Monthly Archives: September 2016

The ‘goal maniac’

There are two days every year, when I am infused with a sense of purpose; when I visualize my life’s ‘big’ plan, and look deep into the future, dreaming with a faraway look in my eyes. The said two days are New Year’s eve and the eve of my birthday, wherein I look back and ahead.

These two days are scary in some respects in that some hidden ‘goal maniac’ takes control of mind and makes me write down stuff about my long term, medium term, short term and very short term plans.

For example, the goal maniac writes down things like run the half-marathon or read 10 classics or go on ‘crazy-diet abc’…you get the drift right?

Courtesy – http://www.canstockphoto.com

And somehow when these two days pass, the resolve lasts for about a month or less, and the sense of not having done anything is quite demotivating.

Take for example some of these ‘low carb’ diets (for the record, I love rice, really, really love it).

I start the diet and things cruise along smoothly. Two days into the diet, I already feel less flabby, more energetic and more determined to continue.

Slowly…the routine takes root. I am so…able to manage this.  Then the ‘tongue’ slowly works its magic. It craves rice. It keeps sending messages to my brain…come on, just one meal, increase the portion size of carbs, come on.

The mind weakens, ‘the goal maniac’ is away on holiday, and slowly but surely the tongue reigns supreme.

There is another scenario where the diet is progressing well. Everything in moderation, and in those agonizing few hours between late afternoon and dinner, the craving starts for junk food. I have a set of glass jars with an assortment of nuts, savouries and biscuits for the kids. I eye them. Should I, should I not? Maybe just one. Maybe just two…maybe more.

Where is the resolve, what happens to the ‘goal maniac’? 

Have to wait for New Year’s eve to have a one to one conversation with this person – to tell her not to enthuse me with grandiose plans, but to help me set small goals, achievable ones, to tell myself that consistency and patience have their rewards!

The good old newspaper

Every morning, at around 5.30 am, the newspaper man drops the newspaper at our doorstep, with a gentle thud.

In this age of ‘digital everything’, many people I know have stopped buying newspapers. They prefer news apps on their phones. Even I have these apps on my phone, which I use, to keep updated.

However, there is nothing to beat the joy of reading the newspaper.

Mornings are generally so crazy that I only have time to skim through  the headlines, before I rush back to my chores.

My husband then claims the paper and reads it. 

Finally, when the kids and my husband leave, I sit down with a cup of coffee, on my easychair, to read the newspaper.

There is so much joy in reading the news on print – the editorial, world affairs, sport, entertainment and so much more.

Courtesy – http://www.123rf.com
The rustle of paper, the smell, the articles, the advertisements – all contribute to the experience. 
There is comfort in ‘not’ knowing the number of ‘likes’ or ‘shares’ or ‘comments’ for every article.  The layout is so beautiful that one can see so much in a single glance, and read or skip at will!

Solving puzzles like sudoku and kakuro or the crossword is yet another experience! Sitting down with a pen, lost in thought, calculating or thinking about a word or number, and sipping strong filter coffee to stimulate the thought process.

Then again, reading the everyday cartoon strip, and smiling, as you realize how cleverly the cartoonist has captured life and our everyday struggles.

After the paper is read, I carefully fold it and put it on the newspaper rack. It has given us all it had. It languishes at home for a month, along with other papers, before it moves on to be recycled.

Do you enjoy reading the newspaper?

Living in the moment

It’s been quite windy here for the last week or so. We are usually only used to dealing with various shades of tropical humidity, interspersed with thunderstorms that come and go at will.

The wind puts a spring in my step as I head out on my morning walk. The walkers’park is teeming with people -walking, jogging and cycling.

The sun is yet to unleash its burning heat. The day is cool, made cooler by this delicious breeze.

The target is a 10 km walk. I set off at a steady pace. About six kilometers into my walk, I stop to drink water. There are stone benches along the treelined walkway.

On one of these benches is a man, his hands stretched and placed under his head. His feet are stretched out. I wonder if he is asleep. There are many plastic bags near his bench. I slowly start walking past. I realize that he is awake and enjoying that moment. He is totally in the moment. He is oblivious to my presence.

I smile in wonder. It is peak hour in the morning. Every walker and jogger wants to rush back and get started with his or her busy day, and then there is this man, totally relaxed!

I smile and walk on. The wind continues to blow pretty flowers from the trees to the ground. The intoxicating smell of frangipani teases my nostrils. Yellow and pink flowers dance in glee before they fall to the ground, transforming the grass into a colourful carpet.

Bliss.

