A Tennis miracle!

In other news, I served in a tennis game yesterday and WON! I actually landed beautiful serves and won my game….FOR THE FIRST TIME IN MY LIFE! Wooohoooo!

I CAN SERVE NOW. Yessssshhhh!

(I’m not coming down from my perch in the clouds anytime soon…)

Are you video-averse?

I know many people who hate voicemails – myself included. I find voicemails ominous, akin to the telegrams of olden times where such urgently communicated messages were rarely positive. Voicemails do the same thing – if you have to tell me something so urgently that you prefer leaving a message in this era where call-logs are routine, it can never be good! Only I can hear my heart thumping everytime I check my voicemail box.

Recently, I have realized that I am also video averse. I slowly noticed this trend when news articles (especially Indian) started peppering their news stories with a relevant video report on the same issue. I noticed near and dear who happily clicked on the video and didn’t bother to read the lengthy transcript and I found myself strangely attracted to the text. I have come to love reading the news, not watching it. 

Maybe this stemmed from my Harry Potter movie aversion, where I’d go to great lengths to avoid watching all the franchises so they don’t disturb my intricately-built, extensive imagination of every scene, person or location. As facebook, youtube and reddit videos abound, I find myself turned off if it is a video-only link without a text transcript attached. I do watch some type of videos – of playful dogs or cats or any animal documentary narrated by Sir Richard Attenborough or some cooking inspiration but am generally put off by “watching” something over reading it. Might sound strange, but true.

Did I tell you I also dislike watching movies? Okay, I’ll stop here before you think I’m a total nut-job!

Happy weekend, all! 🙂

The holiday season is here!

My favorite time of the year is here! I simply love the lights, the decorations and the excitement of holidays in general.The makrets are abuzz with table decor, thanksgiving recipes are on a loop on channels and cranberries, pies surrounded by glittery baubles abound! This year, I’ll be spending my Thanksgiving in my favorite city of all time. I am going to explore places I haven’t in the past and hopefully have a relaxing four days. Life gets so busy in general with action-packed days and endless chores on the weekend. I’m glad the holidays are finally here. For once, I’m not buying anything major but focusing on experiences and unwinding.
Will post in detail about what I did when I return. Happy Thanksgiving all! 🙂

The joy of a public library

All along, a library was something I thought of as an ultimate goal – images of warm, wood paneled walls with floor to ceiling bookcases filled to the brim with books, a ladder to reach the higher shelves, warm diffused lamps, comfy cushions, a throw and of course dog(s) around. This was what I pictured retirement and rainy days to look like. Unconsciously, I would buy books and think about their covers and how it will fit in my ornate imaginary library room.

Now, the collection is not imaginary, by any means. Over the last decade, I have collected hundreds of books since I firmly believe in never getting rid of any book and they occupy some of the prime real estate in my house. A bookshelf was the one piece of furniture I always splurged on, thinking about the future where it would occupy some part of that fictional library room at home I described in the beginning and how it would fit into the rest of the decor (too much, I know). Move-after-move, my 5+ boxes of books came with me and grew in size. I definitely am guilty of bearing a ‘tsundoku‘ collection, (a Japanese term for unread books) which I intend to get to, some time in the future.

With my latest move into a relatively nice locality, came the perk of being automatically enrolled into the local library system. I went in person, twice or thrice and browsed the collections which were immense and the libraries were beautiful. I was thrilled to have access to books and walked around the isles reading titles and picking up some books which I didn’t want to buy but just browse. Then, the librarian told me about their online catalog. THAT changed my life.

This past year, I have read over 15 books, all bestsellers that came highly recommended online. Some recommendations from NYtimes, blogs, blurbs floating in the web found their way into a list which I never carried in person but had stored in a text file on my computer. The online catalog meant I could copy-paste the name and to my utter delight – it was available! I could request for it to be delivered to my local library with an email notification telling me the book was here! In two days, I had the hard copy and the imposed return date forced me to read and I must proudly announce (drumroll) – it brought back my joy of reading!!!!

I have so many posts lined up for book reviews now and will finish them up really soon. But in case anyone was wondering how I managed to escape the prison of social-media and deluge of shows on all sorts of streaming services and up my reading game, the secret is my wonderful public library.
I sleep better, have loads to think about, have less to spend on and lug around with more focus on reading and can proudly say I am on the path to reading diligently cover-to-cover again!!! WOOHOO!!
What are you reading now? I am currently enjoying chuckling and pondering over David Sedaris’ collection of essays ‘Dress your family in Corduroy and Denim’.


