If We Were Having Coffee…

… I’d tell you of how I have started taking little, baby steps towards better health. I have been brushing certain health issues under the carpet for quite long. I haven’t been going for regular check-ups. Also, post-baby, my eating habits have been quite bad – I have not been eating healthy at all. I’ve been giving in to cravings all the time. I haven’t been exercising regularly, and am quite, quite overweight. Guilt over all of this has been keeping me up in the nights often, as a result of which I have been tired in the mornings and unable to go for a walk or exercise. Such a vicious downward spiral! I had to break it somewhere, right? I took the first step towards breaking the cycle by getting a complete health check-up, recently. The results haven’t been bad, but some stuff isn’t great either. I know just what to do to improve, now. When all the figures are before me, in black and white, on a piece of paper, it pushes you just enough to exercise and figure out ways to improve your lifestyle. I did myself a huge favour by going for that check-up. It did need a whole lot of guts to go for it, too, so, yes, I’m patting myself on the back for it.

… I’d tell you of how we have still not zeroed in on a school for Bubboo. We do have a couple of schools in mind, but haven’t finalised anything. It is freaking me out a bit more every single day. We have to step up on this, and soon.

… I’d tell you of how a few places have been calling out to me. Madurai and Madras, basically. I want to explore these places thoroughly, discover the little and big secrets their streets have been hiding. Why these two places now? I don’t really know. I think places, like books, call out to you when you are ready for them. I hope they will make the trip happen, too.

… I’d tell you of how Paati, my paternal grandmother, hasn’t been doing well. For over a year now, she’s been entirely bed-ridden, not even getting up from the bed to walk to the living room or the washroom. I can see her weakening, day by day, and it is saddening to see her like that. Every time I visit, she tells me of how she wants God to send for her now.. I don’t know what to say. Thankfully, Amma takes good care of her – having someone by your side, to help you, to care for you, in old age, is a luxury that not everyone can boast of these days.

… I’d tell you of how I started reading this book called The Art Of Hearing Heartbeats, with great expectations. Sadly, though, the book is super-disappointing. I can’t wait for it to end, so I can get on with reading something better. Sigh!

… I’d tell you of how I have just been unable to write. I mean, I can write book reviews and stuff about food, but nothing that really, really moves me. Nothing comes even when I try to keep my mind open, and sit with the keyboard and a blank document on the ready, waiting for the words. I feel blocked in that sense. I so want this to change!

… I’d tell you of how Bubboo amazes me every day, with all her questions, all the stories she conjures up, all the things she soaks up from her day-to-day life. It feels like just yesterday when she was a tiny, mewling, breast-feeding baby. She’s now a little girl, ready to go out into the world. Will I ever get used to just how fast she’s growing?

… I’d tell you of how, on the foodie front, I am continuing to do experiments in my kitchen. I’m trying to walk the fine line between ‘being a foodie’ and ‘eating healthy’. πŸ™‚ There are some lovely recipes that I can’t wait to put out on the blog. Wait and watch!

… I’d tell you of how, lately, I have been thinking a lot about Bubboo’s growing-up years. I mean, when she is nine or 10. I’m sure parenting then won’t be just about feeding her the right food, bathing her, getting her to bed on time, or making sure she gets enough physical exercise. It is going to get a whole lot more complicated, and that is scaring the living daylights out of me! The book that I am reading now, a yet-to-be-released one called Lost For Words by Stephanie Butland, is causing this feeling, largely. I hope we do a decent job of parenting Bubboo through the years!

… I’d tell you of how the OH and I recently celebrated our 8th wedding anniversary. We had a simple, homely celebration, that included a lovely lunch at Nasi And Mee. He got me some little things I wanted to experiment with (read: soaps, chocolates and some other foodie stuff). I’m yet to get him his gift. Boring, eh? But we had fun! πŸ™‚

… I’d tell you of how all my days feel like a blur. I don’t really know what I’m doing all day long, but the time seems to pass really, really quickly. At the end of the day, I am amazed that the day is actually over! I so want to add some meaning, some more charm to my days. I don’t want them to pass, just like that!

… I’d also ask after you and your loved ones. How has life been treating you lately? What have you been up to?

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For Weekend Coffee Share, an interesting meme here. Do check it out!

R Is For…. Ragi Dosa, The Husband’s Way

I never even tasted finger millet aka ragi before I got married, as astonishing as this fact sounds to me today. Growing up in Ahmedabad, ragi just wasn’t very common, and we never spotted any bags of it on the shelves of departmental stores. Even if we had, I doubt I would have loved the grain then, as much as I do now. I believe ragi is something that needs to be cooked just the right way, for one to fall in love with it, and that is something that my family and I were clueless about then.

