Phrased Phases

Our Silence

Our words reduced. 
Stories dropped, killed. 
We had less, less and lesser to say 
until we had nothing.

Pardon my eavesdropping 
but this silence too, 
is a conversation 
in both
desperation and wisdom. 

Escapril 2023 has begun! I am grieving many losses and there is no better vent than poetry. April 2: Eavesdropping.

Phrased Phases

Our future

A small house, bright yellow
building somewhere

A strip of green, bluish 
running through top 

Shelves of white, curved 
hold all together 

Wine, delicious deep amounts 
pour generously into pasta

Songs, different langauges
dance sing dance 

And you...

(Following visions have never ended well, my love.) 

Escapril 2023 has begun! I am grieving many losses and there is no better vent than poetry. April 1: Vision Of The Future
Reviews or Rants?

You Want To Watch SRK And Deepika, Not Pathaan The Movie

“Because I am Pathaan” is not the smartest justification for all the things one may choose to do in their life, but the creators of Pathaan seem to think so.

Before we begin, I am not ignorant of the intended message behind this film- secularity. Our country is in dire need of it, and SRK and Deepika Padukone have been victims of the lack of it. In this regard, the film attempts to be a heartwarming gesture…until it’s not.

If you have attempted- at the naive age of 13, or even 20, to arrive at a decent route to achieve the coveted idea of World Peace, perhaps you may have thought up a film like Pathaan.

To put it simply in the Indian context, perhaps you may have thought Kashmir a play toy that can easily switch between India and Pakistan until one country gets the upper hand.

Such thinking does more danger than good- because you manage to dehumanise the people living there. This is why the last bits of the film are especially painful to watch, when ‘Jim’ our antagonist (John Abraham) thinks it is very easy to ask for Kashmir to be handed over to Pakistan in 24 hours.

On the surface, these comments are great to keep your sense of patriotism flowing- especially in the theatre, but at its core, it reaffirms what everyone needs to know but chooses to ignore- We know nothing about the land, people or politics of Kashmir, despite constantly claiming to want it.

Pathaan also demonstrates haste. It was like this one film was the last film to do everything we want. So from India-Pakistan conflicts to Pandemic fears, to a subtle tribute to the Avengers, Pathaan builds weak links, playing monkey bars into each topic with a side of bad jokes.

In the end, each issue is either left incomplete or addressed unsuccessfully. For example, when our antagonist Jim attempts to unleash a new Pandemic into the world by ‘creating’ a virus in the lab- which felt like a great disservice to all the science going into screaming that COVID-19 Pandemic was not manufactured in a lab by some country. Or even when Jim gives the Indian government ’24 hours’ for Kashmir and then they never bring it up again, or the abrogation of Article 370- another serious issue mentioned at the beginning and the end of the film, but not being addressed the way it deserved to be.

But you may argue that this was not the film’s genre or job. And I will say, “Then? Were they running some competition to give special mention to all the things that affected our country last year and leave?”

The last visible scab I want to pick is what we began with- SRK’s explanation for everything being simply that he is a Pathaan. Over the past few days, while creating the excitement to watch this movie, I have engaged in conversations with several Pakistani (Pathaan) taxi drivers, instructors, and friends about whether they will watch it. They say yes, beaming with pride. They say this movie glorifies their culture, that SRK is actually a Pathaan, and that they are happy to have him recognise this origin in trying times.

When will we give up on glowing from our lineages? In this way, the movie also exposes the disappointing shadow of caste pride that prevails among the Muslim community. In doing this, we are once again doing a great disservice to the Pasmanda Muslims.

Side note, I am not sure if travelling to a new country every week (Planning robbery in Spain, executing robbery in Russia, and finally watching plan crescendo in Afghanistan) and doing government work should be considered “culture”- so technically, the name of the film becomes misleading.

If one can accept these flaws in logic, one can happily watch this film- especially before the interval- for the lovely chemistry combusting between Rubai (Deepika Padukone) and Pathaan (SRK). Rubai is a boss woman who owns her sexuality throughout, well aware that she looks “bomb” and unapologetically using it. She is never sidelined as the pretty heroine- although there are some unnecessary fleeting moments where her character steps down to feed the limelight to our Pathaan.

To be fair, shirtless Shah Rukh Khan and John Abraham, plus a very stunning Deepika Padukone is a 3-hour visual treat I would not want anyone to miss, and perhaps this was the creator’s game plan too, hence the lack of focus on the story line. Judging from the box office numbers, they were not wrong.