The paranoia about beards and turbans
The invasive security checks
Birth of the TSA
Fear of flying
Smoke, asbestos and silica
Valiant rescue workers
Chilling footage
Surreal memorial
Dizzying heights, horrific imagery
The fear of what ifs..
The melted girders, charred flags
Ash and browned, curled paper bits adrift in the air
Quietest fountains in the city, falling infinitely
An occulus eye for looking inwards
An office day turned last, of plans abandoned long past
Of memories that would remain flash frozen.
It never gets easier or forgotten,
Just buried deeper beneath daily humdrum
Makes you think of how this moment,
Could easily be one’s last.

Welcome to nitasmusings.com and my favorite websites

I recently decided to do something more concrete with my blog. For starters, I bought a domain name and am learning the ropes on creating and maintaining my own website. All of a sudden, I feel so excited, just the way I did when I opened my humble sosaysfol.blogspot.com 11 years ago (omg!) and then learnt the ropes of navigating wordpress. This is truly a new beginning and am slowly learning about how developed and advanced the world of blogging is!

Another list I have slowly been curating is the list of websites that make my day. The websites below are some of the sites I visit almost every day (time permitting) and just enjoy the content. It has led to some serious shopping at times but also given me loads of new perspectives and an active blogging/commenting community to interact with. How did I not know of this before?

  1. A Cup of Joe by Joanna Goddard: I love her website. Although her blog is famous for its parenting ideas, I find her other sections very informative (esp. the style and design ones) and her commenting community is simply off the charts. I enjoy seeing pictures of homes around the world and her team of writers bring something unique to her website which I enjoy reading. LOVE!
  2. Apt 34 by Erin Heimstra – This is a blog I love for the pictures and style of living. Her interiors give me all sorts of design and lifestyle goals. Only complaint: too much white. For a person who cannot manage a white shirt unscathed, a whole white house makes me so anxious. But love her blog!
  3. Un-fancy.com by Caroline – As a person who didn’t really have a personal style and whose wardrobes were curated by an ultra-stylish mom and equally stylish sister (thank God), this blog helped me learn to shop and control my clothing. This second part is still in its infancy, unfortunately. But her simple capsule-wardrobe and focus on sophisticated and mix-and-match pieces helps me identify what I need correctly and has helped me curate a decent work-wear collection (Remember the shopping part I mentioned earlier..)
  4. Other news media outlets – Vox, Slate, The Atlantic. These are magazines/explanatory websites that I enjoy visiting. I love the simple explanations and often detailed discussions on topics that are not just about the (depressing) politics, but also about other trends and happenings.
  5. The New York Times: This is by far my favorite news outlet. Not just for the politics and daily news, but their opnions, Lifestyle and tech sections are my must-reads. I ensure I finish reading atleast the trending articles and magazine articles per week. Best subscription money I spent!
  6. The New Yorker: I love their fiction section ( I was wowed by the Cat Person story too) and of course their satire which makes me chuckle for its intelligent puns and very creative writing. Their weekend collections of articles to read delivered straight to my inbox make it very worthy of  regular visits.
  7. And finally, reddit. Now for a person who has complained so much against social media on this page, you might call me out on being on another social media platform. But I find reddit is so informative and entertaining – not just for political and tech discussions, but also the stories on AskReddit, science explained on ELI5 and the cute content of r/aww and r/EyeBleach absolutely make my day. I find so many instances of “Today, on reddit…” in my daily conversations. I love the platform and so far, it seems like social media done right (non-intrusive, informative and connected all at once).

So there, this is what I have been reading everyday among other linked blogs and pages, apart from slowly building this website and learning the ropes of migrating content, setting up menus and widgets and finding a domain name. I must admit, that last one took the longest time! I have finally moved away from the ‘FOL’ page (“Full Of Life”) to something less college-y and more adult, but rest assured, I am very much the same and identify with the fol moniker wholeheartedly.

So welcome! and hope you stay with me for this ride as well.

PS: Parts of the site are still under construction so if you hit dead ends, please leave a comment and I will try to fix it asap.

