Sunday, October 19, 2014

"You have other friends beside me, right?"

I had just moved back to Toronto after a few years abroad. I'd never had very many friends, and the few I had left were moving away just as I had moved back. I was unemployed, friendless and very much down in the dumps when one of my best friends - we'll call her T - told me she was moving back as well.

I was elated. T and I had been friends for a long time, and I couldn't wait to hang out with her again. We could go shopping - window shopping in my case - and just talk. One of the things you lose in a long-distance friendship is that sense of immediacy and nearness and I couldn't wait to have that again.

So, she moved back, and we met up. I was effusive - this was so great! we could hang out all the time now! it would be just like college! - and she... wasn't. Unlike me, she had a great career, plenty of friends and if she was down in the dumps, she certainly didn't share it. She listened to me babble on about mutual friend A who was now living abroad, mutual friend B who'd moved away for work, and finally she asked, "You have other friends beside me, right?"

To this day, I'm not sure if she meant it in a joking manner or not. Does it matter? Faced with the prospect of a clingy college friend wanting to reestablish what was, to her, an old connection, she was naturally wary. Who can blame her for wanting to establish that I would not be sticking exclusively to her, limpet-like?

I laughed - I think. Of course I had other friends, I reassured her. I doubt she believed me. We kept chatting after that, but I have no recollection of what, because I was in shock. You might always suspect that your friend values your friendship less than you do, but to have it brought home to you in such a way was jarring to say the least.

The evening ground on, and it was time to say good night. "We should do this again!" she chirped, "Now that we're in the same city!" to which i mumbled something along the lines of sure, yes, we should. I did not hear from her again for more than six months - and when I did, it was because I had reached out.

In fact, every time we've interacted has been because I've reached out. She always sounds effusive and enthusiastic, "Why don't we do this more often?" and I can barely stop myself from replying, "well, what's stopping you?"

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Unnecessary Rudeness

Now Playing: Snow Patrol – The Weight of Love

I was at a dinner recently at a restaurant that looked as though it had just opened. Around 50 people occupied 3 long tables, so the wait staff were definitely kept busy. I forgot to give the waiter my drink order when he came around, and then when everyone else had a glass of water in front of them, I felt insanely thirsty. Five minutes later, when I noticed a waiter was at the table next to us, I got his attention quietly and asked for a glass of water. A woman seated further down the table, wearing a pair of giant rhinestone-studded dangling earrings and an otherwise unremarkable outfit, had the same problem as me but a rather different way of solving the problem. 


“So sorry,” said the nearest waiter, “I’ll bring some right away.” 

As he walked towards our table with a glass of water, Giant Earrings said, loudly, “AND NOW HE’S COMING WITH ONLY ONE GLASS! CAN YOU BELIEVE IT?”

The rest of the party was, I think, rather taken aback by this woman and her incredibly awful behaviour. Even her friends who wanted water looked embarrassed, though she didn’t. The rest of the dinner proceeded without further outburst from Giant Earrings, thankfully. 

The incident stuck with me, and it got me wondering, “Why are some people deliberately assholes?” I mean, we all have bad days, but I’ve never inflicted my frustration on a random third party. I’m not saying this as some super-calm, zen person;  a lot of the time, but especially when I’m PMSing, I am often at a Red Lantern level of rage. It’s not that I don’t have the urge to strike out blindly, I just don’t see why I should inflict my temper on strangers. The world is a difficult place, and I don’t see why you would want to add to the general hostility by being deliberately unpleasant. 

TL;DR – as Wil Wheaton says, don’t be a dick.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Lux Aurumque

Late-afternoon light: slanting and mellow and golden.

Monday, December 31, 2012

mad as hell (and we're not going to take it anymore)

A girl died on Saturday. We don't know her name, so we call her Fearless One (Nirbhaya), Treasure (Amanat), Lightning (Damini) and Braveheart. She was only twenty-three when she was gang-raped, brutalized and murdered on a Delhi bus.

