Category Archives: Citywatch

Nine Ways To Survive The Rs.500/1000 Demonitisation

I will refrain from commenting on the goodness/flaws of India’s demonitisation of Rs.500 and Rs.1000 notes. I will however share some ideas that may get us through the next few weeks.


* Image via carli jeen on Unsplash

  1. If you are reading this, you have an internet connection and probably a smart device. This means you have options. Use credit cards, debit cards, netbanking and mobile banking wherever possible.

  2. Delay non essential card purchases to save your credit limits for important things. It’s temporary. You can probably do without that new jacket or rare book or cool gadget for the next month.

  3. Avoid COD for ecommerce. Let the economy use Rs.100 notes for vital things that do not have other options.

  4. Reduce cash spends on commuting. Avoid buses and autos. Use trains and metros because these accept payment by card.

  5. Avoid thronging banks and ATMs. Let their cash reserves be used by people who don’t have digital/plastic options.

  6. Pay your service staff (watchmen, drivers, maids etc.) advance to help them get through this transition period without having to compromise on essentials like food.

  7. Pool cash purchases with neighbors so you can transact with the Rs.2000 notes and reduce the pressure on the Rs.100 bottleneck.

  8. Pay contributions to group activities by online transfer rather than cash. Netbanking has no lower limit so you can even transfer Rs.20.

  9. Be prudent with payments at metro stations, airports and utilities still able to accept old notes. These enterprises would also have certain upper limits so let their cash transactions happen with people who can’t pay by other ways.

This is temporary. Let’s try and get through it without panic-mongering. The experience might even benefit us all.

— — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — —— — — — — — — — — —

If you liked this post, you’ll want to follow the Facebook Page and the Youtube channel. I’m Ramya Pandyan (a.k.a. Ideasmith) and I’m on Twitter and Instagram.

I Wear: Bohemian Rockstar

I was invited to feature as one of the performers at the US Consulate’s event for 100 Thousand Poets For Change, the theme being ‘Women Empowerment’. The event was in Kitabkhana and Reema agreed to come along so we decided to make a day of it. Here’s us suburban girls in town, on town!

And this is what I wore for a day out, traveling and to perform in my kickass, fashion-forward, sex-positive feminist avatar.

I Wear:

  • Pink top: ONLY
  • Black jacket: Life
  • Distressed jeans: United Colors of Benetton
  • Red handbag: Baggit
  • Red shoes: ONLY
  • Red fascinator: Mumbai local train

Reema was dressed in her classy-but-ready-for-travel avatar and here’s what she wore.

If you enjoyed this style post in video, check out the other I Wear posts and videos.

— — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — —— — — — — — — — — —

If you liked this post, you’ll want to follow the Facebook Page and the Youtube channel. I’m Ramya Pandyan (a.k.a. Ideasmith) and I’m on Twitter and Instagram.



I Wear: Candy Valley Girl

Reema and I had a funny experience last month. We met for a quick coffee-and-gab at a Kandivali mall. One of the things we enjoy doing together is dressing up and comparing notes. After all, the I Wear videos were Reema’s idea. On our way out, we decided to shoot in the open compound outside the mall. Midway through Reema’s shoot, we were interrupted by a mall employee claiming to be the manager. He told us that we couldn’t shoot there because of security concerns. He went on to say that,

“Photos are allowed. No videos. We have been told that terrorists will use it to do reiki.

I gawped, Reema stared. Then Reema began arguing with him while I, disgusted by people’s proud ignorance told her we’d just shoot elsewhere. It wasn’t till the next day that it occurred to me that the man may have meant ‘recce’. 😄

This is what we managed to capture.

I Wear:

  • Beige, floral chiffon top: Globus
  • Teal trousers: Jabong
  • Brown cloth lace-ups: North West
  • Turquoise earrings: Lokhandwala
  • Lipstick & turquoise gel pencil: Faces Canada
  • Pink handbag: Baggit

— — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — —— — — — — — — — — —

If you liked this post, you’ll want to follow the Facebook Page and the Youtube channel. I’m Ramya Pandyan (a.k.a. Ideasmith) and I’m on Twitter and Instagram.


A Digital Native In Chinchpokli: My Spoken Stories

I found this post in my Drafts folder. I wrote it in August and forgot to publish. Two of my performances that I’m very happy about, performed at my favorite venue.


