Saturday, December 2, 2017

Record of absence

The next time you’re absent, phone the new driver, not me.

Clearly, my old bus driver was making sure he wouldn’t get a single call from me again. I couldn’t blame him, though. I was infamous for taking days off from school, every now and then. Mom didn’t have an issue either because it meant she’d have company at home the whole day.

Tenth grade in India was similar, with the only difference being you didn’t need to let the driver know, because the bus would leave on time whether you were on board or not. I stayed at home whenever I fell sick, or had too much to study and too little time. We had exams every week, which meant at one point or another, I felt myself drowning in assignments, homeworks and other school stuff.

I’ve never understood how people come to school everyday and have a perfect attendance. For me, that seems utterly impossible. Just trying to wake up early is where the difficulty starts. During the winters, I can’t seem to push my cozy blankets away.

When I find someone whose record of absence is just as bad as mine, we have an understanding between us that’s close to sibling love. It is very rare though.

Coming back to the present, the little kid next to me had taken his notebook out and was taking down the new driver’s number painfully slow, writing every digit like it was a struggle in his big, loopy handwriting.

Then he looked at our old driver straight in the eye and said “Uncle, don’t come back”; presumably because the idea of writing down a phone number again daunted him.  

Friday, November 3, 2017

Greens - A Salad Lover's Paradise

We had dinner from “Greens”, a salad bar, a few days ago.

Dad is a herbivore. I like salads as well, but I always try to chuck out any tomatoes. Plus, if I don’t like the dressing, there’s a good chance it’ll be left uneaten.

An actual salad bar is very rare to find in Riyadh, other than the side salads you can take at restaurants like Pizza Hut and Steakhouse. Naturally, this fueled our curiosity, and we made our way there.

The restaurant was bright and cheery. A variety of food like fresh juices, shakes, and a whole lot of other stuff that was organic and healthy were available, plus racks of chips with all different kinds and flavours.

I’ve never had a chance to choose the ingredients for my salad before, so it was quite a task, because of the several options.  

The place held a calm and peaceful atmosphere, and we really did enjoy dinner.

Friday, October 27, 2017

My first award on Wattpad!

My story “Bruises” was awarded first place in the Athena Awards on Wattpad!

I had entered in several competitions, but lost. By the time the Athena Awards announced their result for the Mystery/Thriller category, I had forgotten all about it. So it was a pleasant surprise to wake up one morning and see the notification on my phone, which let me know they had tagged me. I realized even without opening the app that there was no other reason for them to do so, and seeing my username in bold for first place made me immensely happy.

Being on Wattpad has been great. I’ve read a variety of books from different genres, and it’s encouraging to see the support my own stories get from my readers. It’s something I would recommend for every aspiring writer, or for people who love to read.

I haven’t got a chance to see the second season of Riverdale yet, and the suspense is terrible. I did not want to spoil it by reading the plots of the released episodes online, but a few tidbits did catch my eye. Moose and Midge get shot, and Grundy is killed by the masked murderer. But I have no idea what fully happened.

Monday, August 28, 2017

The Burger Junction - Kochi

“It's black.” I noted.

“Yup.” Kunjunni showed a photo of The Samurai.

“That's red.”

No one in my family had ever seen or eaten a black/red burger, but we caught an Uber and made our way there anyway.

Inside The Burger Junction (TBJ), the menu had several options and for a while, we all just sat there stupefied.

Hellboy caught Dad's eye. It claimed to be extremely hot, owing to the fact that it’s contents included the spiciest chilli in India. Dad can handle almost any kind of chilli, and he loves spicy food, so none of us made much of an issue about it. The burger's description also mentioned that it wasn't recommended for children. Even though Dad wasn't a child, the waitress still made a special point of mentioning that it was very hot.

“I'll take that challenge.” Dad waited for the rest of us to order.

Kunjunni went for The Dark Knight. I decided to have the TBJ special. And then when the food came, Dad's burger was an angry red, like the Samurai. And Kunjunni snapped a few selfies with his burger, all while oohing and aahing.

