Weekend Adventures 7

October 18, 2009

This weekend, I cooked!

Paneer! Of the Kadai variant!

Paneer! Of the Kadai variant! With old newspaper!

I also found the greatest Vicks knock-off ever.

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Happy Diwali, everyone!

Asking Someone Out

October 10, 2009

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I spent the last week trying to ask someone out.

The decision, I think, was made while staring into the swirling vortex of freshly stirred coffee on a Monday morning. It was industrial grade coffee, of course, brewed by the eternally whirring coffee machine in our office. I’m eternally suspicious of it, convinced it contains industrial-grade additives that addle unprepared minds.

Of course, this was also the first time I’d be asking someone out. Don’t get me wrong, I have been in relationships before…I’ve just never had to encounter this particular part of it. Usually, I get off easy, either being asked by the other person (once), or through a wordless understanding that somewhere, an invisible line separating the verdant plains of platonic friendship from the rocky cliffs of relationship-land had been crossed (twice)

So yeah.

Said person works in the same office, and the idea was to just bring it up in conversation at the end of a workday. Monday and Tuesday I chicken out. But of course.

I’d prepared for this eventuality. So no problems there.

The conversation had been endlessly rehearsed in my head, with some furious mental debates on the grammatical structure of it. I settled finally for use of the word ‘would’ and the sentence prefix ‘So….umm…’ accompanied by scratching of head.

Wednesday, goaded by insistent calls to action by supporters on IM, I decided it was the day. Unfortunately, at 2:00, she is sent on assignment, one that might take more than 3 hours. ‘I’ll probably just head home straight from there,’ she typed on IM.

My heart sank. ‘Come back, no?’ I ventured, throwing in a few sad smileys.

‘Whyyyyeeeee???? ūüėÄ :D’ she asked.

Closing my eyes momentarily, my fingers poised over the keyboard, I considered the moment. An uncomfortably inviting question, to be sure, one whose tone set up a potential response quite well.

But no.

I couldn’t during office hours. Something about that seemed wrong. ‘I’ll be….umm…really bored.’ I replied, instantly regretting it.

‘Blah,’ was all she said.

Thursday, there was a citywide rerouting of traffic in effect, with most major roads into Central Delhi cordoned off. As luck would have it, she found herself unable to come to office, and spent the day at home.

‘I triiiieeeed! ūüė¶ :(‘ she said in defence.

So Friday, then.

After hours of squirming, almost-quites and false starts, I finally asked her from the passenger seat of her car at 6:25 pm, speeding down Mathura Road towards Nizamuddin.

I swallowed a few syallables from my rehearsed sentence, but I think I did pretty okay.

‘Wdyou liketo Gaahhwtth me?’ was approximately how it sounded.

She said no.

The Return of the Comic

September 25, 2009

It’s been far too long.

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And a few older ones I’m not sure I ever uploaded:

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Postcards from Nepal

September 17, 2009

The wonderful photography is courtesy my friend DA.

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Pickings from the Delhi Book Fair:

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While there, I also saw some unintentionally lovely signage:

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Still Alive

July 28, 2009

So, I’m back in Delhi.

It’s a long, only moderately funny story. Still not sure if I want to subject you lot to it here…maybe I’ll draw a comic or two.

After my brief hiatus in Chennai, which was mostly like this:

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I’m back with a sort-of job, a new apartment (close to the railway station!) and great pictures that I can’t get out of my phone because I’ve lost the data cable somewhere.

Soon. Promise.

Learning Mandarin

July 8, 2009

For reasons best unexplained, I’ve started learning Mandarin.

So far its been a steady progress towards sounding as ridiculous as possible, twisting my tongue around the difficult¬†pronunciation, and thanks to the shadowy influence of western imperialism on the content of audio lessons, having to learn phrases like ‘I’m an American.’

I’m really enjoying it otherwise, but the difficult part is attempting to construct sentences while thinking in English. A basic conversational sentence like ‘where would you like to eat?’ is simple enough, but having to make the grammatical and cognitive leap to say that in Mandarin, literally ¬†‘You would like to go to where place to eat?’ is proving a bit challenging. On the other hand, the mysteries of Chinese-English subtitles are finally beginning to make sense.

