I knew it was a case of displaced affection. But I played the part, and wrote a swooney love poem. Nathan, I think, was his name.

It was an innocent enough poem. All soft, melting sighs for the beautiful eyes and a wish for that one stolen kiss…

My poems were my prized possession. Carried around in school uniform pockets, re-read and re-worked until the scraps of paper fell apart.

Or until my mother found them.

I still remember the bitter, hateful look on her face.

“Disgusting!!” she spat, as if it had a taste. “I will not have that Filth in this house!!!” Tore it to shreds and threw it in the flames of the combustion stove.

It was the moment, or one of them, when Love became something rank and vile. A dirty little secret, to be hidden in words that never see the light of day.

Writing became the place I bury things. The most important things – hate, anger, pain. And the source of all the trouble – Love.

Hide Love

I learned to hide my love and affection, which also meant my writing, very well.

This post is officially my 53rd post, which means I’ve been blogging for a year.

Bringing my words, and my heart, out into the public has been one of the most terrifying experiences of my life.

Yet, strangely, also one of the most transformative.

Each one of you, whether you know it or not, has encouraged me to keep going. And with each week, to be a little bolder. A little braver. A little bit more personal.

Opening ourselves involves risk. It takes us down uncertain paths and, truthfully, I’ve lost my way a little bit of late.

But sometimes, maybe that’s just what we need to find ourselves again.

Coming back, I realise – I’ve been hiding under the pretence of ‘inspirational blogger’ to shy away from the topics that move me most.

They’re not always pretty. They hurt. They confront.

They also purify.

This last year, blogging has been the only thing between me and quitting writing altogether. And every day I hide myself, I die a little bit inside.

nurse-jackie-season-4-posterAs Nurse Jackie recently taught me:

 “You’re only as sick as your secrets.”

– Zoey

 It’s the opposite of what love is all about.

So, going forward, if you notice a raw edge and the occasional ‘f’ word appear. I hope you will forgive me and understand…

It’s all in the name of Truth. Authenticity. And this messy little thing called Love.

Anyone ever tell you to hide your Love? Did you listen?