The Climb

I reached into the chalk bag and I felt the sweat disappear from my palm into the ball of foam in there. It was one of those moments in the movies where the camera cuts to a low angle shot and pans up to the back of the tall athletic tan white male protagonist just in time for you to see him take a deep breath in slow motion under the glare of an overhanging sun about to have his moment of epic victory; except I wasn’t the tall athletic strong but recently failing white male protagonist.

I was a short skinny brown man/boy? Man-child? My phone was in the side pocket of my Arsenal duffel. I could almost feel it vibrating from a ten foot distance or perhaps it was that I could faintly hear the weird ringtone (always hated that word) from the distance drowning under the chattering of the climbing crowd.

The moment I lay my hand on the first support. I heard Chet Faker’s Gold start playing in the background. I thought, ‘Brilliant, if I fall on my ass and shatter my hip, I will at least do it listening to a great song thinking about the everyday crisis that is my love life’ 

My partner belaying me was a French guy messy blonde hair, and a thick accent. Not easy to communicate with. I was nervous because he was doing this for the first time. I wasn’t.

The climb I was about to start was tougher than the ones we had done previously today. His lack of experience wasn’t an issue but his lack of care with the belaying equipment was. Half-way up the thirty foot climb. I was scared to see him holding the rope casually and limply and the decision was made. I yelled at him to lower me. I was going down on Thelma Plum’s how much does your love cost.

Don’t know about love but I do know that hip replacements do cost a lot.

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Breaking News Clip(pers)pings

In an unexpected turn of events, a Wahl deluxe pro clipper went rogue today and butchered a patch of very well looked after hair on a slightly unruly head. The massacre resulted in a bald patch within a number three fade that was expected to transition to a number two fade. The incident occurred on a salon chair at one of the Toni & Guy salons under the care of their senior stylist Daniel (name changed).

The incident occurred when the victim accidentally sneezed. The transgression caused a great disruption to an otherwise smooth haircut. The occurrence earned the full attention of the witnesses and resulted in great uproar, as a consequence of the outrage, the use of clippers was temporarily suspended. The patrons were requested to be careful and interrupt their stylists if they needed to sneeze.

The victim burst out laughing on the bald patch. The witnesses were scared and unsure if the victim was having a psychotic break or not. This outburst resulted in great unease of the witnesses in proximity of the victim. Daniel, the stylist, was prepared to contain the situation and call the paramedics. However, the victim was a strong person and told everyone,

“It was okay. No, seriously, I am okay. I am sure Dan can fix this. People, I am fine.”

This exposition from the victim diffused the tension of the situation. Everyone had a little laugh and the victim received a good ribbing for the missing hair, which the victim took in his stride.

Daniel proposed that they go shorter and that the fade can be changed to a number two fade transitioning to a number one fade, instead of the desired three to two fade. Tensions were high as the victim contemplated the repercussions of the proposal.

Once again, the crisis was averted when the good-natured victim happily accepted the proposed solution without any complaints or grievous mention of the incident, only except for in humorous context.

More to details are expected to be reported as the situation develops.

Studded Louboutins, rockability and gender fluidity.

In 2012 Kanye West (The most deplorable narcissist to ever walk the earth), rocked a glamorous pair of the Rollerball Loafers by Christian Louboutin. Those were a rock-star inspired pair of slip-on with sliver toned studs embedded all over. While, Kanye rocked the pair, and everyone applauded him. He managed to reignite a public discourse; a discourse over gender binary, the social constructs of masculinity and hyper-masculinity.

I was oblivious to the conversation until it knocked the door to my house down when I decided that I would wear the same pair to my graduation (cause I am a fly bitch. Duh). Some of the reactions I received were, for instance; my sister gasped and went “Tch. Tch. Tch.” at me. My mother, despite all her uninformed feminism and her status as a matriarch, expressed her vehement disapproval and distaste at my choice.

The length and breadth of John Varvatos’s prolific career has seen him cleverly introduce elements of subcultural designs into the mainstream. His major influences include punk and rock.

The genres themselves in their nascent years attempted to radicalise the perception of music. The genres were so successful that it lead to the creation of complex subcultures that persist still. Some of the key elements that represented the philosophies of these subcultures engendered a subversion of regular life elements that were perceived to be strictly feminine.

