Love, a mixtape

This boy I liked sent me 'Sledgehammer' by Peter Gabriel because of which I never spoke to him again. I read into every word of the lyrics and (over) analysed the song because I really liked him. But this particular paragraph doomed our blossoming romance forever;

Show me round your fruit cage
'Cause I will be your honey bee
Open up your fruit cage
Where the fruit is as sweet as can be.

Many months later, someone else made me a CD of songs by Télépopmusik. The songs had no lyrics. But the music sounded like light and air. I couldn't analyse him, but I knew I liked him. We've exchanged a hundred or more songs and a few vows, since then.

 I have always felt that the songs of your relationship are the most beautiful way to describe the love you shared. The song you heard when you first met, the song you made love to, the song you danced to at your wedding, the song he sent you after a particularly awful fight, the song you heard when it was raining outside and the one that makes you dance no matter how old and tired your bones are. Put those songs together and you have put together your entire relationship. 

It isn't always happiness though. Love is also pain, anger and heartbreak. Nick Cave and PJ Harvey's murder ballad on betrayal is in my opinion, the most perfect break up song for anyone seething with anger. But like me, I am sure everyone has just about fifteen such recommendations of their own. Break up songs are that intimate genre of music where everything seems to have been written especially for you. And while those songs won't fix your broken heart, they might just tape it together momentarily. 

And although break ups have anger and passion, the intensity of feeling fades. Loss is what puts your love for someone in perspective. Some songs remind you of people, times you shared and love that will never come back again. You might have moved on, but the song and it's memory can take you back to where you were once and fill you with a strange sort of longing. Or even leave you with the trace of a fond memory, turning back time for all of three minutes. 

It is truly incredible how music can make you feel. I watched this video of a quiet old man suffering from Alzheimer's become animated and alive when his favourite song is played for him. "What does music do to you?," someone asks the old man. "It gives me the feeling of love and romance," he replies.

For our latest story, Soup interviewed people in different stages of love, from being together, to being single, to reminiscing about old and forgotten lovers. We asked these people to share a defining song from their relationship with us. And with those songs, we have attempted to measure love, with music.

It is the sheer bluntness of the song I can relate to, love is pleasure and pain at the same time.

Priya Singh, The Fall, Rhye

I don’t know what it evokes in me. It’s the emotion that it is sung in, it resonates with me, I love to sing it. It’s my ongoing love song.

Shweta Kaushik and Vinay Venkatesh, Music sounds better with you, Stardust

Our differences are so pronounced that we really look like we are from different sides of the tracks. I sometimes feel that we may have preconceived notions of what each one of us would like. But sharing music is beautiful, it’s almost like baring your soul and breaking all those stereotypes. And the fact that we both love this song and this band was quite amazing.
I like trance, I like energy, I don’t want to be tied down. I don’t know about love but this music is right for me, for now.
Being in Ogilvy Delhi about a decade ago was like being in college. We were a bunch of loonies passionately creating ads while playing love songs on our PCs. It was really this magical time of multiple crushes, life-changing heartbreaks and romantic ideologies. It was right there that the sparks flew between us. I would sit on one side of the floor in the Creative department while he was on the other end in the Account Management section. He would play this song every time I passed his cubicle. I would take at least ten minutes to cross the area, slowly enjoying the unsaid attention.

Jai Bhadgaonkar Tum se hi

When we were dating, I would miss my girlfriend when she wasn’t around but I would sort of feel her presence everywhere. I can’t really explain it. But it made me realise that love is more than just physical attraction. When you really love someone, they seep into your life and become a part of you. I used to play this song when I missed her.
Our wedding came at the end of a very emotionally exhausting few months and they were finally taking their toll during the festivities. We could barely get through a half hour together without going for each other’s throats. Hemant had said he wanted the first song to be a surprise and in keeping with how everything else was going, I was fully prepared to hate it. I think I probably even did in its first few seconds because the choice was so unexpected, but a few more seconds in and I felt a weight lift off somehow. It’s nice to suddenly remember why you love someone, better when it’s on your wedding day.

Sandeep Madhavan In spite of me, Morphine

Sometimes you can’t help but wallow in self pity and this song is for those dreary days.
There was this girl, once.

Rifat Jahan and Javeed Ahmed, Chaudvin ka chaand, Mohammed Rafi

Javeed Ahmed- We had an arranged marriage, we fell in love only later. I want to dedicate this song to her. It only reminds me of her.

Photographed by Anish Sarai

Written and compiled by Meera Ganapathi




Best Friends

I was nine and it was my first day at a new school. My oldest brother walked me up to my classroom, after gently nudging me in he disappeared into a vortex of green uniforms and shiny Bata shoes. As a morning hymn broke out over the intercom, I could feel the tears coming. The prospect of being Forever Alone in a classroom of 53 students is a bleak one, you know. So when a girl in pig-tails smiled at me and spoke to me, she became my absolute best friend. For the next few years anyway. In those few years we co-authored a Nancy Drew rip-off, exchanged friendship bands and Elle18 nail paints, we memorised 'IfYouWannaBeMyLover' and cherished every newest form of 'Raj' that Shah Rukh took on screen. When I eventually moved away, we wrote letters for a few months and although we are Facebook friends now, we don't share much more than an obligatory 'like'.

