Partly ruffled bed, with the bedsheet resembling a Twister board

Irfictionary | Live-in-between

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I am not hot about either marriage or moppets, and so am “still single”. But as my inner circle (and now blog circle) knows, I am also very romantic. So, they have asked me, “Well, then, do you plan to live in?” However, I also like my space; have lived by myself for 10 years; have largely loved being so; have largely loathed the recent three years I’ve been staying with my parents (also because I now WFH) and so am looking forward to getting my own place again very soon; am in my early 40s, and the older you get and the longer you stay single, I guess you get set in your ways. So, what’s my response to their query?

Well, the romantic, own-space-loving me is also very individualistic / unconventional. (Surprise, surprise.) So, the way I’d like it is that my partner have their space (with or without family), I have my space (soon, without family), and we get a separate space: to meet up when we want to, to be on our own (in our own space, or in this mid-space without the other) when we don’t want to be with each other. So, a ‘live-in-between’?

One of my friends marvelled at my ingenuity. Only one. Guess that explains why I’m “still single”.

A miniature kitchen, with a man's hand showing the size

Irfictionary | Kitchend

An Irfictionary post after a long, long time. Irfictionary? An Urban Dictinary-esque series on my blog. This time’s is inspired by soon-to-be-ready new apartment.

A couple of months ago, I went to check out the apartment in the final stages of completion. It’s a 1BHK, just like my earlier flat in Bombay / Mumbai. However, on seeing it, I realized, Chennai builders don’t know to make 1BHKs like in Bombay. There, due to the space crunch, 1BHKs are most in demand. So, builders there pack in the most into a small area, making it look not so small after all. Here in Chennai, I guess, people are still getting used to the idea of apartments. Here, houses have been the norm for the longest time, but now I guess with many people from the rest of India coming here for work, things seem to be changing. So, the apartment plans are very different from those in Bombay. In fact, there seems to be no plan at all. Yes, my flat’s hall is decently sized, the bedroom and attached bathroom modest, the wash area separate. But the kitchen is a killer. It’s at the entrance and tiny as the keyhole. Why, it’s so small, it gets over even before it started. And so, should it be called ‘kitchend’?

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Irfictionary: Melong

Where were you born?

Nagpur (in Maharashtra).

But you’re not Maharashtrian…


OK, where did you spend your childhood?

Calcutta/Kolkata (in West Bengal).

But you’re not Bengali…

Yup. Though I know the language very well, and love the food and movies.

OK, where did you grow up?

Bombay/Mumbai (in Maharashtra again).


I do know a fair bit of Marathi and also Gujarati, as I lived there for a long time.

Wait, where are your parents from?

Dad’s from Vellore (in Tamil Nadu), Mom’s from Chennai/Madras (in Tamil Nadu again).

Hmm, but you’re not…

Ya, not Tamil, though I know the language to a decent extent, although I’ve stayed here for only three-odd years.

Then, your ancestors…?

The Arabian Peninsula. They moved here centuries ago. (At least, that’s what my mom told me.)

Ah, so you’re…

No, I don’t practise Islam. If at all I follow the precepts of any faith, it’s Buddhism.

Seriously, man, where do you belong?

B/W of a person standing on a hilltop looking at panorama beneath

Photo courtesy: Alex Soares Photography

Seriously, man/woman, the answers to some questions just don’t come easy. Especially today, with the world shrinking, with people moving out of their cities/states/countries for jobs/marriages/better lives, with the children of these unions identifying more with the city/state/country they are born in than the one their parents/ancestors were in, with people who moved for work coming back later and not being able to connect with the current state of things, with people who left for better opportunities never coming back but never being fully accepted as residents of their new places… With the way the world, lifestyles, and people’s aspirations and challenges are evolving, questions of identity and belonging are no longer easy to answer. At least not for a growing many.

So, maybe, it’s best to not answer these questions. Or maybe to answer them in a different manner – through a new way of looking at it, a new perspective. “Melong”. It’s about “me” (and not my parents/grandparents) “belonging”; it’s about where I feel I connect, rather than any city/country of origin/domicile; it’s about which place I believe best defines me, about where my soul belongs…

So, now, where do I “melong”? Ah, that’s for another post…

Now, what’s Irfictionary? Find out in this post.

Incidentally, ‘melong’ is also the Tibetan word for ‘mirror’ or ‘looking glass’. In the context of this post, it fits perfectly.

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Irfictionary: Vegan-Themed

This time’s Irfictionary looks at a slowly but surely growing breed. Vegans. (Self included, of course.) Specifically, it looks at the vegan foodie’s journey. (Hey, is it possible to be vegan and foodie? Hey, that’s what I’m here for.) BTW, what’s Irfictionary? Find out earlier on my blog. And what’s vegan? Oh, then, this isn’t for you.