22 Birthdays

Every birthday I love to write about how far along I have come that year, a romantic letter for 1, if you may.

On this birthday too, I have many such accomplishments to write about. However, this heart simply has no space for pride tonight.

When I woke up this morning I wished with all my heart that I was not in bed.

Then, I lay there a lot longer.

I was thinking about where I would rather be-

roaming, exploring a palace in a quaint South Indian town, making up cute stories of everything I did there as a princess in my previous life- dancing through glorious hallways, running down winding staircases, adorning myself in crafted mirrors.

The Mysore Palace is a symbol of many things for many people. For me, it is a sign of everything that could have been. A love that I lost, a life that I could never create, a time that will never come back.

Or maybe I want to be in the cold neighbourhoods of Indiranagar, watching pretty flowers that have bloomed and children running off to school. I want to wear a large red hoodie and order breakfast dosas. I want us to share our dosas because for me the way you ate always seemed tastier. I want to feel cold hard mosaic tiles and large wooden doors. I want to feel at home, even if for just one day.

22 birthdays today.

I’ve been asking everyone what they were up to when they were 22, and my favourite response so far has been from my 26-year-old friend, who claimed he was ‘having lots of sex’, other responses had to do with college, travel, and a bunch of other FOMO inducing statements.

Be 22 or be 30, or be 40, every year I don’t celebrate with you I might never truly be happy, no matter how hard I try. But what do I know? I’m only 22.


Returning Home

I feel like the prodigal son whenever I return to this blog page.

Like someone who had something good but is taking it for granted and ignoring it. Until some discomfort comes along, then I return to this little yellow wall and begin typing like a mad woman until I feel sane again.

Once in an ambitious era I wrote a short story about a powerful woman who had men come outside her door at night and sob about the pathetic life decisions they had made. These men would sob all night, drunk. The next morning she would open her door and they would dust off their sorry selves and, fully embarrassed, come in and sit on her couch. She would never judge them, but she would observe them. She always had a big fat file about all the things they had done- because she was a powerful woman who knew everything about them.

In many ways this blog is the powerful woman and me the pathetic man who stands outside the door and whines about not being able to write until my body and mind are in-sync enough to open up this laptop and start typing again.

Thankfully my blog is kind and non-judgemental, and yellow walls are what I always dreamed my home would have.

So bear with me as I come and go. Sometimes overwhelming you, and sometimes making you forget about my existence. But constantly thinking about the freedom you gave me, yearning for it every time I sit down to write, anywhere that’s not yellow.

Gloom time

I Have A Couple Of Things To Say To You, Actually.

You don’t look good in that cap. Remove it this instant. How could you ruin that beautiful head of hair? How could you mess it up so badly?remove it.

I lay in bed all day today and yesterday, and last week- when I could. Then I gathered the energy I found in tiny crevices that had been sealed away from you (yes, there were a few- and thank fuck for that) and walked to the supermarket. I did the most purposeless grocery shopping that there could have ever been, choosing apple after apple with the utmost care. I picked only the most perfect ones. I wanted not one scratch, not one soft spot, not one discolouration- perfect.apples.only. There were only 4 of such. I gathered them into the bag and left.

I ate the meal we ate long ago on February 14 in another country- masala dosa that could never match the one we had and filter coffee that didn’t seem to find the sugar.

Then the waiter told me he had no sweet for me. Not badam halwa, not any halwa. So I sat there wondering why I put myself through all that spicy chutney. What was I looking forward to?

I teared up, but didn’t cry- I can handle some amount of spice after all.

Now I am home. I have realised I have been breathing in something that could be poisonous, that could be fatal. I should be worried, I should be making plans to move away, but here I am, upset and losing myself because I see you, in another country, slowly but steadily moving away from everything you used to be. Doing the things you said you never would- being the very person you detested.

We are both inhaling poison, I guess- you by choice, and me by lack of it.

I have never felt so betrayed. If there was no badam halwa, why did I put myself through all the spicy chutney?

Reviews or Rants?

Kaduva Is Disappointing, But Not Surprising

This film review has no spoilers, mainly because there is just one spoiler- the spoiled brat that is Kaduvakunnel Kuruvachen, AKA “Kaduva” (tiger).

It becomes evident in the first 15 minutes that our Kaduva is a big shot- not because he’s done anything significant to deserve it, but because his merit was pre-determined through his now deceased father. Throughout the movie, the father is omnipresent, because Kaduva has to consistently remind both friends and enemies alike of his lineage. I can let this go, because it is only when you lose someone that you try to make their memory stay.

