Category Archives: Pop Culture

Masked or The Moon Child Keeps Secrets

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The Curd Rice Chronicles 

The Curd Rice Chronicles

Forget about being nice. Just stay curd rice.


Curd rice on the streets. Mor mollagai in the sheets.


Kadipatta must be sent to jail for showing up in curd rice.


My balanced diet of curd rice, workaholism, wine and male tears.


It’s not over until curd rice.

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The arclights strip me naked 
But let me keep my neuroses 
So long as I package them as poetry
I can trade them in for a fingerful of clicks

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I Wear: Bold Words Deserve Bold Lips

An I Wear post at long last!

After I was liberated from my nude makeup modesty constraints a few years ago, I swung out to the other extreme to reclaim what has always been mine – a love of BOLD, BRIGHT, DRAMATIC, WHO CARES ABOUT THE RULES dressing and makeup.

I discovered liquid lip colour sometime last year. Liquid lip colour, like the name suggests is literally liquid in a bottle. It’s a lot like painting your nails, except you’re painting the soft, crinkly, thin-skin, fleshy bits that you call your own lips. If like me, you’ve had trouble getting your nails right, boy are you in for an adventure with liquid lip colour! And yet, I persisted. Mainly for the challenge, some for the novelty and a fair bit because liquid lip colours have added a new dimension to the lip hue range.

Yeah sure, I have one shade from the traditional range and obviously it has to be my signature colour of screaming red. This is Nyx Kitten Heels. It’s an orangey-red and now that I’ve figured out the elaborate application and touch-up process it looks the way it does. This picture is without airbrushing, Photoshop or Instagram filters. But it is with lip exfoliation, moisturising, lining, application, correction, concealer and matting. Yes, this is not for the faint of make-up heart.

So why you ask, would I go to such effort for a red I’d get in the much easier formats of lipstick tubes? Because liquid lipstick (once you perfect the application) paints on much more sharply than the crayon-rub that most of us do with regular tubes. It also lasts way longer which is a big plus for people like me who swallow most of our lip colour when we talk (which I do a LOT) and eat. But again, given the considerable effort, I’d rather go with the apply-reapply-touch up of tubes for the other colours like pink and brown.

But let’s come to the really exciting bit and the real reason I’ve gotten so fond of liquid lipstick – bold colours! Here’s starting with a bold. If you said black, you’d have been just a little short of correct. Because my first bold liquid lippie was a grey. Here’s Nyx Stone Fox, a metallic grey which seems to confuse people. It’s not the stop-you-in-your-tracks black. Grey also reflects colours you’re wearing a bit so everything seems to blend seamlessly and yet….

Technically speaking the above was not my first bold liquid lipstick. But Nyx Amethyst is that safe gateway drug into crazy, mad colours. It’s a gorgeous purple but not purple like you’ve ever seen on lips. Apparently the beauty blogger/makeup professional way of describing this is to call it a ‘cool purple with more blue’. Yeah, whatever. Look at my FIERCE!

38 kitsch (thanks to @ishmeetnagpal and @manishalakhe) Happy birthday to me.

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Once the mind is freed of colour boundaries, the whole world opens up in Technicolour. Except I’ve never been shy of bright colours. So I did my ‘let’s give this a shot for a change’ going to what I’d usually consider too safe for me – a dark maroon. Nyx Oh Put In On did that wonderfully because it’s almost black but just short of, which takes it away from 70s aunty territory but keeps it from falling into wannabe goth land. I think this one has slightly brown undertones. While I’ve never enjoyed wearing brown as a colour, I can’t deny it really brings out the glow in my face.

This has been a year of such drastic changes and shifts that my whole outlook has been the here and now – surviving these. But I am a creature of nostalgia and the past doesn't impede me. It teaches me, it nurtures me and it gives me fodder for the future. This Sunday, I attended a storytelling session organised by Spill Poetry. Bring personal stories only, they'd said. I approached the stage with no prior preparation for the first time in nearly three years. Poetry and Spoken word have become such polished, seasoned ventures and I'm nothing if not competitive. But oral storytelling? I had no references. I started to weave a tale from something that happened to me in 2005. At the time, it happened so quickly and in such an over way, I barely had a chance to notice how much it changed me. But it did – me, my relationship with the city and my sense of security, home and independence. I overshot my time limit but the organisers were kind enough to let me continue and the audience kind enough to listen and tell me they could relate. I am so grateful to have had a chance to stop and examine my past and share it with you. Thank you. #openmic #spokenword #liveperformance #performance #shayar #shaayari #sher #ghazal #mehfil #maqta #story #storytelling #stories #storyteller #personalstories #mumbaifloods #mumbai #mumbaiker #mumbaiwriters #mumbairains #26thjuly #spillpoetry

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And since I’d gone into almost goth territory, I figured I’d round it with claiming black too. I haven’t actually worn this out properly yet and I’m still working on a way to wear it without doing goth. Nothing against goth, it’s just that that is the stereotypical way to wear black. I’ll do an I Wear post or video about that in some time. This is Nyx Alien.