Delhi has long had a reputation for being unsafe for women (with a rape occurring every 18 hours, deservedly so) but this is not just about Delhi; women all over India have worked out their own strategies for dealing with harassment and molestation. My mother, Mumbai born and raised, has a trick of having an umbrella ready to smack anyone who tries to get handsy. Devika Bakshi lists some of the measures Indian women take to stay safe. Some of these are common-sense, "text me the cab’s licence plate number", for instance, but others - "wear leggings under a skirt" - are unfortunate examples of the restrictions women place on themselves to navigate a environment in which they are constantly under threat. Women are sick of hemming themselves in to stay safe, and their anger at the horrors inflicted on this girl has catalyzed protests against a government seen as ineffective, a police force that seems to blame the victim more often than not, and the society that produces such monsters.

The 2007 film Chak De India has a scene in which the Indian women's hockey team is at a restaurant when one of the girls is harassed by local louts. Rather than staying quiet and backing down - which would be the "safe" thing to do - the girls confront their harassers, leading to an all out brawl in which the girls prevail. I can never watch the scene without an absurd feeling of vindication and pride. Rationally, I know that there are better ways to solve a problem than violence, but viscerally and emotionally, the part of me that is sick of wondering what outfit is safe to wear, or calculating how late is too late to be out safely, is thrilled. Bas. Today, women are saying enough is enough; our society needs to change and us with it. I hope that happens.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Sweet Potato Muffins

Oh baking... I love that feeling when you throw stuff together and it tastes, somehow, good. Generally I'm the sort of person who follows recipes slavishly, but given that I had baked sweet potato bread twice with delicious results, I felt free to experiment a little bit and would up adapting that recipe to bake muffins. Now the recipe below looks insane, but that's just me blathering on. It's really simple and gets you 12 awesome muffins. What's not to like?


  • 1 cup honey
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 1¾ cups sifted all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 cooked and mashed sweet potato (comes to approximately  1¼ cups)
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  1. Grease your muffin tray! I always like to do this first, because otherwise I forget, and then I'm frantically greasing them at the last minute, with the batter and oven ready. 
  2. First, cook the sweet potato. This will take longer than you expect, a good 30 minutes of boiling (you really don't want there to be any hard lumps of uncooked tuber left, so in this case, it's okay to overcook.) 
  3. While your sweet potato is boiling, chop your pecans and set aside.
  4. Combine your flour, salt, baking soda, cinnamon and nutmeg in a bowl, mix it and set it aside. 
  5. Combine the honey and oil. This shouldn't be too much of a problem, unless, like me, your honey has crystallized. In that case, if after much whisking your honey and oil hasn't combined, don't worry. We'll fix it in step 8. 
  6. Your sweet potato should be done by now! Check to see if it's good and cooked by sticking a knife or skewer in it. If it goes in smooth, you're done! If not, stick it back in boiling water and check on it periodically. Once it's done, the skin will come off easily. Chop the sweet potato into large chunks and mash it. If you use a blender, you'll probably wind up adding a quarter cup of water, which is cool too.  Set your mashed or blended sweet potatoes off to a side.
  7. This is a good time to pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees. A lot of baking recipes will tell you to pre-heat as the first step, but I'm a slow, slow cook and I inevitable wind up with my oven ready way before my batter is. You'll have a sense of how slow or fast your oven is, and of how slow or fast you are at assembling ingredients, so this step can go up or down the list depending on that. 
  8. Add eggs to the honey-oil mixture and beat well. If you had a problem with the honey and oil not combining well, once you add the eggs and whisk, you should get a nice homogenous mixture. 
  9. Combine the flour mixture (from step 4) with the egg-honey-oil mix. Rather than adding all the flour at once, add a bit, mix it in well, add some more until finally you've got a nice smooth batter. 
  10. Add your mashed sweet potato and stir until the batter looks nice and even (no orange swirls!)
  11. Add in the chopped pecans (step 3!) and stir. 
  12. Using a ladle or a serving spoon, pour your batter into your greased standard 12-muffin tray. Try and even out the level of batter in each cup, otherwise some of your muffins are going to have more of a muffin top than others. 
  13. Stick it in the oven for 25-30 minutes. (Use this time for clean-up.)
  14. After 30 minutes, your muffins should be light brown and smell fantastic (I'm not kidding. With the cinnamon and nutmeg, your kitchen will smell like Christmas!) Take them out of the oven, and leave them to cool in the muffin tray. Once cool, you can use a butter knife to loosen the muffins from the cups and pop them out of the tray.
  15. Enjoy!