Saturday, 12 December 2009

Cranberries and my teen angst

About a month ago I had the good fortune of attending a concert by one of my teen idols. I was your typical teenager - confused yet brim full of very definitive and strong opinions, happy yet brooding, lost yet snooty. Like any other teenager out there it was a time full of extremes.

I look back at my teen years somewhat reluctantly. I was an awkward kid, with awkward ways. OK reluctance does not begin to cover it - I look back at teen years with embarrassment and a very selective memory. In fact most of the times I like to pretend I was never that person :).

This brings me back to the concert. I attended a concert by Cranberries. They make great music and in addition have a lead female vocalist who wears pants and sings with passion and strength. They are a lovely band but I always chalked my devotion to them to -- well being a teenager. Life then seemed to full of absolutes. And I absolutely loved the cranberries.

However, a lot of things and people have lost their sheen in the grown up world and to be fair I have also grown to appreciate a good many other people/ideas ( Like my ma - I don’t want to tell her but I think I rather like the old lady). When I do feel strongly about something I am somewhat embarrassed by how attached I can get to an idea. It might be me but it seems the world of adults is world of greys. Not grey to indicate boredom but grey to indicate complexity. And in this complex world absolutes with very few exceptions have very little space.

I bought the tickets because I can and the group was touring after years and years. I expected a night of entertainment and maybe a night with more embarrassing shoulder shrugs where I explain that I was just a silly kid who had loved this silly band. In turn what did happen was that the cranberries took my breath away. Dolores the lead singer is still a charismatic personality. The rest of the band performed beautifully. As I listened to them sing boat loads of memories associated with my teen years rushed through my mind. My heart raced. To my surprise I remembered all the words. It was a rather fleeting hour and a half and they left me wanting more. And did I mention she keeps her pants on while she performs? Oh I did... Well it’s a point worth making twice!!.

It lead me to do a lot of thinking (yeah, no surprises there I do live in my head quite a bit). It seems I need not be embarrassed by all of my teen life. I was a passionate kid but perhaps I should be a passionate adult. I was so sure about what I wanted. Reality has stepped in and made my life a combination of what I want and what I can have. But I think I have let reality get at more than what can happen, I have let it get at what I want. So I have a brand new year resolution. Yep, number one is still loose 10 pounds but there can be only so much self awareness and gyan at one time.

My New Year resolution is to do more things I enjoy and not just things I am good at. And not to sound AA but I would like the ability to tell the difference.

Friday, 27 November 2009

Wish I Had Written This

Thing have been a little crazy of late. Too many changes, too many things to plan. I am completely unable to write.. :).

But even at my most prolific here are a couple of entries that I wish I had the courage to write. These issues are close to my heart and I could never put it out there .

I can however provide links :)

Saturday, 10 October 2009

A Breath Of Fresh Air

Remember this? I like most people fantasized about other jobs even as I plodded through my own day job. There are however people that do not stop with fantasies. They do not blog about their thoughts and actually manage to get something done.. Who would have thought it ??!!!

My Sunny Balcony is started by a group of 4 people in Bangalore. The garden city is being eaten up ever growing concrete monstrosities and a city that was once known for idyllic weather and lovely gardens is talked about most for its traffic jams. My Sunny Balcony brings a little bit of green into the ever shrinking homes of Bangalore dwellers. A simple idea with a heart. The group works on setting up a garden in whatever space is available in Bangalore apartments. If you have a little sunshine in any corner of your house it seems they can transform it into a green haven.

Lovely work. These are pictures of their latest work that I found on Facebook.

The folks at My Sunny Balcony have this to say

"MSB is a group of garden enthusiasts dedicated to creating customized landscapes for urban environments. Want a little sunshine, a little green and lots of frEE oxygen & frEE therapy?!call us!:)"

While I was trying to plowing and planting seeds on Farmville it is good to know there are some people hard at work making the world green. And nope I cannot be shamed into quitting Farmville.

Friday, 9 October 2009

Rewarding Rhetoric

I love the man. Love love love.

He is intelligent, well spoken, seems to care, funny and competent but can we please wait for him to serve a term before we start showering him with accolades....

Nobel Peace Prize????

Edited to add-
Points to Ponder
The last date for Nomination was in Feb, Days after the man had been elected to office. For a link to the selection process click here.

Thursday, 8 October 2009

My first Karva Chauth

Winter months approach and what makes the dwindling sunshine, the shorter days, the drooping flowers in my garden bearable is festival season. I don't think it is by accident that most of the celebrations are in the winter months. It is to cheer us up and distract us from our house arrest that all the fun festivals line up in these months. From Navarathri, Diwali, Karva Chauth, Halloween, Christmas and New Year as the flowers go away these festivals give us an excuse to put up our own decorations even as nature takes a break. My only grouse with the festival season however is all the fasting.

Each time any of the fasting festivals roll up I consider it half heartedly. With skill equaling that of insurance companies looking for loopholes in my plan I set out to look for loopholes in the fasting rituals. While they scour page after page of legal paperwork, I have it easier and submit my request to the Google God. And as it turns out the rituals are apparently better structured then our health insurance because I failed miserably in trying to find one that would keep me well fed and fasting. Perhaps the common sense laws are more effective for the common people. Anyways I digress.

So Navarathri flew past and I had done nothing apart from eat all the goodies my mil made. To top it off we went golu hopping on Saraswati Pooja day and ended up having three breakfasts all served with a sweet. I had but resigned myself to accepting defeat when along came Karva Chauth. How did I find out about this not celebrated by Tamils festival?? Husband and I relied on long distance phone calls to India for any festival type information before in laws came to visit. And now that in laws are there they multi task by reminding us, doing all the preparations for the festival and then lowering their standards for our part in it so we can meet their expectations. Well facebook of course.

So, despite having felt queasy every time yet another heroine in Hindi cinema decks up in Swarozki crystal studded lehengas, gazes with adoration at husband/ boyfriend, sips her water and then breaks out into a song I decided I would embrace this festival and fast for hubby dearest. Though in all honesty it was done for all of the family. I am not a pati vrata sthri (I like Daniel Craig too much for that) and I will not be standing between anybody and Yama mainly because if I did see Yama I would be rushing off to the nearest emergency centre to get my BP/ brain checked.

Needless to say there was no sargi since the sun rise was long gone by the time I woke up. My brain also did not awaken until I had swallowed my giant cup of tea. After which I finally awoke to realize that it was Karva Chauth and I should be fasting. So I bathed, wore some red and prayed to be forgiven for ingesting large quantities of ginger tea and set off for the vrath.

After all the drama it was relatively easy. What was hard was to be cheerful and hungry but it seemed very non spiritual to be in foul mood while fasting for your loved ones. Husband was sweet and made poori and channa and when they were made demanded I break my fast regardless of moon cos the poori was ready. I made some halwa and tried my best to perform some prayer that would not result in offending my deities.