Varvatos found his success formula to be a mutated subversion of those subverted elements in these subcultures. He wove them intermittently into the fabric of the mainstream society. His interpretation worked seamlessly in the mainstream and yet was affectively evocative of it’s inspirations.

In fact, his latest outpost at boutique the 315 Bowery boutique in the space that formerly housed the underground music club CBGB. Many a great bands were discovered in the legendary club, and many a great bands were amongst the regular performers. A club where men covered in layers of colourful makeup, eyes slathered in paint, and lips smothered under lipstick banging their heads to the thump of music were a convention.

The norm was so omnipresent that to do so was more than acceptable. Somehow their super aggressive attitudes and penchant for violence had earned them a right to subvert the feminity of soft-toned make-up worn by a significant portion of the female population. They wore it in much darker tones with dialled-up contrasts and strutted about in rebellion, in protest. They stood out like peacocks and threw a punch at the slightest mention of their supposed feminine habit of wearing make-up.

How did the whole situation get so convoluted? Since when men decided to ditch their eyeliners, and the society concluded that makeup or the right to be a shameless self-indulgent peacock was exclusively reserved for women alone? Especially in South-Asian culture, more specifically, in my Indian culture the expectation for men has been reduced to “look good, but not too good.” What the fuck is up with that?

For as far as the Indian history stretches and mythology can be read and understood; men were in a very regular habit of bedecking themselves in luxurious jewels. Didn’t Parisians invent half of history’s worth of menswear fashion trends? Fabergé anyone?

Warriors wore eye make up in several forms under their helmets and armours as either an intimidation tactic or to enhance their appearance to charm the ladies. Throughout history, men have reserved the right to bedeck themselves and strut about like a damn peacock.

So if I choose to put on chrome studded patent leather Louboutins to my big graduation ceremony I’ll be damned if a hypocritical society that is being manipulated by the capitalist forces into a monopoly of a certain number of groups over make-up tell me that I can’t. Thank you very much.

21 things I learned at 21

I recently turned 21 and as the tradition goes, we had a shindig that involved me, friends, food, and alcohol followed by regret-worthy decisions. Amongst the whirlwind of adorable madness, I had a few profound epiphanies. I would love to share them along with a bunch of other ones that came over the years (Because obviously I am fucking wise now). Here we go:

