The Aladdin's Cave

Hi, thanks for stopping by! The dictionary defines the idiom “The Aladdin’s Cave” as “a collection of interesting and beautiful objects”. Likewise, my website is a potpourri where you can browse and read from a variegated collection of articles on sundry subjects. Be prepared to stumble upon pieces ranging from noodles to analytics and from novels to friendships. Like what you read? Thanks a ton for being such a sweetheart. Don’t find it up to the mark? Well, blame it on back-breaking expectations ;) Jolly Reading!

Category: Uncategorized

I try.

Recently having renewed my annual subscription to host this website, I was determined to post something this month. Still am, I guess – hence, this post. But I had a very different idea for what this post could be. It could have gone in many different directions, but I can tell you that this rant wasn’t originally in the cards. Anyway,  dear reader, just know that I try.

The work week having come to a satisfactory end, I was taking stock of all my writing stuff on this happy Friday evening. The usual paraphernalia, you know:

  • See what drafts I have in progress 
  • Check if I scribbled something remotely inspiring on a virtual or physical sticky note
  • Rummage through my handbag in case there’s anything intelligible / legible on a tissue paper tucked away in a little pocket (okay, I admit I am a little desperate)
  • Go through all list apps and writing apps and messaging apps on my phone (I have sent some okay-ish texts to myself in the past, and I firmly believe that there’s absolutely nothing that lists cannot help us with)
  • …………..

Scavenging for writing prompts, I was in my happy place. (It might interest you to know that the mood of this place is quite whimsical. Sometimes, this very place is the sole cause of my despondency. But today, things seemed to be looking up).

So I come across a notepad in my writing folder on my laptop. Last modified on May 23 of this year. At 9:29 pm. I start to feel a little excitement building inside of me. My heart brimmed with gratefulness to my past self (precisely, to the Meenakshi of May 23, 2018) for being of such a huge help). For having jotted down some beautiful musings that had been patiently waiting for me to rediscover them. (You see, I am usually quite happy with my memory but writing is one area where it seems to have deserted me. I constantly stumble across leads of all sorts that I barely remember jotting down).

Oh, almost forgot to tell you the name of this file – it’s important, folks. It says “Let’s See”.

Wow, what an interesting name. C’mon, it’s not because I am biased toward my file or my past self (who, for all we know, could have been a literary genius that particular day). Wouldn’t you think that it has so much to offer – the possibilities? Must have been thinking some pretty deep thoughts on that summery night of May 23. I am reasonable. I knew it couldn’t be Marcus Aurelius’s “Meditations” level thoughts but still – it had to be something. After all, I titled it “Let’s See”!

So I open it. And? Well, zilch. Not even a single sentence. Forget sentence. Not even a single word or a letter. I mean, what is there to see here? I wasn’t expecting too much. Would have been delighted with a couple of cringeworthy rhyming lines or just potential character names or a half-baked book review that nobody even cares about. No judgement whatsoever. But a misleadingly titled file with absolutely nothing to offer? Not done. 

See What, Exactly?

I don’t get it. I really don’t get my past self’s or current self’s writing game. Gotta do better.

But I tell you, I try.

(Note to future self: Consider file size before you get too excited. 0 KB files won’t take you very far).

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Snooze Over Sleep

The time spent sleeping is unbeknownst to us,
We just remember going to bed when we are slumberous.

And then we wake up hours later – with a few fragmented dreams,
All that we are sure of – is of having applied night creams.

There is no proof of the promised rest,
I am not really overly suspicious, but who is to say if we even slept?

We pay for the sleep with our time, but get no receipt,
So, to really savor the ROI, I offer a tried and tested trick.

Of all the sleep phases, snoozing is the best,
Because while snoozing, I am fairly aware that I am at rest.

We really count the minutes when we pause the alarm,
We can truly measure the duration, while staying drowsy and warm.

Ideally, I’d want a trusted one,
To sit by me and time my sleep, until I’m done.

But that’s a little creepy and demanding, not to mention the challenges with its implementation every day,
Maybe I could ask for that gift on my next birthday?

Until then, I’ll just set an early alarm,
And snooze through the hours, weaving dreams with my unicorn-ish yarn!

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Doc for Writer’s Block

Hey – do you know if there is a doc,
who can cure writer’s block?
I have been having no luck,
I’m stuck, really am stuck.

I have tried writing prompts,
And employed any number of tactics to get in the (writing) mood.
Because I really wanna write,
And would write if I could.

Also tried changing my writing spots,
And got through countless coffee pots,
Have stumbled upon some encouraging topics (feeling hopeful as I noodle),
But almost always end up with nothing but uninspiring doodles.