Vegan in dictionary


The vegan foodie. Who says vegans can’t be foodies and vice versa? I mean, I can feed all summer day on soy veg biryani and Paper Boat’s Aam Panna.


What any good/diligent vegan looks at on a pack/menu: whether the food/dish contains all-vegan ingredients. No-nos to milk, cream, cheese, butter, ghee, curd/yoghurt (basically, the entire overworked dairy family); honey (slogging bees); and not-so obvious stuff like milk solids (actually, kinda obvious), gelatine (from animal bones), and beef lecithin (earlier in many foreign chocolates, now replaced with soy). Whew. (Whewgan?)


How a vegan feels on finding something on a shelf/menu that is all-vegan. According to me, in India, at the most only 10% of all food items on a supermarket display or on an eatery menu are vegan. That’s equal to the supposed percentage of LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) people in the entire population. There you have it: it’s as tough being vegan as it’s being gay. Maybe we should have a pride march too. Along with our beloved animal friends, of course. Wait, I’ll go inform all the 41 street dogs, 5 pigeons, and one cat I’m friendly with/nice to near my house.


What most vegan food proves to be: organic. (Conversely, what most organic food proves to be: vegan.) See the health benefits of being vegan?


What the voodie feels his/her meal/dish is: epic. (Of course, as far as vegan food goes.)


And therefore, what every self-respecting, social-media-savvy voodie must do now: vinstagram it.

Happy veganing, folk! Say the animals too.

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Irfictionary: Entrepreneur-Themed

This time’s Irfictionary celebrates the flavour of the moment, entrepreneurs – looking at both stages (of becoming an entrepreneur) and types (of entrepreneurs), right down to a non-desirable one. (I know terms like ‘wantrepreneur’ and ‘borntrepreneur’ exist, so maybe I’m just extending the list. And Irfictionary? Find out more about it a bit down in the blog.)



You yearn to be an entrepreneur. Because you’re bored of the rat race. Because you’re fed up of how little you are earning or how little difference you are making. Because you believe you have the next big idea after online retail sites. Because the next-door neighbour is an entrepreneur. (Yes, the era of comparing sons to doctors, engineers, and MBAs is as old as, um, the word ‘era’. Now, everyone – your dad, your wife/girlfriend, your buddy – is weighing you against them entrepreneurs.)


The incubation stage.

Ontrepreneur / Gonetrepreneur / Dawntrepreneur

The incubation stage is over, and you are ready to go to the market. Your entrepreneurship is on. You have gone entrepreneur. It’s the dawn of your enterprise. Take your pick.


You skip the incubation stage (your idea is that cool or you are in such a hurry) and go instantly/directly to the entrepreneur stage. Appropriate in an age of instant updates, instant feedback, instant food… (Er, perhaps not the last one.)


Everyone fawns over you. “Oh, wow, you are an entrepreneur? That’s cool.” “You run a start-up. Sweet. By the way, I have an idea too…”


Your start-up takes off, and any of the following follows. A biggie wants to buy you. An investor wants to flush you with the greens. You decide to expand. In all cases, you’ve won/arrived as an entrepreneur. Congrapreneur! Huh? Congrats, entrepreneur!


Johntrepreneur / Gentrepreneur

An all-guy start-up.


An all-woman start-up or one aimed at women, such as Zivame. (How come I didn’t define the earlier one too the same way? Simple; I haven’t come across any start-ups aimed exclusively at guys.)

Jeunetrepreneur / Youngtrepreneur

A start-up by a young (‘jeune’ in French) guy/girl/team. This seems to be the flavour within the flavour of the moment. The youngest bar keeps getting higher (lower?), much like the frequency with which Usain Bolt keeps breaking the 100m record. Or the regularity with which the authorities keep detecting adulteration these days in processed foods. (Ok, enough with the processed foods’ examples. Or heck, maybe some entrepreneur should take up this idea. Healthy foods / Healthy processed foods… Healthapreneurs, anyone?)

Sontrapreneur / Sciontapreneur

You are the son – ok, scion, to be more inclusive – of an entrepreneur and an entrepreneur yourself. This could be because the family business isn’t what it used to be and you want to take it in a different/new direction. Or you want to break free and do something yourself. Without papa’s money – if you have that much daring. Or ego.


Another term for serial entrepreneur. Start. Succeed. Sell / Shelve. Repeat. Yeah, you’re constantly in that mode.


You’ve tried your hand at entrepreneurship, and due to various reasons/circumstances, decide it’s not for you – maybe for now. You go back to a job, or in the case of the scion, to papa’s business, and bide your time until your next big idea, and thus, your return. Better luck next time.