Monday was a peaceful, friendly evening at the Tuning Fork. I’ve been on a deliberate destress drive and I find I’m able to write better and enjoy listening to other people’s poetry more. I performed a piece I call ‘Native Digital’.

I was one of the early performers. One of the other performers read a piece about finding Goa in Andheri East. It was so warm, so wistful and real, I wanted to share one of my own colour-in-the-ordinary stories of my own. So I brought up ‘Flamingos’.

— — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — —— — — — — — — — — —

If you liked this post, you’ll want to follow the Facebook Page and the Youtube channel. I’m Ramya Pandyan (a.k.a. Ideasmith) and I’m on Twitter and Instagram.

I Wear: The Indian Turk

A little style tip I borrowed from Instanbul women that works perfectly well for Mumbai’s weather and terrain! I guess cultures may vary but urban style is universal.

If you enjoyed this style post in video, check out the other I Wear posts and videos.

— — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — —— — — — — — — — — —

If you liked this post, you’ll want to follow the Facebook Page and the Youtube channel. I’m Ramya Pandyan (a.k.a. Ideasmith) and I’m on Twitter and Instagram.

Why Are So Many Mumbaikers Desperate To Kill Time?

Around a fortnight ago, a Caferati feedback meet I was at, was disrupted by a newcomer who started shouting at all of us and attacking us for giving feedback. It was deeply unpleasant and ruined the evening for everyone else. I wrote it off as that person being the kind of anamoly that one sometimes has to encounter. Why else would someone attack a feedback group for giving feedback?
Today, I’ve just declined nearly 50 requests to join Alphabet Sambar because they don’t write. Over the past few months, we’ve been getting a lot of requests and true to our original premise, we try and welcome everyone. But we’ve been getting a lot of irrelevant messages like “Good morning, have a great day”, jokes and pictures of food that have nothing to do with writing. Do people not understand how interest groups work? This by the way, is despite the fact that Alphabet Sambar has a very clearly stated description including the sentence ‘Please consider joining only if you yourself write‘.
At most offline events I go to (social media meets, board games events, standup comedy shows, poetry events, music events, bicycling trips), there is always a sizeable number of people who have no interest in what’s going on. What’s a person who doesn’t bicycle doing on a trip? Or someone who thinks board games are boring and stupid, spending an evening where everyone is at a board? 
We could crib about the general uselessness of people who only disrupt proceedings and don’t contribute. Enough has been said about desperate Indian men who only want ‘to make fransheep’. But I think there’s something larger at play.
A lot of urban Indians are desperate for companionship, a normal human need. But many of them also lack tangible hobbies, interests, ideas of their own or social skills. They mob places that other people go to, in some sort of dim hope of making connections. They don’t know what to say or what to do. Sometimes this comes through as gaucherie, sometimes it’s aggression. And it causes further animosity, politics and exclusivity with the original activity or hobby being completely lost.
Before you think I’m making a mountain out of a molehill, I’m basing this is on massive numbers of people who seem to have no reason to be at some of these events but are. Isn’t there a problem if, in a time-starved city, there are so many people just looking for ways to kill time? A hobby is a very important part of making a human being, a well-rounded one. Many of these people I encounter are well-educated and successful. But they appear to be nothing beyond their careers and their families. How is it that having an identity beyond one’s source of income is such a rare thing?
I don’t know other cities adequately but I’m told by friends and associates that it’s no different in Delhi or Bangalore. Are we making a country of people completely deficient in the vital skills of being human? Something feels terribly wrong.

— — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — —— — — — — — — — — —

If you liked this post, you’ll want to follow the Facebook Page and the Youtube channel. I’m Ramya Pandyan (a.k.a. Ideasmith) and I’m on Twitter and Instagram.

Reluctant Learner

Three people have been needlessly, disproportionately vicious to me today. I’m choosing to take it as a lesson. A lesson in what?

Is it possible that I’ve been as reckless and feckless in my actions and words in the past? It is possible. I don’t think I’ve ever been a poisonous, manipulative person. My MO is more to shoot from the hip and ask questions later and that is more a flaw of firepower than poison. Yet, its impact may be just as damaging.