I implore you – don’t judge these dreadful, rhyming lines,
This urgent plea was drafted in a very short time.
So point me, please – to a doc of writer’s block or even to a questionable, might-just-work writing pill,
Folks, I’m serious, this call for help is not a drill!

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Making Friends With Salads

Salad, Salad,
Fresh and green
Free of sneaky sugar,
Free of whipped cream

I will munch on you
Day and night
When I am out on a date,
Or when I binge post a fight

Salad, Salad,
My colorful “silver bullet”
Together we can tame,
My unruly palate

You could be simple,
You could be elaborate
Anyhoo, I am gonna pile you up
On my green, portion-control plate

Salad, Salad,
Please join my team
I am gonna depend on you
To make me lean

You will keep me healthy,
You will keep me young,
But can’t you taste as good in my head,
As you do when you are on my tongue?

Salad, Salad,
Veggies and fruits
All sorts of leaves,
And all kinds of roots

Be my coach,
Keep me in line
To burn those pesky calories,
Can you, please, work overtime?

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Almost A Grown-Up

A stray gray hair, a trip alone, tax forms, paychecks and bills with my name printed on them – all of these combined could not have succeeded in making me feel all grown-up as this singular culinary act involving a particular vegetable did.

Here’s what happened. Today, I did the unthinkable. Today, I willingly (yes, under no particular pressure whatsoever – except for the occasional health advice from mum which I am totally used to) bought bitter gourd (karela in Hindi). And no, instead of letting it rot in the refrigerator so that I could throw it out, I, voluntarily prepared them as a side dish for lunch. Yes, that’s the unimaginable thing that I did. And this maiden experience was no short of a jolt. As I watched the chopped pieces of bitter melon taking on a dirty brown tinge from their original dirty green color, scores of childhood memories ran through my (now possibly grown-up) mind.

Since childhood, we kids were coaxed and cajoled into eating a few, if not more, pieces of this extremely bitter vegetable. The adults would tout it as a panacea for all health problems and my cousins, Di (my elder sister) and I would employ a variety of tantrums and protests to squirm out of this most unwelcome situation. And no, we weren’t being over dramatic – this thing really has the ability to ruin the taste of your mouth for a good few hours. Trust me – its horrible juice and texture work in unison to do extremely unpleasant things to your tongue and food pipe and stomach and makes you feel as if they had all been burnt and scoured and poisoned. Yeah, this vegetable single-handedly annihilates every single aspect of gastronomy.

This was a recurring reason for standoffs in my home – with my dear mum on one side and my Di and I on the other side. To get past this impasse, some heavy duty negotiations would ensue and both the parties would engage in extended discussions to try and gauge the other party’s BATNA (Best Alternative to a Negotiated Agreement). All this conflict and drama usually ended with Di and me hastily swallowing 1/2/3/4 (depending on our combined negotiation skill of the day) pieces of this alligator-looking, toxic-tasting vegetable and then stuffing our mouths with chocolates to soothe our pained palates. On days when my mum did not have the time to counter our sophisticated logic on this topic, she would sneak a few littles pieces in the lentil bowl or under the little pile of rice. Later, she would simply dismiss it as a mistake on her part and would offer us chocolates and kisses to make up for it. Of course, we couldn’t say no to either of those. But we would be sure to be on the lookout for stray pieces of karela in our food for the next few days.

The Bowl of Contention

The Bowl of Contention

This being one of the major and recurring struggles of my happy childhood, I found it mind-boggling that the adults would treat this crocodile-skinned, inedible thing as just another vegetable, and looked forward to consuming it (convinced beyond any doubt that it was the best detoxifier in the history of detoxifiers). The only explanation I could come up with was that the taste buds of grown-ups behaved and reacted to tastes very, very differently than those of the little people.

Whoa, that was one strong bout of nostalgia, isn’t it?

Okay, back to the present now. So while I was thinking about all this, the bitter melons got cooked and were ready to be consumed. I admit being generous with the oil, spices and onions to make it swallowable because I still think that this vegetable was labelled as edible through some unfortunate accident. But the fact that I conceded to voluntarily pay for this stuff and to bring it in my happy little kitchen and to clean, chop and cook it made me feel all matured and sensible and ready to make big decisions and to take on the challenges of life!

What? Did I hear you ask how it tasted? Well, how am I supposed to know that? If you think I would put a single piece of this rugged, rubbery thing in my mouth without being pressurized or fooled into doing so, you certainly have another think coming. But Gunjan did say he enjoyed it very much and would love it if I were to prepare it again 🙂 That’s what he said! I can certainly tell you that I will deign to indulge his request once in a while – because who knows, maybe it really is the best detoxifier in the history of detoxifiers. But I can’t tell you if the taste buds of grown-ups react differently to this bitter melon than those of the little ones; having not tasted it at all, I wouldn’t know!

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