As luck would have it, it was a cloudy day and husband and I spent a good 40 minutes after scheduled moon rise looking for the damn thing. Since the moon is not visible from our balcony I took to going out every five minutes to check. When the moon was finally visible, I hurried the husband out, sipped the water, gave the other half a hug and rushed home for a table full of food.

So my take, fasting was not bad, the praying was even better, the food was the best and I still think we have these festivals to add drama into our lives.

Sunday, 27 September 2009

Aaj kal be bachche.

late 1980's

Ma - If you dont behave I am going to leave you here and go home without you.

Me/my brother (either knee deep in mud, or atop a tree - putting all that inexhaustible energy to good use) - you wont!!!.

Ma - Yes I will. Nobody wants to take home a naughty child.

Us (worried looking around for dad) - Appa won't let you. You will have to take me back.

Ma - Yes he will. See he is annoyed too.

Us (looking up at Appa to see him make his obliging angry face, now very unsure) - But he/she started it.

Reluctantly walking away from whatever lovely mischief we had been upto.


Overheard mother and son at a concert my husband was singing at. I was trying to get the wires taped to the floor so kids would not trip on it.

Kid - I don't want to sit here. Nobody else is sitting here.

Mother - It is right in front. We are members of this organization. We pay an annual fee. These are the best seats. Just sit down.

Kid - But everybody is sitting at the back. I want to sit at the back....

After a few minutes of this.

Mother - If you don't behave I am going to leave you here.

The kid paused and was deep in thought for a while.

Kid - (In a very deliberate voice which might indicate practicing in front of the mirror) - If you did leave me behind here, I am not sure I want to go back with you. This means you are an irresponsible parent. You are supposed to take care of me and I could report you to the authorities and you would be in trouble. They would take me home.

Mother ( deep sigh ) - Bends down to sit next to me. Can I help you with that tape?

Kids born with a sense of entitlement...

Thursday, 24 September 2009

Lets watch a movie tonight

After the long strike with the multiplexes ended and the Indian movie industry has gone back to being prolific, husband and I have been lured back to the theatres. We are rather wary theater goers and generally wait for the verdict to be out not only in the media but also among our friends. This despite a Regal theatre right next door and it offers all the new Hindi releases promptly. Completely unlike Oregon where there was one dingy theater that played Indian movies and you had to wait for months for the "latest" Hindi movies to be released. But then Oregon is full of the outdoorsy people who head out to hike or camp at the drop of a hat. Of course, since it rains 5 months in a year it can be argued that they are just suffering from prolonged and delayed claustrophobia. But I am rambling.

Maybe I am soft critic, maybe I just reaallly enjoyed watching the movies with Dolby stereo again - whatever it was but I was rather happy with the past couple of movies I watched. I do seem to be alone in this since I heard a lot of criticism. The movies in question are of course the much discussed Love Aaj Kal and Kaminey. They held my attention; I enjoyed almost all of the performances and what’s more I was introduced to two rather nice soundtracks. Also I had some discussions bordering heated on how gorgeous Deepika is, how silly the climax was and so on and so forth. These two movies, I suspect resulted in lowering our guard.

So last night armed with homemade paneer kati rolls and on a whim a flask full of mandarin vodka and tonic water, we set off to watch “Dil Bole Hadippa" . The movie did not hold my attention, I did not enjoy any of the performances, it was crass, loud, disconnected and unbearable. Also I find Yash Chopra productions ludicrous as a champion of women's rights. Please spare me!!!!

But what surprised me is that my guard has dropped further.

Our careful scrutiny before heading to the movies has of course resulted in us missing a lot of the real lemons. Most of the movies we have watched in the past couple of years have been rather decent. Completely different from our bachelor days when we would watch every stinker on screen. And now I understand why we did it. I had forgotten how much fun it is sometimes to watch a bad movie.

Maybe it was the spicy yet tender paneer, maybe it was the Grey Goose but I think I have not had this much fun watching a movie in a very long time ( apart from Sivaji - but that’s a Rajni movie and so does not count). There was giggling, and prodding and snatching food and no we were not nuisances because the theatre was practically empty (that should have warned us huh?). We are normally polite and refrain from even whispering and so the chattering and laughing was nice change.

So I highly recommend it. Not "Dil Bole Haddipa" but the experience. I may not be able to do this very frequently what with the 20 bucks that we will need to shell out, but I am sure I will do it again.

Wednesday, 23 September 2009

Stress eating?

It has been a tough few weeks. Everything at work was deemed an emergency and even though I reacted by making my somber face/ grave tongue clicks at all meetings, I have come to understand that everything is always an emergency. So though I need to continue to work the drama associated is wholly unnecessary. But despite said Zen outlook though I am not as stressed as the drama queens in my team, I am seeing my stress quotient go up.

I discovered long ago that the stress ball does nothing apart from exercise your fingers and make your palms sticky. But there are some great ways to beat the stress.

1. Eat - On particularly stressful days when I want a burst of energy to kick in later in the day I eat a salad with a holier than thou look on my face during lunch with colleagues and then tank up on a slice of sinful sugar and butter laden cake during coffee. I have spent too much time in the tech industry and in college for caffeine to rescue me.

2. Clothes - I spend some mindless minutes picking the perfect outfit online that I will wear during a great vacation. I will never buy the outfit since I DO NOT need more clothes but the quality time I spend on Forever 21 sight has seen me through many status meetings.

3. Planning dinner - Food is my one true vise. Work, stress and all things become minor things if I manage to stumble onto the perfect recipe, or the perfect restaurant.

4. Blogging - what is sad is that blogging does not de-stress me at all. My mind is so cluttered with details of work and maybe the recipe that I just found that I have nothing to say really and definitely nothing funny to say.

But since I did have some stressful days so I found some great recipes..

1. Spinach Strawberry Salad

2. Corn and Avocado salad - I added some roasted red bell peppers to it. They are my new favourite thing. Fire roasted bell peppers have the most amazing flavour and texture.

3. Pineapple upside down carrot cake - this was a mix of many recipes. This is why I am a bad baker- I cannot follow instructions. But this cake was a slice of heaven.

4. Mac and cheese with broccoli - I did remove a lot of "fat" part of the recipe. The trick is to get the roux right. Despite navaratri mine was heavily dosed with garlic.

5. Black Olive Spread - Inspired by tapenade but without the capers.

6. Lettuce wraps - Left out the beef of course and sprinkled with peanuts. Also added lentils with rice because I do not stock brown rice.

Stress Eating ?? Still beats squeezing rubber balls and then washing and rewashing my hands with soap to get the smell off.

Friday, 28 August 2009

The Jinx Is Broken

This summer, husband and I finally broke our jinx. It seems plants do not necessarily decide to die when they cross our threshold. Considering my disastrous history with plants which included managing to kill cacti, spiky plants and other mutant hardy plants, I was quite sceptical when my husband suggested a small patio garden. I then convinced myself that all things jinxed was before the wedding and that together we might be different - hopefully we have a different bunch of jinxes...
As it turned out it worked out. We grew some plants from seed including a herb garden and some sunflowers and some Texas blue bonnets. We also got a bunch of other stuff from the nursery and I am happy to report that they are all alive and kicking.