And finally, a blue to complete the entire range! I already have a blue, an unusual format involving a brush and a palette that looks more like an eye-shadow box but never mind that now. Here’s Nyx Jet Set and as you can see it’s an inky blue which could give you a schooltime learning-to-use-ink-pen flashback. Or if you can remember it really makes your teeth look bright white, your smile could dazzle everyone into seeing you as a star. Well, at least that’s what I’m hoping. I love this colour.

Now for a few tips for any of you inspired to give these a shot:

  • Please IGNORE anybody, professional or otherwise who tells you what colour ‘suits’ your skintone or not. The beauty industry is built on making women feel insecure about their looks and India doesn’t treat dark girls well. It’s up to you to reclaim your pride. This is how I do it. Dark girls can have all the fun.
  • Practice does make perfect. Don’t expect to master liquid lippies in one go. It will not look the way it does in beauty magazines. Remember to do this for yourself and it’ll be nothing but fun.
  • Keep refining your technique. I found Youtube tutorials immensely helpful in this regard.
  • The colours shown on sites do not match most of the actual products. Youtube is full of reviews but most of them are by non-Indians. These colours do not look the same on Indians as they do on white people or black people. There’s a rare Indian video here and or there but the production quality is usually not the same which means the actual shade is anybody’s guess. If possible, check out the colour in a store. Or be like me and just take a wild leap of faith!

Here’s how I apply liquid lipstick:

  1. Exfoliate using a mascara brush and transparent lip balm. Remove excess with tissue.
  2. Outline with lip liner. For the crazier colours, I just use eye pencils.
  3. Apply the liquid using the applicator. No smacking. Fill in the insides first. With a light hand complete the outer edges.
  4. Reapply lip liner.
  5. Tidy up the edges with tissue if needed.
  6. Apply loose powder on the outside of the lips just to make the whole thing look sharp.
  7. Rule with a SMILE!

So, what do you think? Like the crazy colours on my face? Or should I go back to hiding behind deep, sometimes obscure poetry?


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.

Co-dependency Ritual

Co-dependency Ritual

Let’s knot a tie
and make conformity respectable
Let’s tie a knot
and turn bondage into ritual
Let’s finger these traps
and label them protection
Let’s trap those fingers
and call it love and affection

Happy Denial Day,
Whatever label you give it today.

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The Love Artist

I’ve been waiting for you
to finish loving me,
to come to the end of your love show
and move on with your brush & tools.

So now my loving can begin
as I coat your uncouth edges
in hard, shiny wax that melts
but never washes off.

Let the dust settle over it
let texture turn jagged edges into art deco,
and a blood clot into an artist signature.

PC: Own artwork

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BOOK Revi: Thirteen Reasons Why – Jay Asher

ewThirteen Reasons WhyThirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I picked up this book after hearing everyone talk about the television show (which I still haven’t seen). The Wikipedia entry promised that this would be dark and it wasn’t lying. It’s nowhere close to Gone Girl but I’d say Gone Girl’s Amy may have been something like this book’s Hannah Baker when she was younger.

The things that happen to Hannah expose the brutal gendered violence and hostility meted out to women all over the world, even in privileged groups like white urban America. Slut-shaming, fuckboy manipulation, bullying, stalking, harassment, rape…all of these find graphic mention in the story. These are important issues that do not get addressed enough and worse, are invalidated by even the legal systems across nations.

The blurb already tells you about the dead girl’s suicide note via cassette tapes. There is a whiny, accusatory tone throughout, which I suppose stays true to this being a diary entry style confessional about a suicidal (now dead) teenager. There is a very specific point where Hannah’s narrative goes from shocked victim to mentally unstable. I’m not sure if that’s a good thing since it seems to indicate that depression could be caused by external events rather than being an illness of its own kind.

It’s not very clear why Clay is part of this story at all, given there’s absolutely no foreshadowing or indication that she even knows of his existence. Similarly, Tony is a bit too deus ex machina. All the characters other than Hannah and Clay appear one-dimensional. I’m not sure that this is a deliberate attempt to establish an unreliable narrator. It just seems like poor characterisation. Even given the first person narrative, it’s interspersed with enough of Clay’s point of view to balance out the other characters. The book does not do this.

I guess in sum, I’d say this book could have been better but considering there isn’t one mainstream one addressing these issues among teenagers in an easy-to-read way, this is as good as it gets. It’s quite readable.

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Aren’t You Glad I’m Not Carrie?

I tell people being an only child made me a reader because there was nothing much for a kid in 80s to do. I tell them I grew up in an environment surrounded by books so it was inevitable I’d become a reader. I say being a writer is a subset of being a reader and I’m even more voracious than I’m prolific. But the truth is, like the category of this post is called, my soulmate truly is a book. Books have appeared, like guardian angels or fairy godmothers (whichever mythical being you like better) in my life at opportune times with appropriate messages. People and situations now feel like illustrations of whatever the books I’m reading are trying to teach me.

A fortnight ago, Vivek Jejuja put out a call asking for people with whom to discuss Stephen King’s Carrie. I haven’t been a fan of Stephen King for a number of reasons I’ll explain later. But I have been dying for a book conversation and I have been wanting an inroad to get to know the magnificent Vivekisms (who is already a good friend, only he didn’t know it yet). So I bought the book.

