raven: Karen Gillan as Amy Pond, wearing green and red and looking up (Default)
It's become increasingly clear that I won't get my meme answers done before the end of December. Never mind; they'll keep my brain ticking over in January. Y'all asked me lots of interesting stuff which I still fully intend to answer - just, perhaps not now.

Things. Things and stuff. Okay, so, it's December 21st. I've been doing my new job for not quite three weeks, and yesterday I got a card from my new colleagues, full of sweet thoughtful messages for the wedding, and today I got paid for the first time. Career-wise, I'm still chewing some things over, but right now I feel settled and happy in a way I haven't felt for a long time, perhaps since I came back to the UK in 2011.

Tonight, Shim and I fly out; we'll be in Delhi from Sunday morning, and while I am still quite anxious and apprehensive about a lot of elements of this wedding, I am looking forward to seeing all our wonderful friends who are flying so far to be there for it. I have had a lot of trouble expressing it, so I'm just going to state, baldly, that you all have no idea how much this means to me, and that race and culture and families are so hard, but that fandom and Oxford, in their ways, were the first real communities I had, and here you all are, and I love you all so much.

Lots of wedding stuff. LOTS. The actual wedding is December 29th, though, with reception on the 30th, and Shim and I are having a proper honeymoon this time around: we're missing New Year through the miracle of flying east, spending a few days in Bali and Singapore, and returning in the new year hopefully refreshed. (My boss said, listening to this today, taxonomy sounds positively restful after all of that: I quite agree, and I think my job may be the calmest and most peaceful thing in my life right now. Nothing wrong with that.) In January, it's my birthday. I'll be 27, which isn't a dramatic age, but 26 was a dramatic year and I still want to mark it somehow: I think, right now, on my skin. I read recently the thought that a woman who gets a tattoo is marking out what she owns - that in this few square feet of space, no one's rules matter but hers - and that resonated with me, here at this place where my personal and professional identities are settling, but are what I made them, nevertheless, so. So, I am here. See all of you on the flipside of the year.

One final thing! There are five stories of mine in the [livejournal.com profile] yuletide collection: four full-length, one treat, in four different fandoms. If you can guess any of them before reveals, your prize is a small ficlet. And if you're my author, I apologise sincerely for the delay. I will be back, I will read your story, and I know right now that'll it'll be awesome.

And that's all, and goodnight.
raven: Karen Gillan as Amy Pond, wearing green and red and looking up (Default)
Notes on a week in Delhi and Mumbai:

-So this time I flew into Mumbai from London, to visit friends for a couple of days, and it's lovely. Unlike Delhi, it has reasonable weather all year round rather than two months out of twelve, and although it has its problems, it doesn't have Delhi's perennial issues with water. (Lately, in Delhi, you just want to cry watching water go down the drain; it's like throwing away gold dust.) Anyway, so I went to the beach and ate street pav bhaji and saw the Gateway of India (which you can't go in, any more; there was the beautiful open lit empty space inside, occupied only by a police dog having a snooze) and had tea at the Taj and generally was quite, quite useless. It was great. My mental health hasn't been the best, lately, but I think a dose of warmth and sun is never bad. Delhi, once I got there, is in the smoothing-off period, the pre-Diwali time where the shops and businesses are beginning to turn off the air conditioning. It lingered around a pleasant, dry thirty degrees, which was nice.

-Since I was last in India about eighteen months ago, my parents have sold their old house in Delhi, which was by New Delhi Railway Station, and given that it was my father's ancestral house and he did to a greater and lesser extent grow up in it, and also, it was where I spent the little time I did with my paternal grandfather, a deeply formidable gentleman who was kinder and gentler to me than he had ever been to anyone, given all of those things, god, I hated that house. When my father was young it was a nice house in a residential district, running on the rhythms of the railway station (one of the things I did like about it was the brief moment, halfway between wakefulness and sleep, every morning at five am: this is the night mail / crossing the border, in this case, the Kalka Mail), but now it's surrounded by developments, hotels and construction work, and to make things just that little bit worse, the water pressure in the area has long since fallen to basically nothing. We spent four months there the summer I was four, and it was forty-eight degrees in Delhi with no air conditioning or running water, and those days, you had to ring up Emirates to confirm your flights the day before travelling. (Did you know that? I've never met anyone who knew that. We were bumped to standby. I missed my first two months of school. I was put off my ancient and magnificent homeland for not-quite life.)