  1. Be free. In thought, judgment, attitude and mindset. As a human, accept everyone and everything. Everything God created should command your respect and appreciation. Do not let the abuse of religion by a petty few guide your thought.
  1. Follow your heart and your dreams because whatever anyone can tell you would never equate with what your heart can tell you. Follow it to the ends of the earth if it takes you there. In life, your happiness will come from following your heart and not by doing what people expect of you.
  1. Dal, rum, and goon (Australian invention: a cask wine) are a bad combination. If you do not have a stomach of steel, you will regret doing this while convulsing and turning your guts out over the toilet.
  1. People will manipulate you to fulfill their own ends. You will inevitably become a part of someone’s schemes. As long as it does not harm you or anyone, let them do it. Karma is a bitch; it will come back. Be gregarious and help a brother out. However, this does not mean you have to stoop to the same levels for success.
  1. Along the way, as years pass by, there will come along some beautiful souls that can connect directly with your own soul. Take heart and courage and keep them close. These people will stick with you through thick and thin. Do not stonewall them… It is not worth it.
  1. Take life by the horns (or by the balls, if that’s your thing). Meet every challenge, hurdle, celebration, and achievement with equal enthusiasm. Be filled with so much zeal and positivity that it is infectious because as much as I hate to say it, you only live once. (Wait I have to go throw up. Be back in a second!)
  1. Bullies will forever be bullies. Ignore them, rise above because you are so much more then someone who is insecure or jealous and takes it out on you aggressively. Be gregarious and forgive. Let me tell you, them ladies or gents (or whoever non heteronormative and non-gender binary conforming person you’re into) love a black-eye. You would get a lot of attention from them with that.
  1. Wear your “Mickey mouse all stars Jazz singlet” out because you ‘gonn be hit on, son!’. Take advantage and enjoy the wolf whistles. Ya never know, one of those might be your soul mate howling at ya or someone to be your mate for the night (wink, wink, nudge, nudge).
  1. Remove those headphones from your head. Listen to the world… You might hear something interesting. Besides, it’s less douchey to walk around with something glued to your ears. Also, it would be a lot less probable for you to end up as road-kill because you couldn’t hear the horn blaring. ‘Based on true story, bro!’.
  1. Do not walk into the sun with a hangover without a couple of aspirins in you and sunnies on ‘coz that shit is unreal, ya know hurts like a bitch and all. Dramatically passing out on the sidewalk, turns out, is not so dramatic. It’s more like tragic, even comical. Yup, mostly comical.
  1. Follow up from the last one, have a laugh. Follow these instructions and you will be fine. Do something stupid, take a deep breath, and let out a big laugh. If you can laugh at yourself, it won’t hurt a wee bit when everyone else does. The best bit is when you laugh at yourself because you slipped on that piece of butter paper you threw and your friends join you before they help you up. You have a funny story to tell.
  1. Smile, it’s not tough. I know, I know, you have got that brooding, dark handsome and mysterious stranger routine going on. Nevertheless, listen fella, calm down, and smile… A constant resting bitch face, NOT the best thing. It makes you easier on the eyes. Also, unless you look like Aaron Taylor Johnson, that brooding ain’t gonn work.
  1. Sleep around. Yes, sleep around. Who cares? Go around the block, do the routine. It’s fun, it’s liberating and you gather some experience. Of course be safe, indulge in safe practices and keep someone informed. Don’t be a reckless foolish mess, that isn’t cool. Own yourself, own your sexuality, do whatever ya want and whoever ya want.
  1. “If-girlfriend-likes-her-liquor” is the motto then let them have it. Just look after them for a while for instance, don’t let them run onto the road in front of a bus or if they recently finished therapy, maybe not the best idea (just saying).
  1. Do the things you want, do the things you have been fantasizing about for a long time. It’s not selfish, it’s respecting your own wishes. If you have been doing nice things for everyone, why not stop do a stock-take and do something for yourself?
  1. Also, be nice to peeps. That ish ain’t that hard. Besides, try doing it often enough you get into the habit of doing it. Moreover, when you say nasty things people take it for humor. You get to get away with being an absolute foul-mouthed tool. So, be nice.
  1. Indulge yourself, when you feel down or you think you have fallen to your absolute worst pamper yourself. You want to go to the spa done. Put on a facemask. Done. Want to make yourself that real expensive tea you bought and sit in the bathtub. done. Pop that bottle of champagne you have been saving. Done. Just do whatever that relaxes you. Something that let’s you put some distance in between you and whatever it is that is bringing you down. So you can think objectively and see clearly.
  1. Consider yourself a railway station. No, really for realzziz tho. There is a time and schedule for everything and everyone. You don’t control it. There is a much grander design for your life. Let people come and go, in and out of your life as and when they please. Don’t hanker onto anyone or anything because when you do that sometimes it saves a relationship. Most times, however, it makes it so toxic that you forget why you hung on so hard.
  1. It’s foolhardy to expect everyone who loves you will support you with everything you want to do. They will object, they will have their reservations and they will voice it because they love you not because they want you to stop. So take it in, listen, consider, and then act. Don’t be outraged or take offence. Drama, my honey-pie, is totally uncalled for.
  1. Never let people’s negativity seep into your own life. Learn to compartmentalize when someone is extensively negative put in a box and throw that box out. Simplify, you don’t need that ish in your life.
  1. Lastly, nothing in life is perfect. So, for the love of all that’s holy, stop trying to hold things back till you perfect them. Let them be out there. When they are out their they bring you feed back. You always learn from your mistakes make plenty of them.

P.S. I can’t help it, if the grammar on this is messy. 😉 I am still in the learning phase.


Moving in with Ralph and Oliver

I had a giddy sensation in my gut when I received my first ever key card. I felt like I was walking away with this little victory. When the giant double glass doors slid away, and I walk into the sun with a triumphant spring in my step. Except I am in Sydney and its July, I pulled my coat closer, and my scarf a little tighter.

