December 27, 2013

4 years.... #MB2013

So, I did manage to find a gift for B which he seems to be hooked onto!

I feel very smug and happy when I do that. Its not too often that I can predict what is it that he would truly appreciate, but at times, I put some serious thoughts, or you might just call me lucky, and I do come up with something.

And this time he said, "You really know the kind of stuff I like!"

Now wouldn't that make you really thrilled? Yes, it did it for me.

 I got him Dad's the Word, a not so recent book by Soumya Bhattacharya. I came across this book while reading an ol' review on DNA. And then I started to look around to find where is it that I would find this book, because it was not something I had seen around for sure. I found that Westland books does sell through Ebay and I could order from the publishers. This was the closest I could imagine to getting a confirmed delivery. I did not want to order with the usual online stores as they would send it to me in a week's time, and I sure did not have a week. In fact I had just 4 days to get the book to me.

B loved the book after reading the Preface and has been with the book since yesterday night. This is the person who has not completed And the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini in almost 3 months. He is not a very ardent reader, but some books do the trick. He has picked this up like it has done the trick, but it is yet to be seen what would be the final verdict.

When I picked up the book, my thought was that this is the true meaning of our wedding. The fact that we are parents and there is this small person who is just looking at us to play, sing and dance with. And that is when I thought that I should not go for any wedding anniversary celebration without her. It would just be incomplete. She is such an important part of the marriage, and I feel things would have been nothing like what it is if not for her. These thoughts left me with a feeling that this is the book which works the best for him, and this is not about the diaper changes, or sleepless nights. It is about a father and daughter, bonding over mutual interests. I felt it was a perfect gift.

I shall do a review of this book, once I do read it... this will come up in sometime.

December 25, 2013

What do you do…. #MB2013

...when your daughter does not listen to you?

And, I am not talking about every single time. It is about those instances when I know that she has heard me understood me, and yet defies me.

For instance, (Something which happened which has triggered this post)

Yesterday, T and me went to get some milk from the local shop which is a 1 min walk away. This is the place where I have been going to very often, and a place which she knows very well. Usually these places have jars of chocolates at the counter, which she invariably asks for and at times I get one for her. Recently, she started to ask the lady who is at the shop for the chocolate, and she used to give it to her.

Yesterday, when we were walking, she told me,
"I will ask aunty for chocolate."

And I said,

" T, you can not ask everyone for chocolate. You can not ask aunty for chocolate. If you want a chocolate, you have to ask only Amma."

This was all while walking to the shop. On reaching the shop, she spoke to the lady and asked her for a chocolate. I told her No, you can not take a chocolate.
The lady gave her the chocolate, and says, "It is fine. Let her take it, she is a small child." 

I did not want to create a scene and left it.

On the way back I told T, "I am not talking to her as she does not listen to what I say and she asked aunty, when I told her not to."

On getting back, I did not open the chocolate for her to have, and did not talk to her for quite a long period of time.

My question is, when you have someone giving something to the child, or letting them do something which you do not approve of, what is the best way to explain this to them? Without hurting their feelings? I know that, this  situation is bound to come up again, and I know that I do not want to make a habit of it. I want to be able to explain and assert myself that I shall rear my child the way I see fit.

December 24, 2013

A week away #MB2013

Two day from today and a week from today are two very special things.

This is the kind of ring B was looking for during our wedding. 

Two days away is my wedding anniversary, to mark another successful year of love and happiness (along with fighting and bickering). I believe that gifts are nice to receive and gift. There is a happiness associated with it, and if you are the kind of person who will treasure them and pick them up after years knowing when you got it, that is a really special feeling. So, I am yet to figure out what will be B's gift, but there will be something. Has to be!

And a week from now is the new year, and with it the new resolutions. I am not too much of a resolutions person, but I do try to keep things a little in control, and I do try to take up something which I will try to achieve through the year. I have not really thought of what I will be doing this year. Last year, was exercising and trying to keep fit. This year too I believe that has to be a core need, especially now touching on the 30s mark. Apart from this, I wish to learn Kannada. That is a need I see and I want to... I planned to do that I believe sometime mid 2013, but then with work starting, it became difficult. I need to figure out how I can pick this up again. Any leads? Is there anything online? I have not come across anything as yet.

December 19, 2013

Christmas Cookies #MB2013

I have set myself to do something which I have never ventured into. I am planning to make over 7 dozen cookies for friends and my office and B's office folks. I do not know what has come over me, but I think I want to try doing something which I have always wanted to do, but have stayed away in the belief it is just too much work. Now being in the 'baking season' I thought… why shouldn't I :)

I am going to set myself out to make 3 different kinds of cookies, and make dainty little packs which I can hand over. That is going to be like about 50 cookies of each kind. I actually did sit and work out the details and have a made a list of the recipes which I will be following and how I am going to plan out the whole process. I see now how the professionals actually charter out their day and plan things. It is truly an effort.

Am I thrilled? Oh yes!

Am I petrified? Oh boy… you have no clue.

But, I am going to do it!

December 18, 2013

Captain Phillips #MB2013

Would I call this a review? Not really. I am not going to say what I liked or did not. I enjoyed the movie and the thoughts being fresh in my head, I thought this is something I want to put down.

Captain Phillips 

When I started watching the movie, I just knew that there was a ship which was hijacked ( had read it in the papers too) and the captain was eventually saved by the US Marines. This movie was based on the Captain's experience and also to show the adept, great work the US Marines did. These where the thoughts I started off with, and boy was I in for a surprise.

