The Scorpios

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Saturday, May 31, 2008

Tiny Thoughts- Histrionics

I took a lot of care to ensure that I did not see any antagonising scene on TV or books or net when I was pregnant.
I did not read the Mahabharata.
I controlled my fits of anger and became sweet and nice and patient and uncomplaining.
I did not even quarrel with the husband.

Why would you understand all this?
Why wouldn't you remain glued to the TV when the woman on that all important programme is crying over another person who has hanged herself. Or when a woman is throwing a hysterical fit and screaming at such a decibel that even my children of 8 months are attracted towards the TV?
Why would you bother to lower the volume or change channels?

Friday, May 30, 2008

Tiny Thoughts- Jealousy

I cannot say I am unaffected when I see the two of them kissing each other with gusto and excluding me inspite of my repeated pleadings.
I am actually jealous that they would exclude me from their circle so easily.
These 2.5 year old tiny pieces called my sons have this knack of bringing out the worst in me.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Taking Pleasures for Granted

Last Sunday I noticed a family of 5 on a bike- 3 kids & 2 adults. I responded with my usual reaction- how foolish. Why take such a risk.
Why actually?
1. They do not have the money for public transport & they would rather risk their lives and take their own transport.
2. Hassles of Mass transport system- overcrowded, cannot get a seat, alighting points not convenient.
3. They just do not imagine it is so risky - rather the adage- tragedy happens to others.
4. Saving that extra rupee- if everytime the family needs to go out, and they take a public transport- it is a huge drain on their finances.

Overloaded buses, almost tilted to one side due to the more than extra weight on the door side is a common sight. Mostly during college/ school hours or office time. In their desperate attempt to save every extra rupee and every little minute to reach their destination on time, they risk their lives everyday by travelling on the footboard and beyond.
I have a big one with these helmet wearers also. They only believe that the rider needs this protection and not the pillion rider. As it is I find bikes unsafe because staying on seat depends on your hands- the moment your hands leave the handlebar- you have a close to 100% risk of falling off.

Made me think how we take life's little pleasures for granted. Today I cannot imagine a life without a car or rather more than a single car per family. It is not my right to judge the above set of people because there was a day when I was travelling these crowded buses & vans & share autos so that I could reach office on time. So that I could save a 100 bucks of auto fare.

There was a time when I did not mind eating a quick breakfast a the cheap hotels. Today, even a Sangeeta hotel is not too good for me because the last time I went there, I found a hair on the table. Considering that I was pregnant at that time, it is excusable that I found it revolting and vowed never to eat there again.
I solemnly promise, I will never take that coffee day cake, sandwich & frappe for granted. Atleast for the bomb they charge they are giving me a clean place to relax.

I have lived in a place where there is frequent loadshedding expecially during the day to divert the power to the factories. We have lived through power cuts during summer taking our chairs outside in the garden or the terrace and enjoying a moonlight chat / antakshari and a lovely breeze if lucky. We studied by candlelight and slept with the little breeze that came in via the window or used a hand fan.
Today even a few seconds of power cut is enough to make us grumble and start calling the Electricity Board for quick service. I have spend 3 hours straight one night just fanning my sons through the power cut because I knew if they wake up, the troubles are multifold. So it is easier to fan them while they sleep.
Makes me appreciate the joy of air conditioning & continuous supply of electricity in offices.

Same with water- every drop is precious to me also because only here I have experienced 24 hour water supply. Water was rationed to one or sometimes 2 supplies during the day in our town. That is why I scream everytime I see a leaking tap or find that the maid has opened the tap in nearly full blast. It is so precious that I am scared to enjoy it.

Infrastructure, convenience, hygiene factors- one can never be satisfied- the bar moves everytime we feel we have reached it. But that is also in a way a name for progress!
The point of this post is to appreciate these little pleasures thrown my way- a clean toilet, greenery, on time delivery of mail/ on-time landing of flight, safety, security in my apartment complex, long distance calls on the mobile...

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Circle of Bonding

I have often argued that it is mandatory to have a sibling. Because after your parents, the sibling is your only close family - someone who has shared your childhood, your room, your parents and your clothes. Someone who knows you almost as well as you know yourself. When I see Ojas & Tejas rolling on the bed laughing together, play acting, quarreling, protecting each other, I can see the wisdom of having siblings. And more than just siblings, I am probably coming to terms with having two male children. My theory about men and women bonding with their own gender better.
Lot of people say that I have enough cousins to share my childhood with. I argue again. For your child your cousins' children are further removed from the family. Even your sibling's children are first cousins. And no longer in today's context they will share their childhood. The bonding is stronger with own sibling anyday! So are you ensuring that you are securing your child's future interms of having a companion in the form of a sibling after you?
What would I have done if I did not have siblings whom I can call up anytime and ask to baby sit so that I could go to the gym or the parlour or the movie? Who is my fall-back in times of great emotional need? Whom do I pick up the phone and call when I want to gossip or share the latest?
We siblings lived together in chennai- both sisters working and brother studying. There were times when we fought, argued, did not speak for a few days and then were back to normal. Just like how I do that with my husband now.
I feel heartened everytime I see my or K's sibling(s) spend time with the kids, treat them as their own and indulge them royally. I sometimes wonder what is it that they enjoy about spending time with someone else's kids? What prompts them to take them for a quick drive or enjoy playing with them? I don't know whether I would live up to the standards they have set in enjoying my children. Or maybe I would know when I see them! The call of blood will perhaps come into play.
My another deepest wish is to have a close circle of friends with whom I can bond emotionally and socially. It is a little inexplicible but i mean the kind who fall in the category of "best friend in school"- one can have many friends but only a few will make a gang or a circle- who will eat lunch together, play togther during recess, may be live in and out of each other's house and freak out together. And among the lot, maybe one can have one or two- best friends.
These category of friends would be someone whom I will not hesitate to call in times of greatest need. Families with whom we could spend the weekend/ go for a trip/ or have a simple weekend or anytime dinner.
Someone who will not mind babysitting my kids or would not think twice before letting their kids have a pajama party in my house. Where formality would not be allowed or expected.
Someone who will not mind holding my kid's hand while I shop in peace. Someone with whom I will not quarrel to pay the bill or my share of dinner in a hotel, or would be equally comfortable doing frequent dutch meals. We could together rant away to glory and not be judged but supported and also neither would the subject(s) of the rant be judged. They are the sort of friends whom you will call up and inform the important, unimportant, exciting and random events of your life- because each of you would understand exactly why the event is interesting to you. My friend AD called me up to tell me that she got her copies of Jeffery Archer books signed by the author himself, after standing in a long queue. She called me exactly for this reason because she simply had to share that elation she felt after shaking hands with the author incarnate.
I have seen friends who routinely take my kids out for a drive or indulge them with their favourite snack - when one does it once or twice it could be ajudged as just a formality- but doing it regularly does mean something.
All of us need family friends like these where both spouses can connect else it becomes difficult to continue the friendship.
On this note I count my blessings that there are a lot of kind souls out there who genuinely take interest in my kids.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Ojas Tejas on a Roll

