Friendship


It is late in the afternoon, and as I type away on my laptop, a gentle breeze causes my day curtains to billow.

From where I am seated, and through the open balcony doors, I see two mynahs seated on the ledge of the building next to ours.

Initially they are seated on opposite ends of the ledge, their faces turned away from each other. Have they just had a squabble?

Then, after a few minutes, one of them moves closer as if trying to talk to the other mynah. But, no, the second mynah will not have it. She turns away and starts walking away from her friend!  The friend moves closer, and the second mynah walks further away.

I so wish I could hear what they are saying. The first one is definitely trying to reason, but the second mynah is having none of it. She turns her beak up in the air and keeps taking small steps away from her pal.

But the first mynah is one persuasive bird. She does not give up, she keeps talking. Is she apologizing, is she explaining her point of view, is she telling the other mynah that she cares for her and that she will always be her friend despite their silly squabbles?

I sigh and wish that the other mynah would just say something. After a few minutes, the second mynah finally turns around. Yay!

They talk, and seem to sort out their differences. They fly away soon, their petty disagreement totally forgotten and forgiven.

I smile. I am happy. Sometimes all it takes is to put one’s pride aside and talk to the other person to make things right! After all, true friendship is precious and totally worth all this effort.

Bubbles of joy


We are heading over to a friend’s home for dinner. My friend is moving out to another part of town, and this is an impromptu plan just before they leave.

Dinner happens around packed cartons and pizza boxes. Laughter flows and echoes off empty walls, as we reminisce about the passage of time and about all the wonderful memories we’ve shared.

Soon it’s time to say bye. Just as we are about to leave, my daughter spots a roll of bubble wrap! And she glides towards it as if in a trance, and starts popping the bubbles. My friend laughs and asks her if she wants a small piece to take away. My daughter nods vigorously. My friend bends down and cuts out a small piece of bubble wrap. When she hands it over to my daughter and lifts her head, she finds that I have joined the queue for a bubble wrap takeaway too!

Image courtesy – http://www.dreamstime.com

My daughter and I grin at each other, as we say our byes and get into the lift. We start popping the bubbles, completely absorbed in this most satisfying of all tasks. We get back home. My son, who had stayed back at home, gets excited when he sees the bubble wrap, and begs for a chance to pop them.

But no, we are selfish girls when it comes to bubble wrap. We don’t want to share something so precious.

We settle down and pop, sometimes row by row, sometimes random patterns. We sigh in contentment. There is something so therapeutic about this. Soon, our bubble wraps look exhausted! We then move on to other things, completely rejuvenated.

Late in the night, when I go around checking the doors and turning off the lights, I see the two pieces of bubble wrap on the sofa. There is a small frisson of hope as I run my hands over them.

Aha, I find an unpopped one. Pop!!! The day finishes on a high note.

A flash of red


Heavy rain is imminent. Dark, grey clouds are hanging heavy and low in the sky. The gentle breeze ‘that was’ is now gathering momentum, and the leaves are rustling and giggling in anticipation.

I am on my walk, my mind filled with a hundred thoughts, as restless as the leaves. The usual calm that prevails on my walk is missing today. I just accept it and plod on, allowing my thoughts free rein and watching their play.

As I begin my ascent on one of the roads, a flash of red on the pavement catches my eye. From where I am, it looks like a bright red stone or a shiny bit of paper.

When I get closer to this shiny object, I stop in wonder! It is a beautiful petal, reddish-orange in colour, fallen on the grey pavement. Beautiful water droplets adorn this petal, reflecting its vibrant colours even more, and sparkling in the dull evening light.

I am fascinated. The petal lies there, its days over, but still seeking to give joy, still seeking to bring a moment of softness and gentleness to this hard road called life.

I quickly whisk out my phone and capture a picture. The skies open up, and I dash for cover.

I stand under the sheltered walkway, watching the dancing raindrops, the pitter-patter of the rain on the glass ceiling, the swaying plants, the rivulets of water….such beauty.

I think back to my beautiful petal. The rain would have carried away the petal, a drop of bright red floating away in a stream of joy, to places unknown.

The rain peters out. I sigh. I wait awhile. And slowly, the crickets start tuning their instruments for their nightly chorus. Huge silver water drops fall with big plops from the trees. The sky is clear. My mind is bereft of any thought. I walk back home.

Home garden


There is something so beautiful about having plants at home, especially when there is no space for a huge garden.

My husband’s mom talks about how green the area had been, when she and my father in law had moved into their new home after marriage. More than five decades have rolled by, and there are buildings everywhere. My mom-in-law loves and nurtures all her plants.

