Nostalgia


And so it begins. The much awaited and anticipated trip of the year. Next week am off to Mumbai with S. Hubby will come later in the month. We shall be in Mumbai the entire summer. I have been planning this trip for quite some time now. By planning I mean micro-detailing, breaking it down into weeks and days and making a list of things I need to do on those days. This method has hardly been a success in the past, but then one can always hope.

The highlight of the trip is going to be spending some quality time with my grandma. When was the last time I had a sit-down with her? The last I remember is 2009, right after S was born and she was with us. A year after that I had travelled to Edinburgh and even though I have been going to India on holidays, time with her had been short.

Now that she is at my dad’s place, I hope to rekindle and perhaps create some more memorable moments with her. The time she spent in the nursing home, I was engulfed with the most distressing nostalgia and helplessness. ‘Missing her’ wouldn’t cover it. There was this deep emptiness inside me and the thought that I wouldn’t get to spend a relaxed time with her whenever I visited India. It felt like I had to let go of a deep part of me. Time spent with her at the nursing home was limited to an hour. And when you know you have only a fixed time to spend, you can’t really think of all the things you want to say. There was no time to lie down idly and listen to songs and ghazals, there was no time to listen to her little nuggets of wisdom, there was no time to be lazy and be in each other’s company and just be. There was no time to discuss the subtle differences between the urdu ghazal words. There was no time to discuss Lata or Christie or Hardy. Most of the happy memories from my childhood have revolved around her. The summer vacations were spent partly in her home. Being in her company was enough. We didn’t have to do anything special to feel happy.

It has been predicted that this year will have a lot of rain. This looks like the perfect setup to have lots of chai and gupshup with aaji.

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Progress report


Just back from the very first parent meet. I have come back with three very heavy work folders. The teacher talked about good reading, writing and math skills. The truly awesome thing was when she told me that S is a very good friend. He mixes with all the kids in his class, the bigger kids during outside play time and is a very happy and chatty kid generally.

Some of his friends do ‘tell on’ him but he never does that to them. I like it that he doesn’t get into the he said she said things. He stays clear of that kind of negativity. I am happy that he wouldn’t back-stab his friends and report on their mischiefs. I’m glad that he has that kind of understanding. Playground can be a cruel place and not everyone is considerate. I’m just happy that he is a kind person. 🙂

Over the weekend and then some


Belated Happy Holi everyone! From the photos around the blogosphere and on FB and whatsapp, it seems almost everyone I know had a colourful time this year. Not for us. A sunny weekend for us should usually suffice!

On Saturday I was busy slogging in the kitchen preparing this

Chicken Biryani

It’s a fairly simple recipe and gets cooked in less than 2 hours!

But that’s not what I was really slogging at. It was this

Puran Poli

Puran Poli

My first attempt at Puranpoli! It’s a classical Maharashtrian dish prepared on the auspicious occasion of Holi and Padwa. It may appear to look like a roti but it’s very sweet and very different from a normal roti or chapati. To describe it to a firang here, I would rather call it sweet tortilla! 🙂

It’s made from split yellow gram, jaggery and rava. Only 3 ingredients… sounds simple but the procedure is lengthy and hard.

In short, cook the yellow gram and drain out all the water, add jaggery to it and cook on low flame till it’s soft and dry.
Make a soft dough of rava by mixing water and oil in it and soak it in oil till it becomes soft and stretchy.
When the stuffing has cooled down, the poli is ready to be rolled out.
Grease a butter paper with enough oil so that the dough doesn’t stick to it. Take a small ball of dough and flatten it out into a small circle, place a small ball of stuffing at the centre and wrap the dough around the stuffing to make it into a ball.
Roll out the puran poli taking care that the stuffing doesn’t come out of the dough while rolling it.
Heat a non stick pan and grease it with oil.
Hold the butter paper upside down and hold the edge of the poli on the pan and peal away the butter paper. (!)
Cook it over low to medium heat and flip it once.

Phew…..do all these things just right and you might get a full whole unbroken puranpoli!

Chicken biryani and Puranpoli done on Saturday! Time to rest for the next month or so.

Yeah right!

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No, on Sunday Hubby and I went to dance! Yeah you read it right.

