YESTERDAY, once more

The spate of bad news just doesn’t seem like it’ll end. It’s one thing right after the other. Yesterday, noted actor Irrfan Khan passed away from cancer and today morning, another Bollywood behemoth Rishi Kapoor also succumbed to cancer. People all over the world are remembering them, their contributions to cinema and can’t help feeling how this year is just going from bad to worse.

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The Changing Face of X’MAS

Christmas. Who doesn’t like Christmas? The weather is cold and woollens are out. The house is abuzz with excitement as the days prior go in extensive cleaning. Curtains are changed. The good heavy ones come out. Even the bedsheets and cushion covers undergo a makeover. In school, the Catholic girls have special practice for Advent Mass. We were made to go for choir practice or for nativity play practice. It was great fun. This was something we enjoyed, especially having some time off from classes.

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Meik WIKING and the Art of Hygge

The Danish concept of hygge is difficult to put into words. It has been described in a variety of ways such as creating the ‘art of intimacy’ or ‘cosy togetherness’. Pronounced as ‘hoo-ga’, this concept is about a feeling or an atmosphere, rather than just things. Originating from the Norwegian word meaning ‘well-being’, hygge is known to be a key to happiness. And with Denmark’s position as one of the happiest countries in the world, it makes this concept quite intriguing.

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Travel VLOGGING – A Digital Escape

It’s been over thirty days since India has been in a lockdown, and over a few months since tourism worldover has come to a halt. And with it, the number of travel-related posts on Instagram and social media has risen. Almost everyone seems to be missing the freedom to travel, be it to Paris or Milan or even the local grocery shop.

Me, being the ‘Reluctant Traveller’ who is almost always plagued with travel anxiety, am relatively okay being home and not dying to take a trip somewhere. But, thanks to K, I’ve realised how ever since I’ve been confined to the four walls of our home, my consumption of travel and food vlogs has increased. It really offers me a digital escape to another world, a world am not sure I’ll ever get to visit and explore even when countries open their borders.

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RECORDS of the past

Oh, you can kiss me on a Monday
A Monday, a Monday is very, very good
Or you can kiss me on a Tuesday
A Tuesday, a Tuesday, in fact I wish you would

This song by The Chordettes is one I distinctly remember from my childhood. Most of us develop our own sense of music as we grow up, some that shaped our childhood, some that we sought out through our years in school and college, while others turn to the more relevant hits of current years. I for one have mostly stuck to what I grew up listening to, to the songs my brother would play to set the tone of the day, and amp it up just to get me out of bed.

Or you can kiss me on a Wednesday
A Thursday, a Friday and Saturday is best
But never, never on a Sunday
A Sunday, a Sunday, ’cause that’s my day of rest

Thanks to him, I grew up listening to a lot of The Carpenters, Boyzone, Backstreet Boys, U2, Billy Joel, Sting, WHAM!, Bruce Springsteen, Vengaboys and Michael Jackson… you get the gist. My brother had a huge collection of cassette tapes. Remember the NOW series? I loved them. Even now, when I hear a particular song from that time and age, it reminds me of my brother. He even made mixtapes. He would turn the radio on and record them. It took so much pain, patience, energy and time. And then he would slip the cassette cover with the right chronology of songs and artistes written in his perfect handwriting. I remember the day I messed up his Sony walkman. I was a kid and he, a college student, had hooked some device to it with prods and me being me, wanted to see what the ‘big red button’ did. Long story short, that walkman did not survive and I regretted the day I realised its worth. I wish I had the walkman today.

I still have many of my brother’s cassettes. My favourite till this day are the ones with Christmas carols, especially BoneyM. Another favourite was one that had a number of OSTs. Gosh, it had the one from Free Willy, The Graduate, and the haunting Streets of Philadelphia. The first cassette I ever owned was Aladdin, and as a child it really transported me to another land. Magical indeed.

Interestingly, I have been named after one of my brother’s favourite singers. One of my many names were chosen by him, and he named me after Samantha Fox. I was pretty pleased when I got to know of it. There was a cassette by her at home, her pretty face on a white background. When Google became a constant in our lives, I decided to know more about the person I had been named after. A hit on the images and I fell from my chair. No wonder ‘Samantha’ invokes a naughty image. Now, it makes for a good laugh but unfortunately, not many people know of her.

It’s been almost eight years since my brother passed away, and even today when I listen to some of his favourites, which have become my favourites, I can’t help but tear up. I don’t often listen to the songs of my generation since the songs of my brother’s is so deeply ingrained in me.

A month or so ago, my iPod shuffle landed up in the washing machine and is now pretty much malfunctioning. I was devastated. It had all my brother’s song collection on it and I prefer using an iPod over Spotify on my phone. Maybe it is a way to push me to move forward, but weirdly, as much as I try to change, I prefer to stay the same.

The one band that I love and which hasn’t been because of my brother’s influence is Westlife. I fell in love with the band back in school, and boy was I head over heels in love with Mark Feehily. Such a cute guy, but unfortunately, gay. It’s also interesting that he was probably the first gay person in my life and to be honest, knowing and ‘loving’ him helped me develop my attitude towards LGBTQ community. I remember having intense discussions with my close friend K, who was in ‘love’ with another member of the band. I miss those days, back in school. Not a care in the world other than studies. Now, life has changed so much, and the mountain of responsibilities that come with it. But thankfully, when I listen to these guys, the mood is instantly uplifted.

Also, I’ve been listening to a lot of Spanish songs and artistes, be they European or Latin American. Throwing myself into this genre has really opened my mind. Actually, it’s because am learning the language that I am able to appreciate such music even more. Be it Manu Chao, Alvaro Soler, Natalia Lafourcade or even the familiar Enrique. It’s a whole new world and I am in bliss, loving every bit of the journey.