Me- Tejas say Lion
Tejas obediently- Lion
Me- Ojas say Lion

Tejas- No. Tiger

Mausi- what is my eyes colour

Tejas- Black

Mausi- what is Tejas eye colour

Tejas- Brown. (aspirations, aspirations)

Cutest act of the week-My neighbour with twins visited us. After a while she got up to leave and lifted one child in her arms. Ojas pointed at the other one and frantically shouted- "some more, some more"

What made me laugh the most this week- One night at bedtime, I was singing to them. I started with "Dilli ki sardi" my favourite corny number. They listened politely.

Then I sang "Jhalak dikhla jaa"- their favourite song at 6 months age. Ojas asked for "dhoom macha le". Tejas immediately asked for 'lakdi ki kathi". An argument ensued. I ended up singing Jhalak dikhla ja yet again. Tejas says- no 'lakika lakika". So I asked "lakdi ki kathi" he says no wrong, correct karo. "Lakika lakika" and tried to sing it in similar tune to "jhalak dikhla ja" confusing me.

I again sang "dilli ki sardi". He says- no, that is finished , sing "lakika lakika" . Ultimately I sang "lakdi ki kathi" and he says- Haaan correct.

  • When one of them is talking on the phone and the other is creating a commotion, he says- Ekdum Choop (Keep your mouth shut)
  • The other day I caught them telling each other "basket". We never use that word at home. Wonder where they picked it up.
  • Tejas- pointing at an imaginary point on his knee- dekho, big chot, no touch ok. (see, this is a big bruise...) (Actually I have a big bruise on my knee and he is aspiring to get one too)
  • If they don't like anyone- baikuff (bevakoof- foolish)
  • Or if someone or they themselves is doing something silly- buddhu, bamash (foolish, naughty)
  • After "breaking wind" or whenever he smells any odour, Tejas says- Mamma smell (mamma has done it). I am glad that his olfactory skills take after me.
  • Seeing my new nightie/ new nailpolish- Mamma, nice!- Atleast 2 out of the 3 men in my life are noticing me. The take after their father (maa- bhakts)!

My future is secure. (Perhaps they will insist on taking me along for their honeymoon) (evil grin)

Monday, May 26, 2008

Happy Week

Naturals Salon- Wednesday-Pedicure
Got noticed by the kids- Mamma- white (silver nailpolish)- very nice
Barbecue Nation- with AD. also recieved a lovely belated b'day gift.
The surprise factor of the restaurant is the unexpected proportions. The place is huge and has deep pockets. Nooks & rooms and sections built all over offering open seating as well as private rooms and close to 200 seats I am told. The place was unexpectedly buzzing with activity on Thursday afternoon. For Rs 400 a plate- we were served 10 varieties of kababs- 5 veg which were largely untouched. There was the buffet which was given the royal ignore in favour of the unlimited kababs served with great gusto. A drink was included. I chose a Lychee based. One can choose an alcoholic drink too. The decor is all low height seats, bamboos, a bow& arrow on the wall gave a rustic touch. Diners are supposed to lower the flag when we want them to stop serving. We attackd the desserts which according to me was not too great but not bad either. Anyway- they more than make up during the kababs.
Olympia IT park- Food court- Subway for lunch on Friday with hubby whisking me off from the office for lunch
Wang's Kitchen- for dinner on Friday. Lovely chicken lollypops. I think I like it better than Cascade.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Boy, 2-Boys, Yet Another Boy

The family welcomes another boy in the fold.
4th in line in the extended family on my Mom's side.
The scales are weighing down in favour of men.
So long it had been equal- 2 brother, 2 sisters- Followed by 4 cousin boys & 4 cousin girls.
This generation is totally skewed!