Scotland’s national centre for dance – Dance Base – had an Open Day on Sunday to encourage new dancers to join the thrill. Bone tired we dragged ourselves to the Grass market where the centre is located and danced our feet out for a one whole hour to Elvis Presley’s c’mon everybody! After the one hour, we were drenched in sweat for the first time in Edinburgh. I experienced my heavy lethargic leaden legs turn light, supple and brisk. I had a spring in my step. Thanks to hubby dearest for pushing me off my ass and getting me on my feet quite literally. (On a negative note, don’t you just hate it when husbands come up with the most rational and practical answers/solutions to some of the most persistent long time problems you have had? Once you listen to their talk, you hit yourself mentally and wonder why you didn’t think of it!)

So after grudgingly admitting to having a great time dancing, we lingered on walking down the pubs at Grass market and that’s when we came across the armchair book shop – a quaint, cosy little place. Anyway, am not committing myself to a weekly dance class yet but yes, in an ideal world I would do it just to get my agility back. When you can’t do a 2 minute simple dance sequence you realise how dull and heavy your body is. And to think there was a time (another world, another lifetime) when over the weekend I used to dance for 3 hours and then swim for an hour!

About swimming, I can’t swim even a lap now. So much for the bragging. Anyway the brat is all nervous and turns into a cry baby when it comes to his swimming lessons. (yeah, we decided to start him early, though we think it’s late – but that’s the normal parenting anxiety). All was well for the first couple of weeks but then he suddenly developed this anxiety about swimming. Now every time we reach the centre I can the tension building on his face, the anxiety making its way up from his stomach to his face. Love, anger, threats, treats – nothing works. But I appreciate his guts to enter the pool even when he has cried copious amounts. Last week he just held the bar for the entire class duration. Today, he cried and cried and then cried some more. It started when we entered the changing rooms. His coach has been very patient with him so far, giving him time and not forcing him to do anything against his wish. But today she nudged him and pushed him and enticed him with sharks, ducks and fish toys and made him swim! (thank you God) He seemed to be okay with it. Keeping fingers crossed for the next week.

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Embarrassing your kids is a totally different high! I have only just experienced it. My dad still does it and I still get upset and embarrassed. I take kiddo to a music class every Monday where they are taught instruments, notes and rhythm. At the start of the session, we all stand in a circle and dance to the routine intro song. Most of the times the steps are the same but sometimes the instructor switches them (patting your head instead of your knees etc). So this Monday, we all were standing in a nice big circle and at a point, she changed the steps. I had tuned out and kept doing the wrong step. The brat noticed this and kept nudging me. When I realised what I was doing, I kept doing it and went a step further and did a funny little step complete with facial expressions and hand movements (think Joey’s dance in Friends). The horrified expression on the brat’s face was priceless. There was disbelief and then anger. For me though it was hilarious. Nothing more pleasing than making your kid uncomfortable with a little funny stuff. 🙂 Now I know how my dad feels.

Update


Let me first start by saying that iPad is not a good substitute for the good old laptop. I find it really difficult to type without the actual keys. Does anyone else agree?

Now for some updates. I got my mobile phone at the lost and found office of the bus service. What a relief!

And then the chicken pox struck. Had been down with it for the last couple of weeks but much better now.

In other news the kiddo has been crying all day at school This past week. He is all enthusiastic about going to school after he comes back. But the next morning he start crying in bed itself even before opening his eyes. Hopefully things will get better on that front.

Staying in bed all day gave me enough time to read to my heart’s content and I would soon be posting some reviews. There’s one other thing on my mind but will write about that when I heave more concrete information.

First impressions


Let me begin with saying that I am amazed at the kiddo’s nature to adapt. He was an angel during the flight. I think he actually enjoys the travel – the experience. He is always super excited when we travel by train or even by bus. Although, I think he was a little overwhelmed with all the emotional welcome and affection thrown his way by his grandparents and other relatives. He recovered soon and on our entire trip from airport to home, he was a chatterbox – counting the buses, autos, trucks and tempos.

I, in turn had a little adventure. I made my husband pick up someone else’s bag – (not on purpose!) when we got them off the conveyor belt. Thankfully our own bag had our number on it and the bag’s owner called us before we left the airport. Luckily for me, the saint had to deal with the security officers 🙂 After this minor mishap, I truly felt that I have landed in Mumbai! 

Kiddo’s cousin, my SIL’s son, is eager to play with him and surprise surprise! the kiddo plays with him too. In our last visit kiddo had turned into a human magnet and stuck to me all the time whereas now, both are behaving as if they are kumbh ke mele mein bichade hue bhai. I am hoping things will be so for the rest of our trip. I doubt whether he will be the same when the rest of the family joins in for Ganpati. I am trying to prepare him, as much as possible, for the number of relatives who would soon join us for Ganpati festival.