When Dad reached for The Hellboy, we all held our breath. He took a bite, and his face remained impassive. For a minute we thought someone had finally defeated Hellboy. But then he started taking huge sips of his cold cappuccino and we knew he had failed. He then ordered a different burger after giving up.

We all took some share from the Hellboy. Mom, Kunji Chechi and I didn't have much since we didn't have any confidence in ourselves.

It was incredible to see the facial expressions of everyone change from everything's-fine-and-dainty to omg-I-need-some-milk. At first, I didn't have any issues. Then slowly, it felt like something was burning in my throat, and soon, I was grabbing at my drink.

Kunjunni felt the largest blow. He had taken a bigger share, and he needed sips from everyone's drink before he could calm down.

The Dark Knight was a success. The black buns were slightly different in texture from regular bread, but it was pretty good overall.                 

The Burger Junction has more options than the normal fast food restaurant, and it's pretty cheerful, so my family and I would definitely recommend it, and come back again.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Wattpad Story | Subway

Updated my second short story on Wattpad!Whee!

This new story is called “Subway” and describes an encounter between two peers on, well, the subway. I’m so proud of it, and I hope you guys give it a read. My character, Cleo, is shy and introverted, and hopefully, she’s someone we can all relate to.

Friday, June 16, 2017

100,000 Pageviews!

We’ve reached 100,000 pageviews folks! Woohoo!

I started this blog when I was nine, and since then it's been an incredible journey for me. “My Diary” has been featured on an American school website as an example of blog writing, is a member of Best Indian Blogs and has been converted into a book by Uncle Gopichan, twice. A renowned artist, Uncle Venki, did fabulous illustrations just for me. My friends and family are an integral part of this blog, and I’ve received a lot of support and encouragement from the people around me.

I feel it is time to revamp the blog. I’ve been thinking about changing the name to something a little more mature.

For the past two years, school has been eating up my time, and my pace of blogging has really slowed down. I hope I can catch up soon with the updates.

For now, this is Janaki, signing off.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

First Wattpad Story - Bruises

Hey readers! I joined Wattpad last week, and just recently uploaded my first story 'Bruises'.

A short, one page story about a mentally challenged girl defending her brother. When a bully assaults Christopher, things spiral out of control as Madison takes things into her own hands while her past comes back to her.

I would love if you gave it a read.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Untold Stories

Eleventh grade has taken off like a bullet from a gun. The days have been flying so fast, especially the weekends, and I’ve hardly been able to keep track of what’s going on.
I think I have mentioned my love for music in some of my earlier posts, and if you’re someone like me, who loves singing (despite the fact that I’m not very gifted and can make a dog’s ears bleed), then Smule is definitely the app for you.

Smule offers a million songs to sing to, AND, you can join other aspiring singers with collaborations. Plus, if you take an All Access Pass (like I did), then you can access every song, which is totally awesome.
I think the best feature of Smule is Sing With The Artist, where you can jam out to pre-recorded video versions of some of your favourite singers, like Shawn Mendes and Charlie Puth. I haven’t tried it out yet, but it looks pretty cool.

You can find me, as JanakiSajan, on Smule ;)

Lately, I’ve been into reading fanfiction, on I’ve never actually read any before, but once I started, I became totally hooked. I think the reason I got attracted easily is because these stories are different, creative versions of canon by a variety of writers who seem to be my age.

Some fics are fantastic, a few are captivating, and others don’t really hit the mark and remind me of embarrassing times when I was younger and tried my level best to write a story that wouldn’t make people cry in hysteria.

I discovered an old diary that I used to keep when I was probably eight or nine years old. I had actually thought I lost it. Despite the fact that it’s only a rough book, I remembered it well for years, since I had written a variety of sloppy poems and stories in it. I was a voracious writer even when I was just a kid, and any unused book was a golden opportunity for me to let my imagination loose. Reading “Famous Five”, “Secret Seven” and “Harry Potter” did nothing to calm me down. Once a plot settles in my head, I have this fueling urge to write it down and work on it, until I give up hope and accept the fact that I can never write a successful story.