Post marriage, I was introduced to ragi in all its myriad forms – rotis, dosas, mudde, cakes, and what not. Of course, considering that ragi is staple food in Karnataka. The husband would make a mean ragi dosa some nights for dinner, and that is how my love affair with the grain started. I began experimenting with the grain – and the flour – more and more, slowly realising just how good it is for the body. Now, ragi is a staple in our home kitchen, a regular addition to our grocery list.

Today, I am going to tell you about the husband’s style of making ragi dosa, something that I love to bits. Please keep in mind that there are scores of ways of making this dosa, and this is just one way to do so. This is my favourite way, though, so I really hope you will try this out.

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Ingredients (yields about 8 dosas):

  1. 1 cup ragi flour (Sometimes, I sprout the grains myself and then get them ground in a flour mill; sometimes, I buy the flour ready-made)
  2. Salt, to taste
  3. 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
  4. 1 tablespoon oil + oil to make the dosas
  5. 1 green chilly, chopped very, very finely
  6. 1/2 cup curd (sour curd is better)
  7. 5-6 curry leaves
  8. A pinch of asafoetida (hing)
  9. 1 teaspoon cumin (jeera)
  10. 1 ladle of regular dosa batter OR about 1/4 cup of rice flour
  11. 1 small onion, finely chopped

Method:

  1. Take the ragi flour in a large mixing bowl. Add the salt to taste, curry leaves (torn), finely chopped green chillies, cumin, regular dosa batter OR rice flour (whichever of these you are using), asafoetida and curd.
  2. Heat the 1 tablespoon oil in a small pan. Add the mustard seeds, and let them pop. Add this tadka to the ragi flour in the mixing bowl.
  3. Mix well, adding a little water at a time, till the batter reaches a consistency that is neither too runny nor too solid. Let the batter rest for about 10 minutes.
  4. Heat a dosa tava till drops of water dance on it. Then, turn the flame to medium, pour a ladleful of the ragi dosa batter in the centre of the tava, spread it out, spread a teaspoon of oil around it, and sprinkle some of the finely chopped onion on top of the dosa. Cover the dosa with a plate, without disturbing it. Let it cook for about a minute, and then uncover and flip the dosa over. Cook on the other side for a minute. Transfer the dosa to a serving plate.
  5. Make dosas out of all the batter in a similar fashion.
  6. Serve hot, with chutney of your choice, though these dosas do not really need any accompaniment.

Simple, quick and healthy, right?

Do you like ragi dosas? Do you make them at home? What is your special technique?

Notes:

  1. This recipe is my entry for the letter R, for the Alphabet Cooking Challenge.
  2. This is one of the recipes that I promised to give you guys a long, long time back. Better late than never, eh? πŸ™‚

 

If We Were Having Coffee…

… I’d tell you of how we still haven’t decided on a school for Bubboo. This fact has been scaring the living daylights out of me, but the OH is super cool about it. We are almost 80% sure we are going with the Montessori method of learning, though, and all of the schools we have visited in this regard have told us there’s no hurry. For them, the ideal age to start schooling is 2.5 years and above, and they aren’t bothered even if we bring the kid in at 3.5 years of age. But then, I am concerned about securing an admission in the school we choose for her, whenever we do so!

… I’d tell you of how fast I think Bubboo is growing up, how she is now a little girl with a mind of her own, tastes and preferences of her own. The baby features are going, going, gone!

… I’d tell you of how I have been enjoying attending some foodie events, lately. There have been restaurant launches, menu samplings, awareness programmes, and what not. I have been learning a whole lot about the way the world of food blogging works. There is a lot for me to work on in this regard, and I am constantly amazed at the possibilities.

… I’d tell you of how I shamelessly sent my latest book hit-list to the in-house Santa, the OH, and of how, after some hounding, he ordered Come Into My Kitchen and Tiffin: Memories And Recipes Of Indian Vegetarian Food for me. A friend was kind enough to share her copy of Butterflies In November with me. I’m still hunting for the other books on the list, but I’m all set as far as my next three reads are concerned. πŸ™‚

… I’d tell you of how, by the day, I am growing more and more enchanted with cookbooks with stories – books with recipes and anecdotes from the author’s personal life. There’s such warmth, such beauty, such passion for food in these books! I am in no doubt I am going to check out more such books in the near future.