-(A related note, also: I occasionally see non-South-Asians refer to us as "desi", which is just, beyond not on, from my perspective. "Desh" means, homeland; "desi" means someone from that homeland. To presume to give that word, because it is a gift, is rank imperialism.)

-The new place, oddly enough, is very close to my mother's family. It's in CR Park, the Bengali colony which my maternal grandfather, my Dadu, was instrumental in creating in the seventies, and it's beautiful – it's a second-floor flat with two actual bedrooms (which, in south Delhi, is positively palatial) and trees in leaf brushing up against the windows. I adore it – partly for itself, because it's quiet and clean and comfortable, and as part of my family's continual quest towards non-Western modernity, it's outfitted with Indian-style bathrooms and kitchen, all cool, smooth granite and rattan and ridiculous drapes from Fabindia, and Ikea's finest in the kitchen drawers – and partly because, well. Last night I couldn't sleep, and it was maybe three or four in the morning and I got up, went to the kitchen and got myself an apple and rasmalai from the fridge, and cut the apple and put the rasmalai in the bowl, and sat for half an hour with my laptop, and ate them, then washed up the bowl, spoon and knife and put them in the rack to dry. I think maybe you have to be me to understand the significance of that. But I have my keys to the place. It's my home, too.

CR Park, too, is a good place to live. It was created as a gated community before the phrase acquired the connotations it has now – that is to say, the emphasis is on the second word. It's large and getting larger all the time – we are a short walk from the CR Park police station, CR Park Market No. 4 and the CR Park Kali Mandir Society – but all with that dusty-tree, homely feeling. Annoyingly, it's equidistant between two metro stations, Nehru Place and Kailash Colony, and thus not really walking distance from either, but just as I was complaining about that someone reminded me about the Phase III Metro work, which will build a third radial station closer than either of the others, so really, I'm very happy. I kind of want to take Shim there for a week one winter without telling any of my relatives I'm in town, and just hang out and explore.

-Speaking of which. I can't put my finger on it, and it's kind of frightening, but this kind of middle-class Delhi life has become a lot easier for me to navigate, just recently. I've been married five weeks and those five weeks have done more for my social capital than my previous decade of adult life. And it doesn't matter that Shim wasn't with me, or even that Shim isn't desi; somehow, something has changed. It's deeply insulting, of course, but that's maybe epiphenomenal? I picked up a book in the airport called Lady, you're not a man, which I liked mostly because it's basically a slim Indian feminist tract masquerading as a self-help book, and rule one is, never apologise for being a woman. This is the sort of self-help advice I can get behind. Anyway, so it is insulting, and maybe it is psychologically destructive to be a woman in a society that demands such apology (I applied to get the natural gas pipeline connected; the gas company wanted to know my husband's name before I could apply), but I don't know, I think the best way out is to carry on living the life I do. After all, India is an idea – a grand, ancient idea, for sure, but a thousand dialects and cultures, old states, new states, rural and urban and mixed, 1.1 billion people, one in six of all the people that there are, all pushed together like they fit, like it's possible for them to be one noisy nation, under no god. If there's no room for me in India, then what the hell's the point of it. (One of the nicest things anyone has ever said about me, ever, was said by my second-year institutional politics tutor, herself a desi: "She is the argumentative Indian.")

(Rule number whatever in the book is addressed to single women, living in a society that believes they need to be married before they're complete: remember all the other women who support you, cheer you, admire you, are you.. It keeps telling you there's nothing wrong with you and you don't need help, it's the worst self-help book ever.)

wedding stuff )

Anyway. It can't be helped. I am back now for seven weeks (wouldn't it be nice if I got a job in those seven weeks, gosh), peeling off the jet-lag, and listening to Jiya Re on repeat this morning, if anyone needs something cheerful to help them out of bed, and going on.
raven: Karen Gillan as Amy Pond, wearing green and red and looking up (doctor who - amy)
I married Shim on the equinox, in Scotland, on a day halfway to autumn. If you don't want to read the rest: my dress was red; our friends cried; afterwards we spent two days in Prague, wrote our names on a padlock and threw the keys into the Vlatava. And nothing and everything has changed. These are notes for my own memory, as much as anything, and also this is where I say thank you for the thousand things – the gifts, and good wishes, the wisdom of the elite group who consulted on my coming-in music! Thank you, which sounds so bare and unadorned, here, compared to the richness of your kindnesses, but thank you. Shim and I appreciate it more than it's possible to say.