As hurricane Danny approaches these plants still make my patio look lovely. These are the sunflowers from my patio.

Saturday, 22 August 2009

If Only

There are times when the days just seem to overlap. There is not much to distinguish them from one other. A routine sets in and I mindlessly follow the preset agenda like a machine. It is a slow march where I am falling in line, only that there is no audience and nobody to appreciate the synchronization of my movements. I am referring of course to the work week.

I like my job well enough, the job suits me and I suit the job. But I wonder sometimes how life would be if I had picked a different calling. A more unsuitable choice. On a Saturday as I sit and cogitate about this, a bunch of options present themselves

- A kamaulika in desi serials. I would love to be the evil woman. I do not want to be the glamorous vamp. The role of the actress who needs to spend a couple of hours putting on her makeup and a couple of hours taking it off does not attract me. I want to be the equivalent of the dastardly Prem Chopra on television. The pretty, glamorous women in their backless cholies do not hold any appeal to me. I see myself more in the shoes of the shriveled up woman delivering some downright Machiavellian dialogues. I want to mock the holier than thou good girl and rub my palms with evil glee. The reason I pick television is a) their standards are much lower - I might actually have a chance b) they last forever I could spent a good couple of years doing my dark laugh, pushing old ladies down the stairs, making entries as the music rises to a crescendo ( to indicate said entry by bad person character , newbie). On a not completely unrelated note I think if I got to play someone that bad I might actually be a better person in real life. And if that does not prove to be the case then I will at least be the person having some laughs.

-Another job would be a writer of erotic novels. I cannot elaborate on the why of this (it should be obvious) due to the family nature of this blog. By which I mean of course that my family sometimes drops by.

-At number three and only because this job might require some actual work is the job of a cook. Am I seduced by the food network, do I want to make millions yelling at young aspirants when they cook the fish too fast like a British cook who is ruling all ratings? No, even in my day dreams I am fully aware of the improbability of such dramatic success. Also believing in karma and reincarnation I would be terrified and spend most of my time enumerating the species of insect that I would most likely be reborn as. Or do I want to make the most perfect cake (Martha Stewart style), so pretty that it inspires awe and guilt as you dig into it? Nope, I am too much of a no fuss person for that. I would like to be the no nonsense "one dish specialist". Spend my time making that one dish sublime. Perfect it. That one dish that you just need to have, that one dish that has captured your imagination when the hunger pangs set in and now makes all other options seem like a sorry substitute. As a person of the other side of the counter at the moment, it seems to me that the "one dish specialist" is an artist that has few equals. As I dig into that perfect Vada Pav, or flawless plate of fries, or that Spanish Rice without an equal, I feel a respect for the person whose creation leaves me so happy and sated. To crave it, seek it out and then satisfy that craving seems not unlike love making to me. And I would love to be the person responsible for so much uhhhh satisfaction...

Well that is my list for now. But the weekend has just begun so there will probably be a few more by the time I tire of this train of thought

Wednesday, 12 August 2009

Graham Greene - Heart Of The Matter : Book Review

I started this blog because I discovered one fine day that I was unable to write two grammatically correct sentences that conveyed what I was thinking. I had joined a book club and in an effort to collect my thoughts before the meeting I made an attempt to write a review. I had a bunch of scattered thoughts on the book but I wanted to get it down as the written word. The black and white always helps makes arguments complete and well thought out.

In any case, my inability to express myself made me realize that I spent way too much time doing Ctrl-C Ctrl-V and formatting. The documents I produced as a part of work were so peppered with technical terms that they write themselves and when I had to present something I simply did Ctrl-C/ Ctrl-V again. As for any type of creative/recreational writing, my sentences came out as random thoughts and when I attempted to put it down with punctuation, paragraphs, capitalization I was at sea. My sentences were and still are constructed like a conversation in my head. But at least I am enjoying myself.

I go back to why started the blog because I realized that I have never written a book review after that failed attempt. And while making witty commentary (Ok so that jury is still out on that but I try) on topical news is always entertaining it is time I faced my devils.

"Heart of the Matter" is my second Graham Greene book. My first was "The End of the Affair". Greene writes in a style that I really enjoy. His language is not floral and he does not spend endless pages creating an atmosphere. My thoughts on this is probably sacrilege as far as genuine critics are concerned. What can I say? I read for my pleasure. His characters are his atmosphere and he creates the setting through their reactions to their surroundings. Whether it is heat he describes or squalor it is from the state of mind and thoughts of his characters that you get the mental picture of his/her surroundings.

Heart of the Matter is set in Africa and revolves around the morally upright and emotionally numb Scobbie. The other main characters are his wife Louise, the perennially pubescent Wilson, Yusef - the wily, black marketeer who becomes friend in need and Helen Rolt the other woman. Scobie converts to Catholicism to marry Louise who is a devout catholic. But Scobie is a thinking man with a strong inner voice. Even as seeks to appease his wife who he is unable to love anymore but feels responsible for, he also struggles with the teachings of the catholic faith that conflict with how he feels.

The book recounts Scobie's tale. In an effort to make his wife happy and "find peace" he borrows money from the black marketeer for 4% interest and funds her passage abroad. In her absence Scobie is attracted to Helen Rolt a survivor of a major ship wreck. The patterns that Scobie falls into where he seems to be with women that he must take care of is very deftly brought forth. And so begins Scobie’s downfall. Once morally upright, he is now torn apart by his adulterous behavior coupled with his debt to the black marketeer. And though his heart guides him to do the things he does his faith leaves him unhappy with the decisions he has made.

Wilson is a somewhat adolescent man with all the symptoms of the dreaded teens. He is at once passionate and unsure of himself. He reads poetry but is too afraid to admit to it for fear of ridicule. He falls in love quickly with Louise who is the first woman he spends any time with in the island and hates Scobie blindly.

The characters in this book are rich and quite original. Though you seldom sympathize with the motivations of the characters there is enough depth to make you understand them. The progression of their mental states is also done with great skill. One example is the scene where Wilson is attracted to a Black woman for the first time. What he found alien when he arrived at the island is now able to arouse him.

The one complaint I have is that Greene does far more justice to the motivations and desires of the male characters. Even Yusef who is but a greedy black marketeer has shades of his character that are brought out during his conversations with Scobie. The women on the other hand are left unanalyzed. While Scobie’s torment after adultery is noted in great detail no words are spared to note how Louise feels about kissing Wilson, or about her child’s death. Helen Rolt is left even more unanalyzed. Louise's bitterness is obvious in her conversations but Helen's view of the whole affair is completely left out. But perhaps this was intentional so that the burden that Scobie felt in his effort to make the women in his life happy could be understood by us.