… I’d tell you of how I got charmed by all the winter veggies on offer at our regular vegetable vendor’s, when I visited yesterday. There’s tonnes of things I could make out of them, so many winter specials, some known to me, some unknown. God bless me with strength, good luck, patience, and a well-behaved toddler, so that I could get around to doing at least some of the things on that huge list!

… I’d tell you of how we are invited to a lot of birthday parties for 5-year-olds these days. Like, there have been four or five such parties in a row. I’m clueless about what to gift them. Suggestions, please? I’d love to give them creative things, but I’m not sure whether such small kids would really take to them. I’d like to gift books, but I don’t know what kind to pick up for them!

… I’d tell you of how, this time around, I am just not able to feel the Christmas fervour in the air, though we are just four days away from the festival. Normally, I’m hopping with excitement this time of the year. Any suggestions to bring back the cheer?

… I’d tell you of how it has been ages since I wrote any fiction – poems or stories. I used to write good ones, now that I think of it. They just don’t come to me these days. 😦 Will I ever get my mojo back, in that regard?

… I’d tell you of how there are a lot of interesting things happening in Bangalore this time of the year. The annual cake show, for instance, and the Night Market Festival at The Fatty Bao. I don’t know whether I’ll be able to attend any of these, but I know I’d love to.

… I’d tell you of how I’ve been daydreaming about strawberry picking in Mahabaleshwar and visiting the Rann of Kutchh ever since I heard that the official ‘season’ for visiting has started. I know I’m craving to visit these places, but I don’t see any way we’ll actually get to visit. Everyone around me is raring to go to Goa this time of year, but these are the two places I am lusting after this year.

.. I’d tell you of how I think it is high time I take Bubboo to Ahmedabad, the place where I grew up, the place that I share a special bond with. I do want that trip to happen soon, but then, there are way too many chores waiting to be done before I can take this up.

… I’d also ask how you and your loved ones have been!

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For Weekend Coffee Share, an interesting meme here. Do check it out!

If We Were Having Coffee…

… I’d tell you that after buying an earthen surahi, experimenting with growing our own vegetables, and switching to hand-made, chemical-free soaps, we have taken a couple more steps towards healthier, more sustainable living. We have begun experimenting with a couple of entirely chemical-free shampoos and hair wash bars, virgin coconut oil, and sugar-free toothpaste. We still haven’t decided on brands that we would like to continue buying, as far as these things go, but I am excited about this. I am satisfied, too, happy that we are taking more baby steps towards our goal of going as much chemical-free as we can. I am also experimenting with unprocessed, organic apple cider vinegar in the bathroom, for my scraggy, dry-as-grass hair. It is still way too early to tell you how much we have been benefited by these changes, but I hope we reach a conclusion soon.

… I’d tell you of one more baby step we took recently to ensure the use of less packaged products. Instead of buying packaged wheat flour from the supermarket like we always do, we picked up wheat from a grain merchant and got it ground at an old-fashioned flour mill. Tedious process, but totally worth it. The colour of this flour, the texture, the taste, is so very different from packaged flour that it is a revelation. Now, I know my whole wheat flour is just that – wholly wheat flour! While I was at the flour mill, I was struck by how tough the operator’s job must be, and felt sad that these mills might be a thing of the past soon. 😦

… I’d tell you that, lately, we have been trying to rotate the foods that we consume, on a weekly basis. Oats, quinoa, ragi, rava, vermicelli, bread, butter, ghee, pulses, wheat, idlis, dosas, adai, rice – everything is now being consumed on a routine basis, not too much or too little of anything. The same is the case with the vegetables and fruits we are eating. I am very conscious, these days, of how many times a week we are eating rotis and rice, or how many times we are consuming processed foods like bread, rava and vermicelli. Sugar has been cut down, too. That said, all of this is still in the very initial stages, and we have a long, long way to go before we can proudly say we are a healthy-eating family. We do still have our cravings, our sugar fixes and pigging out of doors, but we are trying to be more conscious and aware about all of it.

… I’d tell you that I went in for blood work in an attempt to resolve the health issues that I was talking to you about, here. The results have left me only more confounded than before. My doctor tells me not to be worried, but I am. I hope to find a way out, to see the light soon. Please do keep me in your prayers, will you?

