Every new experience


The evening sky is painted an orange shade that defies description. Spun gold? Gold cotton candy? Faraway buildings and trees are silhouetted against this backdrop. Most birds are already tucked into their cosy nests. There is a lull, as day winds down and shakes hands with twilight. The evening sky never looks the same, each evening is different. I stand on the balcony and soak-in the peace.

My kids barge into my reverie. It is the weekend and they want to order-in pizza. I agree, and soon, with a few clicks, the order is placed. In just under forty-five minutes, the familiar square cardboard box is delivered, accompanied by that mouth-watering aroma that every pizza-lover relishes. Hmmm!

But what has become such a regular part of our lives now, was once a new experience for me. When we were kids most meals were home cooked. We rarely ate out. My mom made yummy Indian food, sweets and savouries at home, and we looked forward to all the treats she cooked for us.

When I left for university, I fondly remembered and yearned for my mom’s food. By the time I started working, most meals were eaten out, with friends and colleagues. And that was the time I ate my first-ever pizza. A new outlet had opened in the city close to my place of work, and all of us went over.

And that’s when I smelt a pizza for the first time, that unique melding of cheese, bell peppers, olives, pineapples and other veggies. My favourite part was adding the chilli flakes on top for that extra burst of flavour. We loved the pizza even more because of the experience of trying something for the first time.

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It was something new, something shared, something exciting, a new type of food, a slice of another culture. And we were never the same again. We had changed.

And that is true of all the new things we try in life. Some are great experiences, while some don’t go at all well; but each one of them changes us in subtle ways.

My kids are happy, and predictably disappear into their rooms. As I close the lid on the pizza box and clean up, night has fallen, and a few stars are twinkling high up in the firmament. The sky has also changed.

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Life lessons from a dosa


Every person who knows to cook has a special dish that she or he can rustle up, without fretting too much about the end product – call it a signature dish if you like. And when one has people over for lunch or dinner, this signature dish will definitely feature in the menu.

But then, there is another side to this signature dish story. If you hail from South India, like I do, making dosas is something you are expected to know even in your sleep.

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There is nothing to beat a crispy, golden dosa that has been made to perfection, and then eaten with sambar and coconut chutney.

I do make perfect, golden dosas, crisp or soft, with ghee or cheese, or even the masala dosa, with its filling of potato masala. My friends love my dosas too!

But sometimes, especially when you have guests over for lunch or dinner, and your signature dish’s reputation precedes you, things can head south.

I have guests for brunch, and one of the items planned is the dosa. Dosas are best eaten hot. So, I set the flat pan on the stove, switch it on and mix the dosa batter with elan. I check for batter consistency, ensure that I have all that I need to get started. I do not realize this, but my flatpan has got over-heated as the flame is in full blast mode and not in simmer mode – a sure recipe for dosa disaster.

As I pour the batter with practised ease, in just ten seconds I realize that the dosa has stuck to the pan, and refuses to leave it. I use the spatula to prod it out, without making any sound. My guests are waiting in anticipation. I manage to get the mangled and burnt dosa out. Now, both the flatpan and I have to cool down.

I smile at the irony of it all. This dosa that we eat so often, and that my kids are heartily tired of …has let me down, and how!!!

Soon the flatpan cools and I am able to serve my dosas, though I still feel they could have turned out better.

But then, this is how things are in the bigger scheme of things as well. We work and perfect various skills, we plan meticulously to the minutest details, but then life throws many surprises our way, when we are unable to manifest our skills in the best way at the right time and at the right place.

But the idea is to keep trying, and enjoy the journey, and not be bogged down by the odd bad day!

Sisters


It is noon, and I am in a cab. My destination is twenty minutes away, and the first thing I do is pick up my phone and call one of my sisters. Her line is busy, and I call the other sister. She picks up my call, and we start chatting.

We exchange family stories, talk about her children, my children, work, life goals, health goals, wardrobes, new products, photos that we sent to each other, accessories, and then get back to more family trivia.

Soon, my cab reaches the destination, and I bid a cheery bye to my sister and get back to my own world; with a broad smile on my face and a spring in my step – for that’s what sisters do to you.

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You can laugh with them, cry with them, be annoyed with them or argue with them, for they will not judge you for any of it.

Last month, when we were out for dinner with my sister’s family, I eyed the beautiful handbag she was carrying and raved about it. “You can have it”, she said. And with no guilt whatsoever, I took the bag, gave back its contents in a small plastic bag, and became the proud owner of my sister’s handbag.

And that’s just one of the million reasons why sisters are special. You can call them at midnight to discuss even simple absurdities, and they will think nothing of it.

In our home, I have one wardrobe, and two extended wardrobes that belong to my sisters, and which I have unlimited access to. And they have the same access to mine.

A sister has shared all the silliness and giggly moments in your childhood with you. One of the fondest memories I have is of how my sister would come back from kindergarten (I had not yet started school then), and would always remember to bring a butter biscuit back for me, an extra biscuit that she had received for answering questions correctly in class.

A sister may squabble and annoy and drive you crazy within the four walls of your home, but to anyone who troubles you outside home, she is a force to be reckoned with.

A sister will tell you things about yourself that you may not like to hear; but then she will be the one you turn to when you have even the smallest problem, or when you just want to rant.

Sisters fill your life with sunshine, and are a 24 x 7 support hotline. They enrich your life, and make you laugh, make you cry, and argue with you.

But whenever I have a free moment, my first choice will always be to pick up the phone to call my sisters.