You thought over it, and eventually decided entrepreneurship is not for you. Too risky. Too many headaches. Too many mouths to feed. Or you tried it once, and now decide, never again. No worries. Everyone doesn’t have to want – or be – the same thing.

And this one with caution…


My friend was telling me the other day how he’d never again order from this online (conline?) shopping giant here, but rather from the worldwide giant that now also e-tails in India. Reason? They buy rejects for cheap, fix them, and then sell them for new at, oh, of course, crash-low prices. As that solid movie about entrepreneurs, Rocket Singh – Salesman of the Year, so aptly put it, It takes at least 2-3 years to establish your start-up… unless you’re doing something wrong.


What stage are you in? What type are you? Either way, all the best!

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Irfictionary: Inspiration-Themed

Here’s another in the Irfictionary series, this time around the thing that most creative (advertising) people desire: no, not the Cannes Grand Prix, but inspiration. (And ‘Irfictionary’? Find out more about that in some of the below posts.)


In doing this, you’re either lazy or have hit all sorts of blocks (writer’s block, creative block, even a block of wood). Nothing’s giving. In desperation, you type a relevant keyword in the Google search bar and hit ‘Images’. You go through at least 10 pages and make sure you don’t select anything before page 6. (After all, nobody goes beyond page 3 of Google – unless they are ego surfing.) If still no luck, you refine your search with ‘Clip Art’. Yes, your inspiration is running that thin.


When the above fail, you go to Pinterest.


When even Pinterest can’t help you (that will be the day), you go to your machine and look through all your folders for anything you had discarded earlier or can recycle.


Both online and offline don’t work. So, you decide to make a beeline to your favourite bar/club. Nothing like high decibel and hormonal levels to get those right-brain cells going, eh?


And of course, mix the above with whatever is your poison.


But somehow today, even that high isn’t getting you creatively high. Or maybe you are a teetotaller, wallflower, or new-age spiritual. So, you go to a quiet corner and do some yoga, pranayam, meditation, or pilates.


You’ve tried all the above, and nothing’s yielding. That’s when you go back to the basics: What’s my audience? What do they like? What would connect with them? What would be fresh to them? What is true to the brand? What is right for the audience? And then it slowly oozes out… The winning idea.

Happy thinking! Happy creating!

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Irfictionary: Office-Themed

Continuing the Irfictionary series, the theme this time being ‘office’. (And what’s Irfictionary? For that, check out my previous post.)


Wondering if you should go to office or not. This is especially on a day like today (in Chennai), when it rained the previous night and it’s a blend of beautiful and dull, and you’d rather be out enjoying the cool weather than tracking a deadline, that too on the worst day of the working week (Wednesday). This also occurs on the day after Sunday and the day before Saturday, either of which potentially allows you to have a three-day weekend.


You succumb to your weak will and call/message/mail in with a fever/emergency/lie, that you will not come/go to office today.


Your guilt wages a strong battle against your gut, and you decide to take the middle path – you will work from home: your home is your office for today.

Whatever you choose to do, happy working/enjoying!

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Irfictionary: Meview

Dad bod. Kidcessory. Chicken wages. If you know the meaning of those words/phrases, you are either young or urban or both, or follow Urban Dictionary. Urban Dictionary, if you don’t know (which means you aren’t young or urban or both), curates and explains words or phrases that are a part of today’s lexicon (which, well, is a word of yesterday’s lexicon). Thus, you know a ‘dad bod’ is a guy with a belly that many women/girls actually find attractive; ‘kidcessory’ is the trend of especially celeb parents to give their (poor) child far-out names like Seven Heaven; and ‘chicken wages’ is salary earned by working at a fast-food joint, specially one that specialises in chicken, and which only allows you to eat like a chicken.

Inspired by Urban Dictionary, I have decided to give birth to my own version. To acknowledge the inspiration, I thought of calling it Irfun Dictionary – a combination of my name and ‘fun’, but realised it sounds exactly the way Americans and Australians pronounce my name: a portmanteau of ‘urchin’ and ‘orphan’. As I am neither, decided better. Am now – and this time inspired by own name for my blog – calling it, ta-da, Irfictionary. A melting pot of my name, ‘fiction’ (since it’s cooked up), and of course, ‘dictionary’.

And here’s the very first Irfictionary word…


A personal, subjective review of a movie, book, play, or any piece of work, art, or literature. This is different (and deliberately so) from a ‘review’, which is intended to be a non-biased, academic, true evaluation of the work. A meview is my, or one’s, very individualistic opinion (which is anyway what most ‘reviews’ are these days) of the creation and can suffer from any of the vices of bias, subjectivity, and whim. He, he. Now, you see why I needed to invent this word?