… I’d tell you that I am falling more and more in love with Bohemian and Turkish-style jewellery of late (There’s definitely something about my connection to Turkey, in spite of my never having visited the place!). Thanks to a picture of South siren Nayantara wearing a Bohemian neckpiece over a very simple cotton saree at a recent awards ceremony, I began checking out more such jewellery and falling head over heels for it. I even went ahead and picked up a Bohemian-style necklace for myself – now, I can’t wait to inaugurate it! And this comes from a person who finds it hard to get dressed, for whom junk jewellery was a big no-no till about a year ago! The further I dig into the world of junk jewellery, the more amazed I get these days. πŸ™‚

… I’d tell you that, lately, I am also falling deeper and deeper in love with sarees, especially those simple handloom ones. I think they have a charm of their own. I think they look classy, and are suited for any occasion. I think you can wear them just about anywhere, as long as you pair them with the right sort of accessories. There are so many gorgeous sarees from different parts of India, and I so want to hunt down at least one piece of each for my wardrobe! That doesn’t bode very well for the concept of minimalism that is fascinating me too, these days. What do I do now, people? (On the subject of handloom sarees, you must check this out. Isn’t it sad that these sarees might disappear from the face of the earth, soon, if we don’t do anything to save them?)

… I’d tell you of how, lately, I have become a wee bit more conscious of where the clothes that I buy come from. I loved listening to the stories of the weavers and vendors about the clothes they sold, at an exhibition that I recently visited in HSR Layout. On the subject of conscious cloth buying, you must check out this video. It is an eye opener!

… I’d tell you how surprised I am that it is going to be Diwali soon! Last year’s Diwali is still so fresh in my mind, I can’t believe a full year has gone by – and I don’t remember doing anything particularly noteworthy in this one year.

… I’d tell you that I recently finished reading Elizabeth Gilbert’s Big Magic and Lisa Grunberger’s Yiddish Yoga. The first book was an utter disappointment, but I quite liked the latter. I will be putting up detailed reviews on the blog soon, hopefully.

… I’d tell you of how miffed I am that the husband is currently off on a sudden work trip to Kolkata, a place that I have always dreamt of visiting. The trip was so unexpected, and everything got finalised only at the last moment, so Bubboo and I weren’t able to accompany him, much as we would have loved that. First Istanbul, now this. I get the feeling the Universe has this big smirk on its face at having played this joke on me. Gah!

… I’d tell you of how tough it is to jostle for space with your parents, to try to reason with them and request them to let you bring up your child your way. It is a huge help having family nearby and we hugely appreciate their help (It is not for nothing that they say ‘It takes a child to bring up a baby’). I don’t subscribe to the belief that you should do every single thing for your child and your house with your own two hands, but with the whole lot of emotional drama that asking for support from parents or in-laws brings with it, I do understand the motive.

… I’d tell you of how it just doesn’t feel like Navratri in our little bit of the world. I would so love for something to happen to get me into the festive spirit, before the nine nights end. There has been no special cooking, no dressing up, no dressing Bubboo up, no going out to visit temples or golus, no watching of garba. 😦 I miss Ahmedabad like crazy at this time of year.

… I’d ask you if you had checked out Deepika Padukone’s Tere Saath Tu for Myntra. I absolutely love it! Here’s the link, if you haven’t heard it already!

… I’d also ask after you and your loved ones. I’d ask you what you have been up to lately, and what has been making you happy and sad these days.

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For Weekend Coffee Share, an interesting meme here. Do check it out!

Mysore Trippin’!

Remember the holiday I was desperately craving to go on? Well, it happened! We went to Mysore over the weekend, with two additional days thrown in. I got some of what I needed – a break from the routine, quality family time, and a change of scene. The trip was shorter and more hectic than we wanted it to be, I didn’t get any one-on-one time with the husband, we couldn’t do everything we wanted to, and I can’t say it healed my body and soul, but it was still good. It was a last-minute decision to embark on this holiday, and we are glad we did. We got to see different sides to Mysore that we haven’t seen before, and came back with enough ideas to plan another trip around. πŸ™‚

This goes down in history as Bubboo’s first trip with her parents, alone – all the little and big travels we have had before with Bubboo have had someone or the other accompanying us.

Bubboo was a mixed kind of traveller on the trip, cranky and crabby at some times, super accommodating and understanding at other times. She just needs to get used to being out of home, I think, and the change of scene has done her a whole lot of good. She is tired, as of now, as her parents are too – nothing that a day of rest wouldn’t cure.

I will soon be back with stories from Mysore. Till then, you guys be good and take care!

