It’s a perfect, cloudy day today. You can see the rolling layers of the clouds, there’s no risk of rain, the air is crisp, there’s a slight breeze, and there’s no sign of that menacing sun. It’s my favorite kind of weather.

It’s the kind of weather you can drown your emotions in. Without the sun, the world feels empty and quiet. No input, no output, everything just is.

I used to love going to Disneyland on days like this. Since we weren’t allowed to bring our phones after my dad once lost my sister’s somewhere in the Rivers of America, the long lines with the same 2-3 people I can only talk to so much before I lose my mind became a bit more bearable.

That bleachy smell and the gray skies are always thinking time. I don’t know what I was necessarily thinking about, but somehow the clouds made all the petty stuff disappear.

Who cares about school drama and work problems when the world is so clear?

Let the obsessions rest, let the pressure melt, let the drama slow. The world is quiet here… at least as long as the clouds shield us from the noise.

favorite song of 2011

During these early years of the decade, TV was starting to lose its prevalence in our introduction to new songs, but we didn’t really have a lot of streaming services yet. I think I still worked off of downloading songs to my iPod Nano. Since that was so offline, my concept of new songs generally came from YouTube and the new movies I actually saw.

I was seeing Mere Brother Ki Dulhan in the theater — so excited & so happy. They don’t make romcoms like that anymore, folks. Simultaneously happy and modern and fantastical. The cast was a treat — Imran Khan was my favorite actor at the time, Ali Zafar might be the most charming man on the planet, I love Katrina Kaif, and Tara D’Souza blew me away.

So when these 4 unveiled themselves in the big screen in this fantastic song, I was hooked. The entire way home, I kept my earbuds in and looped this song. It still gives me those fuzzy feelings. I remember being so in love with this song.

favorite song of 2010

I don’t remember 2010. I’m looking at the list of movies that came out that year and this was right before I learned Hindi, so I wasn’t too interested.

I know that in hindsight, Ainvayi Ainvayi is my favorite song of 2010. I definitely only watched Band Baaja Baarat in 2011, though.

There’s a lot of close calls.

I love Sheila Ki Jawaani, obviously.

I have a very soft spot in my heart for Akela Dil from Dulha Mil Gaya, but I didn’t love that song unreasonably.

The closest thing I can think of is the I Hate Luv Storys soundtrack. If I have to remember from …10 years ago, I definitely liked songs I could sing along to, which often means songs that featured a lot of English in them.

So, I think my favorite song in 2010 was the I Hate Luv Storys title song. I guess.

favorite song of 2019

Every year, there’s one song I become unreasonable obsessed with. It’s somehow so perfect that its imperfections are perfect.

That song was Jatt Ludhiyane Da in 2019. I love the composition, I love Vishal Dadlani’s voice, Payal Dev is great, and then there’s the rap.

The rap is one of the most stupid things I have ever heard in my life, and it just becomes something to laugh along to while the rest of the song makes me feel exactly the way the song is intended to portray the characters as feeling.

I’m going to try and remember my unreasonable favorite song for the past decade. Let’s see.

haan mein galat

I can’t get over how endlessly loopable this song is. I have spent entire days at work just looping this one song and it is the perfect infinite party mood that never seems to get annoying.

Always ready to sing along.

Aa stage laga hai

Badi jagah hai

Do it with a twist

malang (soundtrack)

Malang has started off so strong with another super solid Mohit Suri soundtrack. Forget the movie, Mohit Suri is such a sexist hack. But I can’t deny that he pumps out amazing soundtracks for his movies.

The songs and the music videos are aspirational — still not as good as Aashiqui 2 — but they have definitely made me want to get into an intense & passionate romance just in order to come home and feel like one of the songs.

Here’s the order of how this Malang relationship would go:

Humraah is the glorious meeting. You know you’re falling for them so hard within 24 hours of meeting. It’s intense, it’s amazing, it’s wonderful. You know this person is special.

Char Ghar Chalein is right at the tail end of the honeymoon phase. Everything is perfect. You fit together so well. You’ve never felt so confident in anything in your life.

Malang is when things start to go bad. You’re passionate, but that intensity comes with some darkness. Other people describe you two as toxic. It doesn’t matter to you because the highest highs are worth more than the lowest lows. They’re your entire world — the good and the bad.

Hui Malang is when something snaps back to normality for you. Maybe you get some distance, you meet a childhood friend who objectively assesses your relationship and says, “Girl, you need to get out.” You have your wake up call.

Phir Na Milen Kabhi is your post-breakup goto. You still love them. How could you not? They were your everything, and you feel empty without them. Just listen to Arijit’s soulfulness and remember you’re never going to meet again.

I wonder what soundtracks are going to top this in 2020. As long as Tanishk Bagchi keeps making remakes, I doubt I’ll see any competitors anytime soon.

first donations of the year

I had a goal this year to donate whatever leftover money I had after expenses and savings to charity. It’s important to stay grounded, sacrifice some of your meal to the gods every month, etc.. I think it’s immoral for folks who are able to invest significant amounts of money to not donate.

That hasn’t worked out so cleanly because since I got a bonus this month, I have extra extra money, and I don’t feel comfortable donating such a large amount. I also occasionally have a few hundred come in from various freelance opportunities.

My income doesn’t vary much, but it varies enough to make donating leftover money weird.

I’ve decided to stick with a goal of donating a fixed amount each month instead.

The two charities I’ve decided to donate to this year are both very close to my heart: RAINN and Sightsavers. Although, I’m also considering switching my focus to Sankara Eye Foundation since it’s an extremely Indian-American organization.

My favorite website for finding places to donate to is ImpactMatters. It’s all well and good for GiveWell to tell me that malaria prevention is the best use of my money. That doesn’t stop the fact that I care about certain things more.

ImpactMatters has a great calculator that tells you your direct impact based on how much money you donated. It also has lists for your local area.

I care a lot about sexual violence domestically & health related to India, so that’s where my money is going.

According to ImpactMatters, my donation of $300 saved 6 people from blindness. I can feel that in my bones and it incentivizes me to donate more.

It doesn’t cover all topics, though. It doesn’t have a category for domestic violence victims, or women-focused, so I do have to look elsewhere.

I also give some money via Kiva, but I’m not sure something so capitalist is actually a good use of my money. It’s nice that I can put in $100 and have it cycle around forever, though.

The world is quiet here.” This may sound curious, like the motto of a secret organization, or something a stranger would say when he picks you up in his taxi and invites you to use your talent to benefit the world. There’ll be losses along the way. We may never triumph, not completely. We may be defeated, at least for a time. But we’ll never disappear. Not so long as there are noble, well-read people to take up the torch.

Jacques Snicket, A Series of Unfortunate Events (2018)