Kaduva is from the Indian state of Kerala, but our story is specifically limited to the town of Pala- this is an all in all Mallu Christian hub, and it becomes very obvious in the movie too. I saw more crucifixes in this one film than I have seen at church. In this way, they have established him as you typical ‘upper’ caste Malayali Christain man. The white shirt that is specially stitched for him in a particular tailor shop with a particular cloth material, the gold cross chain and Kerala mundu that he pairs it with; large and wide estates, a successful business, a total of two-cars minimum, a big house with three children and a wife… all the way down to drinking on a Saturday night and appearing fresh and clean in church on Sunday morning. This movie has got it all right- so kudos to observation skills.

The problem is, to be this caste proud today (to be so ignorant) is honestly very embarrasing. As an ‘upper’ caste Malayali Christian myself, the movie seemed like a long stretched bout of second hand embarrasment.

The movie starts good- by exposing the perversions that exist in the Catholic church, with a priest that takes advantage of a young girl. The church ofcourse, treats the matter in the worst way possible, causing the girl’s father to meet Kaduva and ensure that his daughter is avenged. Our hero’s master mind strategy is to warn the priest by giving him an aggressive handshake.

‘Revenge’ as such is not taken until much later in the movie, when the Priest decides to be creepy with Kaduva’s wife and kicks his older daughter down the stairs.

This movie is different from other movies I have seen so far (note that I have not seen too many) because Kaduva essentially makes his own enemy by being a nosey, ignorant prick. He deliberately sees a policeman’s disabled son and tells him that the son has become so because of the father’s bad deeds in the police force. “Just take it in a good sense- but your son is this way because you’ve been doing a shitty job at work”, essentially. But the makers of the film have already apologised for this scene.

The enemity is further cemented when Kaduva slut shames the police man’s super old mother. Why? because she didn’t support a claim he made in the Church that would make trouble for our creepy Priest. Of course, he later goes to apologise but just stands there the entire time with a smug smile as the mother expresses her anger. Those who took him to convey his apology also end up making fun of her before they all leave the house feeling extremely good about themselves in absolute Mallu Christian brotherhood.

It gets worse towards the end, where in a mad quest for revenge, our policeman decides to release a man with bipolar disorder who has been admitted to a mental asylum to murder Kaduva. Yes, because that’s why the mentally ill exist- to do your dirty work. Policeman is the real sicko. The best part? the hit man is bribed with the promise of raping and murdering a woman he seems to have had an unhealthy obsession with, but obviously the movie does not delve too deep into that.

In this weird, annoying cockfight that is happening, four women have been scapegoated, for literally no reason other than furthering the plot. This screams male gaze to me. It’s pathetic and disgusting.

The cherry on top however, is this weird sympathy that is trying to be evoked for Kaduva in the film. It’s OK to hate the police man- why? because he ruined Kaduva’s life by burning his estate, shutting his business, and putting him in jail. It’s OK to hate the mentally ill man- why? because he’s dangerous to society.

It’s NOT OK to hate Kaduva- why? because he’s just a cutie with a saviour complex and arrogance. What is especially humiliating about the film is how all those in the background are almost always standing with their hands folded behind him. Coincidentally (?), these background figures are always a skin shade darker than our hero. It’s an on-screen degradation that happens over and over again to stroke his image as the kindest and best, when in reality it is just condescending arrogance.

As an audience, you shouldn’t hate him at all, because despite his HUGE plantation that was being run on the backs of workers who have no presence, no character, and no role was burnt down; and despite his bar being shut and the policeman grabbing and bullying a waiter instead of our Kaduva… the hero is still very calm and composed.

This is another freaky thing about the movie- the kaduva was barely capable of showing any kind of emotion except arrogance and anger. But aren’t we as a society already over that kind of hero? We now like our heroes to cry and laugh and be…well, human.

Despite “losing it all”, he still has enough money to sell his assets and create HUGE changes that give him the power to flip the tables on the policemen. And that, my friends, is the power of social capital and generational wealth.

Finally, I leave you with this- Kaduva can be watched only in two ways- first, as a study and analysis of the mind of an ‘upper’ caste Mallu-Christian man, his family and society dynamics, or second, as a mind-numbing three hours of action scenes that have been shot very well. But any attempts to delve deeper into this film will unravel it, leaving at its core a poorly written film by ignorant men.