Two things have amused him a lot:

  • The ceiling fan – he can look at it for hours and he wants to switch them on every time he walks into a room
  • His cousin’s antics – enough said! 

It is a truth nationally acknowledged that a grandchild who lives abroad must be in want of continuous overwhelming attention from his/her grandparents on his visit to India. He must be showered with constant affection, love and gifts on a daily basis. I have come to believe that the line between affection and obsession is very thin indeed.

In such cases as this, the grandchild soon falls under the impression that he is a superior being who should be worshipped and be the centre of attention. Given the current situation the kiddo will soon be the above example.

As for me, I am hit with nostalgia and I go awwww at even small things…a familiar lane, atmosphere, even the vegetable and fish vendors lining up a street. Having said that, I also end up cursing the heat, pollution, dust and such sundry stuff that is part and parcel of Mumbai. At one time I am craving to travel local trains and at the very next, end up frustrated at the crowds that I would encounter.

Family and friends are eager and excited to meet us and hopefully we will find time to meet everyone. All this attention makes me feel as if I am a celebrity or at least someone very important… hee hee.. soon I would be waving and blowing kisses at random people I see on the road. 🙂

What do housewives do?


‘What do you do all day! except washing utensils and cooking whatever groceries your husband brings home’ asked a relative some time back. Note the contempt. It was said with a sneer even.

‘Nothing! I just sit around all day, read books, watch TV and eat ready meals heated in the microwave’ was my retort or something like that. After all I am just a housewife.

It is a falsity universally acknowledged that a housewife or a stay at home mom has no work and just sits around all day being lazy and making merry.

The working woman is the one who does all the work at office and at home! The housewife should in fact be ashamed to stay at home and be a burden on her husband – as he has to work hard to provide for her.

For the work of the housewife cannot be seen, evaluated and appraised. She doesn’t get a pay check at the end of the month to prove she’s done any work.

Here are some of the chores/housework that takes place automatically/mechanically/magically at my home:

  • The house is always clean – the rooms, furniture, upholstery are cleansing agents – they clean themselves. They do not need a person dusting, washing and swiping at them.
  • The delicious food gets cooked automatically and magically finds itself served hot on the table. Three times a day.
  • The clothes, when spoiled, find their way to the washing machine and when the machine is done, go and hang themselves on the stand. What’s more, when they are all dry they walk up to the closet and fold themselves neatly in the shelves; some of them even place themselves on ironing stands and get themselves ironed – again to walk into the closets in neat folds.
  • The groceries are automatically replenished. Perhaps the refrigerator has a mechanism with the superstore to refill the items.
  • The trash – when it finds itself stinking unbearably walks out into the trash-cans outside the building.
  • If you are in India, the door is automatically answered 20 times a day for salesman, postman, neighbours, watchman, sundry people and their requirements are answered.
  • The phone is answered by an operator.
  • The small baby in the house dresses, feeds and cleans himself without any help from the adult. Or perhaps the fairy mother takes care of the child and looks after his needs.
  • The kids raise themselves with good values, discipline and nutrition. If the child has good values, is well-behaved, obedient and generally a good boy all around – then it must be his inherent nature and he is born with it – the stay at home mom has no influence or contribution in it at all.
  • Note that if you are living abroad, the maid, servant, driver, etc. is all rolled into one person – the housewife. There is no maid to do your daily chores of washing the dishes and clothes. You have to do your own groceries shopping and carry them from the shop to your house.

So then what do housewives have to crib about?

Today if a woman chooses to stay home it is usually because she has the option and wants to care for her children. The fact that despite being well-educated and worked hard enough to make a career, these women have made a conscious and rational decision to give up their jobs to take care of their children, I think such women should be respected for their choices.

5 things for Valentine’s Day


I have always been a closet romantic. I have secretly wondered and fantasized about all the typical girly things you read in books or see in movies. However on actually encountering a romantic situation, I cringe and squirm and don’t know how to deal with it. Come to think about it, I would be downright clumsy. No wonder I dread Valentine’s day!

On top of that, advertising and media has commercialised this day to the extent that there is no charm left in it anymore.

I am not a sucker for flowers and gifts but then I am currently living in the West with nothing to do and as you know an empty mind is the devil’s workshop, in my case the Cupid’s workshop. So here are 5 things that I would like hubby to do for me on Valentine’s day!