From Whisky, living it up !

Hello all! It has been a while since I decided to write this blog on behalf of my lazy human but the last few years have been so full of adventures that I let myself settle down before I started documenting them. Of course, my travels cannot be completely penned down all at once in such a short space but I would like to use this post to highlight some of my main observations in this new country. Based on what I have seen here, I would like to give the canine community of India some pointers on how it is here across the Atlantic. So here goes:

  1. There is no garbage on the streets – This is a tough dilemma. On one hand, my walks are now very boring. I have to stare at the trees and some birds for entertainment when there are no other dogs on the street, but Chotu (my human) claims I get fewer tummy upsets so she is generally happy. If she is happy I am happy, but I remain internally conflicted. My dirt-loving Chennai bros- this country has no garbage on the streets so enjoy while you can!
  2. The food is goooood – I have had the opportunity of eating all kinds of food I never knew existed! My human actually gives me fish and chicken and I have also had duck and some pork. I suspect that last one was pure accident but I loved it! How come for so many years we were never told about all this?! All I could manage back in India was the few chicken bones strewn by the watchman after his lunch! Imagine, now I get it served in a bowl, freshly cooked and all!
  3. No stray dogs – Everyone is on a leash here. They are all so disciplined. Other humans actually ask Chotu if they can pet me! I mean I am so used to pointed fingers and whistles that this seems to be such a decent place for me. But then, you get only structured playdates. I miss my stray friends waiting for me during my walks in Chennai. There is no group barking at nights, no territorial fights and no random barking by anyone. They are all so quiet! Just like the traffic here.
  4. No stray anyone – Where are my cow friends? Chotu keeps reminding me about my calf friends who used to head-butt me and I used to dodge them. There are no cows. When I ask her about it, she shakes her head and tells me their story is very sad. Apparently, they get eaten, like vegetables. I miss meeting them and sniffing their poop. NO COW DUNG! 🙁
  5. Pet Shops – Okay, now this one might make my India friends so jealous, but they have huge pet stores here where I can shop for my goodies! Chotu takes me to pick my toys but I always keep picking out these gigantic bones which she never buys. I show her these other delicious things such as bully sticks, dried up animal parts, rawhide but she smells them and puts them away in disgust! How can she not appreciate them? Then, last birthday, she finally caved in and bought me some bully sticks! Ah the joy! They also have other stuff like clothes, crates, beds and some other animals too. In India, I used to search and sniff out rats and tell my humans that they are at home. Here, they keep them as pets! So strange! Thankfully Chotu doesn’t have one. She told me she owned a hamster once and I stuck up my nose in protest. No rats/hamsters/mice at home please!
  6. Too many doctor visits – I have been enrolled in some medical plan where I have to meet the doctor TWICE a year! Can you believe it? They make me lie down and press all over. I hate it. I will pretend those visits never happen and play dead. Sometimes I doze off so nicely that I wake up only at home and Chotu is always upset with me afterwards. She tells me “Don’t play dead in front of the doctor, they will give you more medicines”. But I can’t stand it. I think she can’t deal with it too. I have seen her face whiten and she shakes sometimes when it is time for a vet-visit. We thankfully have another human boy to calm us both down. Those trips are a disaster. India friends, you guys are lucky.
  7.  Have to stay indoors except for parks – There is no concept of being tied outside. I miss that sometimes. Back home, I used to sit outside on the verandah and enjoy the birds and allow cats and birds to eat up my food (such help you guys!). Now we stay indoors all the time until we go every weekend to a park. We have a small dog and big dog park. I go to the small one. They are nice! So full of things to smell and lick. I try to be as discreet I can while licking but Chotu finds out and then I’m on the leash again. But there are so many types of dogs! Who knew? I have seen such tiny ones that look like furry rats on leashes! There are some really big ones too! Like I had never met a Leonberger (fellow German dude) before or the Bernese Mountain Dog. I’ve met guys from all over the world now. But I miss my stray friends from Chennai the most.
  8. Road trips are easy – The roads and nice and flat and I can snooze comfortably during long drives. I have had long road trips (3000 miles+) which I’ll write about soon but travel here is a breeze! Unlike India where so much braking and potholes caused me to fall or jump off the car seat every now and then, it is very smooth sailing here!
  9. I am hot stuff here – No kidding. I have been to Central Park  in NYC and literally had a crowd come and pet me. They call me “hot stuff”. I never knew that about myself until I came here. Chotu tells me I am rare here. In India, I was the most common. Hell, Spitz pups are the least expensive pup you can adopt there! They should come and see people’s reactions here. Chotu tells everyone with pride that I am “exotic”. I like that! 😀
  10. The weather is amazing – I have lived in a few parts of the US and all over India and I can say paws down that this place has the best weather for me! My fur coat grew out and I also licked snow (okay yellow snow, but still snow!). No more sitting nose-to-nose with AC ducts or dashing inside AC rooms. At home, there is AC everywhere! Outside, it is heavenly. I enjoyed the biting cold of -40 too! Chotu seemed to be in a hurry then to go indoors but I wonder why she wasn’t enjoying it like I did! Ice, snow and nice cold winds. I had good fun kicking off these annoying snow shoes and then waiting for Chotu to put them on again. She was balled up too and walking so slowly through the icy sidewalks. Fun experiences! Can’t wait for minus temperatures again! Chotu recoils in horror when I tell her I want the sub-zero walks again. No idea why. Humans, strange creatures they are.
  11. New brother – I have a younger sibling now. Yes, I am no longer the only baby. But he is okay I think. I don’t like when he sticks to Chotu a lot. He is a funny-faced guy, no nose and very short but cute as hell! He is a nice guy though, we have had our arguments, all about Chotu only, but nothing too big. He doesn’t like balls or biting anything so my stuff is secure. I’ve noticed our bowls, bedsheets and towels being used interchangebly  and am getting used to it. I tried objecting to it initially and he also did but both got a long, terribly boring lecture about sharing and caring from Chotu ( I tried yawning so much to make her stop, but of no avail!). To prevent listening to another such lecture, both of us quietly stopped complaining. Actually secretly I like the guy and don’t mind him at all, he waits during walks for me and he calls Chotu from the other room if I need any help. He even got me a bonus trip to the Tillamook creamery because he insisted I come along! Decent chap. But shh, I don’t want to sound too appreciative in case Chotu brings another one!