 

If We Were Having Coffee…

… I’d tell you that Bubboo is better now, touchwood. She seems to have undergone a transformation as far as her favourite tastes are concerned – that is probably what the hunger strike she went on a while back was all about. I read somewhere that a lot of kids go through a phase like this at 21-22 months of age, where they just refuse to eat anything. It is a time when they are evolving rapidly as a person, and their tastebuds are too. At this stage, they begin to question the stuff they have been eating all this while, refusing food point blank, putting the parents in a very scary situation. Phew! I’m glad I’m out of those worries now.

… I’d tell you that, thanks to some sage advice I received from my paed and fellow moms, I think I dealt with the hunger strike well. After a point, I stopped making so much of an effort to feed Bubboo. I let her get hungry, and then come to food, instead of taking food to her. I let her pick and choose the foods that she wanted to eat. I gave her a change of scene by taking her to my in-laws’ place for a short stay. Slowly and gradually, her taste buds started working, and she began eating normally. She asks for different kinds of foods now – from vadams to khakras to sweet dishes, strange considering the way she wouldn’t even touch sweets earlier. Anyways, I am not complaining!

…. I’d tell you about how, of late, I am becoming increasingly concerned about the huge amount of chemicals and unwanted substances we are introducing into our stomachs and using on our skins. Soaps, shampoos, shaving cream, diapers, sanitary pads, packaged foods, talcum powder, hair oil, and even raw grains and vegetables that we buy – everything is laced with chemicals to some extent or the other. I’m glad we took the plunge and started using hand-made chemical-free soaps a year ago. I want to, slowly and gradually, switch over to entirely bio-degradable, natural and chemical-free stuff all around our house. I am researching, reading up on that, making enquiries, experimenting, and trying to figure out what will work for us and what not. In entirety, this change will take us a long, long, long while, but I do hope that we will get there, some day.

… I’d tell you of how the OH is facing a whole lot of politics, ill attitude, and stress at the workplace. It is frustrating to see him put up with all of it so that he can give his wife and kid a good life. It is worrying to see him so very tired at the end of each work day, more mentally drained than physically. It is mentally tiring for me to stand by and watch all of it happen, while I am unable to chip in and do anything for him, except make his time at home more comfortable. Sigh!

… I’d tell you about the lovely experiences we have had of late. First Dastkar, then the trip to Goravanahalli and the visit to the village santhe at Udigere, then the visit to the Bangla Mela. Each of these experiences has changed me, made me more aware, made me think a whole lot, knocked at my conscience and asked me to make some changes in the way we live our life.

… I’d tell you just how much I am craving for a vacation. It has been ages since the OH and I went on a trip that wasn’t undertaken with a religious purpose or to a family member’s home. I want to travel like we would before, seeking out experiences, relaxing, feeling the stresses of everyday life lose their grip upon our minds and bodies. I don’t know how well Bubboo would take such a trip, but this is definitely something we want to try out.

… I’d tell you of how Bubboo is getting naughtier by the day. I just can’t fathom how she gets up to 20 different kinds of mischief in the span of a few minutes. This morning, she put her hands into the commode, opened the tap in the bathroom, threw about half a bucket of water all over herself, insisted on drinking dirty water from the dishes stacked up in the kitchen sink, asked me to carry her around for close to an hour so that she could touch each and every plant in our balcony garden, climbed up on my computer table, threw all of the OH’s visiting cards on the floor, and what not. All of this after I got back from my morning walk. Any wonder I get exhausted before noon? 😐 And while she is at the in-laws’, she is such a goodie-good girl that no one can believe she can ever get up to any mischief! These kids, I tell you!

… I’d tell you of how I try to cook something new at least once every week, in spite of all the sleep deprivation, tiredness and stress that I am undergoing now. I think it is only now that I am coming into my own, as far as my passion for cooking goes. My family doesn’t understand why I need to burden myself with one more thing – i.e. cooking – when we already have a cook, but I insist. A lot of people ask me how I muster up the enthusiasm to cook when I already have so much going on in life. I tell them the same thing I told Pepper, in a comment on one of my recent posts, “Well, I muster up the enthu because the cooking helps keep my stress levels at bay. It keeps me sane by giving me something to do, for myself. In between dealing with the kid, keeping house, trying to lose weight, dealing with a husband who has a very stressful job, being stuck at home without any kind of social life, having to depend on the husband for commuting anywhere, the worries about not having an income flow, cooking and writing about it are wonderful therapy. It gives me immeasurable relief to know that I can cook to save my life (and, maybe, make a living out of it too). Moreover, experimenting with different kinds of ingredients is a passion – it gives me pleasure to see something edible (or delicious) come out of it.:)