In the same week, an old school classmate called to tell me about a high school reunion. These two events are significant but only if you know what the book is about. So if you haven’t read the book and plan to, here’s your SPOILER ALERT.

I was far from being the popular kid in school. By far I mean, the exact opposite. I know a lot of people now who lament that nobody knew them in school. That’s really not the worst thing to happen to a child. The worst thing to happen to a child is other children who know you but not as someone they want to be nice to.

I am not going to lament the tortures I suffered in classrooms. I know that children have no perspective on the future or morals. I know a lot of them grew up to be pretty decent adults. And like the characters in ‘Carrie’, many of them probably didn’t even realise what was happening and if they’d thought about it, they’d be as remorseful. The big problem with bullying and harassment is that they look disproportionately different depending on which side of the fence you’re standing on.

Last year I was added to a school Whatsapp group and I had a firsthand experience of why this is a groanworthy ordeal for us digi-nerds. My phone was pinging at all hours of the day and night with 768 notifications from people from all over the world, the messages ranging from “HELLO GM! Sooo great to see everyone here!” to selfies to “Who’s here? Oh him!” I bore well with it for 2 days, setting it on mute even as it annoyed me. I am one of those people who only relaxes when all notifications have been cleared, unread emails/messages read and responded to and so on. Then one more member was added and the string of “Hi!”, “What’s up with you?”s began before he asked the inevitable “Who else is already here?” (honestly, can 37 year olds not figure out how to go to the Members list on a Whatapp group?). I groaned at the slew of repeat introductions, repeat-repeats and interruptions that would follow. Someone said “Ramya’s here too.” To which he responded,

“What? Buck-teeth Ramya?”

I stayed on the group another hour, long enough to read people’s sniggers, someone else say, “Dude, she’s here and can read your message” and his “haha, just kidding” followed by awkward silence on a group that had been pinging nonstop for 2 days. I shouldn’t have wasted even that hour before I took myself off the group.

I have learnt that people have zero empathy. I have learnt that people like to play ‘My woes are worse than yours’ which is the death of that thing called empathy. And I can tell that that boy (if I think of him as a man, it will make thinking about the human race too sad) doesn’t even think he did anything wrong. Who is laughing at a joke about somebody’s bad teeth? Everybody. Because this is not about bad teeth, body shaming or any of those things. It’s about getting used to treating people one way and logic, empathy or even human fairness be damned. It’s about robbing a person of who they want to be and forcing them into an unpleasant role for your own entertainment.

I’ve been troubled ever since I received the invitation to the school reunion, not wanting to seem petulant, wanting to be that ‘good sport’. But I realised as I read Carrie, that this was never going to change. People who saw me a certain way as children, are never going to see me differently. They will react badly if I try to get them to do so. High school reunions are for those who were cool in school. But if their lives continue to be so wonderful, why do need to go back to their childhood/adolescent selves? And how are they going to behave in order to fulfil that need?

chool was possibly the worst time of my life and that’s counting abusive relationships, dirty politics at work, unemployment and people I know dying. I had agency in all those cases, even if only over how I could respond. I had none in those horrible years between 3 and 16. I have no desire to relive it.

I do not have Carrie’s powers and that’s a good thing for the world. It’s time life started being things that were good for me too. So on Saturday, I chose not to go to the school reunion and spent it reading Carrie instead. Thank you, Vivek, for two new friends – you and a book. 😊

Here’s my review of the book:


CarrieCarrie by Stephen King

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I have been skeptical about Stephen King for over a decade now, mostly because I read ‘Misery’ at 20 during a breakup and just when I was working to be a writer. Years later, I read ‘Dreamcatcher’ which even King fans tell me is not one of his good ones. A friend asked me to read ‘Carrie’ so I could discuss it with him, so I decided to give King novels another chance. I’m glad I did.

Much has been made about the first period experience, which triggers off the plot of this story. Stephen King does a commendable job, as a male writer, of highlighting girl/women’s trauma. Parts of it still had me thinking, “No, that’s not what a period feels like. A man obviously wrote this.”

For me, the more interesting parts were the rabid religious beliefs and the effects of toxic/abusive upbringing on a child. What set this story apart for me is that it tells of such a child who did rebel and break out of it (even if, with disastrous results).

The bullying aspect also felt realistic, not painting the bullies as bad people but just people caught up in things that they don’t think about and regret later.

And finally, there was the semi-epistolary narrative (the story switches between excerpts of news reports and actual plot). It felt like a bit too much emphasis on Carrie, the WEIRD one. But perhaps the novel wouldn’t have been as impactful without it.

I can see why Stephen King is considered one of the best popular fiction writers of out times. And I definitely intend to check out his other books now.

View all my reviews


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I Wear: Fashionista In The Wild

I managed to catch a rather reluctant Reema on camera and she agreed to stop and tell me what she was wearing. This woman manages to look effortlessly chic even in the middle of a warm, sticky summer day in a suburban mall. Well, we are not all born with Libran taste, I suppose.

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

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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.

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