A strong theme in the book is Scobie’s struggle with the catholic faith perhaps reflecting Greene's own personal struggle. He is at once a believer who still dares to question the dictums of his faith. Added to his burden to do right by his wife and mistress is also his burden to right by his God.

All in all I really enjoyed the book. And passages from it remain in my thoughts even after a couple of days. But just as a felt the last time with "End of an Affair" I will not be returning to Graham Greene for a couple of months. Such introspection though riveting to read is also a little exhausting.

Tuesday, 11 August 2009

We Have Arrived!!!!

A scant few years ago my mother rejected all GAP and Macy's products that were marked "Made In India". Though she was probably right in not splurging on cotton and steel with department store prices but Sarojini Nagar value, she did pick up each article with said tag and show it to me with a mixture of indignance and triumph. Her tone was the very one she used to point out the fake Nalli in Adyar.

The tag seems to have lost some of its disrepute. We have finally arrived - at least in Nigeria. With china actually faking "Made In India" tags to sell their vare. Excerpt from today's TOI ( Why do I still read this paper? I am not ashamed to admit that at the moment they have unmatched coverage about Rakhi Sawant. :) )

" China has admitted that its pharmaceutical companies were involved in shipping fake drugs labeled 'Made In India to Nigeria. "The Chinese authorities have accepted this position (that its firms were involved in the case)," an official said. "

The article can be found here.

Thursday, 6 August 2009

Time Flies By

A girls night out with an old friend and a couple of pretty young things. The friend remains a swinging single. After many days of attending baby showers, kid birthday parties I am hoping that this might provide some respite from the grown up world. These parties are fun but they also consist of being followed around by kids. Kids,who though very cute insist on calling me aunty and want me to fix them a meal without any further directions. What does a 2 year old eat? A cheese sandwich? Mushy vegetables? Milk? Soya biryani? So I am hoping with girls night out these women will rub off on me and make me cool again. OK so I was never cool but at least make me a younger me.

Pretty Young Thing - Oh, I love your highlights. Nice colour.
Me ( hoping to impress her) - oh its not colour. I use henna. It also cools the scalp and conditions the hair.
Pretty Young Thing - Oh ( Loooooooooooooooooooooooooong Silence)
My mother uses that. She really likes it.
Me (sigh)


Movie night. Love Aaj Kal. Nice breezy movie. Waiting for scene where the beautiful people make stupid decisions/sacrifices because of culture, values, parental pressure.... Nope. Maybe an Indian culture speech, come on. I need to roll my eyes at these beautiful people on screen. What does it say about me that I can relate to mainstream cinema? Does not mainstream cinema lag behind the youth by a decade? Does that mean I am a decade behind the times already? Sigh


Garage band playing at an ice cream parlour. Their song list extends back to the 70s, 80s and also features recent hit singles. The ice cream is great, the band is also very good.
Hep Acquaintance - So did you recognize any of the songs?
Me - Hmm not really I am very out of touch.
HA - What about Job Bon Jovi.. He was from your time right?
Me - Yes (Sigh)

As dated as Jon Bon Jovi...Need I say more?


If this one does not bring out all variations of 140 character long crap jokes nothing will.

Friday, 31 July 2009

Goddess and Me

I have always been kind of a tom boy. I try to tell myself it is because I have an athletic brother. It is a story I like to tell frequently about how we climbed trees and played in mud. As long as it was possible without embarrassing me I competed with him. Pushed myself to race with him, be strong, unafraid of insects, bugs, firecrackers, and darkness. He is my little brother so I had some time before he shot up to 6 foot plus. After which all my efforts were just attempts at humour at least from his point of view.

But when I was a kid, I could fight. While the other girls and boys fought coquettishly showing the first signs of flirtation, I fought to prove that I was stronger. In hindsight that was of course a very bad idea. By the time I was in my late teens I was no longer in a position to overpower any of them boys who had all grown up to be men but also had no idea about how to be anything but a tom boy.

And truthfully I am not sure if I would have turned out different if I had a sister in his place. Though I believe I am feminine in my own way I cannot relate easily to the mainstream idea of feminine. I cry at the movies but Karan Johar movies frequently make me cringe. I like romance but the idea of a knight in shining armour protecting me, taking care of me seems weak. And it was a bunch of exercise videos that got me thinking about all this.

Since I am lazy as hell and easily bored I adopt a different form of workout every couple of months. My latest is a bunch of exercise videos directed at women. Though I like to believe we women are special advertisements, products that claim “I am worth it" " You are a goddess" only to then take my money and put it firmly in their annual sales typically annoy me. While these exercise videos are tough and very good “total body workout" they have their quirks like all products directed at women.

So instead of squatting and bending I am "reaching down to gather flowers" and in place of stretching side to side I am "throwing the flowers into the air". Also while making me balance on one leg while kicking the other out they insist that this will give me the posture to be more "graceful and poised". Add to that a bunch of ballet inspired steps and it is complete chick flick of an exercise video.

The first couple of times of course I smirked and made smart ass comments for the benefit of my husband. One evening after a mentally exhausting day I switched this thing on for a workout. And as I reached down to gather flowers and then got up to scatter them I felt myself unwinding completely and giving in. When I did my ballet steps and stretched up to feel "tall and beautiful" I could feel the stress leaving my body and a smile on my lips.

Don't get me wrong I still feel most of it is idiotic. But the exercise video took me away from my laptop with emails, my sink full of dishes, and my dinner that had to be cooked to a place where I was just stretching and chucking flowers. As silly as that might be perhaps that is the point. I had been looking at it wrong and taking the whole thing oh so seriously. Maybe all I needed to do is to take it with a liberal pinch of salt. Maybe it is the silliness that makes this video and all "goddess" products actually worth our while. And while I will fight against the popcorn idea of feminine till my last breath I know I have lots of place for silliness in my life :).

I am considering starting a food blog in place of the recipe section. What do you think?

Monday, 13 July 2009

Late One Night

Late at night, seated in bed, night lamp on, laptop - well on lap. Husband next to me lying mouth open, emanating noises that sound like a snore, the miny breeze he is causing feels like a snore but can’t be because he does not snore. Pointlessly shoot husband dirty looks. Free from insomnia he sleeps on despite my loud typing. Decide to check blog stats. Oh well, most of world wide web seems to be unaware of my writing but I have few faithful readers. Search engines that spread their tentacles through these webs also result in a few passersby.

I see a few late night searches. For a moment I feel a bond. Fellow insomniacs. We are bonded by our inability to sleep and the Internet. Dig deeper into the stats to look up what the fellow insomniacs had on their minds. What lead them to my humble, virtual abode? Was it my wit, the sparkling commentary on the drama in my life, my insight? Do they relate with my work from homeness, my frustration with dance classes?

Handy tool that reports key words entered into the search engines, recently installed, pays off.

A couple of clicks lead me to the queries that tracked back to me.