We held the wedding, ceremony and reception both, at the Rowantree, which is a pub and open space below the South Bridge in Edinburgh. If you walk down the South Bridge and you don't know the city, you'd be excused for not knowing it's a bridge at all: it looks like an ordinary city street, built above the vaults and spaces of the bridge supports below. The way down into the vaults was rediscovered in the eighties after being forgotten for decades, and once the spaces below had been cleared of a century's middens, they're just magical: today the Rowantree is a smallish festival and wedding venue, dim and warm, filled with fairy lights and stalactites and about a thousand candles. I fell in love with it at first sight about a year ago and the tone of the wedding was set at that point: Scottish, intimate, strange, and full of candlelight. We lit those lights ourselves – metaphorically, but literally (thank you, Ikea) and I would like to be able to show you what that room looked like as I walked in, but I never will; I will never stand anywhere like that again, except in memory.

before )

during )

afterwards )
raven: Karen Gillan as Amy Pond, wearing green and red and looking up (Default)
One of the remaining wedding tasks is figuring out the music. Am currently resisting the urge to replace Mendelssohn with "I knew you were trouble when you walked in".

(Getting married in five weeks! Permanently unemployed in three!)

(Look, some people juggle geese.)

Um.

Stories:

For [personal profile] cosmic_llin, five times Margaret Houlihan was really proud of herself (well-behaved women seldom make history) (also at the AO3);

For [livejournal.com profile] jennygriffee, five episodes of M*A*S*H that Cecil and Carlos watched together (this is radio nowhere)

For [personal profile] philomytha, five four times Simon Illyan nearly resigned (and then it was too late).

And "wild dreams of a new beginning", five times Carlos surprised Cecil, is on the AO3 now as well.
raven: black and wite Kaylee, against the background of her parasol in colour (firefly - kaylee's parasol)
I took a couple of days off at the end of last week and went to Oxford to see the lovely [livejournal.com profile] troyswann, whom I have known for years and years and years and is visiting our fair shores, and also [personal profile] catwalksalone and [twitter.com profile] elbee512 and it was just totally delightful and did my heart good. Sal, whom I have known since I was seventeen, is just the best. I don’t know what we talked about, only, I think we talked about a lot of things, including fandom, and Shakespeare, and weddings, and driving distances in Canada and how they can be calculated with reference to the curvature of the Earth; but I had such a wonderful time. Cat and Elizabeth are also wonderful people whom I had not met before! We talked about Sports Night quite a lot. And we went for cream tea at Queen’s Lane, only with not quite enough cream, and in my case, not enough jam. Also, the little greasy spoon on St Giles, where we went for breakfast, is much nicer than I remember and does lovely cinnamon rolls. I don’t know how this account turned into a litany of the food I ate, but it was all so joyful that the cream and jam seem the easiest way to express it. And you all know this already but Sal is the best: she is just as good a storyteller in person as she is on the page. She told me a lot of stories and I went to many distant places while she told them.

Also, Oxford – Oxford in high July, with all the buildings looking so beautiful they might as well be made out of crystallised honey, complete with blossom on the tree outside the university church, and an air of respectable desertion around Exam Schools. We did a long circuit from Christ Church Meadow, along the riverbank and the university parks, round the back of the Botanic Garden and up onto Magdalen Bridge a bit along from Hilda’s, and everything was so perfectly green and still. I love Oxford, still, probably forever; Sal turned to me as we walked up the High in the light curving towards dusk and said, “Well, this does not suck.”

Yes. Exactly.

In the morning I drove home in thirty-degree temperatures in my car that has no air-conditioning, and in which you can’t open the windows because the car sort of rocks from side to side, and dissolved on the couch for twelve hours, and then on Saturday I had a hen party.

You see I didn’t actually want a hen party, but. [profile] hathy_col, who is not my bridesmaid (I don’t have any) but has taken on all the responsibilities with none of the fun bits, organised everything and told me where to turn up, and predictably, I was very wrong to have had any doubts. Although it rained, and the place we were originally going to was closed for a private party without telling anyone, somehow or other we ended up in a cocktail bar somewhere near Covent Garden, with a very long menu, and a sheet of paper on which were scribbled all of the drinks being subjected to happy hour. It was great. [livejournal.com profile] tau_sigma had a wonderful purple top hat with a feather in it. Maria turned up in the middle of the evening to tell me that she had been ten days on shift, and she’d left the baby at home, and she wanted cocktails (which were all long, sticky and tasted a little of cream and banana, which is basically all I want out of life). I was a bit worried that I was the only person who knew everyone, but I went away for a minute and came back to a table eagerly discussing the ins and outs of Vulcan sex, and [personal profile] such_heights and [personal profile] happydork talking about Vulcan babies. I had forgotten to eat lunch and got really quite drunk.

