Saturday, 31 August 2013

Not Bloody Margarine

Detractors of I Can't Believe It's Not Butter!® say that the product is so obviously inferior to real butter that no one in their right mind would actually say, "I can't believe it's not butter." This is not strictly true. I personally know of at least two instances when this phrase was used, though perhaps not in the way the manufacturers intended.

First instance: A few months back, having gone to the supermarket to buy butter, I bought a tub of I Can't Believe It's Not Butter!® by mistake. When I got home, I realised my folly and exclaimed, "I can't believe it's not butter!"

Second instance: Anasua looked in the fridge and said, "What is this crap you've got? I can't believe it's not butter!"

Anyhow, owing to our extreme reluctance to throw food away, we bit the bullet and finished it (mostly by consuming it as a substitute when we ran out of real butter). But as is my wont, I retained the tub for storing real butter.

The problem was that in the course of our epic struggle to finish I Can't Believe It's Not Butter!®, we had grown to loathe the sight of the tub itself. It seemed that anything stored in that tub, even real butter, would seem unappetising. So I have covered the repulsive packaging (see top left photo) with a home-drawn replacement that leaves the beholder in no doubt about the contents of the tub.

Tuesday, 27 August 2013


When I first moved to London, people would ask me what I miss about Calcutta. Mostly, I missed the Arsalan Mutton Biryani. Family was a distant second.

Then one day I heard someone in the street dragging along a large, thick plastic sheet. It made a crackling sound exactly like the hammering of rain on a tin roof, and in the split second between hearing the sound and identifying its source, I had thought, against all logic, that it had started to rain really hard. And suddenly, I missed the monsoon.

Londoners complain about rain all the time, but that is because they've never seen what I like to think of as real rain. The sky turning black at noon, the temperature dropping several degrees in minutes, the ominous stillness in the air before the fury of the storm, the clap of thunder, coconut trees buckling in the teeth of the gale, thoroughfares knee-deep in water. In our neighbourhood, many women still blow conch-shells when there is a really good thunderstorm.

Yesterday, by all accounts, there was a corker. My friend Takai took these photos at mid-afternoon. I like the geometric lines, the sombre tones and the graphic novel-style layout (for which, too, credit goes to Takai).

Friday, 16 August 2013

Dashy Writing

My work notebook is quite organised (once I left it in a partner's office and she returned it to me, saying she guessed it was mine because of all the tables and numbered lists). But sometimes I retrospectively clutter the pages with doodles or recreational maths. Here is a page where I worked on a practical problem of geometrical optics.

Unfortunately, my handwriting in my work notebook tends to be slipshod. I suspect it is not quite at the stage where, as suggested in the early 20th century Lessons in Dashy Writing, it can be a promising ladder by which I rise in the world.