Swimming in an ocean of thoughts.....

Ask me no questions and i shall tell you no lies :)

Monday, March 31, 2014

A-Z Blogger Challenge 2014

I do not know what prompted me to sign up for this challenge. But, whatever it was, it did for good. To write on something from each alphabet everyday is going to be fun, I guess. Being the first time, I am just hoping that I write well. But most importantly, I hope I complete the challenge with less intrusions of writer's block, that I suffer from more often than not!

So, let the challenge begin!!

Cheers & God bless...!!


Sunday, March 23, 2014

Gulaab Gang ~ Movie review

Woman – the puzzling creation of nature. If she can be deathly vulnerable to the stumbling Pandora boxes that come her way, she can be belligerently antagonized when her tolerance to abuse and corruption hits rock bottom. When Rajjo (Madhuri Dixit), the main protagonist quips, “Ek glass pani milega? Gala Sukh raha hai!”, the sense of eerie does hint at something good or worse waiting to happen. With a lathi in her hand, dressed in a gulaabi saree, do not ask what she can do, but what not, she can! That is what Gulaab gang, directed by debutant director Saumik Sen and produced by Anubhav Sinha, is all about.

When I started watching the movie, the first thing I loved about it is, there are no heroes. Just a village of gutsy ladies, led by their calm charismatic chieftain, Rajjo Devi as the fearless Gulaab Gang and a delightfully evil antagonist Sumitra Devi (Juhi Chawla) are all that keep you rooted. The movie is packed with action, a lot of dialogue punches and colourfully choreographed songs. A tad too long that it is, Madhuri and Juhi have revived their magic in the movie by playing their characters with finesse. As Rajjo, the Gulaab gang chief locks horns with the malicious politician Sumitra, the movie focuses on the many issues women face even in the rural pockets of our country, despite the growth and progress we all claim to have made.

And now, time for some rating. I would give a 2.8/5

The movie is a onetime watch despite, some intense acting, natural action sequences and well choreographed songs. It dragged a little longer than usual. Also, too many songs can spoil a film!


Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Queen ~ Movie review

What does it take to break free from constipated thoughts and traditions?

How does it feel to step out in the world and rediscover a self one never knew existed?

Her majesty, Queen shall answer your questions and must say, with a lot of chutzpah! 

Watched Queen yesterday. And there were two things that came to my mind when watching the movie,

First, Kangana Ranaut as protagonist Rani, re-asserts the age old adage, “Simplicity is beauty”.

Second, Kangana Ranaut has proved to the world that, she is one of the finest artists Bollywood has given.

Queen directed by Vikas Bahl, is all about rediscovering the queen that resides in each female, that comes out only in the hour of need. And Rani, for whom the world comes crashing down after her fiance cancels their marriage a day before, travelling alone on her honeymoon to Paris and Amsterdam becomes her road to self discovery. On her journey, she makes good friends, one of them being the sensuous Vijayalakshmi (Lisa Haydon) and also learns a thing or two about life.

Kangana who put the ramp on fire in the movie Fashion, where she played the role of an arrogant and disturbed supermodel, Shonali has transformed here flawlessly into a 24 year old demure Rani with little makeup and a lot of verve. She has definitely raised the bar in acting among Bollywood actors.

Kudos to Kangana!!

Rating: 4/5 (all for her!)

P.S: Loved the songs, all of them, especially London tumakada!


Friday, March 14, 2014

The homemaker’s perspective ~ From a nomad’s diary

Morning: 8 AM

Husband (getting ready for office): Hey! Did you see my watch?

Wife: Yeah, just a minute, as she slides of a steaming puran poli in her son’s tiffin box. And then, she goes searching for the watch which could possibly be anywhere in the house, but at her husband’s study table where it ideally should be.

Husband: Hey! I am getting late! Never mind, I got my watch! Now, where are my specs?

Wife (still thinking, where the watch could have been):yeah, am searching.....

Son wakes up and enters the scene, Maaaaaa.........Maaaaaa....... With his tiny hands up in the air, groggy eyed toddler tugs at the mother gesturing her to pick him up.

Mother: One minute my munchkin! Am searching for your father’s specs..... (usually it is seen lying in the bed underneath a pillow)

She continues searching when she sees him turning the study room upside down, frantically searching for his specs. She quips, Hey you are wearing them!

Husband (with a discomfited look): Ok! Ok! Such things happen all the time! By the way, did I tell you, I am not able to find my wallet and car keys!

Wife (looking at her teary eyed toddler): Hey why don't you brush your teeth and wash your face until I get your glass of milk ready.....Bournvita!!"

And, after some extensive searching, she promptly gives him the car keys and wallet, after having found them in his one of his many track pants that were strewn all over the bed, that was made just an hour ago. And she reminds him as usual, “Hey listen, when you come back, make sure you write the complaint for the leaking tap.”

