#23 Postcard – Driving and Grocery Store Dates

There’s a scene in LadyBird where LabyBird drives a car for the first time through familiar streets of her Sacramento home. She talks about how everything feels different when you’re driving past them.
I had that feeling last Sunday as I drove through my neighborhood streets.

On my way back from office today, Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now started playing on the radio. I had just taken the final turn from a 6-lane to a 4-lane to my apartment, it was a long 5 mile stretch. I didn’t need the GPS anymore which meant I could finally enjoy the music playing – if you’re a baby driver taking on traffic on a war footing everyday, you might relate.


There’s a scene in LadyBird where LabyBird drives a car for the first time through familiar streets of her Sacramento home. She talks about how everything feels different when you’re driving past them.
I had that feeling last Sunday as I drove through the streets near my place.

It wasn’t extraordinary. I missed being able to halt by neighborhood roads in the morning (because there’s no shoulder here for the most part and no parking on the sides, ugh first-world problems). It was Halloween weekend, some of my teammates were in office with families and that was probably a more interesting place to be. I came to know from Bryan later that that was on Saturday.

But it is magical at night when I drive the roads at 15mph.
The city is almost shameless in its sprawl, yet the narrower byroads are too charming in Texas, like suburban paved streets interspersed with familial nothingness. They feel like home, the church-fronts are filled with kids in the morning (or a wedding party), and the extensive parking lots are empty and welcoming at night. Lit-up reindeers smile from front lawns of houses tucked away from the main roads, and family cars crowd the streets on weekends. On a related note, some of the houses also bring to mind Virginia the movie with an unkempt front porch, but I’ll let that one slide.

On Sundays, I clearly match this town’s energy.


Everyone dresses like it’s Sunday everyday here, but especially on Sunday. (I’m constantly overdressed in this state).

In Atlanta we’d visit the local Target, a 10-min walk away, a couple of times during the week. If you’re remotely well-dressed, some also-welldressed guy would try to chat you up or a 5’3” dude would ask if you needed help in reaching the shelves. (I’m 5’2.5” for context). There’d always be someone who had clearly just moved to the city, their trolley overflowing with dinner sets and soap dispensers. My local Target here though is filled with young moms and working women like me. All dressed up still, but I miss Atlanta. I was clearly too cocky for my own good during my time there.

Also we need more dates happening in grocery stores! My own Modern Love chapter, I am positive, will be during a run at Target.


Afterwards, Chandelier by Sia came on. I was 2 minutes away from my apartment complex, in the two-lane towered by tall trees and houses with large front porches.

I sometimes dread our parking, but this time I got a nice spot on the 3rd floor. Here we are 🙂

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End of Writing Workshop

Today was the fourth and final session of Art of Clear Writing workshop.

Today was the fourth and final session of Art of Clear Writing workshop. I missed last Saturday’s class because I was suffering chills and fatigue from my second Covid-19 vaccine shot (Pfizer). So I lay on my bed after logging into the Zoom session, Amit Varma moved forward with the workshop as I drifted into exhausted sleep. By the time I woke up, Zoom had logged me out.

We had a bunch of writing exercises over the past couple of weeks, I will publish some of my workshop pieces in the coming days. But the key takeaway from the workshop was that you figure out a writing process that works for you, and most importantly to keep writing.

Building a tribe/community was another one – to discover other writers who are in the same stage of our own writing journey. I realized I have WordPress and I hope it’s going to be an easier task here.

PS – I counted the adverbs I used in this post and it’s only one out of 148 words. Nothing impressive, but to be mindful is the first step!

Kerala elections – from Texas

LDF had won, but the bigger news of course was that NDA* had scored 0 seats, sending Malayalis all over the world (once again) into the collective self-patting that we love to engage in

I once read an article someone wrote about their father who moved to the US 40 years back with family. When asked if he didn’t miss home, the father said he had woken up every one of those days wishing he were back in his hometown in India.

I woke up this morning to an Instagram filled with stories from my circle. They were all about Kerala election results. Last night on our video call, I had found from Amma that LDF was leading. LDF had eventually won, but the bigger news of course was that NDA* had scored 0 seats, sending Malayalis all over the world into the collective chest-thumping we love to engage in.

In the kitchen, I glanced at the hashbrowns I’d planned to fry for breakfast. I then proceeded to take out dosa batter from the fridge, and put on my kattan (black tea) to boil.

*part of BJP/Modi’s party, put briefly

Modern Love – What’s the catch?

