Sunday, August 31, 2014

Daddy's 'lil girl

No girl likes a mamma's boy.
Girls who date / marry a mamma's boy rue their luck and the others are grateful they haven't gone down that path.
Ironically, boys close to their mothers are supposed to be more respectful towards women, more caring and affectionate - not always, but many a times.
What turns us off mamma's boys? It could be the prospect of dealing with a meddlesome mum-in-law, or the fact that we do not occupy the top priority position in the man's life. It could be we ourselves are so independent that it is weird to involve a parent into our life at this stage, or a million other minor irritants.

But have we ever asked our partners - How is it dealing with a daddy'd little girl?

I proudly claim i am my daddy's little girl.

My emergency contact is still my dad.
He has been my super hero, whose powers keep increasing day by day for me.
The most ardent fan of my cooking is my dad - he claims to LOVE the burnt cakes i make, the salty curries, the imperfect rotis and just about anything i make.
He gets super sad when he watches the movie "Father of the Bride"
When i think i have done something brilliant, and no one seems to acknowledge or appreciate it, i will go to my dad and know for sure that my little achievement will be over estimated and praised like i have won the Nobel Price!
I know he wants to break the neck of the poor doctor who is administering the injection that is making me cry.
He still wants me home by 9 pm and if i want to stay late - my only choice is - he will come pick me up at whatever time i want to come home. At my age of 28, when i have to go parties in my hometown, i still feel like a 16 year old begging my dad to not come to pick me up and embarrass me. In all this without my mother's voice of reason, he would have chauffeured me around everywhere.
When i am sick, his first instinct is to come to where i am, no matter that my husband is taking extremely good care of me, and it is in all probability  just a flu. Again, without my mother's voice of reason, he would be zipping to where i am in his car.
He is the only man i know who completely trusts me with his car and his life! Even if he doesn't trust me, he doesn't show it.
If we go shopping, and my husband and mother have issued strict instructions that i am not to buy anything - as there is no space to store my clothes and bags and books - he will make up a reason / any small achievement in our factory, and say that bag that i had been eyeing in the mall, was a gift to me for that achievement! And no one argues with him.

My first instinct in a bad situation is to call my dad. I may not actually do it and will call my husband - given geographical limitations - but my FIRST instinct is to call him and know that no matter what disastrous kind of mess i may have created, his unwavering answer will be  - "Don't worry, i will be right there" and "right there" means just that. Within seconds he will have mobilized a cavalry of friends, colleagues who stay nearby who have been given strict instructions to reach me till he comes and makes everything ok.

My dad is a very social person - he loves meeting people, making new friends - even at his age. Something we find difficult in our 20s, he manages with ease in his 50s. He always tell my sister and me - "No matter which city / country / continent you are on - you should always have some friend there." And he literally follows this philosophy.
So when i tell him i am planning a trip to South Africa - he gives me contact numbers of friends, when i tell him my sister and me want to go to the Jaipur Lit Fest, he calls his friend and arranges accommodation and transportation for us. When my sister tells him, she needs to go to Bangalore alone, he calls a friend's sister he may have met once in his life, but who assures him that everything will be taken care of.

My first day college away from home, in Pune - he was there, with a bewildered face.
My first day in my post graduation, in Mumbai - he was there, with a proud smile on his face.
When i moved back to Pune from Mumbai for my job, he was again there, this time with a car key in hand :)

I remember my first bus journey to Pune after i had joined college, he came to the bus stop and waited and waved till the bus could no longer be seen and then followed the bus in his car till a turn off for home, and honked our special horn - "honk honk ho ho honk ", so i could lean out of the window and wave him a final goodbye. That was 10 years ago. He still does that!
Now, when i go home every month for work and return, EVERY MONTH, sometimes twice a month, he drops me to the bus stop - and bus colors and sizes and drivers and stops and facilities, have changed over the years, but he hasn't changed his ritual. It is always the same - drop me off, park the car, get my bag, ask me if i want a bottle of water or anything to eat, get in the bus with me, check my seat, check out all the passengers, always meets some acquaintance or friend of his on the bus, tell the acquaintance how his little daughter is traveling on the same bus, extract a promise of protection even at the cost of life of the poor acquaintance ( looking at me, i am sure the person feels - "little", really?), wave goodbye and leave when the driver requests all non travelers to get down, go to my side of of the window, continual waving of goodbyes till we lose eye contact, and then the final "honk honk ho ho honk! "
And i am sure this will continue for the next many years. When he comes to drop me, i think he still sees a little girl in pigtails, going off to some faraway land she has never been to - his little girl.

When i got married, he was the last one to leave my new house, after of course checking out the house, its members, my husband! That was the one and only day i had seen my dad with tears in his eyes. It is till date, the most heart breaking moment of my life.

So maybe it is difficult to be with a daddy's lil girl, just as it is difficult to be with a mamma's boy, maybe even more so!
Or maybe it is easy - its something we need to ask our partners and maybe cut some slack if you are married to / dating a mamma's boy.

I don't know about you, but me - i am and will always be first and foremost - my daddy's lil girl!



Monday, August 25, 2014

Part 1 - Garden Route, South Africa - The road trip

It has been more than a year since my husband and i visited his sister there. And i have been meaning to write down the details of our trip there, especially after so many of our friends traveled there in the last year and have been asking for information!

So here goes, finally!

This is part 1 of the trip - our 3 days in Cape Town - followed by Stellenbosch and Montagu..

After hassle fee visa applications, yellow fever shots, and a pretty comfortable 9 hours South African Airways flight from Mumbai, India to Johannesburg, we landed at my sister-in-laws place at Pretoria. We made this our pit stop.
After a 3 day sightseeing spree (Sun city, farmers markets, Rosebank, Pilanisburg Nature Reserve - we spotted a lion!!) with my sister-in-law, her husband and our absolutely adorable 3 year old niece, we dumped our non essential stuff at their place and were raring to go on our road trip - 15th to 25th April along the Garden Route.