For some people, this might seem bland, but for me, the thought of sitting in front of my laptop, while typing down an original story that everyone might like reading, is like a dream. This is probably one of the many reasons I love ‘Fangirl’ by Rainbow Rowell. Rainbow’s character, Cath, is so genuine that I can relate to her in so many ways. I can’t count the number of times I’ve read ‘Fangirl’ and ‘Eleanor and Park’, and how I’ve seen even the most minute things that we do everyday, but don’t really give attention to, penned down in these pages.

Of course, it wasn’t just writing; I drew plenty as well. My most famous drawing in that book was “A just married couple with their two children”. I recall doing it; I actually wanted to do either a family portrait, or a wedding photo, but was too lazy to do both separately, so just thought “Screw it, I’ll do a two-in-one.”

One of my poems was titled ‘Drat!’ (as embarrassing as it is), and seems to be the only one where I don’t fully cringe at.

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Matriarchy, the Virtual Reality

“Look at them.” Vaishnavi scowled at some little kids running nearby, with their laughs ringing through the atmosphere. “All so happy and cheerful; they’ll be suffering like us when they grow older and have a heap of work piled on them.”

That’s the same reaction I had when I heard one of Mom’s friend’s daughter had just started going to school. I had said “Oh, poor thing.”

Now in eleventh grade, I can hardly believe that only twelfth is left. Somehow, it feels like the years just flew by.

These last few weeks have been busy. Chandana, Nanditha and I met up at Pizza Hut for dinner together during the first week of school, and recently, I got a Daydream VR headset.

Dad received a Google Pixel as a gift, and when we found out it had this feature called Daydream VR on it, we were obsessed. Mom and I were in India at that time, and I thought Dad had received the headset along with the phone, but apparently, it was something to be bought separately.

Kunjunni was pretty thrilled too. Neither of us had ever got to experience virtual reality before, so it was something to talk about.

When I reached Riyadh, Dad and I ordered the headset online, and it reached us on his birthday.

It’s absolutely amazing. While wearing the headset, you can transport yourself to wherever you want. I even played the VR game of “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.” But it was slightly disappointing, because despite the fact that I got to swish a wand around, the game was pretty short. After meeting the three creatures, I was pretty bored and realized that was it.

Last night, we went to Euromarche for some purchases, and Mom asked us if we wanted biriyani the next afternoon for lunch. Dad and I said NO almost  immediately, which annoyed Mom, so she said she would make it anyway,  leaving us stunned, because then, there was no point in asking us.

This obviously displays the veto power Mom has at home.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Global Public School | Diwali Stalls

Diwali was coming up, and everyone at GPS was excited because the school had allowed its students to open food stalls to honour the occasion.

Each team setting up a food stall needed at least five members. My friends and I weren’t really interested because then we wouldn’t be able to focus on the real issue- eating.

On the grand day, we watched as the group of boys from our class brought in their stuff. They took up a lot of space because the container in which they brought cold drinks were huge. Plus, they brought a large tub of ice-cream, bottles of some sort of blue syrup, cupcakes and a whole lot of other things. It was amusing to see them stagger down the stairs. But the joke was on us later, because they got to miss the first few periods to set up their stalls. They grinned at everyone stuck in class before scampering away.

The groups were allowed to advertise what they would be selling, which meant the prefects took it as a perfect opportunity while herding us like sheep to the auditorium for the morning assembly. “Hey, get in line already! And don’t forget to visit stall 15! We’re selling cookies!”

But the boys from our class- Joseph, Thomas, Rohith, Milan and Zainul- had put in more effort. They actually had a few flyers printed out which they held as people stared at them on their way.  They were Stall 9.

Each section had a half an hour to go down and visit the stalls. The school had earlier announced that the maximum amount each person was allowed to bring was only 100 rupees. But when Neha and Angela told me they would bring more, I did so too. And I was so glad I did. Most of the prices of food were just cruel. We had to bargain with each stall to get what we wanted.

