Take a Trip!

North Bengal has, like, a bajillion places to visit. Try telling that to the Chief Minister of the state. Any suggestions you might have would only go unnoticed on purpose – or you might end up arrested. Or even dead.

This is one of the many reasons why I often seem to have a meltdown I can’t get rid of. This and troubled relationships. Of whatever kind. When even makeup won’t seem to take my mind off of things, I like to grab my mother and just go somewhere. This time I had my cousin visiting us – one of the cousins that I do love – after two years, and so we just drove over to Jaldapara.

North Bengal has wildlife so diverse; it’s crazy. And there’s zero maintenance because there’s minimal investment – the authorities just neglect this part of Bengal and no steps are being taken to improve the tourism industry. Okay, rant over. Let me get to the point.

What is this place?

Jaldapara Wildlife Sanctuary is kind of pretty. Nothing too massive, but it’s quiet and peaceful and it is perfect for a getaway. There’s no cell phone reception in the rooms for the most part, but you do get to reconnect with nature and think about a lot of stuff. Maybe focus on yourself. It is a wildlife reserve and you’d get to see a lot of peacocks and rhinos and a ton of elephants. Also, leopards and wild deer.

How to get there?

You take a flight to Bagdogra. Or you can take a flight to Kolkata and another to Bagdogra which typically takes less than an hour, and you then get a cab to cover the 135 km distance to Jaldapara.

Where do I stay?

If you can get a room in the middle of the sanctuary itself, it’s the best place to stay in. The bathrooms are spotless, the sheets clean, the windows large and the tea, AMAZING. The rooms would set you back INR 3000 a night, but it’s worth it. There’s also hot water and electricity and the staff is amazing.

Plus, you get to see a million peacocks and parrots and hornbills too. Right out of your window.

Things to do at Jaldapara:

1. The safari ride, which typically happens post lunch break, is a great idea. They take you through the whole reserve and to watch towers where you get to see rhinoceros come to eat salt.

Apparently, this is what they use as the animal version of after mints. At least that’s what our guy told us. They also take you to see the tribal dance performance by Boro (a local tribe) girls. They do five acts, and each act tells a story. They also sing their songs because there’s no boombox or laptop.

2. The early morning elephant ride. They name all their elephants, guys, and there are baby elephants too. We had a female elephant called Champakali and she was forty seven years old (!!!) – and super hungry all the time. These elephants take you through the deeper parts of the forest – you can see leopards and several strange looking trees, and a species of a deer called sambar.

What’s the best time of the year to visit?

I’d say February to March, when it’s not too cold nor too warm. If you go over during the winters, you’d encounter a lot of fog, cancelled flights and grumpy elephants.

If any of you ever decide to show: please drop me a message on instagram. My handle is @soochxo.

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Review: Pinrose Gilded Fox

I normally don’t review makeup or stuff like that on this blog anymore but this fragrance that I just happened to get my hands on, I feel, deserves its own blog post.

I came across Pinrose while looking through the explore section on my Instagram. And I’m huge sucker for packaging and they have a very unique design which they use for all their bottles. It’s like a little cuboidal bottle with blunt edges. I found the whole look so classy and edgy and feminine at the same time. The fragrance I got is called Gilded Fox and it’s a gourmand. Gourmand fragrances are those perfumes that typically smell like some form of dessert, to put it simply. Some of the most commonly used notes in gourmand perfumes include synthetic edible notes like vanilla, candy, honey, caramel and cocoa. They’re often paired with non edible notes like musk, amber, patchouli, and so on.

They’re also called Foodie Fragrances, according to Wikipedia.

Gilded Fox (EDP) is a stunning blend of rum, cocoa and vetiver. Vetiver is native to India 🇮🇳 (woohoo) and used widely in perfumery because of its fixative properties, making fragrances last longer. Now, I looked on Fragrantica and many people seem to be having issues with the longevity of Gilded Fox, but it seems to be working fine on me. I spray this like I normally would – on either sides of my neck and the collarbones and inner wrist. Maybe I kind of overdid it a little but it does last a solid five hours on me. Maybe more.

I enjoy the blend of cocoa and rum on me, specially because of the boozy vibe – it’s very, very unique and very different from my other cold weather favorite – Thierry Mugler Alien Essence Absolue, which smells very vanilla-y. Pinrose recommends layering it with another fragrance, but I really love wearing it on its own.