- My hello aunty article where I lamented about how I missed the older generation in USA had good traffic

"aunty in high heels"

"forceful aunty"

"indian aunty in wet saree"

"indian aunties"

"Lovely indian aunties"

After a deep sigh at the predilections of my fellow insomniacs I move on to the next source of traffic

" A string of pearls for her sweet ass"

" butt pearls"

" pearls to turn her on"

Not one soul seemed to want the pearls as an ornament for any part waist up.

Notice now that I can also see county where the traffic came from. Feel a further sense of disappointment when I realize that the searches were made in broad daylight by folks across the Atlantic. It occurs to me that they probably go home to enjoy a full night’s sleep after their exertions during the day. SIGH

Friday, 10 July 2009

A Breath Of Fresh Air

Husband and I have been married close two years and we are at a rather unique/special point in our lives. Are we a couple of newly weds basking in the euphoria that the beginning of a romance brings? Of course not. Husband and I have also endured , sorry enjoyed each others company for a good five years now and there is only so much basking to go around.

Husband and I are what I like to call child free couples. We are at the stage in our lives where we are used to complete privacy and utter self absorption. We do not strive to set an example or discipline and are rather free to do as we please and are our own children. We are thus completely unused to any form of censorship, behaviour guidelines and of late have abandoned any semblance of a filter before we talk about what we are thinking ( OK that might be only me...).

So when ma in law and pa in law came visiting we had to grow up quick and keep our primal self in check - again don't let your imagination run away with you... there is also only so much "primal" to go around. And all things considered we have been doing a half way decent job. But such a G rated exterior can also last so long.

The New Jersey Turnpike is not place conducive with your Please, Sorry and Thank Yous. With
foresight, I declined to do any of the long distance driving. I am a nervous driver and generally give vent to my displeasure with a constant stream of child and in law unfriendly words in all the three languages that I have in my command.

My husband, on the other hand, has always been a man of few words and given the situation has taken to expressing his displeasure with the other occupants of the road by rolling down his window and letting his finger do the talking. My hubby is the Clint Eastwood of New Jersey drivers. And given our stilted conversation and the unchanging vistas I have frequently turned around with concern and found my in laws peacefully asleep. So I thought this lapse on husband's part went unnoticed. Also as the last elections showed us the middle finger is not a well publicized thing in India and the frequent rolling down of the windows could hopefully pass up as getting a breath of fresh air ( In new jersey, u ask. Yes yes , the power of denial)

Or so I thought. On yet another drive last weekend I noticed my MIL glancing frequently at a couple in a swanky silver convertible. The fashionably dressed couple, with their arms dangling over the sides of their freshly washed car looked right out of a glamour mag and my mil's growing interest did not seem out of place. After a few minutes of stolen glances I noticed the kindly lady began to fidget and frown and look worried. She continued to glance at the convertible and finally leaned forward to ask - "Those people in the car- why are they showing us their fingers?"

Needless to say husband and I doubled over with laughter. After explaining that the couple were just enjoying the lovely summer and the fresh air, husband and I have decided to restrict our own fresh air supply.

Monday, 6 July 2009

I Can't Do What Now??

The surest way to get make something irresistible is of course to prohibit it. Its starts early. I vividly remember reading forbidden books after covering them in newspaper so their titillating covers would be hidden from my mother, or renting a questionable movie and watching it late at night with my friends.

As you grow older there are few things that are actually forbidden and the few things that are forbidden... well they also fall under the "illegal - you will end up in jail" category. The secret thrills are lost and as an adult we are able to make decisions about what is right or not. That second serving of ice cream is not fun anymore without my mother denying it to me... well not as much fun and that risqué book has lost its charm. I can stay up late, go out late, eat outside of meal times, eat entire meals that consist only of ice cream and yet without them being denied to me few of these hold any fascination. It is human tendency of course to want anything that cannot be had.

It is no wonder that the Mother of all prohibition - the prohibition of alcohol has always been such a stupendous failure. On a recent visit to a vineyard we were told this great prohibition story that I just have to put down.

This winery is a pre-prohibition era winery in upstate New York. When prohibition hit United States, all the fledgling wineries in New York state that were already struggling with being in the cold climate belt not conducive to wine production, capsized. One vineyard however survived. The Taylor Company survived by selling large jugs of grape juice. Why would there be such a booming market for grape juice when all the folks starved of alcohol were guzzling cough syrup or perfume or whatever corresponding fix they could cobble together at that time? It turns out that it was not the health benefits that the grape juice offered that won the Taylor Company so many loyal customers. The Taylor company sold these jugs with "warning labels" on the back that explained that IF you added such and such amount of yeast and let it sit for such and such time and so on the grape juice would produce wine. Though I am sure these warning labels were put on the jugs with the honorable intentions of preventing any misuse of their product (NOT!!!!), the evil folks who lived in New York at that time being no different from the folks in New York now, treated these jugs as a make-at-home wine kit. It was this moral lapse on the part of the general populace that tided the Taylor Company through the prohibition era. It is also human tendency, it seems to make money providing that we want but should not have. Hilarious I thought - fine tale about prohibition, the human spirit and well the spirits...:))

Recipe -

Mango Ice Cream . This recipe results in the most delicious mango ice cream. The flip side of course is that it uses Cool Whip, a product I would normally not touch with a ten foot poll. But since I do not have a ice cream maker and this was delicious, I succumbed..

Thursday, 2 July 2009

Travel light or Travel Right

Last weekend husband and I embarked on what has come to be an essential tradition of any Indian family that has chosen the United States of America for a home - temporary or otherwise. This tradition started when the first IIT graduate turned down a lucrative offer at Tata steel or DRDO and moved across the Atlantic to try his/her luck here. He chose the United States despite living mostly of bread and large quantities of salad. After a few years of "settling down" - he can now make a quick sambar and rasam using broccoli, radishes, zucchini or anything that caught his eye at the grocery store. He now decides to have his parents over to be introduced to his adopted country. In an effort to give his parents a good time and perhaps justify his decision to stay here, he begins a personal tour of this nation. If like me he lived in New Jersey he spent the first couple of weeks showing off NYC. Times Square was not always the LCD lit nook that it is now but I am sure there were visits to Empire State and the lady liberty. But the tradition that I refer to is the trip to see the Niagara Falls. I have seldom come across an individual of Indian origin who did not make a trip to the Niagara.

Husband and I are no new comers to long road trips. Husband likes to drive and I like to see places. Together we have enjoyed many such trips. A road trip is one of the most relaxed forms of vacation. There is no early check-in to get a good seat/upgrade, no queues, no baggage check, baggage weight limits, and security checks along with a need to pack solids and liquids separately. No decisions regarding wardrobe for next few days need be made courtesy the aforementioned no baggage limit. The seat in your car is always available and you can take along the neck pillow that according to tag does not meet many safety standards and is in fact inflammable. So the routine is get up in the morning. Grab a bunch of clothes, four pairs of footwear (just to have the option), our sunglasses, rush back into the house after screeching out of the parking lot to grab sunscreen, phone charger or something that we actually need but have forgotten and then set off. Ideal weekend activity. A low maintenance, low stress plan that makes for a perfect weekend getaway.