The other major challenge with Mandarin is that initially, ¬†the language revolves not so much around phonetics, but tones. More than half the words I’ve learnt are subtle variations of the ‘shuh’ sound in Hindi, but they vary distinctly in the tone used to deliver them. A short, curt ‘shuh‘ with a falling tone is ‘Yes‘ (in certain contexts) while a longer, stretched out ‘shuh‘ in an even tone is ‘To Eat‘. Getting the two mixed up, while hilarious, may lead to avoidable complications.

To help me out, I’ve devised a system of notes to remember pronunciation. I’ve not gotten started on the script, which I presume is discerning with these differences, so I’m writing them down phonetically (with a liberal mix of Tamil, Hindi and English) in a three tier system stolen from those old ‘three-line’ English notebooks they thrust down our throats for handwriting practice.

The problem with that, of course, is that it looks like mathematical formulae.

This is literally '...eat a little' or ...eat some'. This is never used in isolation, of course.

This is literally '...eat a little' or ...eat some'. This is never used in isolation, of course.

That’s a rising tone on the second word ending with a half-tone of¬† a rolling ‘r’ that leads into the next word.

mandarin3The ‘rry’ sound is unique to Mandarin, and takes a bit of practice to get properly. The first word is written almost like a superscript, and is delivered in a consistent high tone, like hitting a harmonic note on a guitar.

mandarin2This is the Mandarin word for Mandarin, or literally: ‘the common language.’ The H in the middle section is half swallowed, hence its in a lower tone.

Conversational Mandarin, in flow, sounds incredible: its very musical, and with the tones taking precedent over phonetics, the way words are accented and emphasized work differently.

I’m only a couple of lessons in at this point: havent even got started on conjugations or advanced sentence construction yet. I can, however, claim to be American and ask if anyone wants to eat anything. It’s a very Eddie Izzard start to multi-lingualism, yes, but a start nonetheless.

Departures

July 2, 2009

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Best movie I’ve seen all year. I’m not normally a fan of heavy-handed saccharine sentimentality, or the use of dramatic cello music to drive emotional points, but this movie got to me.

It has this…well, quiet dignity about it that I loved. It’s strange to say that a movie is ‘respectful’, but no other adjective fits, really. It’s almost obsessive in its carefulness: treads very lightly over its subject matter, and makes nothing more than gentle suggestions as to its intent. It just watches quietly¬† from a corner, bowing its head politely if you catch its eye.

Except for the dramatic cello bits, of course. Those were a tad unnecessary.

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Daigo explains the concept of 'stone-writing'. I hate to be pedantic, but the subtitles obviously got this part wrong, because it involves neither stones nor writing.

On a related note, this is probably the first live-action Japanese film I’ve seen since the Akira Kurosawas way back in college. (which bought back hilarious memories of Toshiro Mifune, and his uncanny ability to make even normal dialogue sound like a declaration of war)

While I’ve watched a steady number of Korean and Chinese films (and an unhealthy amount of Miyazaki and Japanese animation), contemporary Japanese films, I realize, I’ve hardly seen any.

Recommendations, anyone?

Happy Birthday, A!

June 13, 2009

Today is A’s birthday! A, you’ll remember, is my friend and frequent partner-in-crime, who sometimes features in the comic strip. Like so:

 (She looks nothing like that, by the way)

So today is her birthday, and in celebration and acknowledgement of the fact that I’m currently 3000 kms away from her current location: we have a little celebratory bash happening. Performing the Birthday song, we have none other than….Sex Bob-omb!¬†

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Happy Birthday, A!

 

More photos of the mysterious guitar guy follow:

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Good night, peoples. 

Excuses, Excuses

June 3, 2009

I have none this time. I’ve been lazy. I’ve drawn just two the last two weeks. =(

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This new scanner’s a bit geriatric, and seems to see everything placed in its 8×6 eye through a misty white haze.¬†

Meanwhile, while rooting around the house, I located an old digital tablet somebody seems to have bought for some  presumably important purpose. Trouble is, its missing the pen. Without it, all it does is beep morosely, constantly switching its single LED indicator from green to red. Poor thing.