This blog is dedicated to that road trip that my husband and i shared and was possibly the most efficiently planned road trip my husband has ever been on! The amount of time and energy that i spent in planning this trip...wow! I had reached the last rung in the ladder to craziness world :)

Day 1 : 15th April
10:00 am: Arrival at Cape Town international Airport, followed by a really long walk to Thrifty car rental agency. We zoomed away in our rented VW Polo classic (the driving is disciplined, which is very hard to follow for an Indian! Also it is a right hand drive, so that was not an issue. My husband chose to drive, for obvious reasons - he is a good driver and i have bumps, scratches and dents on the roof of my car in India!)



We arrived at Protea Hotel Sea Point, a chain of comfortable and conveniently located hotels.



The staff here was extremely helpful, in fact the receptionist there urged us to go to the Table Mountain that very day as it was sunny. It was not in our plan, but we decided to go as he made it sound like it was the last day of sunlight on Earth! And we were so glad we did. Rest of our stay in Cape Town we had rainy, deary weather, followed by brief sunshine, but not like the day we arrived in Cape town - bright, sunny and beautiful!

Table Mountain - we had booked in advance, but we realized there was no need to do so. There were no queues. It takes about 45 minutes to reach Table Mountain from Sea Point. An amazing aerial cable way ride up, and the car swivels inside for a 360 degree view! - we reached a flat land of varied flora and fauna. Walk around the beautiful plain, observe the weirdly shaped plants and rocks and click amazing photos!


At 3 pm we returned to the hotel after a late lunch at a small Italian joint on a street behind out hotel.

Day 2 : 16th April

 9:00 am: We start bright and early and arrive at the Castle of Good Hope. Built my the Dutch East India Company, the castle is the oldest existing colonial building in SA.  Again, no need to book in advance, though we did - hello! remember my obsessive compulsive nature?! Unfortunately, the firing of the signal canon was cancelled on that day :(






We opted out of the formal tour and decided to take a walk around on our own. The castle is beautiful and the museum is excellent. Spend and hour here and you will get to know South African history thoroughly.










In the afternoon, we decided to head over to Kirstenbosch botanical gardens. It is, undoubtedly, a beautiful place with wide plains, varied flora, little rivers with wooden bridges, benches and lawns - there is not much to do here, if you are not a flora fauna enthusiast, but it is a pretty walk that takes you through interesting plants, like plants that have a unique fragrance section was lovely.



Unless you are extremely interested in plants and flowers and botany, i don't think this place will hold much delight for you. But again, to each his own!  Oh, but do visit the paintings and and art museum tucked away in a little corner of the garden
Pray you have good weather, we were caught in a torrential downpour, that came with no warning whatsoever!

In the evening we visited the V & A Waterfront. We wanted to visit the Gold Museum, but we couldn't find it. I ma serious, we checked and re-checked our GPS and maps on our phones, but we just couldn't find it!
V&A is an amazing place to just hangout. A special mention of Mitchell's Bar, an Irish pub at the waterfront - do have their buffalo wings, out of the world.

Day 3: 17th April
9:00 am - We push off early as there is a lot to be done on our last day at Cape Town. We leave for Simon's Town to see the Penguins and for a submarine tour.
We take the Chapman's Peak drive which is a wonderful stretch of road over the hill. Unfortunately, the weather was mean again today. But the drive was beautiful, nonetheless.








11:00 am : We stop at Simons Town for the ASSEGAAI submarine tour. A lovely detailed tour inside the submarine that lasts for about an hour and a half. The guide was an ex-navy man and hence the tour was interesting. They take you through the entire submarine - section by section. It is quite a revelation to see how many men actually occupy such cramped space.




Next stop - Boulders Beach - a nice long walk along wooden bridges surrounded by adorable little penguins and finally watching the penguin colony on the boulders, it was all so cute. There are signs warning you not to interact with the penguins, so no matter how charming they are you cannot lift one, put him in your bag and take him home!







Next stop - Cape of Good Hope. However the weather had turned horrid and the sun decided to go into hiding. But whatever we could see of the view, it was breathtaking. There is a lovely old lighthouse, which is now the viewing site - you can either walk up or take the tram, or as it called The flying Dutchman Funicular!

Bye Bye Cape town

Day 4 : 18th April
Stellenbosch
We drove down to Stellenbosch, which is an hour's drive from Cape Town. Our wine tour was scheduled for 10.00 am. We reached early and used the time to explore the pretty little town on foot. We had breakfast and amazing Indian chai (finally!) at a little cafe on the sidewalk.
The wine tour was organized by Tsiba Tsiba Wine tours. It included a visit to 3 wineries and tastings at each winery. My favorite was Muratie Wine Estate, complete with basement seating, yellow lighting, wooden chairs and adorable big dogs. We had a young American couple with us on the tour and the four of us had a blast.Actually, only 3 of us - my husband had to limit his wine intake. Unfortunately, for some reason we did not plan to stay in Stellenbosch but to cover the distance and halt at Montagu!






On our way to Montagu, we had another pit stop planned - FRANSCHHOEK MOTOR MUSEUM. I should probable invite Sagar to write a review of it here. If you are a car person, do go, is all i will say here. I had a difficult time getting Sagar out of here - what with my wine hangover and all! Also, this is a really difficult place to find. On your way to Franschhoek, keep a very very alert look out on your right. You will see a gate leading to the motor museum before actually hitting the town of Franschhoek.
 We also tried Malay cuisine at a local restaurant in Franschhoek - it is sweet - the curry is actually sweet! i quite enjoyed it.


Our stop at Montagu was at Somerset lodge. It is pretty little building, very easy to find. Our room included  a sit out, a kitchenette and a bedroom with attached bathroom, all very prettily done in pastels. If you are staying at Montagu, I would definitely recommend this place. David is a very friendly host, he showed us around the place and made out short stay extremely comfortable.

Part 2 of the journey coming up soon. It is exhausting writing a travel blog is what i have realized. And you don't want to just write about it - you want to go back out there and relive your experience!



Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Friendship and more...

It has been a hectic couple of days! And honestly, i did not have any inspiring ideas to pen down.