The traditional Niagara trip with visiting parents on the other hand is a different ball game altogether. When mil first mentioned packing food for the trip I envisioned a few idlis to tide us over and some few snack packs. A few business minded folk have also made note of the Niagara tradition and now make "notes" (couldn't resist that one :) ) in their Indian restaurants selling overpriced Indian food at stalls and restaurants near the falls. The menu though not a kept a secret was never fully disclosed and I only began to understand the scope of the preparations when a saw a huge pot of tamarind paste simmering on the gas. When I enquired about it my MIL beamed at me happily and informed me that it was for the weekend. That evening I brought up the subject of the menu with some trepidation when the in laws, husband and I were seated at the table drinking filter kaapi. The group that had been silent and only given making the occasional hmmmmmm sounds of appreciation as they sipped the fresh kaapi made from fresh decoction suddenly got noisy and argumentative about what, how much, for which meal, what will last, how to roast potatoes without oil, will coconut keep, how many idlis can one dubba of Balaji idli mix produce and so on. As a "compromise" the menu was set at

- tamarind rice

- alu capsicum sabji

- chapathis 21 no ( this number and no other was found satisfactory by my husband)

- idlis soaked in molaga podi for breakfast

At this point it was decided that we must also pool with the other family travelling with us to so husband made a call to ensure that the other family would bring along curd rice and kurma to complement our menu. After my initial disbelief I just settled down to pass a few derisive remarks under my breath. I also spent considerable time needling my husband for the next few days (Hey, he knew what he was getting into when he married me!!).

The trip started at an early 7 am. The first dubba that was opened filled the car with the smell of molaga podi and soft, oily, spicy idlis were distributed. I felt the beginning of a few pangs of guilt as I enjoyed my not run of the mill breakfast. The trip continued and we visited a vineyard on the way. After some wine tasting, we reassured my in laws that there was only trace amounts of alcohol in the wine poured in our glasses while harbouring a growing buzz. We then pulled into an overlook point to eat our lunch. What would normally be a parking lot of taco bell was now a lovely green view point where the remaining food was opened. All of us crowded around the boot and tried to exhibit some decorum and resisted the urge to elbow each other while getting at the food. But the wine that we had had on a now empty stomach combined with a near perfect dish of tamarind rice made restraint close to impossible. The chapathis, the sabji and the curd rice with grapes also deserve notable mention. After having eaten until we could not eat anymore we drove to Niagara for the darshan. As evening rolled around more goodies in the form of homemade murukku, thattai were also passed to us. As much as I enjoyed bolting down the hot fast food while travelling light it was clear that this style of travelling definitely had its advantages.

When I finished off the tamarind rice which had gotten better with each passing meal for breakfast the next day, completely ignoring the hotel breakfast buffet I was not ashamed to admit that I had been wrong. Age old wisdom had won another round. My eyes had been opened. This was the definitely the way to travel, in style - to travel right.


Alu Bun - this was a favourite among us. They were a Bangalore Iyengar Bakery speciality and when I came across this recipe I could not resist making them. The buns came out beautifully though it is a bit of work. Also the website that I found this recipe at deserves notable mention - very good recipes, lovely pictures. Great blog altogether.

Out of the closet and not behind bars

India took a leap in the right direction today. We have finally decriminalized gay sex. I am not sure how this happened since we seem to be taking so many other steps that put us firmly in the post independence era.

But while it lasts lets celebrate!!!!!

Thursday, 11 June 2009

Apne Pair Par Aap Kulhadi

Couple of news items that caught my attention

One in the Hindu - Male power officials forced to wear bangles. Is it not about time women realised that a using female adornments to insult men is insulting to women too? Bangles as a symbol of cowardice? Put on those men by female workers of congress, why?

Then this brilliant piece of deduction and problem solving by college authorities in Uttar Pradesh. Meeta Jamal says the "only" way to prevent eve teasing is to prevent girls from wearing jeans.

Is it too much to ask that when you are taking away the rights of women or being an ass in general you get the men to do it so it makes my anger a little less complicated?

Wednesday, 10 June 2009

The Mystery of the Lying Weighing Scale

If you read my blog at all you would have noticed the shameless, self congratulatory way in which I mention my return to running. Yes, I can weave it into just about any blog/ conversation and if there have been blogs/ conversations in which I did not mention this, it was a result of extreme self restraint along with some lip biting and swallowing words that are stuck in my throat.

So back to my running ( Yes, yes, I realize I am doing it again) -my evening run has become less painful and I reached my goal of running 5 miles without wanting to crawl into bed and cry myself to sleep. Last week I managed to run 13 miles. I am not a marathon runner by any standards and so I am quite proud of this.

The scale in my bathroom however is having the last laugh. As I limp onto the scale every morning still sore from the previous night's run the weighing scale edges its way to a scarier and scarier number. The digital scale I bought for accuracy seems to take a full minute longer to flash my weight in which period you would think just the excessive sweating would result in a more merciful number.

After a past month and a half of running I have gained and lost the same 4 pounds around 5 times. The running just seems to have resulted in shorter time period of my normally more dragged out yo-yo dieting cycles.

So I got onto the scale this Monday morning to face the music yet again. And when in low budget, bloody slasher style the number flashed just as the horror music in my head was reaching its crescendo, my heart sank. In an attempt to understand how this happened I tried going over last day’s intake.

- Got up at 5 to run the 5K Asha run.

- Cup of tea and out the door by 7. So far so good

- Eat an egg and cheese at Starbucks. (You try finding a restroom in New York City without getting a bite to eat, hmph)

- Ran 5K

- Happy with self, crammed the stale bagel and cream cheese into mouth. (Just being polite and pretending that I was as hungry as the 16 year olds who made it to the finish line in half the time)

- Continue to congratulate self on the drive back and decide on a lunch of dosa and sambhar. Healthy, light, delicious...

- Pick an Indian restaurant which we frequent for the fabulous all you can eat buffet (cough.... total accident)

- Decide to eat the buffet instead and spend the meal eating everything on my plate while keeping a close watch on my husband's plate. Getting seconds and thirds to eat all delicacies that I had missed but had spotted on husband's plate.

- Stagger out of restaurant and decide to not eat anything for the rest of the day.

- Spent relatively busy afternoon attending a concert with husband. Not thinking about food... So far so good.

- Evening: Decide to watch James Bond movie - Quantum of Solace

- Decide to watch James Bond with Martinis.

- Decide that home made hummus in large quantities would be ideal with martinis.

- End up full of martinis, hummus, pita bread, veggies and craving something sweet...

At which point I stopped counting the calories. I had already reached a number that should have been enough for a 17 year old Olympic runner for a day and a half.

OK so it is no mystery why I am not losing all the weight. But at least it is not a mystery anymore. Yes I had no idea ... that is the story I am sticking with...