Friday, May 23, 2008

Boy or Girl

"Do you want a boy or a girl?"
Almost every parent-to-be has been confronted with this dirty question. The poor parent of today especially in India has no choice but to reply in politically correct terms- I have not given it a thought, anything would be ok or I have no problem as long as it is a healthy baby...
Then there are the ones who do serious guess work looking at the size and elevation of the stomach. Family members predict the gender based on the horoscope. Like my Mom was told that we girls were born because of her (bad) luck because my Dad had boys in his destiny. Notwithstanding the fact that the person who told her had more number of daughters than sons.
Like I got a reaction from unexpected quarters- kahin do ladkiyan na ho jaye ( Hopefully you don't have 2 girls). Since the reasons behind the statement were wrong, I did not like it at all.
Yet another person said that hope you don't have 2 boys because boys are unmanageable.
Then there was a guess work from someone who did not know that I was carrying twins- definitely boy - the tummy is so big!
Now what is this all about hoping and wishing on my and my husband's behalf? It is all upto us what we want and what we don't right? Why is someone else concerned. What if I had wanted 2 boys wouldn't I have cursed this lady to hell for wishing I didn't have 2 boys?
I don't know what people get with asking such questions. Do they really expect answers? They may be talking shop just for the sake of conversation but those comments made me fiercely protective of whatever child I was carrying. Why should my unborn child be inflicted with wishes of preferred gender?
Well, inspite of myself, I used to corner hubby with this question. Since we were expecting twins, we could dare to wish for the best of both worlds- a boy and a girl. Infact we did not want to give Destiny a chance of any other combination because on one go, our options were going to close, in our context.
But then I used to take a tougher stance with hubby. What if you have the option of either 2 boys or 2 girls only. My husband would answer 2 girls. Then I would remind him - what about cricket? Who will talk cricket with you then? He immediately answered- then 2 boys!

When I introspect, the very reason I want a girl is to have a life long companion for gossiping, girly talks, bitching, shopping expeditions, discussing the latest fashion, reading similar genres of books. To me, daughters are like soul mates to the mother. They will bear with you till your doddering end. I am literally scared that I will have nobody to turn to at that crucial juncture when I badly want to connect. Probably a man feels the same about wishing for a boy. A back-slapping buddy who will enjoy the same stuff, have man-to-man talk with him, and ultimately become a companion over boyish exploits. This need to connect with the same gender is primitive.
A neighbour used to say- I am very clear I want to have a boy. I don't want my child to go through these troubles of being a woman. Very clear about her wishes and not afraid to speak it out loud. I respect her for that.
I really don't think there is anything wrong in parents wanting a baby of a particular gender. Tomorrow when my children are going to read this, I don't want them to think that I love them less because one of them is not a girl. It was just a wish to be blessed with having both experiences. For days after they were born, I could not believe that one of them is not a girl because I was sort of sure that it is going to be that way. But it does not mean that I love them less.
Probably in the Indian context it is easier for one to say wish I had atleast one girl and not hurt any sentiments. But had it been the other way round, if they were both girls and I would have been going all over the place telling wish one of them was a boy, it would have hurt sentiments and activists perhaps making them feel I am regretting not giving birth to a male child. People would have sniggered- oh, a modern, educated woman is speaking like this and setting a bad example.
My question again- is it so wrong to wish for a particular gender? Probably yes in the Indian context.
So can we make a beginning by not judging any parent who says that they want a boy baby?

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Some More of Ojas Tejas

1. Height of exaggeration- If I slap them-they say hands tooti / buttom (buttocks) tooty. Cream lagao- meaning hands/ bum is broken. apply cream

2. Height of orderliness- I was cutting a mango and kept a plate near the kitchen sink. Tejas asks me to put the plate on the proper place- kitchen slab. I held the mango in my hand to cut off. He advices me- no hands, plate mein rakho, gir java. (put in the plate and cut else the mango will fall)

3. Height of naming- The forceps are called spoon scissors- because it looks like a pair of scissors & is placed in the spoon drawer I suppose. And then they say give me scissors because this is Koo. (now what is koo- don't ask me)

4. I asked them what is Ojas' name- Tejas replies "Anna". What is Tejas name? Ojas replies- "Tambi", followed by a lot of laughter. Now I don't go around teaching them to call each other anna / tambi because I don't want to differentiate just bcause of th birth order as in my eyes they are equal, even though Ojas is considered first among the two equals.
5. I asked Tejas how does Ojas cry?- he says- Baaaaaa
6. I sometimes discuss with Ojas - is Tejas a bad boy, just within hearing of Tejas. Tejas is quick to say- Aaai, Tejas goo-boy.
7. Confused- Ojas confused between the words Pizza & design
8. They talk on the phone & when I ask them who they are talking to- they say An(o)ushka- now don't know which one of the 2 they know
9. Blame Game-
me- who broke this?
Both- Tejas/ Ojas- pointing at each other
Me- Ojas you broke?
Ojas- No, Tejas
Me- Tejas- you broke?
Tejas- No, Ojas
Together- smiling conspirately at each other, point at me and say- Mamma broke
(mujhe hi chor banaa deta hai)

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Working Life Status Quo or Change? Questioning Self