As the movie pans out, all I was thinking was what would the kind of fear these men must be facing. When you think of pirates, you think destruction, heartless and out to kill. That is the image I believe has been portrayed by far too many Hollywood movies. Here too there is shouting, and 'incite fear in them' attitude and a belief that being the only gun wielding folks, gives them every right to succeed in their plan. I can imagine the nature of talks, or rather pep talks given by the 'elders' to motivate the youngsters, some as young at 16/17, to join and show their mettle.

These pirates, the young blood, each trying to prove their worth, have conflicting views on what should be done, but we see how a trained specialist can break them down. Break into their hierarchy and make them start fending for themselves. How some are not conditioned well enough to give up their lives completely in view of their cause.

In the last half hour of the movie, one sees the fear and helplessness which engulfs a person, when faced with tragedy in your face. How hope starts to wade out of your self, even the strongest people out there do finally start breaking down. .

Death is something many claim they are not afraid of, but what about those last minute things which you would want to tell your family, things which you did not get a chance to ever voice?

What if you are plucked off the surface of this earth without your mental consent? This is what we see and how such a situation has a grown man gasping and shocked, beyond anything he has ever experienced ever.

One movie I would recommend to watch for everyone.
Rating: 5/5

December 16, 2013

Is it the season or just the end to another year? #MB2013

I have been trying to get myself into many things this month, and have not been too good at keeping up with it, but that is not preventing me from going on with my list of to-do stuff, which seems to have legs of its own!

Being part of a marathon bloggers group, aiming to blog every single day, which is certainly not happening. But, I am trying to keep it a little regular with at least 4 blogs a week, if not 7! I thought the photo posts would make things easier, but I realized, that is also something which still takes time on a daily basis. I must dig some of the pictures which I have. Some which were taken long back all the way in 2003/2004. The pictures would be of a different feel, but that would make things interesting right? So, that shall be coming up soon!

Also, this month, I am going to be a Secret Santa to someone. Love surprise gifts, and if I can go and shop for a person who I have not met... this is going to be fun! It is going to be something which will make things very interesting. Its going to be busy too with gifts to be send out in the next 3-4 days so that they reach on time in this peak gifting season!

But, nevertheless, I think I am happy pushing in all this positivity in me :)

December 12, 2013

A kind of marathon #MB2013

The past 10 odd days, B has been travelling and I have been quite a bit on my own once T is off to bed. I sit about, read, do some crochet and then maybe watch a movie. It does feel lovely to be sitting with some crochet in hand and watch a movie. It is something I believe I did last when I was sitting at home while I was expecting. I watched movies, worked a bit and did lots of new born crochet then. But, now I make a indoor pair of socks for T which would be great during travel and just plod around inside the house, mainly during the morning hours at Bangalore. I shall soon post a photo of the socks once I am done with it. I might even be able to get T to model for me!

So, back to movies, which is what I had intended to write about in this post. So many movies have been watched and individual reviews are too much of a hassle. I shall just put down a few lines on what my thoughts were about each.

Keith (2008)

This was an interesting movie about high school and how an odd boy changes the path set out for the straight A girl. I would call it cheesy for sure, but the story revolves around more on the emotional aspect rather than the high school kids. This worked for me, but it was very predictable and in a way felt a little kiddish. Maybe just me!

Rating: 3/5

Blow (2001)
 This was a movie which I thought of watching solely based on the cast. Jhonny Depp and Penelope Cruz. I knew I would be watching some offbeat movie, but personally I enjoy the stuff.

This is a story about a small town boy making it big in the drug mafia by bringing in Cocaine from Mexico directly, selling it and finally trying to get out of it with not much success. It is based on a real life story of George Jung. The movie proceeds in a narrative mode, with not too many great dialogues, but the story pans out a peek into how things move in the underworld. Its not great cinema, but I enjoy such offbeat titles.

Rating: 3.5/5

Layer Cake (2004)
I am sure you know why I did end up watching this movie... Daniel Craig! I am not a huge actor crazy person, but I do have some people I like to watch on screen and I end up looking out for movies by these folks. They can be old titles, or new. Like, I love to watch Sean Connery old old movies. Absolutely love them... very little technology, but great cinema.

So, this movie didn't quite cut the mark for me. It again involves the drug mafia and their ruthlessness. It has quite a few twists and turns, but the whole movie lacked good dialogues, and this ended up me just trying hard to finish it rather than enjoy it.

Rating: 2.5/5

Hunger Games (2012)
 Oh well, when the second part was released was when I decided I shall watch this one. And why? I am not a sci-fi person, but still I thought I should as some folks from work were planning to go for the movie, and I needed to know what it was all about. I had read about it, and I knew this was not the Star Trek or X- Men kind of Sci - fi. So, there was still some hope that I shall be able to enjoy this one.

I was completely happy with this selection and thoroughly enjoyed the movie. It had the right amount of story, fantasy, emotions and all. Now I wait to drag someone to watch the second part with.

Rating: 4.5/5

And, that draws the end of my movie marathon which has been ongoing for the past week. I enjoy this alone time and like the less household duties too, but yes, I do want someone to talk to about my day and spend some time with relaxing, instead of being all by myself.

So, I await B's return tonight!

December 9, 2013

December 6, 2013

And she came along....