I don’t know if it’s a function of our flawed social systems where older generations never allow the younger ones to grow up. I am not sure if it has to do with being a very hungry nation, even for those of us in the privileged layer. But in our twenties we are definitely more like wrecking balls of sentiment. Even worse, we are heavy machinary being operated by a short-sighted and drunk/stoned driver. We have no sense of the repercussions of our actions. We have no ability to deal with multiple emotions. And we lack that vital ingredient in a sane life – perspective.

Am I better off now that I’m in my 30s? I can’t say. I’m finding thoughts such as these are surfacing alongside the blind trigger rage responses. Maybe that’s growing up, maybe it’s slowing down.

I am also finding I’m tiring of the 20-somethings I find myself around, in my creative as well as my professional circles. They are full of these poisonous situations, on breakneck speed down dangerous pathways. It’s all I can do to get out of the way and not get hit too hard, too much.

I’ve been suffering from a strange ailment this month. Well, that’s not new, is it? This seems to be a year where my body shouts out in languages that it hasn’t so much as bothered to whisper in before. First the recurring cold-cough-fever of January. Then the blinding nausea (yes, that is a thing) that was diagnosed as migraines. And now a voice that’s just GONE. No throatache, no cold, no cough, no fever. I just can’t speak anymore. I open my mouth and a stranger’s voice rattles through my voicebox, when it does. If I’ve forced my way through the day with that (performances, classes, webinars), I’m suddenly unable to utter a full word.

It seems fairly obvious to me that this is a call for me to slow down and speak less. I do live a rather vociferous life, after all. So I’ve taken a break from performing and phone calls. I cannot cut out work but I’ve been able to deliver those a lot better since I cut out the first two.

So what now? Let go of people. Let go of situations. Let go of pride. Let go of a sense of justice. Let go of the things I love doing. Let go of speaking. Can you imagine how hard this is for a Cancerian whose first instint is to hold on, a Leo Rising whose being revolves around expression and talking?

Sigh. Maybe this is not permanent. Perhaps as with the situations that started off this day, there is just a lesson to be learnt before comforts and loves are earned back again.

A lesson in letting others live out their crashes. A lesson in not get hit and run over. Lessons of goodbye. Lessons in silence. Shh.

— — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — —— — — — — — — — — —

If you liked this post, you’ll want to follow the Facebook Page and the Youtube channel. I’m Ramya Pandyan (a.k.a. Ideasmith) and I’m on Twitter and Instagram.

Healing Into Thirty-Seven

It has been a hard year. This is a sort of birthday-take-stock post that’s about a month late but it has been the kind of year that merits that. I’ve struggled in a slow, undramatic fashion (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12). Some of you have noticed and have offered kind words while a few others spotting a chink in the armour perhaps, have swooped in vampire-like to troll. But the world at large, as it usually does, has been indifferent. One more life in a few billions here or there will not go amiss.

On my birthday, I had a few friends drop in. I put in very little effort. It was a weekday and my birthday falls right in the middle of the dirtiest, most inconvenient month in the city. By that time all the yay-rains-so-romantic mood has died down. The respite of roads still potholed but at least without the dangers of deep puddles is months away. Yet, four and then five people soldiered on to come see me and celebrate my existence.

2016-08-13 20.02.29-1

My dark place intruded eventually. One of my visitors said,

“I know you felt and loved deeply. But look at this. He never treated you well or cared a damn when you were together. It’s been years and you’re still so sad and he still doesn’t care. While around you, you are missing out on people who really love you.”

This is not new but maybe one needs to hear something at just a certain time, in a certain way from a certain person for it to hit home. Maybe I can take action more easily when it has to do with people I love, while I struggle if it only has to do with me. But that helped me rise out of it for awhile.

Two days later, I managed to summon up enough energy to get out of the city with Adi, something I possibly may not have been able to do if he hadn’t been around. We spent all of the day and most of the journey talking. Once again, not much new but things sound a lot more like enlightening truth and less like devastating facts when I’m away from the mayhem of Mumbai and entering the freshness of Pune.

I was only in Pune 24 hours but I had nothing but wonderful conversations. Adi’s mother showed me her terrace garden, a place of so much love, pride and effort. I’m a parent to plants myself, albeit only of a humble window garden. But I understand the supreme act of sharing that it is to invite someone into your garden. It was a sudden impulsive act of generosity that I, now used to sudden acts being only of cruelty was startled.