1. Go cycling

I have always admired nature and it would do me very well if I can get my lazy bum out of this couch and on to a cycle. Pedaling our way through this beautiful city would be a unique experience and we could explore the spectacular scenery this city offers. In fact, Scotland has one of the UK’s best cycling routes. We can get to explore the small details we otherwise miss.

2. Go on a balloon ride/ helicopter ride

I have had this attraction of viewing a city from above ever since I saw Darr and then again Dil Chahta Hai. This is definitely a way to get a new perspective on sight-seeing. Hot air balloon would definitely be more romantic with the wind blowing on our faces. How exciting is that??

3. Book us on a spa for the day

This is perhaps the most romantic of my wishes. Nothing like a relaxing spa to pamper ourselves. Unwinding with a glass of Champagne. Wine will do too. Am not that fussy.

4. Book a cottage/villa/mansion for the weekend

You get the idea?

You can extend your celebrations of Valentine’s day for a couple of days. Who’s stopping you? So a cottage, villa, mansion, hell, I wouldn’t mind a small castle for as long as am fantasizing. Scotland has so many amazing villas, cottages, castles at the most stunning locations. A weekend getaway in a cottage by the woods thrills me to no end. To beautify my dream further I would also like it if it had a small swimming pool. It should also be supplemented with a full-time cook who would dish out all of our favourite meals. We would go on walks. Maybe we would reach this cottage on our cycling route!

5. Go sailing

This again has been on my wish list for quite some years now. I have been on a boat before, cruise in fact, twice so far. But sailing is different. It is personal, private and at your pace. Another different perspective to view the scenery, cliffs and wildlife.

These small wishes need not be restricted to Valentine’s day only. There are other special days. Or then why wait for special days. Just get on with it.

Hubby, are you reading???

Where had I been?


I have been regularly missing this space. But I would try to here more often now.

So an update about family first. My son is now comfortable in playgroup. His dad goes to drop him and I pick him up. He is excited to go every day and wakes up early without complaint.

As for me, I thought I would get some time for myself and I can do activities like going to the library, maybe catch an early morning show, perhaps even go shopping. Who was I kidding? I have been more busy now than ever. The time that kiddo spends in playgroup, I spend in frantic household chores. Cooking, cleaning, laundry! One hour from my morning is spent in picking him up from playgroup and coming back home. Yeah, I got busy and I still don’t have me time. 😦

In other sad new, my grandma took another fall and got her other thigh bone broken early Sunday morning. She was operated and is still in hospital.

In further sad news, our visa expires in April. We have no idea yet whether hubby will find more projects and our visa would get extended. I so so want to continue our stay here. This place is the longest we have stayed together after marriage, the place where kiddo took his first step, said his first words, even started school. And no doubt this place is absolutely positively beautiful. I think we haven’t explored half of Edinburgh, let alone Scotland. We both are collectively anxious and nervous. Please do pray for us.

On a small positive note, my FIL has started a blog. Here’s the link. Do visit and comment. Thanks 🙂

Looking back…


2011…what a year it has been. I never expected I’d be where I am today. But I honestly couldn’t be happier.

My dearest aaji – my grandma or Miss Marple as I fondly call her, suffered from acute bronchitis illness in the middle of the year. I wasn’t with her at that time. She had recovered well when I went to Mumbai and we spent a few weeks laughing, chatting and even dancing until early one morning when she fell down and broke her hip bone. She was hospitalised for almost a week and when we brought her home she was very weak. This was such a shock. I have never seen her so weak and frail. She had always been my pillar of strength and she was always there. To see her lying in the bed and being dependent on others for even a glass of water was very unsettling. However, she is recovering well now and is looking forward to our visit to India next year.

Other losses are trivial compared to my aaji’s weak health. The first year of my life spent jobless. I did absolutely nothing productive except looking after my son and monitoring his progress.

Real friends are still around and have been by my side.  Books, books and more books. I have read more books than ever in this year. I hope to read many more in 2012. Hopefully the library will grow its collection.

This year has also given me more than my fair share of amazing moments, great memories, lots of laughs, love, and friendship. It might also be one of the best years I’ve had when it comes to personal growth, finding out who I am, where I am going, and who I want to be. I still have those moments when I falter, when I let things get under my skin and turn into someone I am not proud of momentarily, but in general I am proud of the way I live my life.