There are two beautiful Magnolia campaca trees at the entrance of the house. One of them yields fragrant, creamy-yellow flowers. Their trunks have grown with our home – spreading out branches, sprouting leaves, blooming flowers and watching over the goings-on in the neighbourhood.

There are many potted plants, hibiscus, sweet pea, star jasmine, creepers, tulasi, curry leaves, green chilli and coriander. As I walk around the compound, I enjoy the mid-morning breeze, as the clothes on the clotheslines flutter in unison.

The leaves of the hibiscus plant are a deep, shiny green. There is a beautiful bud, waiting for the right time to bloom.

Just above the hibiscus plant is the Ixora coccinea plant, a shrub commonly found in the region. The bright orangeish-red flowers are a treat to the eyes. I call them ‘drops of sunshine’.

One of the branches has two bud clusters that look identical. They look like sisters….sharing some childhood time, laughing merrily, gossiping with each other, and swaying in the breeze, little knowing that they may each bloom differently.

There is a strange peace that comes in watching the champak tree. The clear blue of the sky can be seen through its leaves, as a crow caws lazily in the background.

There is a joy in watering the plants, and watching the soil soak it all in.

There is peace. Everything is just as it should be.

Paneer Paranthas & A Decade-long friendship


The sky is fast filling-up with dark rain-bearing clouds. I can hear the koyal’s call as I walk to my friend’s apartment.

It is nearly noon, when I enter her house. Over the next twenty minutes, the ‘gang’ shows up, each of us having rushed through chores and assignments to be here with everyone else.

It is not often that you get to spend quality time with your closest friends; friends you’ve known and grown with for more than a decade.

What’s a meeting of dear friends without yummy food. There’s only one dish on the menu today – paneer paranthas.

The host, who is a cook par excellence, starts rolling and stuffing the first parantha. She tosses it with practiced ease on the tawa, as we watch her in admiration.

Paranthas are to be eaten hot, so we settle down on the kitchen floor for a round of gossip. We take turns to eat. The smell of ghee wafts all around us, as the paranthas are being made. Hot, golden, soft paranthas – perfect in every way. We add pickle and fresh yoghurt to our plates.

We talk about everything and nothing. We laugh at the silliest of jokes and relive old incidents, and talk about cooking fiascos, children-related stories, and of course, our dear husbands.

We realise how time has flown. Nearly a decade has rushed past. Where once we talked about birthday parties and play dates, food and party cakes, now we talk about universities, marriage and retirement. We talk about travel, about meeting up every year.

We realise how blessed we are to have this group of friends to lean on, laugh with and share these yummy paranthas with!

Golden day


The balcony in my apartment faces the west. From about 2 pm in the afternoon, my living room looks like it has been lit with golden light.

However, in the mornings, there is light but not anywhere close to what we get in the afternoons.

This morning, as I stood on my balcony taking in some fresh air, I saw two golden sheets of the sun’s rays reflecting off a building close to our condo.

Such a divine splash of orange on the dull grey, signalling the birth of another day. 

A simple moment of joy and happiness that put a spring in my step.

Sharing the pictures with you all. Have a great day!

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Mom’s cooking


Indian cooking is elaborate. Every dish requires time to perfect. Most dishes involve multiple processes such as wet grinding, pounding, roasting, seasoning etc.

We Indians celebrate many, many festivals each year, and the high point of these celebrations is the food. Every festival has specific dishes to celebrate it.

Most Indian women, atleast the one’s from my mom’s generation, are walking recipe books.

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       Courtesy – http://www.wikihow.com

My cooking skills took shape only after marriage, and rather than consult any recipe book, I would just pick up the phone to call my mom.  Our conversations went something like this.

Me: Hi Amma

Mom: Hi…How are you?

Me: All good. Can you tell me the recipe for this sweet dish (some name)?

Mom: Sure…it’s very simple. It is 1:1:2.

Me: Wait..what’s 1:1:2

Mom: It’s the ratio of the ingredients.

Me: Mom, can we start with the ingredients?

Mom: Aha…of course…

And she gave me the recipe, baby step by baby step.

Over the years, I have become quite an accomplished cook, and know all my ratios.

But I am still trying to achieve that finesse in my dishes, which my mom seemed to achieve with ease; and that perfect aroma when all the ingredients have blended just right. 

Even yesterday, I called my mom to ask for her Vegetable Biriyani recipe. Just listening to the recipe brought back memories of cousins and happy Sundays, uncles and aunts and afternoons of play.

I could remember the smell of my mom’s Biriyani wafting through the house – chillies and ginger and mint and garlic and coriander and onions….and cloves and cinnamon and bay leaves…and many more lovely ingredients.