My husband and I decided to spend the Independence weekend at my hometown with my parents. Normally this would have translated into a relaxed vacation, with minimum socializing, lots of sleep and gossip and tea. However, this time i also had a friend's wedding to attend. And as with any Indian wedding - it is not just the wedding ceremony itself, but also all the allied functions - mehendi, engagement, cocktail that we attend!

And it was a chance to meet all my school friends. Thanks to technology and bonds formed in the formative years we have been in touch with each other, but the joy of meeting and spending time with each other at a wedding, where you think you are back to the old days, is unparalleled! And that is the joy which i wanted to put on paper, that was my inspiration.

There is something very unique about your school friends. The usual "they have known you since childhood and seen your grow up" is of course true, but there is something else here. I cannot precisely describe it, but i haven't had a chance to connect with anyone like that after leaving school.
In fact, as you grow older, the differences become more glaring, the disagreements also increase, many a times the distance also increases, but that thin thread that ties everything together is never in the danger of being broken. Out of all the relationships i know, i believe this thread that ties friends together is the most flexible, given to a lot of wear and tear, pull and snap, but never does it break.

With my 3 best friends, no topic is off limits, boundaries are next to non existent, to the extent that sometimes, my husband believes that he shares his life not just with me, but with my best friends too!
People say it is so easy to lose touch, to get lost in your own life and routine and not remain friends, but i believe just the opposite, it is so difficult to lose touch. If i do not receive a message or call from my friends, i feel like something is off, an almost-daily whats app message, a weekly call or maybe a monthly Google hangout are musts! It is not easy to live without them!
If anyone were to read our whats app group chat - they would either be scandalized or bored out of their mind. When none of us have anything to talk about, we send each other selfies of what we are doing at precisely the same moment..its fun! Try it.
I say it is difficult to lose touch with your friends, it is difficult to get so engrossed in daily life that you do not feel the need for a break with friends.

Growing up in a small town is truly a charm, you not only know your friends, but you know their families - i am not talking about mom, dad and siblings - but their extended families - aunts, uncles and cousins. When you have to meet, you drop by their house, often without calling or messaging, because you know their schedule by heart, and when you drop by unannounced, it will take your friend's mom 10 minutes to hustle up a dish that she knows you love.
And while you eating that yummy dish, the non stop talking starts and it ends when you receive a call from your parents saying its time to get home and you are left wondering how can time fly by that fast?

The four of us got married in a span of two years in quick succession and now we are situated at four different cities in the country, but it just doesn't matter. When we meet at our home town, its like we never left, and when its time to head back to our daily routine, as my friend puts it - "our withdrawal symptoms are so intense!"



Here s to Shivani, Poonam and Arpi - and many years of craziness, fun and friendship :)






Friday, August 15, 2014

Vande Mataram!

Happy Independence day!



Did you really think on Independence Day, I would not write an article about it? 
Oh! you innocent of the heart and naive of the mind! :)

I have been reading a lot of things on social media about what independence means for us and how we have misused our freedom and laments of the state our country is in! But, i am going to take a leaf out of PM Narendra Modi's Independence Day speech, and look at the positive - to a bright, independent future. 

I listened to a part of his speech live on TV and then looked it up on Youtube. What a speech! Never have we had such an orator and a leader. Leave aside what he might or might not accomplish, the fact is the plan is in place, it is communicated and now he is accountable. If nothing else, he has made India look forward to a bright future - full of opportunities. The most commendable thing he did was address the problem of women safety in India by attacking its root cause - not the women, but how we raise our sons. The message was clear - Do not raise your sons to be rapists. The onus was completely placed on the men and their parents, as it should be. 
Scrapping the planning commission, encouraging the manufacturing and farming sector, developing model villages, the Pradhan Mantri Dhan-Jan Yojna, digital India, launching the Swach Bharat plan this year, are some of the highlights of the speech, that spoke volumes of the forethought and vision this man has for the country. 
As they say good planning is half the battle, we seem to be on the right path.

The idea of this article is to not replicate Mr. Modi's speech, it will be analysed and reanalyzed by "experts" on news channels the whole day. 
The point is to see how we can contribute to it. No, we do not need an Independence day to decide how we are going to do our bit for the society, but given our obsession with auspicious days and times, this seems as good an occasion as any to take a few small pledges.
When a man can dream of planning and leading a whole nation, I am sure, we as individuals can take our own pledges to lead our lives.

Today, i have decided to follow / reinforce the following -

1. Traffic Laws - I will obey all traffic rules while driving, no matter what the time or situation. That includes not breaking signals, following zebra crossing guidelines, maintaining distance between vehicles, no road rage and no wrong sides, no matter how inconvenient

2. Clean Society- I will work towards a cleaner society - by not littering, following strict waste segregation guidelines

3. Supporting a cause - I have decided to contribute my bit towards society be registering for a NGO - for kids. I am sure an evening or two can be fruitfully spent giving back to society rather than doing anything else.

4. Humane Behavior - I am going to make a conscious effort to see that the help in my house is taken care of - not just financially, but also in terms of holidays, education for my maid's children, something - anything. Very often we forget that these are also humans with their own set of very real problems. Being an unorganized sector in India, maids work 7 days a week, with no rest. Holidays and good pay are given grudgingly. 

5. Work - Giving my work a 100 percent, not only in terms of a hard work, but also ethics. Encouraging a transparent work place, following the principles of honesty and evolving a code of ethics that becomes the way of life in our company. 

Patriotism needn't necessarily be in the form of hoisting a flag, or signing the national anthem. Just 5 small pledges, your personal pledges.
Imagine if everyone decides on 5, what a change we can bring about.

And given the general air of optimism around, it indeed, is a Happy Independence Day!



Thursday, August 14, 2014

The green poison

The man who lives without money


A friend of mine shared this link on his Facebook wall.
I almost skipped reading the article because of its idealistic nature, but i think highly of the said friend's opinion is why i thought i might as well give it a glance, if nothing else, it definitely will be an interesting read. I urge you to give it a go.
It is about a man, who for the past 15 months, has been living without money.
He lives off nature, grows what he needs, builds what he requires, cycles everywhere, barters and reuses waste.
His thinking is very clear -

 "And that’s the thing I don’t get – if all this consumerism and environmental destruction brought happiness, it would make some sense. But all the key indicators of unhappiness – depression, crime, mental illness, obesity, suicide and so on are on the increase."