… I’d tell you about how we now have a bunch of ideas on how we want to celebrate Bubboo’s second birthday. We are mulling on a few things, and I’m hoping to have a small but beautiful celebration. πŸ™‚

… I’d tell you of how glad I am to be on Facebook, in spite of all the angst that social media receives these days. Too much of anything is bad, I agree, Facebooking included. I Facebook (that is, pretty much, the only kind of social media that I use regularly, apart from this blog) in moderation, I think. I love being a part of the Facebook groups that I am part of – they offer me food for thought, force me to take well thought-out decisions, and are there to offer suggestions and advice whenever I feel lost. I love writing about my discoveries, foodie and otherwise, on Facebook, and getting advice on them by people with different types of ideologies – it goes a long, long way in broadening my horizons. The people I come into contact with through these Facebook groups are so very inspiring, in a whole lot of ways. I don’t think I am addicted to Facebooking, and I love what I am doing with it. The time I spend there is totally justified, I feel.

… I’d tell you about the huge amount of growth I see in Bubboo over the last couple of months. It feels as if she suddenly grew into this big girl from a little one overnight. She is a full-on chatterbox, chattering away about this and that. I am amazed at the sheer number of new words and phrases she learns every day, from all and sundry, from times when we think she’s not even listening. She surprises us with her understanding at times, confounds us with her tantrums at others. She is at a highly impressionable age now, and we are very careful about what we do and talk in front of her. I don’t think it will be long before she starts asking questions about the world around her. We’d better be prepared!

… I’d tell you about the lot of life projects that I am currently working on, with Bubboo. For instance, I’m trying to potty train, trying to get her more comfortable out of doors, trying to get her to love physical play outdoors. These things keep me occupied, but satisfied. Wish me luck with these projects, will you, please?

… I’d also ask about you and your loved ones, about what’s up with you.

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For Weekend Coffee Share, an interesting meme here. Do check it out!

 

 

Of A Little Boy And His Ganesha

So, we just got back from a sort of break at the in-laws’ place. We left home thinking we would stay for a couple of days – the OH, Bubboo and I – and ended up staying for 10 days. We didn’t even take extra clothes with us, because we had no intention of staying over. But stay over we did, and we did have fun too.

We ended up doing a whole lot of stuff out there, pigged out on a lot of lovely food, explored a lot, relaxed and walked and spent time with everyone in the extended family, read a bit, came up with a whole lot of ideas to write about, shopped, and what not. Bubboo was thoroughly entertained by everyone, and she entertained everyone with her antics as well. This is the first time I have stayed at my in-laws’ place for so long after we moved out and into our own house, in 2009. We must have stayed with my in-laws for a sum total of 4 months before we moved out. So, you can imagine how fraught with emotions my time there now was.

I came across so many relics there, from when the OH was a little boy, and they brought a lump to my throat. They reminded me that this mature, cool, composed person who is my husband was also a little boy, once upon a time.

This Ganesha idol, for instance.

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This colourful idol came home once when the OH and his brothers and sister were kids, for Ganesh Chaturthi. The little-boy husband religiously decked up the idol with flowers every day and offered sweets to the Ganesha. When the time came for the Ganesha to be immersed in a lake, the little OH sobbed incessantly, hugged his mom’s feet and begged for the idol not to be taken away from him. My mother-in-law was told by her mother-in-law that tradition (the taking away of the Ganesha idol to be immersed in a lake) was no reason to make the children in the house unhappy, and so the family decided to let go of tradition. The Ganesha stay put in the pooja room of my in-laws’ house, and that is where it stays till date. Every year, on Ganesh Chaturthi thereafter, it is this Ganesha that is prayed to and offered sweets. Thanks to my mother-in-law’s meticulous housekeeping, the Ganesha is still in lovely shape, apart from peeling paint at one or two places.

Sweet, right?

These little anecdotes from the real life of real people – this is just what I love hearing. They tell me more about people than they tell me, through their words.

I will be back with more such stories shortly. Till then, you guys be good!