The Wind

It is early evening, and the sun is still scorching away. As I work, I hear the kitchen door slam shut. I quickly rush to secure all the other doors, when I hear the tinkling music of my chimes. In all the three years that I have had these chimes, this is probably one of the few occasions when they have actually chimed. Yes, there is only a gentle breeze where I live, hardly any strong wind.

Today is obviously different. A strong wind seems to be blowing. With the sun shining bright, the leaves undulate and glisten as the wind rips through the trees. The bigger and older trees accept the wind’s force with a calm that befits their age and wisdom, while the smaller plants and young trees dance with abandon.

In the yard below, a few leaves are swirling in circles, rising up for a few moments, falling down again, and then rising up again, as the wind comes to play with them.

The tall buildings and construction site cranes are totally oblivious to the wind’s sudden enthusiasm. They watch in silence.

The birds seem more energized as they swoop from tree to tree. Crisp laundry on the neighbours’ clotheslines flutter in bursts. The wind whips my hair on my face. I enjoy this moment….and am reminded of a poem from my primary school days; a poem by Christina Rossetti.

Who has seen the wind?

Courtesy – http://www.pinterest.com

Husbands and ‘dates’

Before I start this post, let me tell you that this post is not about husbands and dating.

The Indian festival season is upon us, and most Indian women, I’m sure, are busy stocking up their kitchens, and bringing out their sarees and traditional wear.

Courtesy -www.dreamstime.com
I am no exception. I have spent a few hours this last week trying to decide on which sarees to wear and the accessories to go with them.
So, picture this scene. I am pulling out sarees from my wardrobe, placing each one against my shoulder and performing a critical self-evaluation. My husband is in the background, watching TV or reading the newspaper for the nth time.

Some of my wedding sarees capture my attention. Each of these sarees brings back great memories. Some were gifts from my husband’s parents, some from my aunts, and most from my parents. I pull out a peacock blue saree with a simple zari border.  This was the saree that I wore when I met my husband for the first time.

I am swept away in a wave of joy. Draping the folded saree on my shoulder, I rush to share this happy memory. 

But, but, but…instead of merely sharing the memory and the joy, I quiz him.

“Do you remember this saree?” I ask, my eyes gleaming with happiness.

He lifts his head from the newspaper rather slowly.

“Hmmm…what?” he asks, in slow motion.

I repeat the question. His face suddenly takes on a wary expression. He knows the consequences of not remembering. I can almost see the gears in his head working overtime. He narrows his eyes and slants his eyes, hoping that these acts will somehow give him the answer to my simple question.

I wait. For I know that he is trapped. We have played this memory game many times with anniversary dates, birthdays, first time we met type of dates etc.

This is one variant of this game. I decide to be nice to him. I tell him that this is the saree I wore on our first meeting. 

He laughs – ‘relief’ escaping through his mouth. I laugh too. 

Just half an hour back he was reeling off Formula 1 statistics, as we sat watching the Monza GP telecast. So where do men store these facts ?

I have no answers…..I smile and get back to my wardrobe planning. My friends will remember what I wore and when I wore what! And I will remember their sarees too. 

And in this shared camaraderie, we will celebrate the Indian festival season, with lots of food, fun, selfies and gorgeous sarees. 

Best wishes of the season to all of you!

The humble ‘upma’

South Indian cooking has a very long list of tasty dishes from its four states; dishes that range from spicy to tangy to salty to sweet, and many other flavours.

There are a few dishes that are common to all four states, and one of them is the ‘upma’. It is not served with too much fanfare. In restaurants, on the menu card, the upma  is usually listed far down the menu, after one has run through the exotic dosas, vadas and idli varieties, all of which have pride of place in South Indian cooking. 

The  upma is made from semolina. It can be cooked plain, or made interesting with vegetables and cashewnuts.

Why do I talk about the upma, you may wonder? This is because the upma has not been given its due.

In India, at least when we were growing up, people did not call and inform that they were visiting. They would just show up,  unannounced. It was the norm, and at any time of day or night, friends and family were very welcome.

The moment the guests landed up, the kitchen committee comprising my mom and grandmom would kick into high gear. 

And this is where the upma requires to be treated with respect. 

      Courtesywww.dreamstime.com

It was the easiest dish to make for impromptu visitors. The base ingredient, semolina, also lends itself beautifully to be made into a sweet dish called kesari. 

Courtesy – http://www.shutterstock.com
So, the upma was served along with piping hot, frothy filter coffee. Adults had the upma with pickle, while kids had it with sugar.
The upma usually saved the day. It is one of my favourite dishes, though there were times when my sisters and I would pick out all the vegetables in the upma and hide them under our plates, in total innocence, not realizing that our mom could figure out what we had been upto.

Do you have any such dish like the upma? Would love to know!