Bisna, Neha, Angela and I had pooled our resources. The idea was that, whenever one of us bought something, we would buy just enough to share amongst us. This way, we would be able to have more stuff, and not eat too much of anything.We were dividing a slice of creamy chocolate cake that I had bought for us when a piece of it fell on my skirt.

I stared at the stain in dismay “It is removable, right?”

My friends assured me that yes, it was.

“That was partly my fault.” Neha said. “I’m sorry.”

I told her it was fine, before we took off to the other stalls.

The visit to Stall 9 was the most anticipated. The guys were bombarding whoever got close enough. It was pretty good marketing strategy. I already had a feeling that they were after ALL my money, because of the outrageous offers I got placed in front of me.

Milan held something up in front of my face. “This is a one-of-a-kind, Blue Lagoon muffin, Janaki! Our special! You might never have tasted anything like this before! AND it’s only, like, 70 rupees!”

I almost choked and died on my own spit when I realized it was just a plain muffin with some of the mystery syrup they had brought, on it.

“No way” I gave it a shove. “Besides, we already had a cupcake.”

“What about ice-cream, huh?” Joseph said. “This isn’t just your regular ice-cream, it’s vanilla AND chocolate. Eighty rupees a scoop!”

I just stared at the measly offering, which was already melting in the plate he had dumped it in.

I raised my hands “Can I just buy something I can actually afford?”

Rohith came over and said, “Okay, tell me how much money you have.”

“No way. You name me your price.”

It took some bickering, but we got our stuff at slightly less prices. We walked away with juice, and some other things I don’t really remember. Neha looked absolutely dazed. It turns out people from some of the other stalls had rushed over to her as well, and she had accidently bought food she hadn’t even wanted, including the ice-cream Joseph had offered.  

I realized, as we walked away, how smart they had been. Because of the way they had offered us and the way they quickly took our money, they were making a fortune. Plus, most of their friends were taking turns and helping as well. And their stall was right next to the school building, making it the most noticeable.

The doubt that they might have made the most money was cleared the minute I stepped into class with my friends from the cafeteria after lunch.

Rohith waved his money in front of us “We made the biggest profit!”

We also learned that they had deceived most of the customers as well, because once their cold drinks ran out, they had simply poured some water on ice, along with blue syrup, and called it Sky juice. And it wasn’t cheap either. Most of the people had demanded their money back, but were met with “No refunds!”

According to someone, they had even charged one rupee for each sip from the younger grades as well.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Global Public School | Class Photo 2016-17

At GPS, one of the many memorable moments happened on the day the class photo was to be taken.

We were all required to be in our formal uniforms, brush our hair, shine our shoes, wear our ID cards and in other words, look as presentable as possible on the specified day.

Us girls managed to clean ourselves up quite nicely. But to say the same about the boys would be very, very wrong.

We could see the smoke coming out of our class teacher’s ears as she frantically flapped her arms in order to get the point across.

“Rohit, you caveman, get a comb, right now! And you, where’s your ID card? And why do YOU still look asleep?”

Questions were shot at each boy rapidly as they made a mad dash to the restrooms.

When they finally got back, patting their hair down, they each got a death glare before we were herded downstairs.

While we were waiting, we got the news that the photo was candid, meaning, the photo was going to be in contrast to regular class photos where we were made to stand in solemn rows.

“Great.” our teacher said “Now everyone will get a chance to see just how unprepared and messy you are.”

At that exact moment, the ID card hanging around Nouffin’s neck committed suicide and fell to the floor, as if it knew that the owner was already going to look terrible.

We were already laughing, and at this, we kinda roared. He quickly bent to pick it up, and looked at the card sorrowfully.

Finally, we all assembled together, in preparation for the photo. We were standing on the lush green lawn, which would be a beautiful background, and because of the fact that this was the first time a candid photo was taken, everyone was a little unsure. I’m pretty confident that it was the first time a group of teenagers did not know how to actually casually strike a pose for a photo.