Mom’s cooking…always the best!

Butter biscuits


This afternoon, I was out to do my grocery shopping, when my eyes fell on a box of butter biscuits, neatly packaged and branded.

While I mulled over whether the kids would enjoy the biscuits, my mind raced back to my Grandma’s home.

Back then, we lived in a joint family. Most savouries and Indian sweets were made at home by my Grandma, my mom and my aunt.

However, we did not have an oven at my Grandma’s.   We were nine people at home, and most items were cooked or prepared in large quantities. 

Once every two months, my Grandma would walk down to a small bakery that was located close to the local race course.  She would buy baking flour, sugar, butter and other ingredients, and take it to the baker’s.  She would place  an order for a large quantity of butter biscuits.

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   Courtesy – http://www.shutterstock.com

In addition to the ingredients, she would also pass on a steel container that had a lid and a handle, which we called ‘steel thooku’, which means steel carrier. The order was usually ready the next day.

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Courtesy – http://www.trade.indiamart.com

On their way back from work, my dad or uncle would pick up the steel thooku filled with butter biscuits.

The moment the ‘thooku’ reached home, the children were called. The steel carrier was opened with fanfare. Perfectly formed golden, cream butter biscuits, nestled snugly between layers of butter-paper. The aroma that wafted out made our mouths water.

Each golden treat was a slice of bliss.The biscuits usually lasted only a week or slightly more. But while they lasted, we enjoyed every crumb and waited for the next lot!!

Pit Stops on my morning walk


I usually head out for my long, morning walk, after the kids have left for school.

I take a long walking route, about 6 to 7 kms. The sun is usually quite hot by then, and the sky a nice cornflower blue.

As I walk my first kilometer, the chaotic sounds of ‘morning madness’ at home, before everyone’s on their way,  slowly evaporate from my head.

The sounds are slowly replaced by the twittering of lots of birds – mynas, orioles, sparrows and pigeons.They flit about from bush to bush.

On my walk, there is a stretch of about 1 km, which is along a long canal that winds its way across town.  Here, there are lovely bushes and shrubs of small flowers.

I don’t know their names but enjoy stopping and looking at them. Small orange-red flowers, milky white ones, baby pink ones, bright orange ones. Such pretty and small flowers. The bees are busy collecting honey, and I usually stop to take pictures of these beauties.

I am truly amazed at their beauty, gently swaying in the breeze, sharing their beauty for all to see, expecting nothing in return!

These are my pit stops, where I recharge my batteries. My walkometer on the phone shows that on this stretch my pace is very slow. But the walkometer doesn’t know that on this stretch, I regain my energies and enthusiasm to meet my

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day.

The flowers make me smile and give me hope. They make me believe that all is well with world.  Sharing some pictures of these beauties. Hope you enjoy them.

So what’s your pit stop? What makes you recharge? Would love to know.

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Glass bangles


I love bangles, glass bangles, to be precise. If you stopped to listen to the breeze in any part of the Indian subcontinent, you would hear the melodious tinkle of glass bangles, worn by women across the country.

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               Picture courtesy  http://www.geethafashion.weebly.com

In India, glass bangles are traditionally associated with most milestones in a woman’s life – engagement,  wedding and baby showers. After the wedding, most women wear a few glass bangles or at least metal ones everyday, as dictated by their culture and family traditions.

I love glass bangles for their rich colours and vibrant tones. Couple these with an elegant saree…and they look gorgeous.

In the south, many families host a small event called ‘Valaikaapu’ (The Bangle Ceremony), in a pregnant woman’s third trimester. Usually hosted by the girl’s parents, the day is filled with lots of fun, rituals and good food.

For this function, a few hundred glass bangles are bought. Women on both sides of the pregnant woman’s family adorn her with tinkling and beautiful glass bangles on both hands, usually odd-numbered. In addition, one thin gold and silver bangle each are put on each hand.  All women and girls, who attend the event, are gifted a few glass bangles. Usually there’s an assortment of colours to choose from.

The tinkling of the bangles is supposed to stimulate the baby’s senses. The bangles are usually removed, when labour sets in. 

These days, bangles are bought in bulk from shops, however, when I was a kid, a bangle-seller was called home. I still remember how excited we were when the bangle-seller came home with his huge bundle of glass bangles. We watched, as my grandmom and mom chose bangles for my aunt’s Valaikappu, and for all the women and little girls.

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                     Picture courtesy     
             varietybangles.weebly.com

Last year, there was a wedding in the family, and I stocked up on my glass bangles; colour coordinated with every saree I wore to the various ceremonies.

Simple tinkling accessories, that signify so much and that bring so much joy!