Totally recommend this if you wanna try a new gourmand that doesn’t burn a hole in your pocket.

However, they have only the 50 ml bottles and tiny rollerball situations. The 50 ml ones retail for USD 65 (I paid INR 6300 because I had a friend import it for me. She runs a page on Instagram called The_Makeup_House).

WTF Wednesday- Teasing

I’ve talked about this before and I know my posts do tend to get slightly repetitive at times, but I wanted to address this issue.

Without beating about the bush too much, I’m gonna get straight to the point.

We all do relationships and we all have our own hits and misses, and sometimes we overlook deal-breakers because we love our partners way too much. Now, I’m not the most sensitive person in the world – if I were to describe myself, I’d say I have the sensitivity of a slightly blunt knife. Haha. Jokes apart, I don’t really have that many deal-breakers, but I do have this one thing that I hate. Actually, two things: infidelity and cruel jokes.

I’ve had my share of cruel jokes, fam. Life has played one too many on me. And I don’t like being the butt of the same repetitive jokes when I’m in love with someone who claims to love me back.

What does saying sorry way too many times justify? NOTHING. You may be apologizing profusely one second but then you go back and do the same thing all over again? That’s bad. That’s basically just mean. I know this is a silly thing to be going rather ranty about BUT hear me out okay? You compromise too much in a relationship – you don’t mind if you don’t get calls, or if they don’t wish you good morning. You don’t mind going days without seeing each other because you console yourself that they’re busy and working really hard. You wait to talk to them. And they call you at their own leisure and they make fun of you over what you’re wearing and how you look like and they say one of those hey I don’t mean any of these stupid things I say because I don’t mean any of them.

Like wow. And I’m so proud of you, love, b ’cause you probably didn’t even mean it when you said you loved me.

Stupid love.

The Bengali Never Diets

We are in the middle of what I call the Fat Season. Actually no, scratch that. We are in the middle of Evil Cholesterol season. Every January, every Bengali family makes it a point to get hold of as much milk as possible – milk, and coconut, and jaggery, and more milk, sugar and more sugar, oil and cardamom and cinnamon and everything else that comes to your mind when you think of food that sticks to your thighs – and produce batches of traditional Bengali saccharine edible sins.

Sorry about that.

There’s nothing more sinful than Bengali food. I’m not even kidding. We are known for the roshogolla, after all. And if that’s not proof enough that the Bengali never diets, I don’t know what is.

This season, we make pithas. According to dear old Wikipedia,

Pitha is a type of rice cake from the eastern regions of the Indian subcontinent; common in Bangladesh and India, especially the eastern states of Odisha, Assam, West Bengal, Jharkhand, Bihar and the northeastern region of India. Pithas are typically made of rice flour, although there are some types of pitha made of wheat flour. Less common types of pitha are made of palm or ol (a local root vegetable).

There are several kinds of Pitha, I’ll talk about four that most people seem to adore.

Doodh Pooli:

Rice dumplings stuffed with coconut and cooked in thick milk sweetened with date palm sugar.

Chitoi Pitha:

Chitoi Pitha are steamed pancakes quite common in east of India. Teeny tiny baby pancakes, again cooked in thick milk.

Patishapta:

This is a traditional Bengali pancake recipe where the pancake are stuffed with Kheer or khowa.

Malpua:

Malpua is a pancake served as a dessert or a snack originating from the Indian subcontinent, popular in India, Nepal and Bangladesh.

If you haven’t noticed, Google seems to describe almost everything listed as a “pancake”. This would offend every Bengali and not just me. Every Pitha IS AN ACTUAL WORK OF ART, made with love, browned to crisp golden perfection and meant to add to your waistline very sneakily, and definitely not just a pancake. No Sir. It takes away from the whole romanticized notion that Bengali Pitha is life. And no self-respecting Bengali would just stick to one Pitha. Uh uh.

The Bengali starts hogging his way through bhog and maach and biriyani with the aloo and egg, right from September. Then comes the Kali Pujo. If I start talking about the number of deities we have, you’d all fall asleep. Actually, I’m not sure myself about how many we do worship. BUT I do know that we are all foodies and we eat like crazy, no matter what. It’s like we eat for six months because we have big celebrations back to back; and then we fantasize about eating more for the other six.

Sigh.

Do you have any Bengali friends? Have you tried Bengali food? THOUGHTS!?