Yesterday I entered into the 10th year of my working life.
Life in the city began 9 years ago when I walked into my ex-office, all apprehensive, eager and raring to go.
I was a mere trainee but none the less in terms of attitude, expectations and opinion.
I wanted to learn as much as possible, spent hours dogging the experienced ones, learning, soaking, absorbing every new thing that came my way. For in the business of fragrances, no great MBA degree would help. It all depended ultimately on your smelling, relating and recalling skills. It was all a game of aptitude, attitude and creativity rather than plain degrees.
It meant you have to remember details, correlate experiences and above all be extremely curious. It meant smelling a new perfume or a chemical and searching the depths of your memory and extracting the most relevant one so that you could learn, commit to memory and classify this new perfume that you have experienced. It meant picking up this new perfume out of your memory or physical records and submitting at the time of a new project. It required constant oiling of wheels and practice unfolding each dimension of the fragrance in our mind's eyes.
I am a kind of person who gets comfortable with status quo and thrfore I thought fragrances will remain my first & last love and I would end up staying in the fragrance industry if not the same company. But after 7 plus years, I changed. Not just the company but also the category- I moved from fragrance to flavour and it has taken more than a year for me to realize that I am enjoying working in flavours as much if not more than fragrances in terms of the creative width it gives me. There is always a new project to work on and new concept to generate or new ideas to think of.
And here comes the conflict-I am enjoying it here & am comfortable but do I want to spend a lifetime doing just this? Nothing new to do/ explore/ try out? Do I want to spend my entire life working for someone else and dreaming of flexi time and other convenient arrangements? After all we work to get easy access to pleasure and then we cannot take time off from work to splurge the money on a holiday or pleasure. We look to work hard now and enjoy later. But how soon is later? Is it anytime now or when we get old and tired and are nearing retirement.

In the last 9 years, I have hated, loved and become comfortable in Chennai city. I have reached a plateaue in terms of expectations and amazement for the city that has modernised right before my eyes. The IT parks never fail to fascinate me and those are the times when I wish that I should have taken IT as a career or atleast have an office in such a location. There was a time when Spencer mall was the hangout in Chennai and today we are lagging behind malls of Gurgaon / Bangalore etc.
At this juncture, I am facing a conflict of sorts- do I want to end up living my entire working life in this one city itself? When I retire from working life, will I regret not taking a chance? Will hubby agree? He seems to be pretty much wedded to Chennai.

I got married, bought an apartment (on EMI) in a prime location, got pregnant, had 2 lovely kids to show off, and now they are going to start school next month. On the face of it, what more could one want? A bigger house (with EMI paid up), better location, more doesn't end anytime.
I managed to hold on to my job through this despite conflicting emotions of not giving enough time and attention to the kids.
Now what? Is in't it a little late in the day for hoping to explore more cities for living? After so much of time and investment in identifying the correct school here? After Hubby started his business here?
What is my net worth today- few close friends, family, rare personal phone calls, hardly a place where I could land unanounced and still get invited to stay for dinner, a handful of people who would care enough to take my child to the toilet if needed or pay for my food without making me feel obliged to pay back or return the favour. Can my children call any house here as the one where they almost lived in their childhood apart from their own home? The sort of homes where you are always in & out of, you can do a pajama party & sleepovers- a little too soon for me to think about as they have not yet reached the age when they pick & choose their buddy?
Am I going to end up feeling sorry that I did nothing different from status quo all this while? Thinking I did not enjoy life at all? As I take each day as it comes, I am happy. But from a wholistic point of view, I am not sure the resume of my life will be full of variety.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Ojas Tejas Surprise

Angrej Chale Gaye, Ojas ko chod gaye
Mamma- give me water.
After drinking.
Mamma- give me some more water.

Daddy on Track
Hubby tries to put them to order when they are creating a ruckus in the restaurant
Hubby- Eshaaaan (with stern look in his eyes)
Tejas- Aryammaaaan (with equally stern look in his eyes)
Ojas- Daddaaaaaa (mirroring the same looks)

No Competition among brothers
They were drinking milk and Tejas was lagging behind in his speed of drinking.
To encourage him I said- Drink quickly. Ojas first or Tejas first?
Tejas- Very magnanimously- Ojas first!

Lessons Learnt
Me- If you spit again, I will throw you out of the car. (he has got into the habit of drooling)
Ojas- Gir java? (will I fall down)
Me- yes, muh band rakho (shut your mouth)
After sometime,
Me- you are spitting again!
Ojas- No, Muh band (my mouth is closed). No gir java (don't throw me out.)

Daddy's Supporters
Mamma, give me water.
Me- Mamma busy, ask dadda.
Dadda's Team- No Dadda busy/ No Dadda tired/ No, Dadda lapitop (laptop)/ No Dadda phone.

Status check
This Mamma lapitop, this dadda lapitop, this Mausi lapitop, this Mamu lapitop.
Us- where is Ojas lapitop?
Ojas- (matter of fact expression) -Ojas no lapitop.

Bought a Giant Sticker Activity First Words Book by Priddy Books.
Contains over 600 stickers divided into various sections like animals, vehicles, fruits & veggies, numbers, colours, alphabets, parts of the body etc. Price- Rs 385/- but promises many hours & days of fun. Only problem is that the adhesive doesn't seem to be very binding. Loses its stickiness pretty fast and they are supposed to b reusable. Ojas & Tejas are having great fun over it everyday - only under my supervision. I wouldn't trust anyone with that book.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Best Food Forward

But what happens to the so called waste?

Mystic Pizza enlightens us on the food crisis and it reaches me via MadMomma's tag route.

My little endeavours to fight food wastage-

1. When in a buffet- do not overload. Go for seconds or thirds or more. Buffets are places where one generally tends to load the plate on the first trip itself with every delicacy served, to get maximum paisa vasool (value for money). Well, the spread is there for you to sample and enjoy. It is not running away anytime now. You have paid for it, you are free to make as many trips as possible. But many countries charge you if you leave leftovers on the plate. So watch what you unload on that 12 inch plate. Check that link while you are at it- some tips for saving calorie consumption too.

2. If you have issues with storing food back in the fridge that has been touched by hand / jootha (used) spoon while feeding the kids, take small portions into a bowl and replenish as the kids keep eating. While you may want to give the same quantity as per your measure everyday, kids maynot eat exact quantities each day. So have a smaller feeding bowl. Specially in my case we take 1 large bowl for measurement sake to feed both kids simultaneously. My practice is to decant it in a smaller bowl during feeding.