But could you do it?

Is this really sustainable? What happens when he needs medical assistance?
I am not trying to downplay his initiative, don't get me wrong, I am just trying to understand how this works.
In asking all these questions, i realize this is how we have been trained, brainwashed even - you study, right from the time you are a toddler you are put into a straight jacket - finish education, get a job, work, make money, provide for your family, reproduce, make sure the children are educated, make money and take care of you. And within this framework you find your happiness.
And now how can we think of a different outlook, where money does not occupy the center stage?

So is it not really money, but the lack of it that causes all problems? Or is the problem that we measure our happiness against the index of money?
Does money really guarantee happiness? And if it doesn't, then how can making money be the most important thing for us? This is all so confusing, so basically we are striving to achieve something all our lives, the presence of which we are not sure if it gives us happiness or not. So at the end of it we may discover that the striving for money counted for nothing, or possibly everything!

I think it is not a question of national debate or international discussion, but very individualistic.
We need to ask ourselves and be honest - Do i need money to be happy? Forget the need to sound politically right, at the core of it - will i be happy if i have more money than less money? Right off the bat, the answer seems simple enough - Yes. Give me money and i will be happy. But to earn that money, you sacrifice your creativity, your family life, your mental peace and you invite stress, uncertainty  and a lethal routine to your life. Where is the happiness in that?
So i would truly be happy if i had money, but i didn't have to give up my soul earning it.

It is very misleading to say - now imagine a world where money does not exist, no we cannot imagine it and it cannot work. The whole idea of shifting from barter to money to huge banking and financial institution was termed as "progress". With the financial collapse and scams it looks like a double edged sword, but it is progress nonetheless.
And so now the problem is evident, this question cannot be answered without taking into consideration the national, global obsession with money. We have built structures and institutions around this concept. Functioning in the normal world without money is next to impossible, unless you take extreme measure like Mark Boyle. To get anything in this world requires money. Hence, the answer is - yes, i need money to be happy.
But imagine a world where emphasis is on community, sharing, bartering rather than making money. But is there not a reason communism failed?
So if capitalism is the answer, why are there so many depressions, suicides and attacks?
So what is the answer?
I cannot answer for anyone else but myself - Yes, i need money to survive and be happy. My money lets me buy books, bags, good food, clothes and shoes - and these are things that make me happy - in that order. That may be materialistic, but wanting materialistic things does not mean not wanting family, love and care. It just means that these things are not based on money (hopefully!) and so I am taking them for granted for now.
I also understand that in order to earn this money, so i can get happiness from it, sometimes i need to sacrifice my family time, invite stress and chaos. These are what represent the negatives for earning money for me.
The trick in my head is to balance all these aspects, meaning - understanding and accepting that family and social values are important for my happiness and making them a priority, knowing that money is going to give me materialistic happiness, so taking steps to earn it, understanding that earning money with its associated negatives, at the cost of the real positives, is not going to tip the happiness scale in my favor, so balancing it.
Sounds incredibly difficult on paper, but that is what we are doing every second of every day and with practice we may become perfect, but maybe we won't. But at least, we are doing what we think brings us happiness.

Like i mentioned earlier, this is extremely individualistic in the context of the current scenario, where money make the world go round. There may be people who shun money and do not think it will make them happy, good for them, or people who say earning money even at the cost of family is happiness for them, again, no judgement here. It is all extremely individualistic, as long as you are aware of what makes you happy.

So if quitting the job you hate for the job you love is happiness, go for it. But if staying in the hateful high paying job but thoroughly enjoying the money and handling the stress is something you have figured out, go for it, i say. Define your own goals, make your own strategies, for only you know what makes you happy!









PS: I understand this article is utterly confusing and it perfectly represents my state of mind right now.
It was a very spontaneous decision to write this blog after reading that article, but now i feel i must revisit this topic, after some thought, some reading, some understanding.
My questions are my starting point.







Wednesday, August 13, 2014

The distractions we need




Not until we are lost do we begin to understand ourselves.” ~Henry David Thoreau


I have observed a very alarming thing... I cannot sit doing nothing, like absolutely nothing.
When i see my husband sitting sometimes, not doing anything - he is just sitting - no TV, phone, music, books, newspaper - nothing. Just sitting - I always ask him what he is thinking about. Many a times he says - "Nothing".

I do not know what to make of it!
I cannot comprehend the act of doing nothing. I persist - there must be something on your mind, he says - No. Nothing, I am just sitting.
I am puzzled. How? Is this even possible?

I absolutely cannot not do anything at any given point in time.
During yoga, i struggle to hold my thoughts in place and when the instructor asks us to not think of anything and let the thoughts just come and go, without getting attached to them, I till date do not know what he means by that. I start thinking to myself - OK, so i am not going to think of anything. Maybe i will visualize a dot and concentrate on it, then i start thinking of a white dot on a black background and i think if the dot is red, maybe i can concentrate better, wait...isn't that a thought? No, it doesn't matter what color the dot is, i am not going to think of a dot. Let me just picture a plain canvas - white? black? No, no, no i tell myself i am not supposed to be thinking and soon we come to an end and we are supposed to feeling refreshed and rejuvenated with a clean slate, and all i can see are the numerous doodles on my slate of mind!

When i watch TV, HD i might add, which has advertisements varying from 30 seconds to 1 minute 30 seconds only, I get my book with me, to read when the ads play, or i play this game i am really addicted to, on my mobile, or i am checking out some recipe online on my phone.
I cannot sit still doing nothing even for those 30 seconds! Not even just watch the ads.
My morning cup of tea is not a time for just that, it is a time to read the newspaper and breakfast time is the time to quickly check emails and lunch time is the time to check for new videos on Youtube / log on to Facebook.
Evening tea time is for catching up on all other blogs that i want to read.