I don’t know who initialised the tradition of toasting me with each round of drinks, but it was a great idea and there were a lot of drinks. I think some of them were sweet and heartfelt and about my future happiness in married life; one was definitely me toasting my wonderful, passionate and fascinating friends; there was also, “To Iona! May her betrayal never be inevitable!” and my personal favourite: “To Iona! ...there is no Iona. Welcome... to Night Vale.”

Which brings us neatly on to:

Welcome to Night Vale )

In conclusion, I love Welcome to Night Vale in a fittingly devoted and slightly scary way, all hail the great glow cloud. If anyone has a ficlet they wish written, please say so, I might just write it.

(Although, not the fic where the jet airliner that materialises in the high school gym is owned and operated by MJN Air, CEO Carolyn Knapp-Shappey, because apparently SOMEONE ALREADY WROTE THAT.

I mean.

Fandom.)
raven: text: "shut absolutely up" (cabin pressure - shut up)
Not sure I ought to have to say this, but here it is anyway: I am allowed to make fun of Indian weddings. You - white, don't-they-last-four-days-and-they're-all-colourful-tee-hee, thoughtless you - are not. Getting married in a grey church in England is not a "normal" way to get married. Thanks, glad we've cleared that up.

Anyway, so. Wedding planning has taken its great leap forwards. The Scottish shindig now has a guest list, a photographer, (probably) a cake, (probably) a ceilidh band, two readers, two witnesses, a venue, a menu and even favours, ye gods. I need to get my dress altered and am cleverly combining this with [community profile] vidukon_cardiff (don't even ask). We still need a playlist, a script, a last-minute narrative resolution to a continuing spat re: canapés, and sixty-five tiny screwtop jars.

The Indian wedding has dates, venues, three documents in progress (schedule; historical and religious contexts, with footnotes; visa procedures, a beginner's guide) a vague guest list, invitation wording if not actual invitations (I drafted this yesterday while putting up with heckling from all sides), a cast of thousands, and a certain sense that Things Are Getting Done. Not by me, I hasten to add. But done.

My to-do list is still in three parts and synced between three devices. But... hurrah? I think?

(I think I shall pre-emptively declare 2014 the Year of the Hammock, With No To-Do Lists At All.)

(I hope to begin it in a houseboat in Srinagar.)
raven: Daniel Jackson wearing Abydonian robes covering his head, light behind him, text: "Take action if you dare" (sg1 - ascended daniel)
This week, I have:

-had a quick but joyful lunch with [personal profile] gavagai at King's Cross (we talked mostly about food and Captain Vorpatril's Alliance, and how it's impossible to make pointed satirical jokes about this government, because a couple of weeks later it becomes, as she put it, gentle observational comedy - this after she said that I'm lucky I began my job before the concept of a professional training contract becomes an unpaid internship; I pointed out that the SRA has just abolished our minimum salary);

-spent several hours on Thursday at the annual property networking event (surreal in the extreme - when skipping out of the building at 3pm to get a lift out to the village, the other trainee, J., and I were stopped by the managing partner and asked where we were going; we gave him a sweet chorus of "Comm prop pétanque!" and his expression will stay with me)

-finally used my free ticket for the British Library's Writing Britain exhibition (I liked it, as Shim predicted - the exhibition is about literature and Britain but it's also about land, layers tangible and metaphorical, indiscriminately laid over each other all the way down to bedrock);

-signed the paperwork for the civil registrar. We're really getting married. It turns out now we sent it to the wrong person, but I hope that bodes well for a long married life of confounding officialdom. Also, you get married in Scotland on Form AP1. You register land in England on Form AP1. I sometimes believe my job is taking over my life; all the rest of the time I know it's true.

(I wrote a fic once where a lawyer falls in love with her assigned land registrar. I have not fallen in love with mine, even though I spend more time on the phone with her than with my partner, my best friend and my parents combined. I think that's an achievement. )

On Friday I forgot to note some easements on a leasehold title. The easements were in the lease. The registration requirements were in the lease. The lease itself is non-registrable. I just... forgot. Possibly related, something of a mental health blip. I don't know why these things always happen together: autumn, the first cold, long hours and long days and work taking over my mind, and anxiety uncurling. Actually, when I put it like that it doesn't sound so inexplicable. I guess if you want something other than fandom and land registration.... come back in the spring? I am not really capable of profundity at the moment.