3. If you have issues about food getting spoilt when stored then watch out the quantities you make. If you still have leftovers, do not throw it away. Give it to someone who will appreciate it.

4. Sometimes kids leave half eaten chapati/ messy rice on their plate or drop bits on the floor. Instead of dumping it in the dustbin and leaving it to rot, leave it in a small area in your garden or on a specific bowl for this purpose on the window sill or somewhere else convenient. The birds or a hungry dog would eat them. We used to keep vegetable skins or peels separately to feed the passing cows, as in Bihar you have plenty of them roaming the roads.

5. Don't push left overs into the farthermost insides of the fridge. It gets forgotten and then rots.

6. I normally cut all veggies except potato and my favourite ingredient tomato and store them in boxes in the freezer. I also cut onions and store them in a box in the fridge. Garlic & Ginger is immediately grounded to a paste and stored in the fridge. The free coriander leaves and curry leaves are similarly cleaned, cut and stored. Green chillies usually tend to settle at the bottom of the crisper and rot. So it is wise to wash and put them in a separate box. Tomatoes could be made into a paste and stored to be used in a few days time.

The advantages of this method- the fresh veggies do not rot inside as I do not normally cook on a daily basis. I save money thereby. I also save preparation time while cooking. Searching time is minimised. I save electricity as I do not open my fridge a thousand times to search for ingredients.

7. Find ways to re-engineer-

a) I normally add some lemon or vinegar to milk that splits while boiling and use it as paneer. I add the whey to roti/ chappati dough. It can also be used to make kadhi.

b) Leftover khichdi/ beetroot/carrot bhujiyas/ greens/ daal/ chutneys can be added to the dough to make paranthas/ masala pooris.

c) My mom makes tomato sauce at home and we store it for long term use. After filtering the mix twice, we do a final filter and store that water in the fridge for a few days for using in our curries. Adds a different taste to the usual. Also, if I have ground masala/ ginger/garlic in the mixie, instead of straightaway putting it in the sink, I do a final rinse with little plain water and add it to the curry.

d) Sometimes we get stuck with some fruits which no-one wants to eat. Just make them into a salad/ custard. You could add the left over cake/ choclate biscuit to the custard too for added zing.

e) Left over chana / rajama could be converted to chaat. That way no one will say that they are bored of eating the same thing the entire day.

f) Leftover bread/ idly can be made into upma. Confession- I sometimes make excess idlys so that I can enjoy the leftover idly ka upma.

8. Ask the milk man to reduce the number of packets of milk you buy on days you feel you have excess of them in the fridge as it has not been consumed as usual.

9. Try to rework your usual recipes using lesser of non essentials- like ghee/ dry fruits/ masala- it may turn out to be healthier, lighter, tastier. And cheaper too without altering the taste too much. For example- there is really no point in using both tomato sauce & fresh tomatoes in the recipe. Since tomato sauces have garlic/ ginger/ garam masala added to it- sometime you could eliminate the extra masalas all together.

10. Do not overcook during festivals and then go around distributing to everyone to indicate you are prosperous or generous. All neighbours who are celebrating the same festival would be making the same food. So when you give them a box of your preparation, it goes waste beyond a point.

11. Do not be ashamed to take away however small or insignificant quantity of food that is leftover at the restaurant.

12. Leaving a little bit on your plate is not a sign of decency. Polishing that plate off is not at all symbolic of the fact that the host has not deprived you by serving less. I repeat- it is criminal to leave food on the plate. And it is also not insulting to the host to remove the portions that you are sure you will not eat, right in the beginning rather than consigning it to the dustbin later on. If one does that in my house, I would be affronted thinking that you did not like my food and that's why you are throwing it off.

13. It is not a crime if there is a shortfall during a party. Have some breads/ eggs/ boiled potatoes handy to make up something quickly if needed.

14. Educate your children to respect food. If you find the tiffin box comes back half eaten or unopened- either relook at the quantities or speak to the teacher and give them the riot act. Make them understand that wasting food is not cool or a form of a protest.

15. Note down measures and thumb rule recipes- like a fist full of chana/ rajma is enough for a person on an average. Revise them as per your experiments. Have your own standard measuring cups or use a kitchen balance. This will make calculations easier when you have guests.

I leave behind a thought- is it not criminal to offer cup after cup of milk on idols or using huge quantities of rice for puja and then throwing it away as it is full of incense stick ash/ oil from the lamp after the puja?

Calling for this cause- I tag readers to share their own list.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

The Whispered Secrets Are Out

I composed thoughts im my head after every post I read on the subject. A lot has been said & I do not want to repeat them.
Of the top of my mind, my thoughts:
On Hinduism & its practices
I would not want to question the practices of Hinduism or any other religion as one can really not venture into this area with the hope of finding answers. Any given ritual could be actually logical or accidental or completely foolish or irrelevant in today’s world. Anyway, for argument’s sake- how many of us has seen God? Yet we pray, we believe, we have faith and adhere to practices.
And yes, feet are definitely a big deal here…
Therefore we regard books as Saraswati and Gold as Laxmi and mark our respect by not touching it with the foot. Where Knowledge & Wealth is concerned, I will rather err on the side of caution and not take my chances. While we were taught to mark our respect to elders by touching their feet or prostrating before them in some cultures, we were also told to ask forgiveness if our feet accidentally hit against elders.
Will I teach my children the same? Yes, but I would leave it to them to decide and form their own set of practices when the time comes. We all are talking about pro-choice here and that is the most heartening to note, despite arguments and difference of opinions.
And for the records, Hindus do worship all parts of the woman’s body- yes, even the part that shoots the babies out- check out Chinnamasta Devi or the Kamakhya temple in Assam.
And yes, the first time I visited Chinnamasta devi temple- I was – well I can’t tell right? There, I have talked about the M-word in the same vein as religion.