What are all these distractions that I need?
Have i forgotten how to be with myself?
I am scared it is going to reach a point where i am going to run out of distractions! Even these distractions won't be distracting enough for me!
With the multi tasking that I have perfected, i have forgotten what it is to do one task at a time or do no task at all. Not all the time that we have with us needs to be spent doing productive activities, relaxing is a part of functioning productively.
It is like i am stuck in this routine of trying to tick off all the items on my work and personal list and trying to them as soon as possible, with god knows what lies at the end, that i am rushing through things at this pace.

I have decided to Stop. Like an absolute, unconditional, complete brake. Halt, take a breath.
Everyday i have lists of things i need to do, but before i dive into that list, I am sure i can take a little time out for myself, to enjoy the mornings. To take my cup of tea and sip it by the window, watching my garden plants sway in the gentle morning breeze.
I can definitely take the time to savor my food instead of achieving a marathon finish in 10 minutes.
There is no harm in sitting and watching the harmless TV ads, a time when i am doing nothing but just watching mindless television, without feeling guilty about not occupying my mind with some worth while pursuit.

Surprisingly, the only place where i am absolutely relaxed and completely at ease with myself is Goa.
The magical place of sun, sand, beers and fish.
A place where you get the a chair, look out to the sea and gaze, stare, doze, day dream, or just sit.
The town has a complete laid back vibe, where rushing off to do something seems extraordinary. It is lazy, it is quaint, it is beautiful.
A trip to Goa is like a week long yoga class, where on return you truly feel refreshed and rejuvenated.

So, here is to being open, to going along with the tide, to being lost in it.
Who knows how we emerge on the other side of it?

Here is to bringing a little bit of Goa into my daily life!






Tuesday, August 12, 2014

The quintessential Sabudana Khichdi

Now this a necessary dish in every Maharashtrian household. 

It is the food that is allowed to be eaten during a fasting period, not that i fast, but it was something that we used to have every Friday for breakfast at my place, since my grandmom used to fast on Fridays. At my husband's place, his grandmom fasts every Monday, so the day has shifted to Mondays, in the evenings.

This recipe is my grandmom-in-law's recipe - as authentic as it gets.

Serves : 2 adults with an healthy appetite :)

Time : 20 minutes

Ingredients 

1. Sabudana / Tapioca - 1 cup - soaked 6-8 hours before cooking.*
2. Peanuts - Roast in a pan / microwave. Cool, remove skin and and pulse in a mixer. This should be half of the sabudana. So if you are using one cup sabudana, use half a cup of peanut powder *
3. Green chillies - 2 -3 , slit and cut
4. Cumin seeds - one teaspoon
5. Ghee - using ghee works best, oil can also be used though. 2 - 3 tablespoons (all good things are fatty, illegal or immoral - and this one here is fatty!)
6. Curd - 1 teaspoon
7. Potatoes - optional, boiled / steamed and cut into small cubes. I normally avoid this step, as I am not a big fan of potatoes, but if you don't mind them, definitely add them to your dish.
8. Red chilli poder - 1 teaspoon
9. Sugar - 1 tablespoon
10. Salt - to taste
11. Coriander - for arnish
12. Lemon juice - 2 teaspoons
13.  fresh coconut scraped - 3 tablespoons

Method

1. Heat 2 tablespoon ghee in a kadhai. Once it get hot, add cumin seeds and let them splutter.
2. Add green chilles, 2 tablespoons grated coconut and potatoes. 
3. Add curd and let it fry for 1 minute.
4. Add sabudana and stir well. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon ghee all over the sabudana to ensure it doesn't stick to the kadhai. Stir for 2 minutes.
5. Add the peanut powder and mix well.
6. Sprinkle some water, and cover so that the sabudana can steam and cook
7. Uncover after 5 minutes and add red chilli powder, sugar and salt.
8. Sprinkle some more water and cover to steam and cook
9. In another 5 minutes, uncover and stir well. Add lemon juice and garnish with coriander 
10. Switch off the stove and let it rest, covered, for 5 minutes before serving

It's ready!

11. Garnish with fresh grated coconut before serving

Side dishes -

You can have the khichdi as it is and be happy, or 

1. You can have this with plain yogurt / dahi.
2. My personal favorite is very thinly chopped cucumber. Add salt and lime juice to it and refrigerate before cooking the khichdi. Serve with the khichdi. It gives a very cooling effect to the hot mixture! Or, make a cucumber raita. 


Notes
* For soaking the sabudana, fill the container with water and then drain it, removing all starch, sprinkle just enough water to coat the sabudana and leave it damp. Do not leave any excess water, it will get soggy. It is soaked perfectly when i doesn't lump together, but when you mash it, it crumbles easily.




* Don't make a very fine powder. It should be a little coarse. 






Check out other recipes and ideas on Sunday Showcase Party

Monday, August 11, 2014

It never is as it seems

It follows a cycle, more or less,
but sometimes comes without warning,
With tell tale embarrassing symptoms that stress

It is a necessary start to your morning
Depending on your way of looking at it,
could even be a satisfactory end to your evening

How well in your routine it sits
Absence of which is so very upsetting
It can overwhelm with its need or come bit by bit

Not everyone can do it peacefully
Some annoy with their span of time,
Some with their sound, so unaware blissfully

It may need a little inducing, even provoking,
Could be a hot chocolate or a lovely cup of tea
That finally pushes it over the edge of the precipice

And finally the freedom, the relief of dropping out,
Into Sleep, my angel, sleep
What did you think i was talking about?





PS: I did warn you i can be pretty random!

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Breaking bad...


I am a huge fan of this series. I got hooked on to it seriously, after it was recommended by a friend. It starts off slowly, cautiously enough and then picks up such pace and launches you right in the middle of a world of drugs, deceit and chaos.
I will not mention any spoilers here, for people who might be tempted to check the series out after reading my article! But the story follows the tale of an average guy - a chemistry professor, who is diagnosed with lung cancer and given a limited amount of time to live. In his mission to provide financially for his family, he enters the world of drug manufacturing (since he is a chemistry professor) and the story is about how he
"breaks bad".
What is interesting about this series is, that the protagonist is an average guy- a nice guy, who never yells, let alone being violent, but how at the same time he adapts to the drug underworld - fooling, manipulating and killing people. Can polar opposites exist in the same person?

