A note to the nasty women at SMNTY

A note to the nasty women at SMNTY

Dear Cristen and Caroline,

This is Divya writing to you from Auckland. I’ve been a long time listener of SMNTY and the news that you were wrapping up the podcast came as a surprise. I stumbled upon your podcast by pure chance and have been a regular listener ever since. I’d been wanting to write to you ladies for quite some time now, but never somehow got to it. Now that you’ve bid farewell to SMNTY and are forging your nasty way forward to bigger and better things, I wanted to send in my congratulations and let you know how much both of you and SMNTY have been a major part of my lady or unladylike awakening, whichever you prefer.

Being a brown skinned lady never having lived in the US, a lot, if not most of your wise words resonated with me, though perhaps in a different context. And for a long time now, I’ve been toying with the idea of putting out a podcast, on themes similar to what you rad ladies have been talking about, one that voices out a more Indian perspective on much of the same concerns and of course a whole lot of other things. The idea is still brewing mind you, and I’m in the process of nailing down a lot of the nitty gritties. I hope I’m able to get something concrete out soon, but before I did any of that I wanted to let you both know that you and SMNTY have been the ones that have made me take this idea seriously and roll with it.

I know you ladies must be busy working on your new ventures, but it would be great if either or both of you could find your way to send some of your podcasting wisdom my way 🙂

That’s pretty much what I wanted to tell you…here’s to being nasty women and unladylike. Thank you for getting me woke Cristen and Caroline…




The writer, the poet, the blogger…the podcaster?

The writer, the poet, the blogger…the podcaster?

These days everywhere I turn I seem to run into very creative people. It really is interesting to interact with the artistic types, trust me. But after a while, these encounters start making me feel inadequate. The surge of YouTubers making it big on social media, the movie critics doling out reviews a dime a dozen, the make-up tutorials, the stand-up comedians, the buzzfeed-esque listers…the variety shows are multitude. When I mentally ran through if any of these kinds of social media suit me, just one point crossed each and every one of them off the list – I don’t like getting photographed, let alone caught on video, both these things make me immensely uncomfortable. And as they say, once something’s up on the internet, it never really goes away. I shudder to think of seeing myself somewhere 5 or 10 years down the line on a time capsule of today’s social media. Therefore, I logically concluded that a purely audio based platform is what I could try out. Being quite hooked by several podcasts, why not join the bandwagon? I’ve been researching several how-to-guides on the subject. One common pointer I find on these websites and blogs is to find a theme I want to talk about and stick to it. But I kind of have the feeling that strictly adhering to just one topic seems very limiting. So right now I’m still mulling on how to tackle myriad topics and at the same have a consistent underlying theme so that it doesn’t seem like I’m all over the place…

To knit, purl or slip a stitch…that is the question

To knit, purl or slip a stitch…that is the question

Suddenly last year, I was bitten by the knitting bug. It’s not the first time I got the urge to try my hand at some creativity. More than ten years ago, when I was still in middle school or high school, my mum taught me the basics of knitting during one of the summer vacations. We weren’t the kind of family that traveled a lot during the holidays. Most of my family lived in the same city as us and there weren’t that many places we visited other than the rare week away to a few temple towns in the south of India. So the rest of the holidays were spent being engaged in all sorts of things from cleaning sprees to learning something new. This ‘something new’ could be anything in the academic or creative realm as it had been long established that I wasn’t the most athletic kid around. So, one fine summer, I made my mum teach me knitting as I already read too many books a week, had learnt basic sewing/stitching and embroidery from my grandmother a few summers back and knitting was the next thing I could think of. Now my mother, having spent her childhood in Delhi in North India, had learnt the art when she was quite young herself as she, her mother and sister had spent much time knitting their own winter wear for when the weather turned cold each year. But I grew up in one of the hottest places in India, Chennai, and for some reason chose to learn to knit. Anyway, that first time, I was not patient enough to wait for what I wanted to take shape, losing interest early on after just learning the knit stitch and purl stitch, which more or less form the foundation of any knitting project. Whatever I was making turned out to be a long tube-like concoction which kept curling very unattractively along the edges and it didn’t take very long for me to toss the whole thing aside and get back to my ever favorite past time of reading as many books as I could get my hands on.

But last year, with my PhD thesis very nearly done and my husband being away for a 1 year business course, left me at loose ends. And again this time, I got the urge to try my hand at knitting. Mind you, I live in Singapore now, so still not the ideal location where knitwear is going to get used a whole lot. This time around, I had a resource I didn’t have access to all those years ago when I first tried to learn the skill – YouTube videos. I came across a YouTube channel called VeryPink Knits, at that was what brought me back into the game. The very first project that I made was a scarf for my hubby who was now living in Auckland and therefore more likely to experience an actual winter than I possibly could in hot and humid Singapore. And since then I’ve had several projects in the works. I managed to complete a lace scarf for myself and a wrap too. Each time I see some exotic looking yarn, I stock up some to use on the next project I start. For the most part, I taught myself the finer points of knitting from various videos online and let me tell you, there are many useful resources out there for knitters right from the basics to designing some very cool and chic knitwear. There is a log cabin blanket that I’ve been working on since last year, I work on it off and on whenever the other projects I have going on start boring me a little. Just a couple of days ago, I managed to complete my first ever ‘shaped garment’ – a cropped raglan cardigan. And though it did take me close to three months to complete, I feel like I’ve accomplished something big. A personal milestone, for the lack of a better word.