I did refrain from directly touching the puja stuff during those essential 5 days yet I went by my own convenience and no one need be the wiser until today when I have put it out in the open.
And touching pickles- well, we anyway don’t touch them with clean/ unclean/ wet hands/ spoon so what’s the big deal? And making pickles – I definitely don’t see it happening even on regular days so of no relevance to me.

We have time and again discussed among friends the strange ritual of celebrating the coming of age in some communities. Our usual responses were – how shameful, how uncomfortable, or how lucky to be gifted gold on the occasion and how sad that we got none. A school of thought also said that it is our right to celebrate this day because it is conclusive evidence that we women can make babies henceforth.
On my part, I have categorically refused to gift gold on such occasion the only time I have been asked. Pro-choice right!

So in a country that celebrates the coming of age, why is it such a shame to talk of it?
Why is considered dirty if one happens to stain herself or the seat she is on?
Yes, it is unhygienic and maybe offensive to some– as unhygienic(?) as anyone’s blood oozed of a minor cut is- but shameful?
A friend of mine (hostel roomate) carried a used napkin with her in the bag in our college trip because she was too ashamed to throw it in the hotel dustbin. But the same girl did not think twice before leaving it on the chair in our hostel room- because according to her what is so dirty about it- it’s wrapped up right?
Yet again, my double standards come into play- I wouldn’t touch that chair with a barge pole after that- until it has been washed.
But yes, I am finicky about certain things like nose booger and dirty feet on my bed and hand washing after leaving the toilet and yes, used napkins and try as much I cannot come off it. Yes, I have washed off stains left by others on my sofa- but definitely not with pleasure.

There was a time when we purchased sanitary napkins discretely and the shopkeeper would wrap it up in a newspaper and hand it over to us, equally discretely. I remember once desperately roaming the streets to find an empty pharmacy or some store with a woman at the counter to buy my supply of the napkin. And today (gasp), I buy it at the supermarket after spending hours comparing the brands and pack sizes and the –most important- discounts.
And I would take my chance to fight for our cause- why is this all so important product so expensive?
I end my disjointed thoughts here.

Since I am not lucky enough to have a daughter- I would leave behind a thought for my sons- to be kind and considerate to women at all times whether or not they are menstruating. If I have to tell them that women are Laxmi or Saraswati or Shakti to make them appreciate this fact- well I will do that, until they are old enough to fully appreciate what I mean. I will teach them to respect women for what they are rather than for what they wear or how they look or what size of the so called assets they have.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Pearls of Wisdom

Some ice don't break. They go on to become polar ice caps.
You need an entire global warming to melt them.
On breaking the ice with new people.

This is my clay to mould.
Allow me to bring my children up my way.

Cleanliness is a habit.
Age is an excuse.

It's like being in a learner's swimming pool.
Everybody is so busy saving their own lives that nobody has the inclination to ogle at your body or laugh at your skills.
On participating in a skills workshop.

Don't be part of the problem. Be part of the solution. (Hubby's quote)

credit them to me if you ever use them

Friday, May 16, 2008

Tiny Thoughts- Memories

Sometimes a scent, a hairstyle, a gesture or an expression may remind you of someone long forgotten. It may take you back by years. You live that phase yet again. You remember too vividly every significant and insignificant episode of that phase. You go not just miles away but years away and stay there for a few hours or even days. Who says memories fail with age. They stay hidden, tucked away in the annals and come back when least expected or welcome.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Tiny Thoughts-Need

I call or visit you not because I care for you. I call or visit you because I need to talk to someone.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

If Only I Could Sing...

I would put all my energy to it.
I would add fun and laughter to pep it up.
I would never do melody- it would be spicy and loud.
It would force one to get up and dance. Even if one were in a store they were playing the song.
It would force the non dancers to clap non-stop.
I would never close my eyes and sing- I would always keep them wide open and connect with the listeners.
That's why I like Sunidhi, Shaan, Kunal and the singers of this genre.
And I admire Himesh for the totally new genre he has given to Hindi singing and the separate following of listeners he has created- by just adding the nose to the voice.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Blooper- Security Code

I switch on the access code device for login into my account
The number said- 28E28E
I wonder- Wow, they have changed the numeric passcode to alphanumeric without even changing the device.
I smartly enter the code realizing belatedly that I was holding the device upside down.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Tiny Thoughts- Revenge

Sometimes an apology gives a sense of victory. In truth you might have just won the battle but lost the war. In truth, you might be in for a nastier surprise.
Sometimes it is smarter to give in than fight a lost cause. There is always next time.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Ojas Tejas Talk

Multiple Choice Quiz
Tejas is Ojas sitting or standing
Tejas- Ojas sitting cycle

Ask the same question when Tejas is angry.
Tejas, is Ojas sitting or sleeping
Tejas- Sitting (actually he was sleeping)
Ojas- Shut up
Tejas- You shut
Ojas- You shut up....
continues- no prizes for guessing where they picked that up from.
Tejas is talking on the phone. Ojas asks for the phone
Tejas- Ekdum Chup (need I translate this?)
Twin language
Ojas- Chuttu dekho Zot
Tejas- Dekhe, Zot, show me. Haaa Zot!
It took us a while to figure out that Zot is their word for truck (don't ask me the logic- beats me)
I was trying to wash their hands. There are 2 taps in the kitchen. I opened one tap.
Tejas- No, ye wallah gilu! ( he forgot the word for tap so he used his word "gilu" for wet)
Ojas- Mamma pajama
Me- this is pajama, now sleep.
Ojas- no this no pajama, this chaddi. (all alert even while sleeping)