Wednesday, 3 June 2009

Meeting Mania - work place

Disclaimer - The following does not talk about any one work place. I have worked in many places and have had a mixed bag of experiences and colleagues.

4pm to 5pm meeting.

Phone meeting where all of us call into a bridge number. Meetings over the bridge are common since some of us work in different locations and the rest like to sit in their 6 x 4 cubicles and only talk to the chap who sits in the opposite cube on the phone. This is not done because we cube dwellers gradually begin to hate all human contact (though there might be some truth in that) and also not done so that we can have an official meeting while checking mail, sending twitter messages, updating our facebook status and reading our favourite blogs. This time is also not considered quality "me" time that can be used to pick the pearly whites with a toothpick, clean the ears out, file nails etc. This is done to promote communication and interaction between teams and in turn improve our productivity.

This particular meeting was attended by Team A and Team B that work in two different time zones.

Main players

X - Team A. Loves meetings. Attends as many of them as he can. Spends a large portion of every meeting trying to schedule another meeting. He likes to spread joy so he also tries to schedule meetings for other folks attending current meeting.

Y- Team B. Attends meetings grudgingly. Made the mistake of being the person in charge of deliveries and also accidentally has been cursed with X as the guy he has to work with.

Me- Also Team A. Work with X. Don't care either way. Like my job but am in the blissful position where I can contribute without having too many responsibilities. I am going to spend this meeting browsing. I would feel guilty about this but then my pay check arrives my conscience is assuaged.

Y (after an half hour presentation that is rich in technical detail, lists the strengths of the suggestion and painstakingly explains the actual implementation) - So that is how I think we should handle this one and I think we can have this out the door by...

X (panicking - is not a total slacker but is deathly afraid of any sort of deadline/commitments. Likes to work when there are no other possible meetings he could attend and doesn't want any of the working to affect his social life aka meetings for the week.) Wait lets not rush things. I want to make sure that all concerned parties are present. Do we have Z on the bridge? (Fully aware that Z is from Team C and in yet another time zone and probably in his bed since it is past midnight there). How can we commit to anything without Z's consent?

Y (Triumphant voice) - I talked to Z about it earlier and he approves of this plan.

X (Hurt) - Z signed off without our feedback? He might not have the benefit of our perspective. He might have missed the changes that our team suggested.

(I might have gotten a little too engrossed in the word game that I was playing but apart from some font changes in the presentation I could not recollect any relevant "feedback")

Y (desperate) - I will take your feedback to Z and run it past him.

X - But I would like for our team to be able to give the required feedback on the feedback that Z gives on our feedback. And since our respective time zones make all of us meeting very inconvenient, I would suggest that you have a meeting with Z to present our feedback, after which You and I can have a meeting to discuss Z's feedback, and I and Z can have a meeting to discuss our feedback on Z's feedback.

Y (Silent. Probably counting down from 100 in hexadecimal to keep his cool) - I am sure that will help but that would add a week to this schedule.

X - Well I think process and interaction is a necessary evil (he got that half right). And if these meetings buy.... I mean set us back by two weeks that is the cost of quality.

Y (recognizing that he is defeated) - Sure X why don't you set up the meetings?

Me - Enjoying meeting very much. Adding masala here and there so that I can make it a funny dinner conversation. Now it has become a blog....

Recipe - Made plantain sabzi. The recipe can be found here. To make the sabji more South Indian so I can have it with my sambhar I add sambhar podi in place of garam masala.

Tuesday, 2 June 2009

Life After Marriage - part 2

Weekend found husband and me moving furniture to make room for visiting in laws. Dressers were crammed into a corner and my "office desk" that I don't always use was moved into our bedroom. I was helping husband carry the heavy furniture around. After months spent lifting weights albeit not as regularly as I should I fancy myself to be quite strong. And no I do not mean strong for a woman. Strong, period.

Always impatient when things are cluttered I tried to lift the dresser and move things along while husband was obsessing over some software upgrade on the desktop that we were setting up for his father to use. After much huffing and puffing I managed to move the dresser a couple of feet while stubbing my toes and scratching the paint off a corner. At which point husband swooped in and with a "watch me do it" look lifted the whole damn thing and seemingly effortlessly carried it to the guest room.

Not happy with our disparity in strength I managed to squeak out a "wow babe you are strong" before shuffling off to the kitchen and sulking.

That evening while driving:

Me - I should really hit the gym, those barbells are not enough. I am just not that strong.

Husband - You are strong la. Very strong. What are you talking about?

Me - Nope. I struggled so much with that dresser.... And.. Hmph it was so easy for you.

Husband - That doesn’t prove anything. You are strong la.

Me - No, no. You are strong; it was so effortless for you. I really have to work on it.

Husband - Silence

Me - I thought I was getting stronger. Just sucks...

Husband - Sweetie you know I was showing off for you...

Me (wide-eyed) - Really? Me? You were showing off for me?

Husband (smiling) - Yeah I was, what do think?

Me  - stunned into silence. All those times my husband took a six hour flight to meet me at the other end of the country ( which he did almost every month), when he stood up for me, when he tolerated my sometimes irrational moods I don't remember feeling this touched, elated. My husband that I have known for 5 years now was trying to impress me. Made my day :)

Recipe - Made okhra/lady's finger/vendakkai pachdi over the weekend. The recipe can be found here. When the vegetable was done I spread the thing out on a cookie sheet and stuck it in the oven to broil - just as high a temperature as you can get. This crisps, browns the whole thing before adding curd to it.

Sunday, 31 May 2009

Life After Marriage

Since I moved to New Jersey from Portland, Oregon I find I am perennially rushed for time. I do not read as much, exercise as much, laze as much. This despite the fact that I work from home and 8am finds me in my pajamas with a tooth brush dangling in my mouth replying to the first burst of office emails. On analysis it seems the everyday, commonplace activities in my life have become ... for lack of a better word more convoluted and a lot more time consuming.

Furniture before husband:

One hand-me-down bean bag, one hand-me-down rocking chair, one hand-me-down twin bed

Furniture after husband:

Endless bunch of colour coordinating pretty stuff bought after visiting, re visiting many stores, planning, thinking, poring over design magazines, examining, re- examining

Two week business trip without husband

One pair of jeans, one set of trousers, a whole bunch of t shirts, and one pajama bottom all fitting into one overnight bag. 

3 day weekend getaway with husband

Two dresses, 4 t shirts, two shorts, one pair of jeans, one pair of trousers, two dressy tops, 3 t shirts, three pairs of footwear, - an overnight bag and several last minute plastic bags, and some extras sneaked into the hand bag. I could pick a bigger suitcase because that would be accepting once and for all that I am no longer a light packer.

Hiking trip without husband

Old Khakis, old t shirt, lots of sun screen, water 

Hiking trip with husband 

Shorts with pleats, summery top , sun tan followed by makeup to avoid a shiny nose, eye liner to make my eyes pop, spray to make me smell good through the hike. 