Book Review: Turtles All The Way Down, John Green

Text message:

Him: And the thing is, when you lose someone, you realize you’ll eventually lose everyone.

John Green is pure genius. The thing about every story he does is how easily you find yourself being able to relate completely. Everyone does love stories but what makes each book of John Green’s so unique is the fact that besides being a master storyteller, his love stories are unconventional.

The last book he did was The Fault in Our Stars, way back in 2012. Which we all loved. And the movie was great.

Turtles All the Way Down came out in October 2017 and while I’m a lot late to the party, I’m glad I read this book. John Green does some of the most brilliant one liners. Some of the most intense too. In the whole world.

Every protagonist of his, ever, always seem like real people with real issues.

The protagonist in Turtles, Aza Holmes, is no different. She’s rather real and despite the fact that she’s battling some form of obsessive compulsive disorder, she’s also relatable. Just quickly, without giving away too much – Turtles is the story of a sixteen year old who lives with her high school math teacher Mum, drives her late Dad’s car which she’s lovingly christened Harold and sees a therapist called Dr. Karen Singh regularly. Her two friends Daisy and Mychal – a vibrant girl who does Star Wars fanfic, and an artist who looks like a “giant hot baby, if Beyoncé and Drake had a baby” respectively – are beautifully executed characters too. The contrast between Daisy and Aza is so stark and it’s almost like one acts like the Ying to the other’s Yang. Two halves of a whole and that’s some amazing female friendship come alive in fiction.

The plot takes off from the time a local billionaire construction mogul named Russell Pickett goes missing. Daisy who’s drawn to the whole idea of getting rich quick from the $100,000 reward for information leading to the man’s arrest, insists that Aza join in on her investigation. This leads to a rekindling between Aza and Pickett’s older son Davis who she met at “Sad Camp” when they each lost a parent. And just so, a very unconventional romance that I talked about earlier, blossoms. Aza battles with her anxiety and her phobia of the human microbiome, and this makes it difficult for them both to carry on. There’s this line from the book –

Illness is a story told in the past tense.

And I don’t know why, but it spoke to me.

Aza has some of the best lines – she talks of being at peace, however momentary it may be, with Davis and she talks of a “non-sensorial place almost like we were inside the others consciousness a closeness that real life with its real bodies could never match,” after a FaceTime call with Davis.

Davis has some of the cutest moments and it’s super nice when he texts Aza I like us for real. Kind of makes me wish I had someone like that; but whatever.

I kind of feel like I might give away the whole story if I keep at this. But one last thing: where did the turtles bit come from? So Daisy tells Aza a story of a scientist and who is telling a class about the earth. And one old lady at the back corrects the scientist and says that the earth is balanced on the back of a giant turtle. The scientist asks her if she knows what the said turtle is standing on. The lady replies that it’s actually another turtle: and at this point the scientist gets super frustrated but the lady says that it’s turtles standing on one another and it’s turtles all the way down.

And there you have it, folks. I’m gonna end with another quote from the book because Mr. Green’s one liners are something to obsess over completely.

No one ever says goodbye unless they wanna see you again.

Have y’all read this book? Will you watch the movie? Let me know!

The DLG Syndrome

I know. It doesn’t exist. Why? Because, uh, I just made it up! So Paul did a post on things he keeps (drop everything and go read his post now – right now) and I thought it was such a brilliant idea to write about. Of course, I could have just left a long ass comment on his post but heh heh, I like my two seconds in the limelight like a complete sucker for fame. Who am I kidding again? LilRant isn’t Lil Wayne. I ain’t famous. I might be an ignoramus, but that’s about it.

And enough with the digressing. Why am I like this? I swear I ask myself that a million times a day. Ugh. Moving on.

I keep… things. Besides the usual secrets and stuff. I do keep things. I have what I call the DLG (difficulty letting go) syndrome. I have severe separation anxiety when I have to let go. I just can’t. I agree with Paul when he says we don’t part with books, and I have books from 1994 when I was a toddler learning to draw. I have many, many Enid Blyton books from 1997 – and my first Harry Potter book from ’98. I was so obsessed with it. I don’t remember how long it took me to read that but I remember not letting my dad read it to me because I wanted to read it all on my own. Wow I was bloody innocent back then.