Look who is teaching me recipe too
Mamma dekhe dosa (let me see the dosa -that you are making)
No, egg daalo

When the tables turned
Tejas- Mamma paani (water)
Mamma was busy cooking an she tried to take the bottle from Tejas to pour out the water for him.
Tejas- No pehle hand wash karo (1st wash your hands). Mamma hands Dorty (dirty)

The Dodge Specialist
Ojas is having a sharpener. Tejas wants it and Ojas is holding on to it tightly.
So Tejas gets up and switches on the A/C. Ojas gets busy with it and in the process drops the sharpener.
Tejas picks it up and sits on the bed eyeing Ojas.
Me- Tejas play with A/C
Tejas smiling impishly- Naaawww
Meanwhile I manage to convince Ojas to switch off the A/C
Tejas runs back and switches it on for Ojas to continue playing.
Ojas suddenly realizes that he has been fooled big time and cries for "cutter"
Dodge II
Whenever we play with their sticker book, I show 2 stickers and ask them to pull one of their choice.
This was one in which we had 3 types of biscuits - triangle, square & circle- each one in brown and a colourful patterned variant.
I askd Tejas to pull out a brown one. He says generously Ojas will do. Tejas takes the coloured one.
2nd Time I tell Tejas to take the brown one & Ojas coloured one and Tejas refused. Then I realized that he had selected all the coloured ones for himself.
By the 3rd sticker Ojas realized what was on Tejas' mind and asked for the coloured stickers.
Dodge III
I gave Ojas a shirt. Tejas wanted to change and said this one Gilu (wet).
I said no it is nice.
Tejas asks for water, deliberately spills on his shirt.
Lessons well learnt
Ojas & tejas get a biscuit each. Ojas finished first and asks for more.
Dadda says- give me kiss first. Ojas complies and is rewarded with a biscuit.
Tejas is lolling on the sofa and watching with half closd eyes. Finishes his biscuit. Walks up to Dadda- plants a kiss on his cheeks and says- Biscuit?
Me- wear your sandals, we will go for one round in the car.
Tejas- Nahin, pehle pajama pehno (no, 1st wear your salwar)

This is supposed to be a cake that is being cut (ball on a truck wheel with spoon as knife)

Edited to add- they say- "leave me" or "no fightie"-when we hold them for giving food.....

Someone was snatching Tejas' baloon. Ojas said- Adi karo (neat him)

Friday, May 09, 2008

Tiny Thoughts- Couples

When couples fight- just ensure you stay away.
Refrain from comments or intervention.
Do not support and do not add fuel to the fire.
They will kiss and make up real quick.
You will end up as the villain in the whole story.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Pottering about

The kids love hanging out the whole morning in the tiny excuse of a garden that I have. Whether it is for playing in the sand, messing the entire garden and the adjoining home floor or swimming in their pool. I have got them into the routine of helping us water the few pots we have and they do the same with ardent gusto. The garden is their vantage point for chatting up with other kids and an outlet for their energy.
As Long as they stick to the empty pots ...And Not these...
Or these...
And clean up afterwards...
I am ok!
No questions asked!
I have seen them truly happy when they are there and am glad that they are the country-boys like me or hubby in this manner- truly happy when at close quarters with nature. I hope they grow to appreciate and enjoy it as much as we have. Fingers crossed.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

My Favourite Indian Ethnic Cuisine

Only in India can one get and enjoy Mc aaloos, the Mc burgers, Indian Chinese and the likes. Fusion cuisine in Indian combines adventure and taste not unlike Indian attire & textiles- versatile, exotic and likeable.
My personal favourites-

Kachori- stuffed with Peas or Bengal gram daal.
Samosa- aaloo is what I prefer and not the hybrids with channa etc- unless it is chicken.
Adai or Chilka- made of besan or green mung daal
Litti: can anything beat that- litti filled with sattu and eaten with brinjal bharta and tomato chutney. I love the sattu separately also.
Khichri- Piping hot with all the bhartas- potato & brinjal and tomato chutney and pickle and papad
Keema- mutton only
Rajma/black chana-Chaval
Chhole-Bhature- even chhole puri- together with raw onion, coriander leaves (how does one live without these leaves) and lime.
makke ki roti- need I explain further?
Dhokla -I remember roaming the streets and begging at the mithai counters for just a pack of fluffy dhoklas when I was pregnant.
Dosa: no comments- Make them crisp while you are at it.
Cutlet/ Chop, Aaloo bonda- I am still looking for the best in town
Daal Vada-with crisp daal bits that you bite into
Hyderabadi Biryani
Butter Chicken and the paneer butter masala for our bechara veggie cousins
Kathi Roll-eclectic roti and chicken
Bread Omellete of the road side dhabas
Chicken Lollypop- what? this is not Indian?
Paneer Bhujji
Dahi Vada/ Sambhar Vada- Huge and soft vadas immersed in respective liquids. I would go weak at the knees just thinking of them in pregnancy.
The Andhra podi with ghee- gunpowder?
Dhaniya Chutney
Fish Finger
Fish curry with white rice
Hey- add your favourites to this list!!

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Tiny Thoughts- Recipe

Do not rework on the food after I have prepared it.
The very reason that I am taking the pains to cook is because I want my kids to get used to my style of cooking.
Ever notice how boys end up swearing by their mom's food and girls inevitably copy or improvise on their mom's recipes- inspite of how lousy or tasteless they may be for others!

