Utopia – A coffee shop in a book shop

I finally picked up Gun Island today. A book by Amitav Ghosh; a gift from a loved one. I am sitting in my usual spot – the bar stools overlooking the trees in Bahrisons Book/coffee shop. There is something extremely alluring about a coffee shop that smells of books and freshly roasted coffee beans. Even Ma associates this place with me and my Sundays. So, here I am. Sitting on a high chair, holding on to my cortado and looking outside at a giant Neem tree (I think). Winter seems to have overstayed its welcome in the city. Grey clouds coupled with the pandemic have made its way into our moods. Few pages into the book, and I have already started referencing the dictionary a little too often. Typical Amitav Ghosh. The backdrop of Calcutta and Ballygunge Place in the story makes me smile. Places that have become close to my heart. It is beautiful how a city can just be a city, till you make memories there with a loved one. Then, the city and everything that comes with it becomes a fragment of that person and all the time spent with them. The places may become hazy, but the warmth never leaves.

Continue reading “Utopia – A coffee shop in a book shop”

Of Love and Other Sane Things

It is a rainy Monday morning in Calcutta. The will to work is really poor. It has been more than two months of being holed up in Dada’s apartment, as India’s 2.0 version of Covid rages on. Isolation has blended weekdays into weekends, and my view of the world is through a balcony which faces a small walking space. I sip on coffee as I watch people getting in their steps. I get my steps in too, by circling this small living space. Any curious onlookers would have given up by now, on my sanity and their boredom. We have normalized everything by now. The isolation, the inability to meet our loved ones, the lack of life that was. Everything, except death of a loved one. Everything, except maybe facing our own mortality. Fear has found a place in our collective hearts. And we are sanitizing our way through every human contact.

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It is 9 degrees C in Patna right now. I have forgotten what wintery mornings feel like here. Can’t blame my memory. It has been 20 years since I left home. Twenty years since Baba and I dropped Ma to school, on our way to the train station. And Ma couldn’t turn around to say bye, because it was all too hard. Kids leaving the nest can never be easy, no matter how big a brat the said child has been. Ever since, my presence in Patna has been guest-like. Luxuriating in the presence of top notch food and zero chores for those measly 10 days a year.

Continue reading “Homecoming”

Covid Diaries (contd.)

It is a clear, crisp day in LA. Summer is (almost) out of the door. Yes, you will say it is always summer in LA. But, it isn’t. If it is not 70 degrees, it is not summer. I have become a hipster nomad, which is an actual term coined by Airbnb folks for people who live in Airbnbs. Essentially, I have become the opposite of parent talk for ‘you need to settle down‘. Predictably, I love it. In spite of the fact that this year is batshit crazy and every time you think it can’t get worse, it does.

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Covid Diaries

No one teaches you how to live through a watershed year. It comes without notice, flips the life that was and you are sitting in the middle of it and wondering what the hell just happened. 2020 – A year that started like any other year. With fireworks and new year resolutions. I remember sitting with loved ones in Goa, staring at a lit up sky at midnight and thinking this year is going to be hard. Not because I knew about Covid, but just because of all the things that were lined up on the personal front. Part nervous and part excited about the year, I was packing up to go back to San Francisco after a month long break at home. Little did I know that coming home will become an improbable ask very soon.

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Dear Kubo,

You call me Maasi now! 🙂 You also know that ‘Su’ refers to me. Though, instead of ‘Su’, you call me ‘Shoe’. And that’s perfectly okay. My heart predictably explodes every time you call my name.

You are all of 19 months now. Your vocabulary has expanded. Thankfully, no terrible words yet. We all are trying to be as cautious as possible with our language around you. That’s quite an achievement for my expletive-ridden vocab. Self pat on my back. Continue reading “Maasi!”

Let’s talk about Mental Health..

Few weeks back, Ma sent a photo of the two of us and wished me ‘Happy Daughters’ Day’. I grinned and immediately responded with a cheeky ‘Every day is daughters’ day Ma’. And we moved on from there. It is a daily struggle for me to remember such days. Birthdays, anniversaries, mothers’ day, fathers’ day. The struggle is real. And this world has seen to it that there is no dearth of such days and the drill that follows on social media (which I fall prey to, many a times as well). Few days back I started seeing posts on National Mental Health day and that has stuck around in my head. It is comforting to finally see people talk about it. Yet, do we really talk about it?

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The Goodbye Post?

I have finally found the perfect coffee shop. Wait, I keep saying perfect is a trap. But, right in this moment, this is as close as it gets. This place is a couple of miles from my apartment, with free street parking et al. I could have biked here. The walls are all glass. The sun comes in pretty generously. The coffee; top notch. Additional bonus is a chocolate cake made of olive oil. Where was this place all these years! I am (in)famous for (over)scrutinising neighbourhoods for good coffee and food. Yet, I missed this place for four years. Continue reading “The Goodbye Post?”


I waited for months, trying to find the right time to write this. It is a Sunday afternoon. I am sitting in an open cafe in Griffith called ‘Trails’. Trees everywhere. Benches with people talking to each other. Kids playing in the sun. A steady commotion of voices, footsteps, laughter. Yet, this isn’t noise. There is a sort of calm with this breeze. My books are on the table and my iced coffee glistens in the sun. And then, there is Albert.

70 year old Albert. Sitting in Trails all by himself. A smile on his face. Holding on to his cup of coffee. White hair, a pair of glasses and a light sweater. Observing people, like I am. I sit in front of him and he smiles. I ask if it is okay to share the table. And he immediately nods. Continue reading “Thakuma”

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