How can a person be calm - yet violent, firm - yet weak? Do we ever truly know ourselves inside out?

It got me thinking, would i make a good criminal? I have always prided myself on my planning ability, my ability to have a  plan A, B and C in place. But how different is planning and execution? I can plan till the world ends - but do I have the courage to carry out the plan? Just as an exercise i had once tried to plan (all in my head) an organization that works as a hire-to-kill kind of an outfit (very creepy, i know - but in my defense it was a purely intellectual exercise against corrupt politicians or perpetrators of heinous crimes) and without going into details i could come up with a brilliant organization structure and business plan. However, I am not sure if given an opportunity to implement the same if I would be successful.
And does the end justify the means? Is a good intention a justification for "breaking bad". Would I kill for self defense? I am generally a very peace loving person, but placed in a situation where i have to kill an innocent to live, would i do it? If i am extremely honest, maybe i would. But again, who knows? It is not a lot of us who have the courage to find out our degree of "breaking bad".
"Breaking bad" may denote various degrees or extremities for different people.
Underage drinking, smoking, trying drugs maybe the most extreme for one person, while murders, violence for another. What determines our degree of breaking bad? Is it again a nurture vs nature debate?

Given a very protected childhood, i don't remember a lot of instances where i was an absolute nightmare for my parents. (I am sure my parents would have a different opinion), but i stuck to being a good kid, rarely venturing too far away from the zone of "acceptable behavior". Is it, then, people who have been good their entire lives who feel that they have a right to "break bad?"
Especially people who have been "good" their whole lives and have been dealt an unfair hand - say an illness, money problems, who find it easier to cross the line?
Does that mean we should be encouraging our children to try their hand at slightly unconventional, maybe even "unacceptable" behavior so that their curiosity of it, without any experience in it does not push them over to the other side?
Is this what is meant by pushing boundaries?
And who decides when enough is enough?

Do all bad things, like good things come to an end eventually? Does good always triumph over evil? And what happens when the line between good and evil is so thin that you never know when you have crossed it?

Any series that manages to get you to question yourself, your society - its structure, is definitely a watch. And hence i highly recommend this one.
Go ahead, watch it!
You will have a lot to think about.


Saturday, August 9, 2014

The positive way...

How many times have you read an article about "what I do when i wake up? or "the first thing in the morning"...or "how i start my day"..get the drift? Now think back and try and recollect how many of these articles use the work "positive" or its numerous synonyms?

I don't think i have ever comes across an article that can manage to be written without this word, on this subject at least. When this word is attached to other common place words like "thinking" or "action" or "outlook", it instantly upgrades the value of these common place words - "positive thinking", "positive action", "positive outlook".
Yes, it has become a trend of sorts to sprout positive words and insist on positive actions and I don't mind this trend at all. Out of various things "trending" right now, i think this is quite a welcome trend!

However, my quest today is not to doubt the thought, but the course of action. How do you start your day?
A lot of us, i am sure, start with the reading of the newspaper. I am not talking about THE FIRST THING you do. Many people start it with exercise, meditation, yoga, cooking and numerous other satisfying activities. But what i am trying to draw out here is that newspaper reading or browsing is an integral part of most of our mornings. And this is where the whole philosophy is thrown to the wind!
The newspapers are about anything but positive thinking and you can't blame them really. They are all for reporting the news after all, and not making up positive news for our consumption. A quick example, an average newspaper today, will have the the Gaza conflict headlines, followed by the Ukraine debacle, maybe a full or half page ad about some luxury product, completely out of sync with the somber mood of the news. Followed by a few corruption scandals, definitely an article on rape and the completely idiotic stance of our political servants regarding the same - ("how rape is brought on by the clothes women wear"). Maybe an article or two on communal tensions in some part of the world, the tanking of the sensex, and now to top it all now the India-England test series, that is just depressing. 
Not that, there is no positive news at all, of course there is, but it is a treasure hidden beneath mounds of negativity.
No, i do not propose giving up reading the newspaper. After all you need to be completely aware of what's happening around you.
I am talking about filling the morning space, right now occupied by newspapers, by something else. Something maybe called the "positive paper". Just off the top of my head, I am sure i can come up with better titles! A paper, that will have only positive news, anything that happens in the world that is worth reporting because it is positive. Something on the lines of the videos we see on Facebook - "this will restore your faith in humanity" or "this will change your life in 60 seconds". I am not talking about articles preaching about the good things, but reporting of the good things being done every day by common people. Strictly no mention of politicians, religious leaders or criminals. 





I am talking about something bigger than just changing the content of newspapers, i am talking about replacing the newspaper, at least for that particular time slot of the morning. It will have to be a lifestyle change, a change in the routine of everyone. It is about getting up every morning and demanding your dose of positivity. It is about getting up every morning and choosing to pick the positive. (I can already imagine a TV campaign advertising this newspaper, oops positive paper). It could of course be in the digital form, but there is something very reassuring about having the feel of physical paper in your hand, hence it replaces the newspaper.

Imagine the start to your day, when you read about extraordinary lives of ordinary people, the impact of their true courageous and successful stories. Wouldn't that jump start your morning? Wouldn't a nice story about the power of one common man's voice put a nice spring in your step? You would be saying goodbye to all the grumpy mornings and taking each day like a ray of sunshine. 

Aahh...well...it is just a positive thought!

Any entrepreneurial takers?

Friday, August 8, 2014

For as long as the bubble lasts..

Today, Friday, is my weekly off. It is a day i use the most productively...cleaning..cleansing more like it - the house, my mind, my cupboard, the bathroom...
It always starts off with a morning cleaning spree, arranging and re-arranging the furniture and show pieces. Did i mention i have OCD? Oh, i didn't? I thought it would be quite obvious from the blog url. Anyway, point is i like things a certain way (read  straight and aligned), I have an inherent dislike for anything out of place (read round, oval or any other shape that cannot be aligned as easily as two lines). I am compulsively obsessive about the way things are arranged (straight)!
So my Friday mornings are fruitfully spent in this satisfying activity.
Afternoons are solely for reading and sleeping
Evenings for a nice dinner/ movie/ outing.