I remember walking into the university housing reception, paying my rent, and taking the elevator up to my floor (pretty high by the way). I opened the door to my apartment, my first ever apartment, my autonomous space.

The fancy key card powered door whizzed, and whirred before it gave me the green light to push the door open. Well, I could romanticize it here, but what I found wasn’t a home, rainbows or unicorns. I found a sterile space that reeked of disinfectant, and; it space was mine. The first thing I did was roll my customized S. Oliver coat into a pillow and take a nap. Jet lag is hard yaka, man.

Over the next few days, several trips to Ikea, Target, Wheel & barrow, and The Reject Shop later I had finally moved into an apartment that looked like an over-flowing cluttered mess. I could not care any less.

I had found my home for the next couple of years. I hung my customized coat, gave my prized Ralph Lauren sneakers a place of pride in the drawer, and jumped into my bags to get the kitchen in order. After all, food is the most important thing.

There is something about carrying thirty kilos of groceries for a mile and falling to the floor of your home at the end of it. It drains your strength. My heart wasn’t beating faster out of exhaustion. I wasn’t tired. I was happy.

My house could be a mess; my life could be falling apart, and I will be okay with all of it. My kitchen, however, is my sanctuary. It is a safe space where I can cook, create, just be happy, and think with absolute clarity.

Before, I went to bed, in the middle of the day (jet lag remember?) I marinated a fillet of salmon in garlic, lemon, mint, fennel, and salt because dinner that night was a celebration.

A couple of hours later, I woke up a bit groggy, and ready to cook my first dinner. The menu was mashed potatoes, Salmon fillet, and steamed asparagus.. I put on some Fauré; put the potatoes to boil, and skillet on high.

In the next hour, I watched the season premiere of ‘The Block Glasshouse’ with a fulfilling dinner. I thought to myself, “This is going to be great.”

Salmon fillets with steamed asparagus and potato mash.

Salmon fillets with steamed asparagus and potato mash.

Labels and love Affairs

While it rains outside, I am rooted to the floor of a tiled rooftop looking at a breathtaking cityscape. It reminds me of something, something I have not remembered in as long as I can remember. The city of Sydney changed my life. It threw me against the wall and reclaimed my carcass as it hit the floor with an astoundingly quiet thud.

It has been two years since I first came here. When I boarded my first international flight, I thought I would land fresh faced and just as glamorous I thought I was. Instead, I left the airport grumpy, drained, and smelly. Nevertheless, a shower, two days worth of sleep, and another shower later I was brazen, fresh-faced, and well anything but glamorous.

Tonight, however as I stand on the rooftop terrace of the building I dare call my home. I stand, in front of a million lights, reflected in the safety glass; a certain version of the man I had wanted to be.

Acne-free with almost perfect hair (I wouldn’t complain about a more expensive haircut but, then again who would?) and a wardrobe that begets me many a compliments. But you know what’s missing? My person, a self who had fun who happily and dangerously veered on the edge of everything including sanity and all. So tame, so controlled, so uptight.

It is rather easy to forget what your life is about ya know? My life was always about the travels, clothes, and reading. In 2012, mine was easily the worst compilation of a wardrobe that has ever been like a runaway train that crashed into a warehouse of forgotten trends. But, I liked it still.

Now, in 2014, that I have compiled a serious wardrobe. I have lost a certain part of me I had paid no attention to before. When I moved to Sydney; my life was suddenly about unpaid bills, debts, and dirty dishes. Cinderella hath her story gone wrong.

I found solace in cooking, classical music, and my university’s lectures turned me into this serious buzz kill. Regardless, I have been reminded to take the stick out of my arse and just take it easy.

Exactly twenty-one floors below me I can see the cogs of this gigantic machine of a city pick up pace after a long Friday night. The remnants of last nights revelry evidenced in the empty bottles all around are fading into the early morning. I would be happy to find my place amongst these cogs or I just might become the spanner that was thrown into the works; a very brown spanner.

I intend to use this blog as my life’s project, explore my love affair with cooking. Delve deeper into how food is inexplicably intertwined with my life and attempt to reclaim some of my madness back.