I have missed my family and friends but I have an amazing family and friends in my life. I often take them for granted. The long distance relationship with my family has in fact made me realise how much I value them all and how important they are to me. They are a part of who I am and how I have made it through everything in my life. I wouldn’t be who I am without these people.

My parents have been supportive, kind, and caring. and yes they often drive me nuts, but they love me and are there for me when I need them. My brother got married this year to the love of his life and I haven’t seen him happier. My brother is a true role model although he probably doesn’t even realize it. He sets goals and he reaches them. He follows his heart over money. He knows what he wants to do in life and he does it.

My hubby has been a source of strength and support throughout this year. He has patiently heard me out through my vents, anger and other passionate outbursts regarding my job, family, friends and every other thing that I crib about. Anyone else would have given up by now but not him. He has amazing patience and will power and he sure does listen. He is a great listener.

And my son – who has taught me so much about love & life. He is my sunshine on a cloudy day. He sure knows how to put a smile on my face. This year his vocabulary has increased tenfold and so have his questions. Most of the evenings, hubby and I find ourselves laughing silly to all his talks, questions and anecdotes.

Looking back on the good times, the lessons, the hurdles, and thankful for how I got to be where I am.

I can’t wait to see what 2012 will bring.

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and a Happy New Year to you and yours!

Musings from the past week


I can now officially crib since next year I will be on the wrong side of 30! Dear god! I can still remember details about my school and college life but after that it is all in fast forward mode. I already feel like an old maid. 😦

Before I begin my sulking, never imagined I would be celebrating 2 consecutive birthdays outside India – in a beautiful city like Edinburgh. When in school, I always hated it that my birthday fell during the monsoon season and it most definitely rained on that day. Here however, I am really enjoying this summer and sunshine.

This year I have also been able to get a lot of reading done. Thanks to the libraries here which have a huge collection. Back in India I was never able to continue with any library due to the frenzied lifestyle and lack of me-time. The books that I had purchased are still lying in a bag in some cupboard. Here I am enjoying the old world charm of going to a library, browsing through the books and reading them at leisure. Life is so spaced out here. I can take my kiddo with me. He plays with the toys in the kids corner section while I browse and issue books. It has such a laid back feeling to it which I enjoy. I have really come to savor these moments as I know I cannot do this back home.

August month here has a lot to offer with the school vacations and summer and it is truly the Festival month of Edinburgh. It’s filled with a diverse range of activities, shows, performances, arts, etc for all kinds of audiences. The Edinburgh International Book Festival starts this weekend and I am determined to take the kiddo for book reading sessions and other activities. The website is not operating but I shall note down the details about our visits.

The kiddo meanwhile is at his naughtiest best – more demanding, more stubborn and troublesome with a mischievous smile to cover it all. The foods that he dislikes are promptly pushed on the floor from the dining table – (the carpet in our case 😦 ). Most of the time, after a meal or snack, hubby or I are on the floor cleaning up after his royal highness is done with the food. The juice is spilled over a wider area in the kitchen after which he will solemnly ask for the cleaning sponge cloths – he is amazed at the speed with which these cloths absorb the liquid and hence wants to watch it over and over again.

He has also learnt the art of communicating with his toys – the doggy is placed facing the window and is compulsorily made to watch the fountain in the garden and whether the water is on. The open-mouthed dinosaurs are now given lunches and dinners and are fed with rice daily – they are not turning chubby. The kiddo’s blanket is placed on the Teddy Bear – he is told to go to sleep so that Daddy will take them both to the garden in the evening. Every meal is to be had while watching ‘Wheels on the bus go round and round’ – I can sing this now even when am unconscious. If the song is over before the food, then the various other versions are to be played repeatedly. I haven’t given up though. As soon as he is old enough to listen and understand film songs, I am going to bombard him with Lata Mangeshkar oldies and Mehdi Hassan ghazals. Let’s see if I can turn him over to my generation about songs.

Books are still a favourite though. Every time, he sees me reading, he will pick up one of his books and sit next to me, pretending to read. TV watching is mostly restricted to his lunch time and he has started picking up english words. There’s this one show where the host reads out greeting cards and letters to kids whose parents and relatives have wished them on their birthday. The kiddo promptly starts singing Happy Birthday to you!

Speaking of TV, I have been seeing this ad starring a weather-beaten Jean-Claude Van Damme:

What in the hell is this all about?

He is walking like a penguin and his pants are frozen rock solid??

This is such a perplexing ad, no idea what lager he’s advertising and would it be any good if it freezes his assets?