I still get razzed on for ‘knitting all the time like an old granny’. I know it’s just to tease me with some good humored joking, but to those I say, ‘not all old grannies know how to knit’. To me, it’s a great feeling to realize that I had the patience and the interest to learn something, though not from scratch, all on my own, and the fact that this skill has taught me to create lovely accessories and garments that I’d love to wear myself or gift to my loved ones, makes it all the more worthwhile. More than that, its gives a therapeutic effect to different moods and helps me focus on something tangible and also intangible at the same time. Though I do agree that these days, yarn of really good quality gets quite expensive, to start out, using the easily available acrylic varieties is good enough. One day I hope to be good enough to work on a cashmere sweater or shawl, but there’s still a long way to go to reach that milestone.

To get a historical and global perspective, knitting as a form a turning naturally occurring fibers to fabric has been traced back to as far as the 12th century. And contrary to popular stereotypes today, knitting is believed to have been used by men to make fishing nets in the early years of its genesis in what is today’s middle east. It’s not always been cute old grannies on rocking chairs, knitting away. Only since the mechanization of the process is that it turned into more of a hobby than an occupational pursuit. I’ll not get into too much detail about all this and if you want to know more, I have shared the links to some podcasts where you can find more information on the history, development and popular culture associated with this particular yarn art.

These are the links to my favorite YouTube channel on knitting where you can find some really cool projects. And to close up, here are a few pictures of some of my early projects* 🙂

*The red background is the shawl I made, the pink piece (top left) is the simple lace scarf, and the multi-colored pieces (bottom left and top right) are different pieces of the log cabin blanket mentioned earlier.

Stuff you missed in history class: http://www.missedinhistory.com/podcasts/knittings-early-history/

Stuff mom never told you: http://www.stuffmomnevertoldyou.com/podcasts/knitting/

VeryPink knits: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCrRT4LwemxYrZxj-HeCkK9Q

To blog, or not to blog? Is that the question….?

To blog, or not to blog? Is that the question….?

I’m sure I’m not the only one who has been confronted with this dilemma. I know I’m pretty late to jump on the ride to the blogosphere. But surprise, surprise, I’m still not sure whether to take the plunge or turn tail and run back to the safety of my indecision. The ubiquity of the internet has made things as difficult as it has made it simpler. Again, I am very much aware of the fact that neither will I be the first, nor will I be the last to ponder these existential questions of life in the second decade of the 21st century. You remember how wonderful it sounded when your parents gave you the pep talk to prepare you for the rest of your life, somewhere in your teenage years, saying things like, ‘You can be anything you want to be’ and similarly sounding pearls of wisdom? Now we all know that isn’t as easy as it sounded then either. The main thing that bothers me is this: when do you know what you want to be? When I was around 5 or 6, I was all set on being a teacher, and again I’m sure I wasn’t the only one who wanted to be one. A few years later a geologist, archaeologist, writer, journalist all went into and also got ruthlessly crossed off my list. Now after all these years, though I do have a profession now as some kind of an engineer, I’m still  not sure that is what I ‘want’ to be. Don’t get me wrong, I made decisions based on what felt right at that point in time, and I must honestly admit that I did enjoy doing all that I did to get where I am today. The point that still bothers me is this: Will I ever really know what I’m supposed to be? Not all of us have exceptionally prodigious talent for arts or science or economics or whatever, so unless you really try everything you think you want to be, how will you ever really know? But the fact remains that just like I did, almost everybody makes decisions based on facts at hand when one is 17 or 18 years old. And again like me, there must be many who wonder, what makes me so sure that I would want to do the same thing when I’m 27 , 37 or 47? Now maybe by time you’re 37 or 47 you’ve made enough money to probably try something new. But what about the responsibilities and commitments that are there when you’re 37 or 47? Can’t just up and leave those hanging right? So the best thing I can think of doing is to try doing something else when you  already have a good means of supporting yourself. So if and when the ‘new’ thing you’re trying really does satisfy you and you are good at it, maybe then you can throw caution to the wind and do something crazy. I have a long list of ‘things’ I thought I wanted to be at some time or the other. Finding out if I’m any good at blogging is one of them and that is what brought on this long winded rant. Sometimes even I forget what the original point of my concern was, but I digress. To come back to my original question here, I guess I’ll only know if I’m any good at it if I give it an honest try. The freedom of the internet is a double edged sword, so I’m pretty sure I’ll know soon enough, if I ever work up the courage to actually put this out there I mean. So, here goes nothing…