Balcony Tales

Balconies have always been important to me. I love balconies. I think they are windows to the world outside, from where you can look out, all the while sitting in the safe comfort of your own home. They are sanctuaries, where you can grab a few moments of peace over a cup of tea or a plate of bajjis. They are in-between, neither inside the house nor outside, a place where you can escape to when the chaos inside the house gets too much for you, and you don’t really want to get out of the house. They make the house outward-looking, I think. Without a balcony, a house would be isolated from the rest of the world, cut off, very inward-looking – of course, my own two cents only, meaning no offense to anyone else. For this very reason, I do not like balconies with grills – they make a house safe, yes, but they also close out a lot of light and action and air and love and make the house, well, suffocating.

I especially love balconies that do not face dead, overgrown plots of vacant land or the back of someone else’s house. I like my balconies to look out onto a road, possibly, where there is a little action – just enough action, mind you, not too much. My ideal balcony is one where there are plants (flowers and a small patch of herbs and some vegetables), a swing and a little nook where I can sit and think and create.

Considering my love of balconies (thankfully, the OH shares a bit of this love), a road-facing balcony was one thing we always look out for while we are looking for an apartment to live. We had three balconies (three! yes, a rarity these days) in the place we used to stay in earlier, and a long road-facing one in the place we shifted to last year. It took us quite some time to set up the balcony garden in the house we presently live in, but now, I can safely say we are almost 70% done. The garden still needs a lot of work to bring it to the shape I want to bring it to, but at least there is some semblance of a garden now, there is a sanctuary in the house for me to go to, there is a little place that fills my heart with joy.

I am happy to say Bubboo seems to love the balcony as much as I do. It is the first place she heads to, as soon as she wakes up in the mornings. It is where she sits and watches the older boys and girls in our apartment play in the evenings. It is where I sit and talk to her about the different kinds of things that we see around us – from dogs and cats to vegetable vendors and trees and flowers. It is where Bubboo sits and watches the rain. She often eats sitting out on the balcony. I sometimes read to her there. We like basking in the sun on the balcony, on days when it is not too hot. We like watching as our neighbours wave to us in the balcony, and waving back to them. We like watching as butterflies and squirrels run in and out of our plants, searching for food. I could just go on and on and on!

Balconies have always, always been a place of solace for me. Our balconies have seen a lot of action. They hold a whole lot of fond memories for us. They have been a place of sharing our own kind of love, of bonding with each other. They have been places of sustenance for us, providing us with some home-grown ingredients for our food.

This new place is slowly, very slowly, beginning to feel like home. We are apart from the rest of the OH’s family now, very far away, but we are slowly finding friends here, bonding, building up relationships. I hope, with all my heart, that we soon forge friendships and relationships of note here, and that our balcony here goes on to witness a whole lot of special, little memories.

 

 

That Feeling…

… of harvesting fresh produce with your own hands, vegetables that you have grown painstakingly in your own home, in your balcony garden.

… of cooking a simple lunch with vegetables gathered from your very own home.

… of knowing that you can pluck the veggies fresh whenever you want to cook them, that they’re there for you, waiting, and that you don’t need to buy them in bulk and store them in the refrigerator for days on end.

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Strawberries in the making… we’ll, hopefully, get our hands on some if the squirrels decide to leave them for us.

… of knowing exactly what has gone into your food.

… of knowing that you are feeding food as fresh as it comes, to your family.

… of knowing that you will be able to survive on home-grown vegetables, at least for a few days, if you happen to be stuck at home for some reason.

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Spinach aka palak… just look at all that gorgeousness!

… of knowing that your daughter knows that tomatoes and coriander and spinach grow on plants, and not off supermarket shelves.

… of being able to teach your daughter, first-hand, the value of home-grown food, love and compassion, the work that goes into growing something.

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Coriander.. waiting to be plundered

… of communing with nature, feeling like you are a part of something primitive, part of an ancient tribe that believes in self-sufficiency at least to a certain extent.

… of knowing that this kind of self-sufficiency, in terms of food, is something you could get used to, that there is more to come, that this is just the beginning, not an end.

… of knowing that there is nothing sweeter and fresher than home-grown food, that nothing could beat that.

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A black nightshade aka manathankali plant in bloom.. Bubboo loves eating the ripe berries off this plant!

… of wonder at the potential that such a little thing as a modern apartment balcony holds, in terms of growing food, of daydreaming over the possibilities.

… of knowing that you have taken one step further in the direction of ensuring better health for yourself and your loved ones.

Got to love that feeling, right?