But, at the end, we all did manage to look cool while photos were being snapped. And after the session, the photographers just barely managed to hold on to their cameras as teenaged girls tried to grab them away to see the snaps.

It was pretty chaotic, and when we trudged away, Govind and another boy managed to fall face-down on the grass and stay there stunned for a few seconds before dusting themselves off and wandering away like nothing had ever happened in the first place.

But we were chuckling, all the way upstairs, knowing that one of the most anticipated days was over.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Great news! Nando's has finally come to Riyadh!

It was a long time ago, but I vaguely remember Mom pulling up Google Maps on her laptop and typing frantically to check if there was any branch of Nando's in our city, or the next.

But now, a Nando's has come up just five minutes away from our home, which means Mom’s prayers have finally been answered.

It was very unexpected, and Mom and I got this bit of news from Dad while we were still in India, which only proceeded to me requesting Dad if he could book tickets at the earliest date possible, so that we could fly over immediately after the exams.

We had lunch yesterday from the aforementioned restaurant, and the wait was definitely worth it. The restaurant also had a really cheerful atmosphere and was pretty lively.

My parents and I love peri-peri chicken more than fried chicken because it is more healthy and juicy, plus you don’t get tired of it easily.

There are other restaurants, though, which also serve peri-peri chicken. I had mentioned in one of my earlier posts about another place, Veri Peri Portuguese Grill, where we would have dinner during the weekends. In Kerala, the food court of Lulu mall held Galito, which had the symbol of a proud chicken.

Yet, as frequent diners, we feel it is still hard to beat Nando's.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

One year at GPS

Well, folks! I’m back in Riyadh!

Tenth grade flew by very fast. I can hardly believe that another year is over. I just have two more years of school left.

The one year I spent at Global Public School was fantastic. It was a complete change, which was something I hadn’t got a taste of in a long time. I made a lot of new friends, and went through new experiences.

Initially, I was plenty nervous about the idea. It was one thing to change school in the same country, so moving to a new school in another country was, well, nerve-racking. Never mind the fact that I went to India for at least a vacation of two months every year; the only year I had actually studied there was second grade.

The day before the beginning of the academic year, students were required to come to the school auditorium with their family, where there would be a welcoming session, and then proceed to their classrooms where instructions on dress code, behaviour and other concerns would be given.

My grandparents and I went together, and I got my first good look of the school. When we found the way to my class, I realized the rest of the kids who had bored expressions on their faces were going to be my classmates for the year. And I was the only new student, which was kind of disappointing, because my strategy was to quickly become friends with someone probably just as disoriented as I was. But there seemed to be no such luck.

Later, I found out I was the only new student in the entire GRADE, let alone class. So people got to know about me, even if I didn’t know them.

I managed to be late for class the very first day, owing to the fact that I had accidently left my school bag outside the auditorium for the morning assembly, and had forgotten to take it with me. I was halfway to my class before I remembered. It was a complete Oh dang! moment, followed by me throwing insults mentally at myself. But I managed to find a girl I presumed to be one of my classmates, and told her I’d forgotten my bag and needed someone who knew the way. Thankfully, she came along with me. I told her my name was Janaki on the way, she told me hers was Bisna, and we later became great friends.

The first day I was pretty lonely. My classmates and I had made small talk, but considering the fact that I had only been there for a couple of hours, I hadn’t still been able to actually count on someone, so I walked alone to the cafeteria and came back to class before everyone else. The most hyperactive person I met that day was Bisna’s friend Vaishnavi from the next section who told me to be careful of one of our teachers as she had kicked Vaishnavi out of class since she hadn't brought her book.

On the second day, Neha and Angela invited me to sit with them along with one of their best friends from another class, Vedika. From then on we used to sit and chat together along with Bisna not only at lunch, but also in class. Although we were friends with the other girls in our class, it was the four of us; Neha, Angela, Bisna and me.

But despite everything, I missed Riyadh. A lot. I missed how my parents and I would try out new restaurants, or shop in the malls and go out for walks.

However, I completely don't regret my one year, and I will never forget the fun times I had with my class.