So the roommates from his stories turned out to be his parents. On which date does the cat turn out to be his child?

For what feels like the first time, I am not thrilled by when Blinding Lights starts playing – just as he tells me he’s recently divorced after a five year marriage. As recently as in the last 6 months.

I see, I say, quick to add a not-too-intrusive follow up question after registering that I see’s are my go-to in Zoom meetings precisely because they are too plain, too matter-of-fact and definitely too insensitive for this first-date exchange. I am glad the lights at “the grill place” aren’t too bright, yet our faces were fixated on each other’s and one couldn’t miss it if I so much as slightly grimaced, which I didn’t.

It’s not an off-putting detail. It’s probably just something you might want to mention on your Tinder bio, or at least reveal in the early conversations.

Okay, I guess this is in fact early. He did get that right.

I’m over it already as we talk about the books we left unfinished growing up, and at length about our Harry Potter houses (he was definitely Ravenclaw). Yet in the 4-second pause before we resumed talking about our families, the skepticism bounced back briefly.

Yes it’s early, it’s theoretically the safest spot in the early spectrum to introduce the fact – I can now imagine upvoted Reddit answers to the thread When should I tell my date … ? Yet it’s a bit disenchanting when it follows another reveal of his roommates, whose lifestyles he had elaborated within the walls of Tinder, turning out to be his parents. On which date would the cat turn out to be his child? Too harsh perhaps but there’s a reason that stuff is usually on a bio.

But of course one had to meet to really find out : dress up, delight in fussing over whether to wear sneakers or light heels, change outfits since it says it’s going to be chilly at night, change outfits again to not appear too dressy yet not too casual.

We talk about prints and Tokyo and it’s genuinely fun. Once in a while my thoughts drifted further than my eyes did, as did his I’m sure.

I caught the father and kids sipping drinks from their tall straws at the table behind him, and I had the inevitable thought of whether I had a similar piece to compare to his –

What was my catch, then?

And was this the mirage of all dating apps? That everyone told each other How else do you meet people during the pandemic, but really nobody on there was pursuing good old love as they claimed they were? That all the seeming effort on real talk was in fact devoted to changing the narrative of real-life stories and setting stage for slipping in disclosures at the perfect time?
I am not an accomplice in all of this, surely?

For a brief moment I saw a fleeting image of myself as the protagonist in Modern Love’s Doorman episode. Except there was no Guzmin to disapprove of the guys, only me, ending up reading all day on park benches with my legs curled up and riding my bike to cozy cafes – alone.

The thought was more amusing than unpleasant, and I tried to grace a full smile to mask any other emotion. I think we were onto discussing the strangeness of allergies of freshly-cut grass and strawberries at that point.

I later wondered, as one must I assume, if there was something about my profile that conveyed to emotionally unavailable men that I’d serve as an accessory to their early healing/moving-on journeys (because this wasn’t the first time). I’m open-minded and we all have our own deals going on, but I’m not sure any of us want to mess with it unless it were worth everyone’s time.

It suffices to say we had a great evening, and for that I’m glad. I really should’ve asked about the cat. Too late.

Afternoon showers and WFH

Taking a shower during a lunch break when working from home has been an unexpectedly cathartic joy during WFH.

Taking a lunch-hour shower when working from home has been an unexpectedly cathartic joy during WFH.

Of course these days are rare. But when the opportunity presents itself – a full afternoon hour with no meetings, when you aren’t drained by the forenoon’s work, and where you manage to have time for lunch too – a bit of Moroccan Rose in the middle of a day’s work is quite nice.
Amidst IDEs and slide decks and to-do post-its pasted on to my desk because they won’t stick to the wall, and a lot more stationery than I would ever use on a work day.

The bath scrub feels like rubbing fragrant sand on my back, yet there is nothing quite like scrubbing fragrant sand on your back as hot water flows seamlessly over it. It bothers me that the running shower doesn’t bother me as much as when water runs in the wash basin or even in a sink.

Lunch-break showers can last utmost 10 minutes. And I’m not just writing that because I’m wary of a colleague or my manager (or a future one) that might be reading this and questioning my work ethic otherwise. But because it’s a Neverland, a newly found one. Nothing quite like knowing you can waltz into your shower any moment and turn the knob to usher a trail of soothing warm water ready to caress you wholly, sending steam all up your bathroom mirror and curtain, washing down your hair and face and body.

I don’t know if one day I’d take an afternoon shower because I’m frustrated or foggy at work, but let’s hope not.

Snapshot from Finding Neverland, 2004.
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