Vinayaka chaturthi without husband

Get up late if holiday. Discover that it is chaturthi when chatting with ma on skype in pajamas. If not holiday - Find out that is it chaturthi when girl in office opens dabbas full of kozhkatais

Vinayaka chaturthi with husband

Find out a week earlier from multiple sources reminding me. Get up crazy early, bathe and make an attempt at the kozhakattais. Make kozhakattais that only stay together because I piled them in a box and chilled them till they were kind of frozen into that shape.

My second marriage anniversary is due in a couple of months. I was promised a sense of complacency and putting on weight and taking each other for granted. Though my battle with my weight has become more intense I am still waiting for the blessed complacency to set in. It cannot happen soon enough because all this playing house and adult behavior is killing me ....

Recipe - Vah chef again. Made sarson ka saag. The recipe can be found here. And the video with his regular jumping around can be found here. The man boils the greens in a open pot. This is done to preserve colour. I found out later that this method of cooking results in a lot of minerals being boiled away. Made me feel a little cheated..

Thursday, 21 May 2009

Doting Spouses

After a few culinary indulgences, husband and I decided to buckle down and get healthy. Hubby's ma and pa are going to be in town in a month and my husband wants to get in shape so that he can indulge in his mother's cooking without guilt (I married a planner). We worked on coming up with some guidelines that will help us eat healthier. These guidelines were as usual readily augmented by advice doled out by a friend who supplies the list while stuffing her face with pizza and starting the day with ribbon pakoda (yeah you know who are - C). Oh and remaining thin (aaarggh).

So here goes. -

- Use only olive oil. (Zero cholestrol)

- Buy vegetables/fruits based on colour. Weekly intake of every colour is apparently important. Here is the very helpful link C sent me.

- Do not overheat oil cos that will produce Trans Fat.

- Plan meals ahead so that you know what you going to eat at - say snack time on Friday at 4pm (phew that's work)

- Reduce dairy according to one

- Reduce carbohydrates according to another

- Include soluble fiber that is different apparently from the fibre that is - you guessed it insoluble (wtf). Excellent for reducing cholesterol.

And so on and so forth.

Since following all of these rules would result in a plate of colourful vegetables in cold olive oil with oats (soluble fiber) a less extreme meal plan was sought.

So we settled on relatively healthy food with a mix of fresh vegetables. Husband packed lunch and lugged it with him to office and assured me that he loves eating his dubba khanna while his coworkers amble off to get a piping hot lunch from the many, many options that New York City offers.

Three long days of measuring, poring and chewing high fiber meals went by. For dinner last night I was all set to bring on the cheese and grease. But I did not want to be the one to ruin the streak that we were having and when husband came home last night, I suggested a couple of meals options with mushrooms and greens. Husband put on his thinking face and seemed to be weighing the dinner options with gravity.

I stepped into the restroom to wash my face and freshen up before a healthy, nutritious meal :(.

Husband (on other side of door) - tho aaj bahaar jaathe hain kya? We need to buy milk

Me (being nice since husband had been up at 4 in the morning running errands for his not always demanding wife) - I will go get it, you relax.

Husband - vaise we are both tired..

Me - haan and you have been up forever...

Husband - we need a break....

Me (finally catching on and seeing the light) - haan we do... tired, yeah, I am also tired. I have a nagging headache from all that work. This bug became an emergency today (laying it on thick so he can't back out now).

Husband - thooooo... hmmmm... taco bell se take out karthe hain kya....

Me (doing victory dance, but quietly so that he sweats a little bit on the other side of the door) -hmmmm teeeekh hai... chalthe hain.

5 minutes later...

Me (dressed set to go) - vaise margarita mix bhi hai... taco bell ke saath... a drink for u, u are tired...

Husband - haan haan. It might also help with your headache (he catches on quick)...

Recipe - Alu methi... (made in olive oil by us of course)

Tuesday, 19 May 2009

Hello Aunty!!

I left India in 2004 and landed in Portland, Oregon. The first week outside India I was thrilled to see any fellow Indian on the streets of the USA. I greeted every Indian I met with a smile whose warmth and emotion is perhaps best reserved for long lost twins and separated lovers reuniting on "Who Wants To Be a Millionaire". My greeting had varying results. Some people acknowledged my smile weakly after looking around them to make sure I was looking at them ( or maybe they were looking for closest exit) or surprise/ shock followed by putting their head down and walking away with a ever quickening pace. Soon I realized that since I went to graduate school and my degree was in engineering Indians on streets was not a yahoo moment but something that I should come to expect (We did form two thirds of the population of most of my classes).

So the general "Indian spotting" got old for me. I made some Indian friends but did not stalk all the Indians who had enrolled in my college or rented an apartment in my neighbourhood. I settled down and opened up and the Indian thing was soon a lot less important.

I have, however, noticed a quirk that first appeared in college and though it is dormant for the most part, rears its head every once in a while. There is no way of saying this without sounding weird but I find elder Indian parents just irresistible. My stalker alter ego, it seems did not disappear altogether -- it had only morphed itself. I am not normally a very friendly person and it takes me time to actually get a good conversation going. But with the parent type introductions, communication etc was just not a problem. I found myself brazen in my introductions and almost forceful with conversation - "Hello Aunty!!! ". In Oregon with its relatively sparse Indian population I once followed a kanchivaram saree clad maami around in the vegetable aisle offering to help carry stuff until she looked uncomfortable, suspicious and shuffled off to the checkout counter with what I suspect was only a couple of bunches of coriander (not the most convincing grocery list). When I shifted to New Jersey with its large Indian population I found I was much more at home. So I thought all my India withdrawal symptoms had disappeared altogether. Little did I know.

This Sunday husband and I went visiting old friends and lo and behold I found the mother was visiting them. All my old symptoms were back. Hello Aunty!! I followed the lady around and watched her dole out 20 fluffy chapathis with total absorption. I gushed non stop throughout the meal and kept offering to serve the lady the food she had prepared while spilling food on her lovely shawl. I enquired about when she was leaving for India and came up with different occasions for them to visit us. I also made mental plans about how I was going to get myself invited again. After spending a good hour behaving in this fashion I reined myself in and said my goodbyes. The India fever had clearly not been cured completely.

And if I am honest with myself, this fascination of mine is probably not just about missing India. Though I will never admit to missing my mother to her face, I do wish we could spend more time together so we could disagree about every single thing under the sun say over a meal I made that she is still complaining about. I have visited fairly often and we do a lot of arguing over Skye but it hardly as good as the real thing. I think I might actually admit to missing her if I say do something drastic like act on my whim of kidnapping of my friends parents or start making crank calls Ka Ka Ka Kiran style. Until then.....

Recipe - Made dabeli this weekend. I did not contribute to our dinner table much this last week.We went out a couple of times and the husband has cooking bug so insists on cooking almost everyday. I am going to milk it while it lasts :)