Every time I get angry, I mutter and then go quiet.

Image Source
This was before T came along in 2011. B says that the first time he heard me scream was in the labour room. Well, be damned if I did not scream. I think I did a lifetime of screaming in there... for all the quiet persona I exuded, the delivery did show a completely different side of me.

And from there, I think I have found my voice. There are matters which have started to matter to me, and I voice my opinion, be it accepted or not. I do not take it after a point and give whoever a piece of my mind. I used to be so meek that I could not even get angry with a maid for coming in late every single day. But now, I make myself clear, and heard. This keeps me sane I must add. The muttering is still there when I need to vent out the small angers but when it is something big, my voice is heard now.

And that is all thanks to my daughter :)

December 5, 2013

Day 79 - A wish

This is a picture from my parent's place in Cochin, taken all the way back in 2008. Its practically on the backwaters, and this is the place I always wish I could just spend a whole week sitting out at the balcony and reading watching the small boats go by for their daily fishing.

Cochin Kerala backwaters
Cochin, Kerala
PS: I am planning to revive my Project 365 through this month long blogging marathon!

November 25, 2013

Cellphones... mobile phones and such

Thinking back to 2001, and the very first mobile phone which I had... it was a Nokia, something which looked like the one below. I was given this when I first went to the hostel, and I used to keep it switched off almost all through. Never carry it, just keep it locked in the cupboard and use it to call my parents or receive calls just before I head to bed. I did not know what was the model number, in fact I did not even know that there were model numbers for different phones.

The life of this phone was certainly short lived, as within 6 months into college, I wanted to get another phone, one which would at least fit in my hand and could also be shoved into jeans pockets. This certainly was not working in that respect.

 My next phone was a Siemens C35i which was gifted to me on the happy occasion of coming home after surviving 6 months in college and still deciding to head back after a month long break at home. I think parents really thought they needed to keep in touch with me and figure out how I was managing.

This was one of the sturdiest phones which I have come across. From those times in 2002, I think I had a penchant for dropping mobile phones and it was an almost weekly affair which I am talking about. The battery used to come out, sometimes the body used to get ever so slightly nicked, but there was never a time when the phone stopped working with all these small drops ( as I would call it). Falling is something which is far more serious and that is also something which did come about , finally causing the demise of this loyal partner.

So when did this phone fall down? As I was coming down the stairs of my institute building after a lecture on the 8th floor. The phone was in my hand along with books ( not in the jeans pocket as it was to be) and it slipped and fell through the hollow space of the spiral stairway. I still remember the sharp draw of breath around me, and I rushed down, as fast as I could through 6 flights of stairs, to receive my phone in a similar way after the numerous drops. The battery was dislodged, there were many dents and I prayed hard as I inserted the battery and tried in vain to power it up. The phone never switched on after that, and I was left thinking what shall I tell my parents after a year of usage.

Next up in 2003, I decided to get a phone as it was something I had gotten used to, and my parents had agreed that I could go and pick up what I wanted. So, I went ahead and picked up a Sony Ericsson T105.

This was to be a long standing relationship which i was to have with Sony Ericsson. I loved the clean look of this phone and I did not think that there would be anything else I would want in a long time.

Little did I know that there are some forces which never really work for me and phones! In another year, I was travelling in an autorickshaw and this phone was in my 'pocket'. But, as I slipped out of after the ride, the phone also conveniently slipped out of my pocket. I still it was a pair of burgundy trousers, with a small pocket which fit the phone very snug. So, it slipped out, and I never really laid my eyes on this beauty again. I was completely heart broken. I really did love this phone as it was something which was my choice.  Here again, my parents grudgingly agreed to let me pick another phone, and in my mind I had decided I shall pick another Sony Ericsson.

Now with the changing times, the new fad in 2004 was clamshell, or flip phones. The whole generation was set on flipping open the phone and taking a call. And that is exactly what I went looking after. I decided to get a Sony Ericsson Z300i in Granite Grey. This was the phone I believe I used for a really long time. I liked the phone, it was conveniently sized and was again very sturdy in terms of my frequent drops.

I used this phone for a good 1.5 years and the keys started to wear off. The paint was peeling and the keys were also being non responsive after all the usage. I was glad that this was not a phone which was to spoil or be lost, but well used. I believe my parents also thought this was certainly an improvement in my usage and care of my phone. They decided that now I could be gifted another phone. This time they told me to make a pick and see what is that I wanted when they visited me next year. This led to a flurry of activity with my friends, all armed with desktops, would search for a really nice phone. And after a long search I told my parents what I wanted and they said I shall have it for my birthday.

So, in 2006, I got the Nokia 7373, which was pretty much the only swivel phone I have ever seen in my life. I think this was the most beautiful phone Nokia ever shipped out of their factory. The phone was a dream and with no OS complications and all, I decided to trade loyalties with Sony Ericsson and move to this beauty.

This was the phone which I came with to work at my first job. I loved this phone to bits and I do not think I would have changed it, unless I was again faced with a dash of bad luck. I was off to have a biryani on a sunday night in bangalore, and as I stepped out of B's car, the phone slipped out of my hand and on the street. I think it was on my lap and when I stepped out, I did not realize it had fallen. We had the  biryani before I shrieked at my realization. But by then, the streets were all clear with no trace of my beauty. I still love the look of this phone and I think it shall be the beauty which I shall cherish the most on this list.