That’s it for now, I have to start my evening routine. I will tell you all the story about my coast-to-coast road trip next. Got to go wait for Chotu, it is nearly time for her to come home!

I'm all excited..woof !

I know bloggers, I havent blogged too much in the past. I have been one busy person the last few years. A ton of change happened around me and I was too busy trying to explain to my folks that it was normal and teaching them life lessons. Boy! they are slowww learners. So I moved into my own two-storey home in the center of this bustling city called Chennai. I grew up in beautiful colonies filled with so many brown-tailed pretty girls and a lot of my friends who like me, moved to different places. Let me give a quick recap before I can start harping about my current excitement.
I dont like chennai all that much. I was born here but mostly grew up in front of the air conditioner. Hence I liked that roti-eating, mountainous cold place called…doon. I had an excellent staff who looked after my every need, enormous space to run and dig, ( I dont know why no one gives me any credit for that excellent garden I helped them make ) and some fans. I really liked the cold weather where I had my bed next to the heater and my staff would put on socks and jackets for my walks. Ah, whatte life. Chennai so far, has been pretty drab in comparison.
Its hot. Really really hot. I make mom and dad turn on the AC for me from 10 am and turn it off only when it rains. It rains pretty hard too. Dad explains that the sea is nearby and we get something called a cyclone which came as recent as last week and I dont like them at all either. Thankfully, dad’s blanket is good enough to cut off the sound and mom got some fabulous curtains so I don’t see any lightning. But coming back to Chennai, its dirty. Extremely dirty. I have to cross tons of human shit and other kinds of shit, not to mention carve my space in this rowdy city full of gangs that hide under rickshaws and parked vans. I hate them. I like a couple of guys living in the next lane but they are always angry and irritated and really big. My parents call them German Shepherds. Big annoying fellas. Don’t go near one if you spot one. There are a couple of cats that live next door. I dont mind them at all, but they are always meowing in my presence and mistake my calls for threats. Sigh, if only they understood.
I am very loved in my apartment. I maintain a small garden in the patio and lounge there when its not too hot.I found some really tasty food too. I really like McRenett’s milk bread, nilgiris’ paneer and Grand Sweets’ mixture. I can tell when Mom or Dad shop there. Its for me only mostly. Every week. I miss my Chotu and Chimmy though. Chimmy was a visitor since I was a kid but Chotu has gone off somewhere lately. I miss her a lot. I keep hearing a voice that sounds like her every sunday on one black machine that my dad or mom turns on, but I don’t know where she went. She misses me too, I know. We never spent a moment away from each other until two years ago. She left with Dad and these two big boxes and I thought she’ll be back in sometime but she never showed up for a year! Her last trip was fantastic. I showed her around and she met my friends. She left crying so hard, I couldnt even go and see her off at the door. Ah, sad times.
But hey, dad tells me she is coming. And mom too. I have to show mom the things I discovered under the sofa which the stupid maids never clean. I have missed her and her fruit bowl so much for the past half-year. Chotu is coming! That makes me doubly excited. I can’t wait to race with her to the terrace or show her how my efficiency at chasing crows has astronomically increased. I wish I could go visit her but everyone tells me the journey is terrible. My family will of course not put me through anything worse than a yearly injection. But its nice with mom and dad. Chotu and Chimmy know some of my secret tricks but mom and dad dont. Hence I keep myself entertained.
So folks, Happy New Year. What a start I’m gonna have. First Chotu and then Chimmy. Mom and Dad at home. There is nothing else I could ask for.
Loads of Love,