If like me, you have already been harmed by watching this film, I suggest as an antidote Pa Ranjith’s Kaala, where among many other things, you can especially see women being more things than just plot catalysts.


“Ew, fish”

Was a very common phrase I heard while growing up. The repulsion that fish has the power to bring about in vegetarians around me was something I was used to witnessing.

Fish was supposed to be disgusting. Of course, those who thought this way had never bothered to try it. It was disgusting because of the way it smelled- stinky, apparently.

When the outbursts began, I would grow very quiet- just looking and nodding. That’s how I react when anybody gets violent feelings about something that I don’t necessarily think ‘weird’ or ‘disgusting.’ Perhaps in this case it was guilt- I was hiding something.

Fish is an everyday occurrence when you grow up in a Malayali household. In fact, the absence of fish is what is weird for us. I was leading a double life. I would go to school and listen to people hate on fish, and come back home and eat it with renewed vigour. To this day, fried fish, rice, moru curry, and cabbage thoran remains one of my favourite meals.

When in school, it is easy to brush these comments aside. I didn’t know enough to be embarrassed or upset. I didn’t think enough to realise that when she said I smelled like fish she was hinting at something else.

They were talking about how South Indian- how non-veg, I was.

When I started living alone in Dubai, I began to cook a lot of fish in nostalgia. This scared my mother. When I joined a new job, she had only one piece of advice- “Don’t take fish for lunch.”

At first, I thought this was about the smell. Only the smell. Sure, granted, fish does have a very strong piercing smell. But over the past few months, I have been realising that it also has to do with the many divides in India, that are specially packaged and brought into Dubai.

Where does this inability to tolerate fish come from? They lift their noses in the air and put their hands on their chest attempting to control their gag reflexes. How can something so repulsive be consumed in front of me? how can it be offered to me? The offence intended is carefully masked by claims of vegetarianism. Is your choice really that liberal if it comes at the cost of my culture? Is your hatred justified if it stomps all over my memories and feelings?

She came and told me about how she likes South Indians a lot. We have a unique look- which she likes. She has a clear idea of how south Indians must look and must not look, it allows her to get offended when someone asks her if she is South Indian, and retort with comments like, “You look more South Indian than me.”

What do you do when your culture- one that you only began appreciating over the past few years- begins to get threatened? belittled? You have two options- forsake it, and blend in with the norm because you have the privilege to do so; or fall in love with it even harder and defend it from the effects of ignorance.

Of course, I chose the latter. After all, I eat fish, I’m too smart to give up all that I’ve learned so far.


Ex-Machina And More

I saw Ex-Machina the other day, and one specific scene stuck with me- when the two men were discussing a painting that was hung on the wall.

It seemed to be some abstract art, where the artist had apparently stopped thinking for a while just to paint the picture. In the discussion they were having, one guy flips the question. He asks, what if the artist had done it the other way around? What if he chose to think about every stroke he made before he did?

The response- “He would not have made a single mark.”

This seems like a long, twisted way to explain why I haven’t been writing as much, but I am convinced it’s because I seem to be thinking everything through before I even begin, and then reject it before it dares to step on paper (Website). I-


Today is a sad day. It could have been a happy day, but we don’t talk anymore, so it is a sad day.

Do you ever think about that? the celebrations you could have been part of, but aren’t?

It is part of the loss, of the grieving process of losing someone, and over the last few years, I have been losing a lot of people. I say I am doing it to not lose myself, but each time these people leave they take away parts of me that I will miss forever.

Hurts, but we have to keep living I guess.



I woke up to realise that I have been living an empty life over the past year. How can you live in a city that is not real?

I have, in some weird way, allowed myself to be consumed by fear. It is ridiculous and yet so funny to see this happen. It all begins with my heart, and a senior. She starts talking, and my heart starts beating, thumping, outside my chest. I wish I could make this a film and call it love, but as time teaches you- love doesn’t make your heart race, it makes your heart realise there is no need to race.

Fear becomes known to me through throbbing pain behind my ears where suddenly the glasses I have worn since I was 11 feel like a burden. The weight of seeing and hearing burn into my ears. There is a forbidden wish to not do it ever again, to run away and hide instead.

Why am I scared? What am I scared of?

I am scared of not belonging, in a place I clearly don’t belong. But I’ve been taught too much about staying put, especially if someone is trying to make you feel like you don’t belong.

I am scared of not doing a good enough job. But what does it mean to be good if you have no measure of better?

I am scared, in a fake place, of a fake place. I have seen life in all its pains and pleasures, and I am scared I will never feel that again.