Losing this phone was a huge blow and my parents very clearly told me as you are a earning person, buy your phone and take care of it. So, there I was on a search for a phone in 2008. I did my web research and I landed myself back with a Sony Ericsson, a S500.

I was trying to find a beautiful phone, similar to something I lost, and in those times, this was the best I could come up with. This was again a phone which still sits in my bottom drawer. It functions, you can make calls, though there are some dents which are only too obvious. I used this phone also for a good 2 years before I decided that I need to change this phone. Here again, the keys had worn off and some keys were not functioning.

As I said, I am a Sony loyalist and I did again turn to another Sony Ericsson. This was the time they had got out their Xperia series and the whole new deal in 2010 was touch screen phones. I was not too sure about a touch screen and hence got a Xperia X10 mini pro. This was again one of those really short lived phones.

T was born in 2011 and she decided that it would b a teether of sorts with smooth edges and me being a newbie mother, had no clue what would truly work for a phone with regard to baby saliva, and lots of it. The phone started giving me trouble in just about year and I do not think this was dropping or over usage. I guess this was more like dropping the phone in water, or maybe sprinkling water on it many times. Anyhow, by the end of a year, I was done with trying and I decided to move on to another phone. This was again catalyzed by the software upgrade which also resulted in the phone being really slow.

At this point, I decided I did not want anything expensive and went and got a Samsung galaxy Y, which was in budget, but the on screen keypad was a deal breaker. I hated it completely.

It certainly played the part very well, but it was really slow too, and maybe I was a bit spoilt too!
This ended in me being frustrated and come my birthday I decided it was time for a new phone. This time yet again it was to be a Xperia. And learning from experience I decided to go for a Xperia Go which was said to be rugged, water and dust proof. I was thrilled with  the prospect that this phone might just outlast all my other ones. And I also got this one in a cherry yellow, which certainly helped the matter.

This phone was a beauty, loved it completely and had me hooked to it and I almost was becoming a less and less a laptop user. My Mac was bearing the brunt of it all.. I was not charging it and so on. And then I dropped the phone and the screen cracked! There that was the end of it all. Now I had a phone which was defective. I got the screen changed, but then the screen again started giving me issues, and I could also see some dust particles which had gotten inside, or the small break in the casing was causing it. But either way, I was back to being without a phone.

Then a friend offered his Samsung Galaxy S II and I thought, let me try this next. I will use it till I decide what is going to be my next move.

As for this phone, I think it is really too big. Fast and good no doubt, but just too huge. I do not know if this is something I will ever want. I find it so difficult to push into my pocket, or even my handbag interior pockets. But if you love to carry it about in your hand, it works like a wallet and thats just fine.

I am still not sure which phone will I buy next, and iPhone is on the cards, but lets see. At least they have a good customer service and warranty! That should really work for me. Till then…

All images have been linked to their sources.

November 19, 2013

Book review: Narcopolis by Jeet Thayil

When I picked up Narcopolis, I did not know anything about Jeet Thayil, in fact I read up about the author after I got my hands on the book. The main reason I picked up this book was the opium dens of Bombay. I had heard so much about them from friends, mumbaikaars in particular, so I wanted to read something about it, and I thought why not this.

The book takes a look at the dens from an outsider's perspective, and then it moves onto give a complete internal understanding of how things actually function in these dens. The people involved, the different folks who visit and each of them has a story of their own. Some of the key characters are the owner of a prominent opium den, a hijra lady who had been sold by her mother when she was young, worked as a prostitute to pay for boarding and then bought her freedom, and now is a opium pipe-maker at the den. The book portrays how the gradual progression to cocaine and heroin occurs from opium, almost unknowingly. They start it as a trial, the owner of the den does not even wish to have anything other than opium, maybe because he believes the rest are too dangerous, or because its a matter of practice. This said, considering the fact that he himself looks towards cocaine for that much needed fix on many days. He almost goes out of business after verbal feuds with those who want him to move on to other substances which are more addictive, and what they believe is more profitable. A sort of conscious businessmen in the midst of all the substance abuse. Towards the end of the book, there is a look at rehabilitation which many are keen on entering, knowing that it shall alone show the way to some sane living. There comes a point when the fears and insecurities start to haunt and then you want to pull back, but by then you are so set in the routine that its difficult to turn back.

There is parallel story of a Chinese immigrant who dies in India of old age, a man famed for his pipes, and his history from being a part of the communist party to fleeing from China to India. He travels in India to finally settle in Mumbai, where the sea makes him experience peace and he decides to call it home. The story is narrated in third person, through the eyes of a foreigner who has come to trace his routes and understand how he holds a strong link to Mumbai.

The book gave me the deepest knowledge about the various names for substances used, be it natural or chemical. The sources they come in from, and the route this follows to reach the addicts. There is a fair bit of local dialects and Hindi used through the text which does render authenticity to the story. It was not a book which I would pick up and read again, but it is a book which I would suggest if someone wants to know the many names and many ways opium, cocaine and heroin move about and the close community which depends on it for their survival in every way.

Image Source:

November 11, 2013

Sad but true...

Toddler blocks
Free play
 Yesterday, T came up with ' I don't like you amma', while sitting at a restaurant and I was trying to feed her dinner. This was a new place where we had gone and they had no high chair and hence no crayons/paper for the kid to be kept occupied. She was already irritated with the cooped up on the couch situation and there, I was trying to feed her and keep her distracted from the fact that I was trying to feed her with songs, pointing out obscure things which might or might not have been there. When T came up with ' I don't like amma, I want to go to papa', I dismissed it as the usual toddler fare and that she was just trying to get out of the feeding part. But, yes, it did in someway stay with me, and I thought about it after she was in bed last night.

Am I being a little too protective? B, certainly feels so, and he has made it clear umpteen times, that I am not allowing her to make mistakes. *sigh

But, how do I? Isn't she too young to try out stuff? Well, maybe this is why even when kids become bigger, parents just do not let their kids go. And, I have always been so so against it, and I really do not need to see myself going down that path. It is really time to change.

I aim to help her only where dangerous things are involved, like walking near traffic areas, kitchen where things might be hot etc. Essentially, I shall be looking at letting her do what she wants without interfering and will try really hard not to get involved in the daily stuff which she does.

There really doesn't need to be a right way to do everything. This is something which I need to imbibe. Really important.

November 7, 2013

Helpless days

Come Diwali, and there goes the maid!

This is something I had posted on Facebook beginning of the week, and I had so many folks agreeing with me and sharing my plight.

I have been completely on a helpless phase the last week. At times I wonder if it was not for the cooking and cleaning which has to be done, I could pretty much manage on my own. I am not saying that I shall not do the above mentioned household duties, but do it spaced out through the week and still manage a half decent looking place by the weekend. When there is a help, then it comes to wanting everything and then the demands also increase. When there is no help, things are more manageable and more planned. I felt that this last week I, myself was also more upbeat and planning things and ticking of the done activities in my head. This did really help in having a clear idea and it certainly did mean less forgetting.

Given this, would I want to go without a help always? I think I prefer it when the help is involved in more basic activities and the rest I manage. This in a way makes me feel more in control. Maybe a control freak? I do not know. Without a help at all? That would be very difficult, and I think disastrous for my back. I hate washing dishes, so maybe if there was a constant help source ;).... then I might even consider that. For that, there has to be a different lifestyle all together. The home has to take almost half a day of two individuals time, then alone can it be worked out without a help. And, I really do think it is possible, it is not that difficult.

Anyhow, let me keep my fingers crossed for the next week and some luck to come my way by then.

October 25, 2013

Temples and travel

A visit to Mookambika has been something I have associated with studies. I remember the first time I went there was when my brother was about 2 and my mother wanted to take him there before he officially started school, essentially post his Vidyaarambham ceremony. The first time I would have gone to the temple would be when I was taken post my Vidyaarambham ceremony, but that is not something I remember, being all of 2 years! The next time I went there was when my mother took me there after years, before my Class X board exams! This was the time which I remember the most. We stayed in a guesthouse very close to the river which flows along the forest, and all through the night, you can hear so many animals and insects moving about their activities in the pitch of the dark. This temple is in fact in the forest reserve, and about 70 kms from Udupi.

Last weekend when I visited this temple with T, it felt so different, as we were going now for her Vidyaarambham ceremony. Previously I do not remember the ceremony or how it happens at the temple, but this time, I doubt I shall forget it. My baby is going to school and will be big enough to board a bus and go to school. Till date, I drop and pick her up, entrusting her to the care of the school after so many mental wars with myself. Now, we have to go to the next step, and send her to school in a bus. I know I have the choice of dropping her to school and picking her up too, but a school bus is something which is an experience in itself. And, the timing for small children being different also helps me to be calm about bullying and other such instances which I know are bound to happen on a school bus.

Anyhow, back to the temple and travels bit, this train travel would be the very first for T and sleeping overnight in a crammed 2AC berth was so not an experience which I would be looking to repeat anytime soon! She being used to her cot, her space, there was little I could do to provide that on a train and we had many sessions of screaming ' This is my place... Mooove !' I was quite surprised that she could speak so coherently and her thoughts were so clear even when deep in sleep. It showed that her communication levels have certainly improved and she was able to express herself quickly and without much thought.

Something I always come back with after every trip with T is that she is a great traveller. She loves moving about, trying different foods and is certainly not too finicky about her preferences. What she does need is mental stimulation and she is as happy as a baby can be!

Vijayadashami pooja at home

Anything can capture the thoughts of a 2 year old

And the prayers

Chariot for the godess

The chariot procession about the temple grounds

No Indian temple visit is complete without an elephant!

October 9, 2013

Za'atar Fantail

Za'atar Fantail

Milk - 1/2 cup luke warm
active dry yeast -2 tsp
sugar - 1 tsp
Flour - 2.5 cups
Salt - 1tsp
Olive oil - 1/3 cup
Milk - 2/3 cup

za'atar -as required ( This can be replaced with any herb/cheese. If using dry herbs, then mix the herbs with olive oil and brush it over the dough where applicable)

Za'atar Fantail
  • Mix the sugar into the 1/2 cup luke warm milk and sprinkle the active dry yeast over it. Let it stand for about 10 minutes, or until frothy. In case there is no froth, you can try warming the milk a little, and still if no luck, then start over
  • Sift the flour and salt together and add half this mixture to the yeast mixture slowly
  • Add the olive oil and then continue adding the rest of the flour mixture. Now, add the milk slowly to obtain a smooth elastic dough. Continue to knead the dough for about 15 minutes more
  • Now coat the dough with olive oil and let it rise in a warm place for 1.5 - 2 hours. Keep the bowl covered with a towel or cloth
  • Get a muffin tin ready , oiled or sprayed as preferred
  • Punch the dough down, and roll it out into a rectangle of about 1/4 inch thick. Sprinkle the za'atar over the rectangular rolled out dough. Cut the dough into long strips and pile the strips one over the other to form a single pile
  • Now cut the pile through ever 5-6 cmd, to obtain smaller piles. Place each small pile vertically into each muffin cup and let rise for another 30 mins
  • During this time, preheat the oven at 180 C
  • Once the dough has risen again in the muffin tray, brush with egg white/ milk and bake at 180 C for 15 - 18 mins

September 29, 2013

Just me

There are some days when I am at a all new low, and thinking about things which I never knew mattered to me so. At times, I do not understand myself, I think that the person I want to be and the person I am are two completely different entities, and I exist somewhere in between, at that chiasma.

Questions on whether the way I wish to be is even the right way to be, has also crossed my mind. Many of these thoughts can be dropped into the ' vain' box, and this makes me think that I am somehow better off at present. But, this not the happy me either, and I know I am no saint who does not get pulled in different directions by worldly ongoings. Which leaves me where? I do not know. The way I see it, I should be working towards achieving those which I wish for, and move into that schema to actually see whether it does render any happiness, or is that also just a mere perception of the mind.

And, along comes those instances, when you look at yourself in pity and ask how could you garner importance of this nature to these things. There are so many things in this world to live for, beyond all these matters which seem extremely petty at the moment. This is indeed knowing the fact that, come a day and I shall be back looking at those things which I wish for, and charting out the routes to attain them.

Where do I really stand?
What is really worth? If I do achieve what I wish for, do I really stand to be happy? 

August 7, 2013

3 days.

In 3 days, will be a milestone for me after a really long time.

Turning 30 is something which felt far away a few years back, and today it is right here.

I have been thinking what is it that I can do to keep this year special. When I came across Orange jammies Turning Five, Birthday giveaway, I felt this is what I would love to do to remember this year too. Last year, on my birthday I made a contribution to Save the Children and the year before that I made a contribution to CRY India. Those two contributions felt more of only a monetary help which I was extending, but this time I thought I would like to make the effort and do something different.

Shishu Mandir, was a children's home which I recently visited to drop off some of T's clothes, toys and other things. I was awed at the work they were doing and the one feeling which I got was the individuals involved with them were doing in true spirit and they deserve all the help they can get. So, for this birthday I have decided that I shall add Rs.100 for every comment on this post to a base amount which I have decided to contribute to them. And as its a children's home, I intend to coordinate with them and order a host of item which they need. This way I can ensure that they get it at the best possible rates and they get these items at the earliest. They are not located very centrally, so many items might prove difficult for them to procure elsewhere. Apart from all this, I think I would feel wonderful that I could do something rather than making another x amount contribution.

So, as I said, for every comment on this post till midnight (IST), August 10, 2013, I shall be contributing Rs. 100 to the kitty which shall go towards buying necessary items for Shishu Mandir.

Now, go ahead, leave that comment! Play your part :)

July 25, 2013

Why I love to travel.

Going to a new places has a charm right from the point of research to planning, and if it is a road trip, charting out the route too. These are some of the activities which I love to immerse myself in. In fact, there was a time when I wanted to go to Pondicherry and Goa so badly that I just researched and made a Must see places list for both these places. I visited these places maybe a year after my research, but the research in itself does give me so much satisfaction.

Does this mean that I would not like to go to any place more than once?
I am not sure I would be so excited about going to that place, at least not the way I would if it had been my first trip.
I am the kind of travel fanatic who watches just National Geographic, Animal Planet and TLC. If the television is switched on, it has to be one of these channels, and if I am the only person who is watching a program.Usually not too many people want to watch these channels and hence its just me and T who watch these channels at home. It has come to it that now she asks to see elephants and that would mean that she wants to watch some television. I do not know if that is a good thing, but atleast I console myself that she is not asking for any cartoon.

Recently I have been doing a bit of research on Egypt. It started off on a writing assignment and then it just went on from there. I just could not stop myself from reading and reading. There is the but obvious history attached to the country and the great Egyptian civilization, but there is something else which caught my attention. This was the immense flora and fauna which exists about the river Nile. The longest river in the world. The Nile flows through Rwanda, Tanzania,Uganda, Ethiopia, Sudan, Burundi and Egypt. The way this river flows through one of the harshest, hottest deserts in the world is truly fascinating. And this river never dries up. It might be marshy, wild, slow and meandering, but never dry. That is the Nile. This is all the research and a program which I saw recently on National Geographic about Africa. This is truly one of the most undiscovered continents in the world. It is a completely different world and this is one thing I realized when I went to Kenya. ( Here are the travelogues) I wish to go and go see the Nile one day. It would truly be a great sight.

July 22, 2013

A charity drive at home

I have been told time and again to clear out unwanted items and create more space, be it walking or for stocking. And, I must say, I do have a tendency to hold on to my things, and more importantly my way of doing things, which really need not be right,  but it is what I thought of and came up with as an answer. Being a little stubborn, it just makes it so much more difficult to change.

Anyhow, T's old clothes, toys are the ones which were in need of immediate disposal and the ones taking up the maximum space. There were so many clothes which just were small, some in worse condition had been already used as mop cloths. T has a no toy for more than a few months policy, and this means I try to recycle her toys to ensure that she gets something different every week, but there is only so much that she can be happy with her year old toys. And now, in fact I do not buy her the usual run of the mill toys. She plays with it not even for a few hours and I am left guilty for the money wasted. One such toy was a Thomas train which speaks and moves ahead. I got this toy only because she loves Thomas, and she played with it maybe an hour on the day she got it, and that's about it. So, it was time to get things cleared up and segregate toys into 'Want to store' and 'For someone'. Clothes were simpler and the toys got a little tricky with Missy wanting to play with everything and not let go of anything! But, that was easy to get over with her favourite book and father and she being confined to reading sessions on the bed.

Now, where to or rather whom to give is a pertinent question when you have huge bags filled with clothes and toys, and you also do not want it to be all unpacked by the kid soon! I spoke to many homes but no one was interested in clothes, and some had specifications for clothes only for older children. Then, I came upon Shishu Mandir and they were more than eager for any help in any form.

Shishu Mandir is a old children's home which has been in Bangalore since 1983. Below is a small excerpt about them.
The Shishu Mandir Home was established in 1983 in the premises of the Ashok Nursing Home at Ulsoor, Bangalore. At the Shishu Home children were admitted from the slums who were seriously sick and requiring intense medical treatment for many months. When they recovered, some expressed the wish not to be sent home again, but to stay on. Hella could not turn away from that heart-rending request and thus she began to create a Home for them. She followed the idea of a big family where everyone's individuality is recognized. The children live as in a large family, and everyone bears a certain responsibility. The atmosphere is conducive and warm, there is no physical punishment. Children of school-going age are admitted at the Shishu School.
They have a new home which is near the Garden city college, K. R. Puram. It is set amongst the lakes and trees and a huge premise which has been home to many children till date. They also have a school and a vocational traning college in the same area which caters to educational needs of the students in this home. The trust undertakes many projects to benefit the village and to help the children in the surrounding villages. They have a large crowd to help and children in varying age groups. Help is accepted in terms of provision, baby items, furniture, etc. They can be contacted and they will let you know what is that they require immediately. It is a little out of the city, but if you can create a drive in your society or maybe just go by and drop by items once or twice a year, that would certainly be a worthwhile cause!

July 17, 2013


Over a month since I have managed to come here. In fact, there have been many instances I came here, looked about and then decided to not write anything.

 I am not too sure. 

There have been so many thoughts in my head and being in the process of sorting them, understanding and accepting them is taking a fair bit of time. Time which has been seeing many ups and downs, many iterations, many misunderstandings, and me, trying to settle down and accept.

Some might call it facts of life, and others might call it a part of growing up. It does not help that I shall be turning 30 in less than a month and somehow this maturity absurdity is being forced upon me right about now!

Would it have been better in a different setting?
I doubt it.
Some things are just not done.

Or, maybe I am just making assumptions.

June 1, 2013

Blog-A-Prompt, Day 6 : NO

"NO, T!

Please don't do that."

These are the usual lines which I say atleast five times a day.

And what would T be doing? These can be a range of stuff which happens, from water being poured into toys or food being mashed to pulp or climbing on tables/chairs to get iPads and phones or attempting to open the fridge to get chocolates/cheese or fiddling with the door knobs/keys. Recently I was having a conversation with a friend, S, who has a son, a few months older than T, and we were discussing how do we keep these small people occupied through the day. She was saying that taking her son outside, letting him watch some cartoons, then some iPad time is what keeps her day moving and also helps her to get her work done. At this point, I should add that she lives in the US and hence she pretty much manages everything on her own along with her son being at home with her. In India, I have always seen the no iPad, TV time for kids being professed so extensively that the small bits that I do allow T is seen at times by some in a very wrong way. This certainly does leave me in a confused state. S was of the opinion that when teachers and schools now use online medium and videos to impart the same knowledge which was initially done only through a blackboard or books, then why are we, as parents, stopping our kids from being exposed to this medium. T has been sufficiently exposed to iPad (since the age of 11 mo) and now she is pretty much a pro at handling the apps and any new app for her is a matter of 30 mins of discovery time. I usually find a new app for her almost every other week, though her iPad time is restricted to only an hour a day at max. But, I know how much she looks forward to this hour and how she keeps reminding me of the same through the day.

I completely agreed with her, but then when does it come to the point of excess? When is it time to say NO to the online and screen time?

May 31, 2013

Blog - A - prompt, Day 5: Spicy

Spicy has to be food :) What would be the most spicy dish I would have tried? I have not been to the North east of India, so I have not had the pleasure of trying out the true delicacies in terms of spices. But, nevertheless, the one thing which I love, and it surely is spicy is this particular chilli which my grandmom uses to make the coconut chutney at Trivandrum. She used to have the plant at her place, and when there is a chilli on the plant, then it surely goes into the breakfast chutney.

This chilli is called Kandarimulagu or just Kandari. Here is the wiki link of this particular chilli, it seems its called bird'd eye chilli. This is really small, looks pretty harmless, except for it bright red colour, and measuring 50,000 - 100,000 Scoville units.

Here is an image of these amazing chillies from wiki again

I have not seen so many chillies on the plant at my grandmom's place, but the colour is just the same. Infact I shudder to think if there were so many of them, what would be state of us! They are quite piquant, and a large one would be split in two and used for two dishes, was the norm. 

I wish I could find a plant someplace so that I could have this at my place... more like a memory of my grandmother.