I think my mother has issues letting go too, because she has millions of magazines stacked away in the basement – monthly cooking magazine subscriptions she’s never read or leafed through once (and never tried making any of the dishes listed), old knitting magazines from Jesus knows when, and oh my God, she has a giant cardigan from 1970 when she was a child herself. Surprisingly, no moths have eaten it because it’s hideous and old and ugly. MOM!

My Dad has his textbooks from his residency days. His old journals. His 1986 Vespa. He won’t let go. Okay the problem runs in the family. Although, I understand the attachment to the Vespa. He took a really adorable photo of one year old me, fat cheeks and all, sitting on it. Good times. Good, irritable colicky baby times.

Okay. What else do I keep?

Aha. I have jeans from middle school. When I was obese and basically had no waist. I like to look at them and smirk because I have a waist now. BOO YEAH! I have a windbreaker from 2000 because it’s comfy and I still wear it. Don’t judge me. I have scrapbooks with way too many photos of English soccer player Michael Owen and Australian cricketer Brett Lee. I have journals from the time I was 12 and discovered the joy of writing.

I keep the checks from places I go have lunch or dinner at. I have movie ticket stubs from way back when BookMyShow wasn’t as popular. I have bus tickets from all the times I ran to Bangalore to meet my then boyfriend. 2010, 11, 13. Sigh. I have a dried up rose and chocolate wrappers from the times the said ex boyfriend bought me those. No particular reason. I’m not attached. But maybe I need to throw them out. Hold while I declutter. This is bloody unhealthy.

I have expired makeup. Oh God. I’m looking through my drawers and I have expired mascara. Like, 6 of them. Yikes. I have eyeshadow palettes from 2012 – oh no. I don’t even use them and I still have them. In my defence, no one in India sold makeup from Urban Decay and Stila. There were no Sephoras and I had to beg my best friend to get me makeup when he went home to London. Poor me. Nope, not getting rid of these guys.

I have tickets from the Poets of the Fall concert I went to in August 2015. I even blogged about it and I have the stubs in my wallet. I carry them around like a talisman. *hides face*

I have – erm – a collection of 52 Barbie dolls, showing varying degrees of shabbiness but most of them still have their boxes. Ehehe oh, and I have stuffed animals stuffed away in some corner of the basement because I can’t seem to part with them. I have a box of handwritten letters from the time I had a pen pal. I have old cards – new year and birthdays and stuff. I have, erm, expired perfume. What am I doing with my life!? I have way too much stationery I don’t need and don’t use. I have my broken laptop because I am attached to it. Now I have a new one but I can’t throw away my old one. Sigh. I have a problem.

I could go on.

But I’m gonna go start decluttering now. What do YOU keep?!

Weird Compulsions

The other day one of my favorite beauty bloggers tweeted something and it got me thinking about how right she was. We’ve all become so… accessible.

It is such a weird compulsion.

This whole thing – how when someone texts or calls, you gotta respond immediately or they end up thinking, “Oh she is such a bitch!” – is kind of sad. How we always seek validation, and we don’t even know we’re doing it. It’s nuts. When did it get like this? I like my alone time and it doesn’t mean I’m doing stupid shit. I don’t like being in situations where I’ve to give people an update on everything I’m doing. I mean, come on, even FACEBOOK isn’t as inquisitive as some people are! Like what’s with people texting constantly when you’re out with family? If you don’t respond immediately, you get texts that say – “Whoa who am I now? Nothing. Just time pass. I know you’re getting married and shopping for your lehenga!”

!!!!!!!!!

I actually know one such person. Super cute and super insecure. How do you deal with that? If you know someone that gets severe separation anxiety from not getting texts back? You ignore them and then you calm yourself down and then you text them back. Right? Wrong. You’ll find yourself the victim of this weird compulsion and composing a reply and sending it anyway. Gah. This makes me so mad. Why must we stay and please every freaking person??! Does it really matter if people think you’re rude as fuck and that you use them and that you aren’t a good person? If you don’t get back to them immediately? NO. It doesn’t.

What’s worse is we know this. And we still let it bother us and we let ourselves stay accessible. UGH. This makes me so mad.

I made a new resolution: I’m gonna stop thinking about what people say about me if I don’t reply. If I don’t take calls. And I’m going to give myself more time and work on being a better person. It’s not necessary to talk everyday. It’s not. If you have a mature relationship with your people, they’ll get you. And that’s how it should be.

Are you a victim of weird compulsion too? Let me know.