Then I met the Kabras and Shrikant & Gauri. There’s something about the people I know in Pune. Most of them have lived in Mumbai or similar big cities before and have chosen the saner life in Pune. They seem to radiate an unadulterated pleasure in meeting me. It is not sullied by constantly wavering attention and neither is it poisoned by regrets over how hard it is to meet or how little time we have. They look content with their lives so it’s possible for me to remember that contentment is an actual thing and that we are not only a world of walking wounded. I returned to Mumbai almost a new person. And for the first time in a year, I suddenly felt like I could see light, like I could breathe oxygen.

I brought tea back into my life. Maybe it is a crutch but I’ve been struggling so hard I need a little help and it’s okay to have that. I stopped beating on myself for not being able to make it to gym everyday. An unhappy soul in a happy-seeming-body is a grotesque farce. I’ve been in that place for the better part of three, nearly four weeks now.

Over the weekend, I stayed up late reading a review book. It was a powerful, bittersweet story and it involved depression, substance abuse and bipolar disorder. It did have a happy ending. Since then, I’ve felt sucked back into that dark place. Three conversations I’ve had in the past week have been about people who once hurt me and are experiencing confusion, maybe even regret. But what’s the point? Too little, too late, too much broken inside me to be able to heal them of that poisonous emotion called regret.

I realised today that I’ve fallen into a sort of safe, shell-like routine that minimises intimacy or contact and compartmentalises as far as possible. Performance nights, class evenings, assignment checks, solo walks, Alphabet Sambar meets. And the vast majority of the time, I struggle alone but it’s nowhere as hard as the war I have to wage just existing in the world. Everyone is so damn angry, just so cruel to each other and to themselves. I know I cannot stay in here forever but maybe being here will heal me enough to be able to deal with a horrible universe for some time.

Since the book, I’ve been on the threshold, not yet trapped in the dark room. It’s a little like being in a glass bubble and I can hear and see the world around me, even the positive bits, but distorted and detached from me. I am in my mind enough to know that most people are weak and their cruelty is like addiction – meant to escape their own problems that they are not brave enough to face. I’m sane enough to realise that the handful left doesn’t exploit me but they’re caught up in their own realities that demand a lot out of each one of them. Being alone in a dark place is not a deliberate act of malice by the universe. This weekend has been a reminder that the darkness is never that far away. Then again, neither is Pune. And the phone numbers of people who may answer, with love or at least, concern. And as long as I can remember that, I guess I’m okay. Maybe thirty-seven will be a bit kinder, a little luckier, a tad lighter than last year was.

2016-08-13 21.10.48

— — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — —— — — — — — — — — —

If you liked this post, you’ll want to follow the Facebook Page and the Youtube channel. I’m Ramya Pandyan (a.k.a. Ideasmith) and I’m on Twitter and Instagram.

#DIYCreativeClub: Hope

Today, the world. Tomorrow, a better phone. For @cassyfry's #DIYCreativeClub challenge. Today's prompt is #Hope Bombay represents one kind of glittering, distant dream for a lot of Indians. It's home to Bollywood. Thousands of hopefuls flock to this city daily hoping to have their words, their voices, their faces or their bodies discovered. Andheri, besides being the city's most populous suburb, is also the Mecca where all tinsel town hopefuls have to pay homage. I spotted this young man hastily brushing his hair into the perfect set using his phone as a mirror. And in a blink of an eye, he turned and was gone, vanishing into the sea of auditions and casting calls and other delightful sharks in my Island City. #struggler #andheri #bollywood #tinseltown #selfie #metrosexual #metrosexualgiveaway #model #aspire #aspirant #actor #artist #bombay #mumbai #twitterpoetry #people #dandy #men #man #boy

A post shared by Ramya Pandyan (@ideasmithy) on

— — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — —

For CassyFry’s #DIYCreativeClub challenge. Today’s prompt was ‘Hope’.

If you liked this post, you’ll want to follow the Facebook Page and the Youtube channel. I’m Ramya Pandyan (a.k.a. Ideasmith) and I’m on Twitter and Instagram.

%d bloggers like this: