Kitchen Realizations

During the lockdown we didn’t have access to the people who come and clean the house and cook for us. And while it might seem like a very lah-dee-dah kind of a thing, to have a cook *and* a cleaning lady, it’s par for course in India where more blue collar workers abound and it’s a easy and sustainable source of income for a multitude of women who need to earn to keep their families going.

I’m at best, a competent cook. By which I mean I rarely burn stuff and it’s usually not over-salted. I don’t do nicely plated up stuff and people rarely ask for a repeat performance. I’m at best an “eat-my-food-and-you-wont-die” kinda cook. But during the last 2+ months when the kitchen has been under my control, the oil consumption has been lesser than usual, the gas cylinder has lasted longer and NO ONE came down with food poisoning! I’d be batting a thousand if everything I cooked was uber delicious as well.

While drawing up a menu chart to help cut down on time taken to think about what to cook daily, I realized that as a family we chiefly consume cottage cheese (paneer), potatoes, peas, carrots, bell peppers, eggs and chicken. Tomatoes and onions are primarily used for making a gravy. Cabbages and okra are slightly outside the core area and every other vegetable is largely negligible because either TO doesn’t eat it or Red sniffs at it like a bomb/drug-sniffing dog before deciding if he wants to eat what’s cooked or not. Rarely though, he gets the chance to make this face…

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But all my semi-fake self-deprecating humor aside, we have a lot. A LOT. And plenty of times we just indulge. And while it’s nice to get the family to taste different types of food, for the most part we have our preferences chalked out and we’re sticking with that- good ol’fashioned comfort food which is not cordon bleu or terribly artistically plated up. It just goes down the hatch, followed by a satisfied burp. Amen!

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Lockdown Playlist Part Deux

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The lockdown playlist grows. These are the current songs looped on my phone and in my head. This is also an exercise in the using the Block Editor in WordPress instead of the Classic Editor that I typically turn to.

The Sleep Groove

I like to sleep. I like to lie down and read or listen to music but it’s not like sleep and I are enemies.

But co-sleeping is something I’ve had to deal with on and off throughout my parenting journey. And boy! it’s not one of the things which are bring a smile to my face.

In the course of one night, TO can keep moving enough for a queen-size bed to feel like a packed can of sardines.

I’m seriously considering setting him up in a garden somewhere…he’d be amazing as a sundial!

Relationships With Authors…

More than 10 years ago I read my first John Sandford book. It was one of his Prey novels and I was captivated. I came across Lisa Scottoline’s books in a famous bookstore in Bangalore more than 13 years ago and bought a few to take back home. I enjoyed them enough to buy as many as I could over the next few months till the legal-mystery genre wasn’t captivating anymore. Both times I was with my husband, spending leisure time in one of our most cherished activities- reading and looking for new books.

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When I got my Kindle Unlimited account, I started reading free books to see if it was actually worth it and if the good, fun ones also ended up in a digital bookstore or just the ones written by first time, struggling authors.

Lo and behold! I found two authors who I’ve been reading for a while now and enjoying quite a bit: Jana DeLeon and Amanda M. Lee.

The power of the written word can be utterly mystical. A single book can make you laugh out loud and help you save a bad day from turning into a really bad one. A book can bring tears to your eyes because the pathos or the love is so tangible that you almost feel it yourself. And that’s what makes authors akin to magicians.

Imagine being able to reach inside yourself and pour out words without knowing how and what kind of an impact it’s going to have on a person possibly sitting halfway across the world; in the days to come and the years to follow.

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A book can make you angry and wonder why the world is full of demons and it can also bring two people together and the author would never be the wiser about the power behind their words.

I read Charlotte’s Web as a child and cried at the emotion felt by a pig of all things! I smile each time I read the opening words in Love Story.

Carl Hiaasen’s love for nature and conservation of our resources never turns preachy but you can actually see the ravaging of the land through every bit of snark and tongue-in-cheek phrase.

Each time I see the word Prey in my Kindle list I hope that Sandford’s new book is out. The anticipation for Steve Alten and Max Hawthorne‘s fantastic books about larger-than-life creatures; these all point to a ‘wanting to know’ what’s next. And this curiosity, these emotions are important because everything you feel when you read is real and unfiltered.

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Image courtesy- Unsplash

I did not enjoy the Heart of Darkness. It was rather dark; excuse the pun. The Unbearable Lightness of Being wasn’t light enough. It made me angry. The Bad Guys series makes me put on the worst Hispanic accent I can scrounge up to make Mr.Piranha come to life for my son. Lil’ Petey with his endless ‘knock-knock’ jokes is quite the mood elevator after a day spent in washing dishes and looking at dishpan hands.

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Image courtesy Laura Kapfer@Unsplash

But every author I’ve read and enjoyed or had a strong opinion about- right from Judy Blume, to Margaret Mitchell to Harold Robbins to Sidney Sheldon to Dav Pilkey, has added something interesting and lasting to my life.

And that’s the bottom line everywhere. Books make you think. They make you feel and they make you BE.

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Image courtesy Jaredd Craig@Unsplash

The Mother’s Day Post

I first got to know about Mothers’ Day a few months after landing in US. Suffice to say India of the 80s didn’t celebrate moms as a rule. That we do it now is more to do with the influence of various types television shows over the decades. Plus people like their social media timelines blowing up and making a song and dance about stuff so these days fit right in!

Archies galleries started stocking cards to celebrate all sorts of occasions Indians didn’t know about earlier and it became a very lucrative business for them I imagine…till everything went online. There were ecard sites like Bluemountain, 123greetings and my personal favorite which I can’t remember now but it had all sorts of funny and insulting ecards. The day I discovered it, I went crazy sending ecards to everyone who was on my list. Sadly, the list was about 5-6 people only back in ’98, ’99 but it was still pretty funny waiting for them to see something they thought would be out of the Hallmark channel instead it was just a “in-your-face-sucka!” kinda thing.

Back to the days of yore when my class teacher announced we’d be making Mothers’ Day cards and gifts. There was a big tray with wooden shapes cut out, glitter, markers, lots and lots of glue and the best thing ever for FOTB me….GOOGLY EYES!! I just went nuts and created the ugliest thing that I’ve ever made and handed it to my teacher.

American teachers are very diplomatic. They say something is “interesting” when they lack for words to describe an output which is clearly borne out of not having any artistic vein at all or being a very young and trippy stoner.

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My teacher added lacquer to the brooch I’d made, added some rubber cement/krazy glue and stuck a pin on the back and voila! Ugliness impersonified was ready to go home and be given as a gift to a very unsuspecting woman.

And true to her nature of being an Indian parent, my mother did not hold back her feedback at the brooch. Her slightly agape mouth and comment of, “Eta ki?” [ a.k.a what is this] followed by “eto gulo chokh keno”? [ why are there so many eyes] is something I’m laughing at now but then I figured she’d go gaga over my thoughtfulness for her. That did she didn’t was a bit of a downer but I was getting into a very American groove so I did the whole shrug and “I don’t care” thing and went my way.

She did make it up to me and wear the hideous monstrosity once over a very beautiful saree. Thankfully my inner aesthete kicked in and I asked her to go with a safety pin instead of walking around with an alien prototype on her shoulder for the whole evening.

This is for you…cheers Ma…missing our post-lunch beers today!

The Ice Lolly Post


Many, many years ago two girls were running late for a class with a rather strict teacher. The saving grace was that this teacher was a very good one so her snark and barbs didn’t always wound. But she valued punctuality and that’s one thing college students are notorious good at being bad in.

It was nigh on summer and these girls were hot and bothered and desperately in need of ice cream or something of its ilk. What was available was ice lollies. Disgustingly full of sugar and made from God-only-know-what kind of fake flavors and what kind of sewage water but damn! they tasted GOOD! And it didn’t hurt that they were uber pocket-friendly.

This strict teacher had a pet peeve about her students coming into the class with orange and purple colors smeared around their mouths, on their hands and then putting sticky fingers on the top of the desks and everywhere else. Just to make sure that the girls would tow the line, she’d outright banned the treat from her class.

Wouldn’t you know it? These two girls happened to throw caution to the winds because they thought they’d have enough time to finish the lollies, wash their hands and make it back in time to the class to capture the vantage seating areas.

This teacher had quite a few super powers; one of them being her ability to sniff out when a student was deliberately distancing herself from the lecturer because a) the homework wasn’t done b) she was unprepared for the class or c) because she was daydreaming about catching up with her bf as soon as the class got over d) all of the above. In which case the student in question would be e) SCREWED.

Whatever be the case, she would zero in on that one (or as many there were because she was just that good!) hapless student and make her answer or face the Eye Of Shame for being unprepared.

As luck would have it, these two girls were about to have a rather crappy time in the class because luck did to them what pigeons often do to statues-poop all over them!

Not only did these two girls get a brain freeze from trying to down the lollies at an express speed, the teacher decided to come to class earlier than usual because she had somewhere to go immediately after class ended. And so the follies began.

The girls, who had footlong ice lollies which were only a quarter of the way done, rushed into class and sat all the way at the back to hide their flushed faces and sticky hands. They propped the lollies up behind their backs and really put on their game faces as they tackled some intense metaphysical poetry.

They also had to appear attentive, ‘in-the-moment’ and proactively answer questions to look like this was just another day and that John Donne’s metaphors weren’t at all confusing and slightly reeking of desperation from a guy looking to get laid!

And what happened to the lollies might one ask? Well, had these girls been smart, they’d have thrown the lollies away before entering the class however, absence makes the heart grow fonder for all manner of junk and the lollies decided to change the way the game was being played.

They started to get softer. The condensation rolled forward and as the ice inside melted, the formerly vertical lollies decided to lay down and take it easy for a bit.

And out rolled purple and orange sugary syrup that had nowhere else to go except towards two denim-covered posteriors that would do an excellent job in soaking up liquid.

Did I mention one of the victims was in light blue color denim on which orange wasn’t the best shade to stain?

It is rather hard and extremely uncomfortable waiting for a teacher to leave post haste while a liquid of indeterminate origin stains your clothes and wets your inners. It’s even more difficult to get up and admit that you were an ass for not listening to the teacher and an even bigger ass for just sitting there and wearing melted ice as a part of your attire.

But kids will be kids and they (im)patiently waited till the class got over and ran out before anyone else barring their extremely-supportive best friends got to know of the emergency in their pants.

This was the saga of the Ice Lolly. Never was it indulged in again. Except in solitude and without anyone to see what a sticky (literally) end it could come to.

Finis!

The Realization Bloglet

Of all the stories floating around about Hitler’s demise, am completely inclined to believe the one where he met his end in the bunker.

That was a lockdown too and he was shut in for an unforeseeable period with a “loved one”…complete recipe for disaster!

The Nostalgic Post

I wrote about being nostalgic in this morning’s post and this is the follow-on one.

It doesn’t take a Freud to know that ever since my movement have become restricted to all things essentials, I’ve been dreaming (day and night-kinds) about open roads, travelling…the whole shebang. We had to cancel our annual summer break road trip and that bites too because it’s a beautiful bonding experience for the whole family even if Red acts like we’re going to end up in a fiery ball on the highway because of my driving!

A few days ago I dreamt of the lovely mosaic tiles of the Royal Bombay Yacht Club that I was fortunate enough to go and stay in. The room I was in had a high ceiling, loads of ventilation and so much light! It was a delight! I could see the Gateway of India from my window and the iconic Taj hotel was literally just around the corner. I was with good friends and it was perfect!

Since everything’s been on a nostalgia-overdrive, even songs have been evoking a lot of memories from before. This song (couldn’t find just the audio in a free form) in particular opened floodgates of visual memories from a trip to Chandigarh, Punjab and Himachal Pradesh when TO was a much smaller tot.

I think what I remember most from the trip was Red’s wide-eyed experience of hardcore North Indian landscapes, people, food and the overall lifestyle. He absolutely loved Pubjab! The open roads, blue skies, massive fields of wheat and corn. We drove through towns and villages which were so clean and everything seemed so big and verdant!

TO of course had his own adventures which I’ll never live down and are actually funny anecdotes to relate now, but back then getting laughed at by strangers on the Mall Road in Shimla while climbing up with a dino attached to my back or getting scolded by an Akali sadhu (holy man) a.k.a Pirate Tata (Telugu word for grandfather) at the Golden Temple weren’t the highlights of my day.

But those were days when good and lasting memories were made. And the Galactic Ameba willing, we’ll make new ones again, soon.

Salut!

Of Nostalgia and Nosebleeds

Yesterday TO just semi-yelled out, “Oh darnit!” and I peeked out of the kitchen to see that the child had a nosebleed out of the blue! Since we are partial to him retaining his blood inside his body, Red and I rushed to see what the reason was.

The child in question wasn’t terribly worried barring the fact that his chunky mother hovering in front of his face was blocking his view of his laptop and wouldn’t you know it, that’s the time he’d decided that his online classes just couldn’t wait!! Never mind the other times when I’m dragging him out of bed so he can join his classes on time and not be a mini-zombie.

Anyhoo, after the usual “keep your head tilted, clean your nose out, stick this cotton up there, take this icepack” maneuvers, the flesh and blood pronounced himself to be nosebleed-free and fit as a fiddle. That is until I asked him to do some chores while there was a gap in his classes. Suddenly those few drops lost came to haunt him and he felt that he must sit down in an AC-cooled room and  get his strength back a little bit.

Am grinning today while I type this out but trust me, I was anything but jovial yesterday. I’d called my mother in a hurry because I was prone to nosebleeds as a child although under slightly different circumstances and she lingered along Nostalgia Lane for a bit till I rushed her to the point where I had a possible solution in place. But the trip back to the #thetimesthatwere made me look back at things at a different time and place all day long. Maybe I needed a break from chores too, maybe it was from my family or maybe I wanted someone to dunk my feet in bubbling water that had Epsom salt, scented oils while I sat in a chair massager…oh baby!! Wait! What was I saying again?

My brief segue into salon porn aside, I was BADLY nostalgic yesterday. Am nostalgic at the drop of a pin most of the times and this staying inside is bringing out the #throwback vibes emos even more.

Speaking of emos and doing chores around the house, see how an adorable 5 year-old used to help his mother while getting into potentially dangerous situations (what can I say, I have a boy!)-have a looksee here!

For the uninitiated, I am a mother who is TERRIBLY fond of her child, the way he was. I am still getting used to who he is now and while the fondness remains, we may be reaching a GoT-kind of situation where vengeance and clashing swords could very well become the order of the day! Hey, the kid’s got the dragons part down pat, what did you expect?

More nostalgia posts to follow. For now, the Mother of the Dragon 2.0 has to rouse the sleeping cub and get him off to his “meetings”. Ah, the sweet life!

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Image courtesy: DeviantArt