All in all a pretty good holiday plan (yes, even my holidays have a plan that needs to be followed.)

Today, was slightly different though. I was invited for lunch at my grandmother's place (mom's mom). And so was my cousin. Not that she requires a reason to do so, but today was a Friday in the auspicious month of Shravan and the tradition is to call home girls (women) who are married for a feast. And what a feast it was! The reasoning behind this tradition is simple - you can go home and feast on your favorite things and basically be pampered on the assumption that at your in-laws place you have a lot of house -hold chores to do.

When my grandmom told me this, my first reaction was we don't need a separate day for this anymore. The in-law equation now-a -days, at least for me and a lot of my friends and family, has been balanced. We are treated more or less as daughters of the house rather than hired help. The stories i have heard of a generation ago! No, we cannot sympathize, because we haven't had that experience. I feel a sense of ownership and belonging in my home (with my husband and his grandparents). My grandmom told me that's quite alright, but you will have fun - so come. I, of course, was not going to pass up in the opportunity of having some yummy grandma food!

I reached there at 1.00 pm, intending to come home by 3 pm for my afternoon holiday siesta. I came home at 6.30 pm! And what fun!
She was right - no matter how much i love and care for my home, my mother's (grandmother's place) will always have a special, a unique place in my heart. It is the familiarity of the place, and the people, that brings out my laugh - that is just a tad louder, my words - that are a tad more brazen, the sparkle in my eye - that is just a tad naughtier, my posture - which is just a tad lazier, my smile - which is just a tad wider and my appetite - which is a lot bigger, than when i am home!
It rejuvenates me, it refreshes me, it makes me feel like i have a secure little nest tucked away, that i can fly to any time i want. It is a place where i am pampered, it is a place of numerous memories, of tears of joy and laughter that upsets your tummy.
It is a place of harmless gossip, a place where i don't have to mind my language or my thoughts. A place where a thought on my mind, is a word on my tongue. It is a place where i can come home from and shower the same care, love and affection on my new family.

The best part of this feeling is that it lasts for as long as a bubble lasts, but is just as beautiful and when it bursts it showers you with a sprinkle of love that takes you through the rest of the day, week and month.


Thursday, August 7, 2014

Sunshine beyond rain...

Ever wondered how a normal morning turns into a nightmare you have been thrust into after waking up?

It all starts because we are so used to routine - and my routine works like a precision clockwork, not the slightest glitch! And then a small thing, as innocuous as rising 30 minutes late snowballs into a storm of massive proportions, at least in my head.
It begins with the late rising, is compounded by the cook not coming on time and you left wondering if she is going to turn up or should you start cooking? No yoga today then! The weekly menu for lunch that you have so carefully planned cannot be executed because out of all the vegetables, capsicum decides to play hide-and-seek today!
You ditch the plan and furiously attack the onions and tomatoes (it is the easiest vegetable to make!). Half way through you realize - wait a minute, this is exactly what i had for lunch yesterday, didn't i? Continue making it? Ditch it? aahhh....decisions!
You decide to take a break and make your morning cup of tea only to realize your favorite cup is missing...where could it have gone? Frantic search reveals it hiding behind a pile of unwashed dishes from yesterday that your husband had promised to clean! You have tea in some other cup and you know it just isn't the same. You open the newspaper and it is wet. Can't read that now. So i guess it is back to cooking my vegetable...wait..the same one as yesterday? YES!
The minute you finish the vegetable, the cook shows up. Got delayed by the rain, it seems. Perfectly plausible, but by now common sense has decided to sneak out on you. No, you say, it is a silly excuse! Carry an umbrella, woman! Of course all of this is happening in your head! In my city, the house-hold help is to be revered. They are a scarce and unpredictable resource after all.
And then the electricity wants to join the "lets-ruin-her-day-the-best-we-can" band wagon too and decides to go AWOL. So now you are faced with the chilling prospect of a cold bath. And the set of clothes which you had laid out last night - to be ironed in the morning - are staring at you disdainfully.
Quick you grab something else from your wardrobe..i mean after all your husband keeps complaining about the volume of clothes you have - no, not the white shirt - its raining, nope not the light brown trousers, not in a mood for anything dark, na...too colorful, too dull, doesn't fit anymore...i am fat! oh no, i should lose weight...damn the choco chip cupcake that i had lovingly made for my husband yesterday! Not that old sweater! That's it ! I am officially out of clothes. "I HAVE NOTHING TO WEAR", i scream!
Finally grabbing the first thing that comes in my hand i am ready - to get ready for work!
Oh, did i forget to mention the toothpaste that couldn't be squeezed out anymore?

It is funny how little things add up in your head and make it impossible for you to think straight.
My husband wakes up and is blissfully unaware of the war zone that he is going to be a part of. When i launch into a detailed account of my actions for every missile fired at me, I realize...that is just silly.

I mean so what if the cook doesn't come...it gives me a chance to order in at office - from the yummy bakery down at the end of the lane. Did they not have a new menu i have been meaning to check out? My husband is absolutely non fussy. The news of not having a lunch box is greeted by.."cool, no prob i will figure something out". Yes, i am sure he will.
Remember the days as children when we didn't want to have a bath on a cold day....we would go inside splash some water on the walls and our face and come out declaring what a cleansing bath we had? Well, guess what, I don't even have to splash water on the walls anymore! I can just say - "As an adult today, with no one to answer to, I have made a decision to postpone my bath from the morning to the evening today" Ahh...the freedom, the liberation...
Can't read the wet newspaper? Ever wondered at the joy of waking up and reading the novel by your bedside, like it is your day off?
And well...so i have nothing to wear...you know that means only one thing - a trip to the mall! offline or online..whatever!