In the meantime, the Bujold ficathon has wrapped up and there are some lovely stories; the various holiday exchanges are starting up; I still don't know what I want for Yuletide other than Code Name Verity. Onward as ever.
raven: (stock - roses)
Thank you all again for the congratulations you left on my last post(s). I say this so often, but I never stop being surprised at the warmth and kindness of you all.

Wedding planning has begun, though it really does seem like a rehearsal for all the rest of my life in that everything about weddings is culturally dictated, and if you happen to hail from more than one then congratulations, it’s time to feel really bad about yourself. (This is exaggeration. Kinda.) There are some small delights about wedding planning though: reading through all the poetry you ever heard of to try and find a reading, and not finding one, but feeling washed clean and translucent with joy because hey, you just re-read all the poetry you ever knew; discovering that the General Register Office for Scotland has many obscure requirements for a marriage but operates in the warm shadow of Scottish marriage reform; learning that your mother-in-law can, without fuss and fanfare, cast precious metal.

(I am not really sorry that I don’t do family law, mostly because I hear from people who do that it involves cowering under meeting room tables as clients’ chairs are thrown, but that said I find the law concerning births, marriages and deaths an oddly poetic area. Like any area of law where the public intersects with the private, it has to tread softly, and has that fascinating side-effect where purely legal text is transformed into something rare and poetic. (Witness this sentence from the GRO website: where no name was recorded for the still-born child at the time of registration, a name can be added at the request of the parents. There’s a whole novel to be written based on that sad little registrars’ note.) On that topic, people have used Goodridge v Massachusetts as a wedding reading, and I think that’s lovely, but appropriative in my case. Back to the drawing board.)

Life continues, otherwise. I have about a month left in the current job, with no word on where they’re putting me in September, and there’s a chance I may be responsible for a first-year trainee which bothers me greatly (I am a year into my training, which doesn’t seem long enough for me to have any sort of responsibility for anyone else); Shim passed his driving test first time (hurrah! I no longer have to drive anywhere okay that might be a lie, also I love my little green car); and, very excitingly indeed, the South African Siren is coming to see me! I have missed her so – for new readers, she was my dearest friend for the time I lived abroad, and I haven’t seen her in more than a year – and she will be HERE and we will have COCKTAILS and yes.

Olympics - tl;dr, I am REALLY EXCITED )

When I am not watching the Olympics, I’m reading again, which is nice. I just finished Code Name Verity, by Elizabeth Wein - a purportedly YA novel (purportedly! I was harrowed!) about two friends, a Scottish aristocrat and a mill girl from Stockport, in the Second World War. And I’m going to say now that this is a wonderful book and you should all read it but practically everything about it is a spoiler.

Firstly, minor character spoilers )

okay now the MASSIVE spoilers – do not click if you have any thought of reading this novel, and believe me you SHOULD, soupytwist I am particularly looking at you )

Next up: The Scottish Prisoner, the latest Lord John Grey book, out in paperback. I have it, but haven’t started yet because to be honest I am afraid this is going to be a Jamie Fraser book (I was suspicious after she dropped “Lord John and” from the title!). And what I love about the Lord John books is that they are not Jamie Fraser books. Urgh.

Tomorrow, to London. Right now I just ate my whole weight in barbecued tofu and things are okay.

psa

Jul. 26th, 2012 05:57 pm
raven: (stock - roses)
Before I talk about the amazing books I'm reading and the fact my Gaslight Anthem tickets came in the post today and about how my supervisor is delightful ("What do you mean, I'm not scary? I've decided I'm going to be scary from now on! Expect an uncomfortable August!") or about how I start a new job in six weeks or any and all of that:

Shim and I are getting married. Not right now, not before I finish my job or even before the Gaslight Anthem go on tour, but... y'know. I'm sure y'all aren't surprised. Neither am I, really; not surprised, nor very aware of how things are different - but the idea is just, growth, isn't it? At the moment the plan seems to be that I will be admitted to the roll in England and Wales and get married in the same week, and, yes, that's it: that slow passage towards becoming. After four and a half years together Shim and I have become, not part of each other, but together more than just ourselves. It's how it goes.

We're getting married in Edinburgh and New Delhi, probably in that order. Beyond this I know very little, except that there will be food, music and dancing involved. Those that know, thank you all for your lovely messages of congratulation; the Caped Crusader has told everyone at work so people stop me in the corridor to talk about it, and I am overcome by everyone and their love and kindness.

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