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Blog- A -Prompt, Day 4 :Disaster

A day late, but nevertheless!

Disasters for me have been just about all the cooking which I have done , especially when I started cooking. In fact I have written something on this in the past. I think that post would be the best fir for this prompt, an obviously that will also ensure I have this post up quick! Beats me why I didn't think of this before!

Here goes!

May 29, 2013

Blog-A-Prompt, Day 3 : Monday

This Monday, I made a plan for today, Wednesday.

This plan was made early in the morning on Monday for late night Wednesday. And today, being Wednesday and as the evening approaches, I am happy and thrilled regarding this plan.

A friend calls it ' A girl thingi'... well, that is what it is to be, a girls night out!

Now, the thrill and the happiness can be explained, I bet. I do not know what is it with girl's night outs.. is it just a western fad? But, I certainly do enjoy them so much more and it feels, in a strange way, great to be out. I am guessing this is a feeling which occurs when you have a 2 year old and to top it, one who is a early to bed, early to rise kind.

Now, night outs do seem to have a tendency to end up on dance floors, and that is where I am not too comfortable. I do not mind shaking a leg once a while, but in the usual crowded places, I rather just have my drink and enjoy the music. Lounge music is something which is great in the night, and one which is open to the sky does certainly have its perks!

So here is to a great Monday plan for Wednesday!

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May 28, 2013

Blog - a - Prompt, Day 2: Thirst

The fact is that I did not study at all in college. And, I regret it. I was a top student through school, and somehow the freedom and new country changed things up for me to such a great extend that I just did not have it in me to study. This is something which I have seen happening with so many people in IITs that in some convoluted way, I take solace in the fact that I am not the only one who lost it! Having known this for a while, even after I did graduate from IIT, I did not get myself into the groove, and did not go ahead for any further studies. Now, you may ask, WHY??

The itch to study and prove myself was my main motivation behind the studies, I never could understand what is it that I would achieve if I do go ahead for higher studies, and in my case, that would have been a PhD. A PhD would have taken many more years to complete and this makes it a more difficult decision to make. Once married, I always thought that if I do complete my PhD, where is the time for a kid and a post doctral fellowship at the same time? And who would be willing to come and stay with me in an alien country to take care of my kid? I did not have the answers to these questions, and that would be the primary reason I never was inclined enough to take up studies. But, even today, I think I want to head back to school and study something, make the amends which I have always wanted to do. These thoughts alternate with the reality and have me again at that place wherein I do not know where I am headed.

Circumstances do not always favour, as is now, and the thirst for knowledge shall remain unfulfilled.

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May 27, 2013

Blog-a-Prompt, Day 1: My true colours

As I sat with my drink yesterday evening, I realized that one of the facts of life is that my true colours are seen only when I am 2 drinks down. I was having a conversation with B earlier in the day that I am a round about sort of person, I find it exceptionally difficult to give a straight forward answer. I might know what the answer is, and what is my opinion, but I invariably try to give it in a diplomatic/ round - about manner. And that changes once those 2 drinks are down.

I sometimes do wonder why is this. Why is it so difficult? What makes it such a wrong thing in my eyes? I do not know whether if this is truly wrong in my eyes, but I think it it more that I have never ever been the one to give a preference in front of anyone. My closest friends would also say that me giving a choice would mean that I really want that, or I am really comfortable with the group. I realized today that there is another aspect to this, it can also mean that I am 2 drinks down!

Recently when I had gone for the bloggers meet at Kufri too, this was an observation which was made by folks who I met just a few hours back. Given that many of us read each other's blogs, but we were predominantly meeting each other in person for the very first time. I speak when I am comfortable, and this comfort comes about when alcohol comes into the picture. Sad, but true! Thats when my true colours manifest themselves! A  drink has a way of making you feel comfortable, feeling confident, these being the very feelings which can have a positive or a negative impact on the situation. I enjoy sitting with friends and conversing, sharing a drink, having discussions, and these are the times where I speak the most and feel light headed I guess, to speak out without the inhibitions!

Good or Bad? I do not know.
But, these are my true colours!

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May 21, 2013

A blogger meet - Kufri

Apart from being away from T for 3 nights, I was meeting bloggers, traveling to Kufri, having a fabulous time and feeling the mommy guilt disappear with the end of day 2. I didn't think the mommy guilt would go away that soon, but then it did! I was just enjoying myself way too much after so long. I guess it is so wonderful to be with your kid, but then it is also a great feeling to be free and experience the freedom once again.

So, getting to the meet, thoroughly enjoyed meeting so many bloggers who I have been following for years now, and this being my only second blogger meet, it was tad uncomfortable in the beginning, but by the end of the 2 days I could see how things were getting so easy and enjoyable for me.

Bangalore to Chandigarh, then from there off to Kufri, being rained in for a day and driving off to Chail for a quick visit and a sumptuous meal, the Rock gardens of Chandigarh and Bangalore. That would be the routing through 4 days start to end. And all I have are some photos to show how great the trip was and memories which are not be replaced anytime soon.

Gathering and gearing up

Happy bloggers looking forward to some great fun!

The must- have enroute stop

Dogs of the hills look so perfect

Nothing beats hot maggi and chai when the chill sets in

The quaint little cottages we stayed in, at Kufri

The views that greet us every morning, noon and night

Bikers really do have all the fun though

Enroute to Chail

Clouds above, clouds below

Rock Garden, Chandigarh