To my dearest little Bikki and Paneerselvam

Loss is always hard. Especially when it is that of a pet you so dearly loved. In a span of three weeks I lost both my pets – my fish and my cutest little hamster. My fish died suddenly Christmas morning. To see my fish like that floating lifelessly curved in a peculiar way was so hard. Hell, why am I calling it a fish. He had a name – Paneerselvam. Not a very hep name but it is my way of connecting with remote and ancient Tamil Nadu. He wasnt that active from the beginning and I suspected I had an old fish from the start. But he used to swim upto the surface everytime I came close or hide in his plant when the light was too bright. He used to wait impatiently for his food and frolic in delight by swimming furiously through the bowl when the water was new. I will never know what killed him. “It is only a fish”, “Fishes are like that only”was said in consolation,but I missed having my bright blue fighter fish waiting for his food every morning in his bowl. I miss him.
My hamster was even more tragic. I could not cope with her sudden loss for nearly half a week. She was by far the cutest hamster I’ve ever seen. (Yes, Ive seen a lot of them since I always scout the Small Animal section of every pet store religiously). She was soft and pretty and curled into a cute ball when she ate her food or groomed herself rigorously. She used to snatch nuts and treats from me, loved to run on my table and wait every morning hanging on the metal wires of her cage asking me to open it. Her life was cut short abruptly and I found her lifeless and cold on the floor of her cage. She was breathing, but only just. I tried to warm her, held her close to me praying for her to revive. She opened her eyes and looked at me,all pale and helpless. That image is ingrained in my head. She died on my palm and you have no idea how hard it was to see her like that. That cute little bikki who escaped from her cage and hid under the kitchen sink and behind suitcases, who chewed up the carpet and made instant holes in my T-shirt, the little monster who got snappy if you didnt play with her for a while and the super lazy bum who had to be woken up at times and fed. I miss her so much. I miss calling out to her every night or drumming the sides to disturb her.I loved buying her new treats from the store and watching her expression as she had them for the first time or loved the way she’d follow me everywhere in her ball and apologizing if I accidentally kicked it. I liked the way she’d come out and watch me brush my teeth every morning and enjoy me stroking her head gently. She liked sitting in front of the fan in the summer and loved being held near the heaters in the winter. I will never know what happened to her so suddenly. She might have been old (yes she had become extremely lazy) or choked on something she ate. I love you bikki. You have no idea how much I miss you.
I realized how the presence of a small pet changes our life. I never paid attention to these small things they did that made me so happy and you never realize how much you miss them unless they are not with you. I miss my dog terribly but that is one thing I have still not learnt to live with. I live with the fact that he is extremely happy and pampered at home and never tire of seeing him on skype until he gets bored and walks away. Gosh, whisky I wish you knew. I miss my fish and hamster equally but know for a fact that they were happy. I did and cared all I could and made their lives comfortable. I am more than thankful to them for coming into mine and making it worthwhile. I know people who squeal when I showed them bikki or looked away when I showed my fish. But to me they were precious. Any pet of mine is and losing them is very very hard.
I know this isnt a new year’s post or a post thanking 2010 for what it gave me but I dearly miss my pets. They were a small way for me to compensate for not being around Whisky. I will move on, but Bikki and PS, will always remain with me, just like my fishes from the aquarium I had as a little kid which I remember, my cat Pintu and my dogs Fluffy and Blackie. I love you all. I will not forget you.
(Gosh whisky, why can’t you somehow be allowed in an airplane cabin and fly straight to Atlanta. That day would be the best day of my life. Second only to the day I got you.)
PS: I got myself two female fishes (apparently female bettas are calmer and can exist in groups) so here is introducing Paneerselvi & Komalavalli. (Nice names no? :D) I am still searching for that perfect Teddy Bear Hamster who had the same colours as my Bikki. Hopefully next week my cage would be full of life again. 🙂
Happy 2011 Folks. Hope your lives are enriched and enjoyed far more than the last!