How quickly we lose perspective of real things. Is it really that easy to
upset our balance, our sanity?
How important is routine really, that a slight change can manipulate our direction for the day?
I have got to be stronger than the little imbalances of daily life.
So starting today, i am going to vary one thing in my routine, every day. Today i had breakfast before my bath. I never do that...but i did today and it did not put an end to my world.
And every time something does not happen to plan, I am going to ask myself - "does this alter a single significant thing in my life?" or "Am i going to be thinking about this tomorrow?"

And with that, I take a deep breath and get my yoga mat out.

I can finally see the sunshine beyond the rain!


Wednesday, August 6, 2014

A right time for everything?

Is there a right time for everything?
Just how important is timing in our lives?


This thought is put out by my mother every time i meet her - usually in connection with my "baby making" activities. I am 28 years old and will soon hit the 30 mark - before which i should ideally have had 2 children. Given the crunching time frame my mother has decided to be content with one! And this is what she tells me every time the topic comes up - which like I said is every time i meet her.
She absolutely believes that before 30 is the "right time" and after 30- even if it is not a "wrong time", it is not the right time either. This she backs with scientific reasoning - age, growing impatience, body functions, and when all this fails to make an impact - "you will be 60 when your kid graduates".
All these make absolute sense in my head and i can understand what she is trying to say, but i don't know whether all these reasons trump over the fact that I am just NOT READY. She does not understand this. What does not being ready mean, she asks.

For me it means a lot of things -

ME - Financially can i provide the best for my child?
MOM - The kid does not demand a lot - it is the parents who want to give the child the best toys, clothes. Do you think a month old baby understands brands?
POINT MOM

ME - What about money for the kid's education. Do you know how expensive it is to put children through school now?
MOM - we earned half of what you are earning now and managed to put you and your sister to the best school in the city. It was a strain in the beginning, but we sacrificed and look at you two today! Are you telling me you can't buy one less dress, go out for 4 less dinners or cancel a few international holidays for your own child?
POINT MOM

ME - We won't have a life of our own, the kid will ruin it all. I mean look at my marriage right now. We are in heaven - working, earning and planning holidays to spend our earnings. I don't want to change any of that. Why would you change something good?
MOM - to make room for something more beautiful. What you think of as a burden right now, will become your life. I can't explain the feeling
POINT - I DON'T KNOW. MOM, I guess

ME - Does it not hurt?
MOM - We didn't have half the facilities that you kids have today.
POINT MOM

By this time i can see my mom beating me point by point and I am still not convinced that i am ready to have a kid.
ME - I don't want to have this discussion. i will have a child when i feel like - not because you want me to!
MOM - I don't understand your generation!
POINT ME! Yes! 

I know this conversation is going to be repeated when we meet again; and again I am going to be aware of the grain of truth behind my mom's words. It is amazing how with age i appreciate every little thing that my mom tried teaching us. Maybe some day i will turn around and understand this too!

All my mom hopes is that by then the "right time" has not slipped by!

Chill MA!








Tuesday, August 5, 2014

My garden...

Good morning!

It s a lazy start to another rainy beautiful day, today I have decided to work from home. I know! It IS lucky that i get to work from home and avoid all the cons of the rainy season - the mud, muck, getting wet etc etc..
So with my faithful cup of tea next to me, today i know i want to write about my little vegetable garden.
It started off as a non committal hobby where i bough cute pots and and went to the nursery and selected seeds for vegetables ( i have started with vegetable gardening - dream is to go to flower gardening also..however i feel so heartbroken when flowering plants die that for now i am sticking to vegetables!)

a quick review of my mistakes -

1. Palak - bought seeds, planted them in one separate pot. They take 3 weeks to grow and the same plant gave me enough palak for three uses - spinach omelette, spinach soup and some random spinach use - one after the other. After that i stopped...i mean how much more can you expect. I dont know the next step in palak gardening (?) ( homework)
2. Methi - from methi seeds at home...needs a lot of space to grow and grows quickly - say 2 - 3 weeks. i could use it only once, unlike palak so the trick must be planting seeds lot wise ? - homework needed
3. coriander -- same as methi! though out of maybe a 50 seeds only 15 sprouted..that was my ratio the first time it improved the second time around..though was nowhere near 50:50
4. tomatoes - the best plant EVER! it is so easy to grow...just take a tomato..remove its seeds and plant and voila! you should have a plant in under a week and it is self sustaining...just let one - two tomatoes fall to the ground and don't harvest and a plant will grow there
5.  Chillies - green - again easier to buy a plant and take care of it rather than planting seeds, though that also can be done and is not at all difficult
6. My current experiments include - planting capsicum seeds and lemon seeds - both are blossoming into plants, i guess purple flowers for the capsicum too (not sure - limited space too many plants) - but i am keeping a track of these and will see how they turn out.

Now this is very rudimentary information that i gathered as a first time gardener and i want to learn more because my gem of a husband has promised me a nice irrigated terrace garden set up. And our terrace is huge! So before that i have to get done with my home work and experiments. So i guess it is back to flipkarting and Youtubing and Googling for me!


Monday, August 4, 2014

Why this?

The initial musings...


I have always wanted to write...a blog, an article anything. It is not for the want of subjects but rather because of my inability to get a common thread to run through all my random thoughts, that I have been putting it off.
But here goes...finally!
No, i am yet to find the common thread but i have found the lowest common multiple – Me!
All these thoughts, ideas, experiments and events happen with me and I am going to assume that as my common thread.
A brief history – i am an MBA post graduate. I work with my dad in our manufacturing set up. I have been married for 2 and half years now and I love reading.
Why am i writing today?
Simple.. the weather outside is beautiful! Its raining, the chill is in the air and i want to do nothing other than curl up, read a book and sip on endless cups of teas.

It has  been raining like this for the better part of the day and my office has  a very cozy view of the surrounding. I can hear the rain drops against the window and i can smell the wet mud...heaven!

Coming back to this blog..i do not have a specific purpose for this in mind. I want it to be a lot of things - my diary, my travelogue, my memory...so bear with me till I find my rhythm..

and enjoy the rains!