Of course, it was simpler finding a best friend then, it could begin with prolonged exposure to the neighbour's kid or sharing the same bench in class. But as we get older, the clauses get tighter. We begin to seek similarities and look for people who like the same stuff or at least hate the same stuff we do. Whatever it's foundation, friendship is fascinating, the idea of simply liking someone for no reason than to hang out with them, makes it possibly the most unselfish of relationships. 

For this Soup story, photographer Anish Sarai and I indulged that fascination and documented friends across age-groups and social backgrounds in an attempt to understand what makes random people click. 

Nitin, Kartik and Pradeep

Nitin, Kartik and Pradeep

"We have to be best friends with Kartik, he's the best batsman on our team," Pradeep

Tasha, Soni, Insha

Tasha, Soni, Insha

Me: What do you have in common?

In unison (laughing): Salman Khan

Suman and Yashoda

Suman and Yashoda

"She's a better cook than me, I hate her for it. And respect her for it," Suman on Yashoda.

Farhad and Mikhail

Farhad and Mikhail

"I've always gotten along with gay men so it's never been a point of discomfort for me. I actually think in a lot of ways I'm a gay guy who just happens to like women," Mikhail. 

Naima and Anagha

Naima and Anagha

"I want to wear salwar kameez because she's wearing salwar kameez."

Nurul and Hur

Nurul and Hur

"We have been best friends for very long," Nurul.

Me: How long?

Nurul: Since 2015

Bhavani, Prachi and Jill

Bhavani, Prachi and Jill

Me: What do you do when you hang out?

Prachi: We chat and take selfies.

Me: What is your Whatsapp group called?

Jill: Besties

Written by: Meera Ganapathi

Photography: Anish Sarai


Soup caught up with six popular models in their personal spaces, to show a glimpse of their lives behind the glamorous facade projected by media and fashion. Photographer Vijit Gupta and I followed these women over a period of four months to document them as they went about their regular days, shopping for vegetables, meeting brokers or sometimes, doing nothing at all. The project is an attempt to capture an honest idea of beauty without the trappings of glamour, photoshop and objectification.

Pallavi Das, Bazaar Road, 7th Nov 2015

Mariette Valsan and her adopted cats, at home in Chapel Road, 9th Nov, 2015

Dayana Erappa and friend over poha and sol kadhi, Prakash Snacks, Dadar, 27th Jan, 2016

Sona Goldar, fish market, Bandra West, 15th Dec 2015

Arshia Ahuja, Andheri East, 20th Dec 2015

Namrata Sheth at home with her mother and grandmother, Juhu,  24th Feb 2016

In her mother's sari

The first sari worn by a woman is usually one that's passed down from her mother. That sari becomes not just an heirloom but a sentiment. The memory of being taught how to drape for the first time, that graceless but determined walk against yards of fabric. And most importantly, how that sari signifies the beautiful transition from girl to woman. 

We asked 9 women across ages to wear their mother's sari and share their stories with us. 

Diksha Basu, 32, Writer and Occasional Actor

"This is one of the first saris I took from my mother because I love the colour scheme. We both wear a lot of red and black. These days we share our saris but when I wear this particular one I see flashes of my mother whenever I catch my reflection." 

Preeti Verma, 33, Owner and designer Runaway Bicycle

"This is a 35 year old Benarasi sari that my mother got as a wedding gift from my father's family. Over the years the sari tore in places but she loved it so much she darned it with bright green flowers. My mother's love for it makes this sari even more special to me." 

Ankita Kohli, 28, Freelance Creative Consultant

"This is one of my mother's college saris. A part of me always wonders about my mother as a young college girl when I now wear this sari as a grown woman." 

Archana, 23, Domestic Help

"This sari belonged to my aunt. My own mother passed away when I was very little, but my aunt brought me up like her own daughter. This is not a very old sari, but it was bought by my aunt for herself and she gave it to me because I loved it so much." 

Supriya, 31, Ad Film Maker

"This is a 34 year old Benarasi sari that my mother wore for her wedding and when she passed it on to me, I wore it for mine." 

Priyanka Bose, 34, Actor

"25 years ago, my father bought this Dhakai sari for my mother from Bangladesh and she kept it aside for me. He always had immaculate taste for her when it came to saris. I always say, as we Bengalis don't inherit money, we inherit ma's saris."

Shagun Seda Sengupta, 34, Creative Director

"This is a 23 year old pure chiffon sari from Mysore that my father gifted my mother. I love how it's so simple yet so striking. Since it was a gift from my father, I never had the nerve to ask my mother to give it to me. On her 60th birthday, in a fit of motherly love she finally gave me this sari." 

Bollamma Apaya, 82, Homemaker

"This is 53 years old, it's a Dharmavaram sari. It's a special memory for me because it is the last sari my mother gave me before she passed away." 

Hetal Ajmera, 35, Designer and partner; Sharpener Inc.

"I like dressing comfortably, so I never wanted to wear a sari, I felt I would hate it. But we had one of those family functions where I had no choice but to wear one, so I picked this from my mom's cupboard. It was the first sari I wore, it was soft, easy and surprisingly very comfortable. I've loved wearing saris ever since." 


Photography: Vijit Gupta

Backdrop: Preeti Verma and Runaway Bicycle