Monday, May 05, 2008

Married Yet Single

Give me marriage and I give you the trappings of being married yet single.
Tell me that marriage halves your load by giving you someone to share it with you and I will give you a situation where you double your load because the numerator doubles and the denominator remains the same.
I am talking of a marriage where the spouse is always traveling or working or on different shift or posted elsewhere or a victim of the energy saving scheme wherein the companies have to choose alternate weekends and the spouses’ weekends do not coincide.
I am told that marriage gives you someone to
Share your morning coffee- we don’t technically drink “morning coffee” but I do miss having a morning ritual of sitting together enjoying a light chat over a cup of (cold) coffee, newspapers etc- we wake up as per different time-zones, I am always late to wake up, perennially in a rush to prepare breakfast, get ready and go and the husband is always on the phone or the worst of all fates- glued to the TV. Or at the gym. Or in some meeting.
Share your work load- with an offsite husband I am the one doing all the shopping, home management, writing the cheques, taking the kids to the doc, buying their stuff. It becomes a real chore after a while, this supply replenishment.
Talk & Laugh with- There is an absolute lack of adult conversation in my home. Correction- there is no conversation at home.
Accompany on Social Calls- My periodic trips to Gurgaon where I have a host of like minded adults to chat with really keep me going or else I will go crazy. We have no like minded people with whom we could spend an evening; camp out in one another’s home or party during the weekend. I more often than not miss most of the parties, like the one I missed last weekend in Gurgaon because there is nobody to accompany me with the kids- even the sensible airline do not have the option of 1 adult & 2 infants on their ticket booking program. A few blog meets and odd lunch with friend keep me going otherwise.
Look forward to every evening when you go back home- There is no “waiting for husband daily” routine at home. I really do not mind a busy spouse as long as he or she comes home everyday. This offsite marriage is what irks me.
Edited- 1st scheduled post done!

Friday, May 02, 2008

Tiny Thoughts- Kitchen Queen

Does it ever occur to you that I have better things to do than spend time in the kitchen after a hard day’s work?
Enjoy it while it lasts and make sure you hold fort while I cook.
How long would it take for me to just use the kids as an excuse for not being able to cook?
Bread is not always an attractive proposition.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Creamy Chicken & Chicken Tarkari - Nepali Recipe

As food evaluators, we look for one important thing when we taste food- how many different drivers or dimensions one can perceive individually while tasting the food. Are you geting one common note or are the individual ingredients managing to express harmoniously and simultaneously blending with each other.
Let's say you are used to strawberry icecream and I add some percentage of apple to it in such a way that you cannot recognize the apple but can perceive something different - familiar but cannot pinpoint what it is. That means I have added a different dimension to the usual strawberry- something that may make you want to come back to the same icecream again and again.
This is what first struck me when our office chef made this recipe of chicken. The various spices are in such a proportion that one can perceive the ingredients really well.
The almond contributes to the creaminess without disturbing the salt balance. Cashews tend to make it sweet, I am told.
Surprising thing was that the recommended cooking medium is mustard oil- I thought this was typical Bihari, Punjabi & Bengali- but Nepali?

Here's teh creamy chicken recipe that had impressed me.
Creamy Chicken
2 lbs. Chicken breast, cut into 1-in. strips
4 cloves garlic
1 in. ginger
3 fresh red chilies
1/2 cup almonds
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
1 tablespoon mustard oil
1 bay leaf
1 in. cinnamon stick
5 cloves
5 green cardamoms, crushed
2 cups onions, finely chopped
1 cup yogurt
1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper Salt to taste
4 teaspoons clarified butter
1 tablespoon chopped cilantro for garnish
Grind garlic, ginger, chilies, almonds, coriander and cumin seeds with water to form paste. Salt and pepper chicken. Heat one tablespoon musturd oil in a non-stick pan, and brown chicken. Transfer chicken to a bowl. Drain and clean the pan, heat clarified butter. Add cinnamon stick, cloves, bay leaf, and cardomoms. Fry for 30 sec., and add onions. Sautee the onions till brown.
Transfer the almond paste to the onion mixture. Stir for about 2 min. till the oil separates. Add yogurt, mix well to a consistent mixture. Transfer the browned chicken to the yogurt sauce. Cook in low heat till chicken is tender and the almnd sauce is thickened. Garnish with chopped cilantro. Serve with roti, or rice.
Chicken Tarkari
2 lbs. chicken, black and white, skinned, boned, and cut into 1.5-in. cubes
3 cups onion, chopped
2 cups yogurt
2 cups chicken stock
5 cloves
5 cardamom, bruised
1 in. cinnamon stick
2 bay leaves
1 tablespoon garlic, minced
1 tablespoon ginger, minced
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 tablespoon cumin powder
1 tablespoon coriander powder
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg, grated
4 tablespoons mustard oil
Salt to taste
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro for garnish
In large bowl, combine chicken pieces, pepper, turmeric, and salt; toss well. In a non-stick sauce pan, heat oil. To the hot oil, add cloves, cardamom, cinnamon, and bay leaves; fry for 30 sec. Add chopped onions, and fry until brown. Put garlic and ginger into the onion mixture; fry for 30 sec. To this mixture, add cumin, coriander, chili powder, and grated nutmeg. Mix them well for a minute or so on low heat. Increase the heat to medium, and transfer chicken pieces into the spice mixture; stir well to brown. Add yogurt, chicken stock to the browned chicken. Lower the heat to low and let simmer until chicken pieces are tender, and the sauce has thickened up to a desired consistency, about 35-45 min.
When cooked, turn off the heat and add chopped cilantro to garnish. Serve hot with rice, and or roti.