 

If We Were Having Coffee…

…. I’d tell you about how Bubboo has been sick since yesterday, with fever, a tummy upset, vomiting and the loosies. All because I decided to give her an egg for the first time ever. It was my idea, largely, to give her an egg (We don’t generally eat eggs that haven’t been baked into desserts, otherwise). I wanted to get her used to eggs because they are loaded with nutrition, and because she can have them when we are holidaying and it is tough to find home food. I got desi eggs (Mistake #1), because I needed only two to try out and the organic ones come only in packs of 6. I tried giving her a boiled egg first, but she spit out the whole thing (no wonder, I hate boiled eggs myself – had a tough time having them during pregnancy!). So, I discarded the boiled egg and asked someone to make her an omelette with the other egg. In hindsight, an omelette wasn’t the best thing to give a child having an egg for the first time (Mistake #2). I’m over myself with guilt now, because I have made a poor, healthy, playful child sick now, and she is dull, listless, in pain and clingy. We didn’t get enough sleep last night either, for the very same reason, and that is making me grumpy too.

…. I’d tell you about how I quit part-time work a couple of months ago to become a full-time stay-at-home mother. I am not the sort of person who can take stress easily, and it wasn’t my cup of tea trying to balance work and house and a kid all together. And you know how part-time jobs in India usually are – expectations of full-time work and part-time pay, and being aloof from the rest of the full-time team. I didn’t want that. I was finding it tough to put 100% in my personal life, caring for Bubboo or my job. So, the decision to quit. That said, it hasn’t been easy to deal with the realisation that there is no pay cheque coming in in the first week of every month, that there is nowhere to get dressed up and go, that we now have to be wise with our expenses because there is only one person’s salary coming in, that being at home and caring for a kid all day can make you starved for adult conversation, that you miss having a social life (not that I had a great social life when I was in a full-time corporate life earlier, but at least we had girlie conversations!). Not to forget the fact that there’s a whole lot of guilt at not being able to contribute anything to the family kitty and letting the husband take all the stress.

… I’d tell you about how the weather in Bangalore has been alternating between sunny and pouring, of late. The sunny days are good to take Bubboo to the park, catch up on my walks, and capture some photographs whenever I can manage to carry my camera with me. The days when it pours, it usually does in bouts, in between which we have nice, overcast weather that I have come to associate with Bangalore. On days when it rains in the evenings, I try my hand at some recipe or the other that I have been waiting to try out (I have a huge list of recipes that I have bookmarked, and need to work my way through), and Bubboo keeps running between the living room and the kitchen.

…. I’d tell you about how much the recent news of the murder of a techie in Madras has affected me. That, and something I read somewhere about a woman, a mother, being abused every day by her husband, and she still staying with him for lack of knowing how to escape from him. Both these incidents have sent chills down my spine, reminded me of how unsafe the world is (there is good in the world, too, yes, but there is a whole lot of bad too, right?). These incidents have reinforced in me the belief that it is extremely crucial to bring up a girl child the right way, so that she has roots as well as wings, courage but not over-confidence. It is a tough job to do, and I can only pray I do it right. At times like this, I think my decision to quit work and raise Bubboo was a good one.

…. I’d tell you about how I haven’t been doing much in my life lately, just trying to eat healthier, spend quality time with Bubboo, ensure she gets a fair amount of social exposure, write and cook a bit, and go for walks regularly. In spite of that, there’s this feeling of time slipping by oh-so-fast, I don’t know where, and being stressed out and tensed all the time. I have a lot of help from my parents and the OH in caring for Bubboo, a house help for sweeping, mopping and doing the dishes, and we recently hired a cook. I wonder whether I am really inept at time management or is having a kid really supposed to feel this way. I mean, I see a whole lot of mommies managing house and kid alone, with NO help from anyone, working out of home, with not even a maid or a cook! I will work on finding out.

…. I’d tell you about how the OH has been having a really stressful time at work. He changed jobs last year, and the work at this new firm is really overwhelming, in terms of the workload. To top it, there’s been a change in the management, and the new manager is making things tougher than they ought to be. He’s slogging away day and night, eating at odd times, not getting enough sleep, not taking enough care of himself, and taking way more stress than he should be taking. I keep worrying about just how much he is taking on on himself all the time. He tells me not to, that he is capable of handling stress better than me, but still.

…. I’d tell you that we have a wedding in the extended family to attend the next week. We are really looking forward to it, and I sincerely hope Bubboo will be well enough to make it to the event.

… I’d tell you how I really, really hope to find a solution to all the chaos that is part of our life now.

… I’d also ask you how your week was, and hope you have been having a more cheerful time than we have lately. πŸ™‚

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For Weekend Coffee Share, an interesting meme here. Do check it out!