Need For Whisky and Food

The other day, my (new) roomies and I got into a long discussion about Chennai and the amazing plethora of restaurants it offered. Each one had a favourite, from the all time 14 pcs Mini Idlis costing 21 rupees and some paisa (they knew exactly) in any Saravana Bhavan to the tangy Pani Puris at Gangotree or the lovely Pongals (both sweet and salty) in donnais in Murugan Idlis. Gosh! It was only then we realized how badly we missed those Bhagyas (a small shop near West Mambalam station) selling extremely greasy, unhygenic but out-of-the-world Gobi Manchurians or the early morning scenes of various coffee and tea kadais making hot coffee and idlis or walking into any of the million Vasantha / Saravanaa bhavans or Komalas or Udipis or Sangeethas and enjoying a hot delicious meal.
I am sure only a Chennai-ite knows what I am talking about here. To others it might seem like a list of restaurants in Chennai. The feeling is even more intense when all you get nearby is creamy, greasy pasta or cold breakfasts like waffles or bagels and dark non-milky weird coffee (which I guess I can never like!). I really think American cuisine is second worst in the world, the top being Scandinavian. The only way they know to get anything tasty is to either fry it or coat it with a layer of grease and grill it. I have never even dared to walk into any of the McDonalds/ Papa Johns here because I finally do realize how junky junk food can get. Seminars are followed up by boxes upon boxes of cookies or chips (both cold) and the mixers offer you trays upon trays of raw vegetables. I am not the complaining or choosy variety so I do not usually complain but in a year you start longing for something you can just dig into, and nothing here is remotely as healthy or tasty as Asian esp. South Asian Cuisine.
Chennai spells f-o-o-d to any true South Indian, worse if he/she has returned from the USA. All of us recounted how our relatives just ate and ate and ate when they came home almost as if they starved here. The food here is unhealthy and very fatty, no wonder everyone has the standard 15-pound weight gain during the first year. Cheese, cream cheese, butter, margraine, cookies, lard, dips..ARGH! I so want some nice green chilly or tomato chutney. (Salsa comes close..but CLOSE thats it)
So, Im going home and I cant wait. I need Whisky. Gosh, I cant believe its almost been a year without my dear doggy. I only saw his boring stares at the computer screen during our Skype Chats this past year and that kept me going. I’m sure he’z abandoned me by now, hopping on to more reliable people like my mom and dad who dont just leave him for a year and run off, but he wont forget. I cant wait to get welcomed by him in the usual style and he prances around frantically licking my face and jumping all over. Gosh, I can almost smell him now. My biggest shopping bag is from Petco filled with all the stuff he’d need. I am so excited. Finally! Whisky! Yaaay. I cant wait to have him follow me all over the house and put up with all his antics. WHISKYYYY Im coming!
And yeah..Chennai 😀 I’m coming for you. I’m coming for the innumerable hot idlis and dosas that my mom’s gonna make and the lovely wafting smell of sambhar. I m coming for the heat and the dirt and the Grand Sweets adai-avials and the pastes and the Ambika applams and podis. I’m coming for the pickles and the nellu ennai oil baths with freshly ground shikakai and of course fresh filter coffeee.
Damn this week. Fly away! 😀