Husband (mumbling, as he takes a breakfast bite): Why don’t you do it? You are the home maker! You have the time too. My hands are full. Ok! bye!”

Wife (nodding her head in resignation): Oh yeah! Bye as she gets her son ready for school.

The above morning conversation is something that most (if not all) home makers face on a daily basis, more than the job-goers (not necessarily the way the above conversation sounds). All the running, screaming and multitasking becomes a routine for the lady of the house. She is one indispensable entity on whom, her world depends for everything and yet, her job is most underrated. In short, her job is a no salary, no vacation (leave aside, paid or unpaid) job, for which she demands only love, care and sensitivity as her reward.

I never really valued a home maker until I became one myself. Yes, I have been grossly arrogant at a time, when I had decided for one, that I am never going to be one of those who would be sitting at home, tending to household chores and needs of family. It was about four years back, when I was a working woman, and then, just engaged. And now, with my world complete, with a son and a loving husband, perceptions have changed.  Not forgetting to mention, there is a strange feeling about it. We tend to agree on things we vehemently disagreed on, way back and, strongly object to certain ways of life, which we ourselves followed religiously at one time. That said, we become more sensitive to people around and realize our strengths and weakness in a much better way. And, a lady realizes as a home maker that it is not just about money earned and spent, but it is about respect towards a job and respect earned from it. Most importantly, she experiences the truth, being a home maker is no child's play!!

And now, as I start with “Confessions of a home maker”, women sailing in my boat will totally relate to it. Have been one, for three years, ever since I quit my job, the experience is nonetheless challenging. And, here is a home maker’s perspective for people who think, it is not something to be proud of!!
  • No matter what you do, there will not be a moment when you can sit and sigh, “aaah! Work over! Time for a siesta”
  • At any point of time, the sink is always going to be quarter-full or half-full or three quarter full or full or overflowing. And why not? Breakfast, preparing lunch, a eleven o clock tea break, four o clock tea break with snacks, Haiti for occasional guest visits, dinners followed by supper, are just the known ones in the routine.
  • Then, there is housekeeping that demands that, curtains be of the right shade, the hall must be all inviting, dining table with appropriate cutlery and cloth napkins.
  • There are always going to be guests, irrespective of which time of the day it is. So, she has to be prepared with a stock of snacks (readymade or handmade)
  • Then, there is the laundry. Although, washing machines are a saving grace for today’s homemaker (unlike the previous generation who did all by themselves), the drying and folding part is still an exhausting task. And if it has to be done everyday!
  • The beds have to be made more often than not. No matter how hard she tries keeping the beds clean with pillows and comforters in the right place, it doesn't remain the same way for long. Needless to say, with children, it is a nearly impossible task.
  • And then, there are groceries, fruits and vegetables to be bought. Being the home minister of her home, she drives her sedan flawless to any corner of the city to get the best stuff in nominal rates. And then, there are bills to be paid too.
  • With a dog at home, she has to walk it too. She is his master and he is her friend, the one who is a sole witness to her endlessly busy routine.
  • Also, from her routine, a part goes solely for the children, attending their to their (extra)curricular activities.
  • If she were lucky enough to get some time for herself, she watches news or maybe, a soap on Comedy central or any cooking show aired on TLC.  Or maybe, she would spend her time doing some yoga and meditation.
There is no end to the list above. The tasks are too many to list. But notwithstanding all that, a modern day homemaker carries out her tasks with aplomb, besides being the educated lady with myriad hobbies, she rarely gets to pursue. Sometimes, she is also one of those who has a flair for business and part time jobs from home. Yet, family comes first and she is the anchor to whom the family clings.

8 PM (Evening)

Husband: Hey, don’t make anything..... Want to take you out for a movie and then dinner....... What say??”
Wife: (No words, just tears of joy)

That is all a homemaker needs once in a while!! After all, a home maker is the backbone of a healthy home, a happy home!!


Thursday, March 13, 2014

HIM, HER AND THE DISTANCE!! ~ From a Nomad's diary

For a minute, she thought she was flying. There was a brimming exuberance in her, which she thought, was going to burst into sparkles. The man on the other end of the phone had swept her, off her feet with those words! Not a question, not a proposal and definitely, not a request! Those words were an order, “Marry me!” 
A year later, they were married in a traditional TamBrahm ceremony, where the young dashing man in Olive Green tied the ‘thali’ (mangalsutra) around the neck of his bride, as she looked on, coyly. The day marked her, an army wife.

After two weeks of honeymooning, he was back on duty at some inaccessible station; she was at a new home, in a new neighborhood and with a new job in hand. Most importantly, she was stationed in Pune, a city she knew very well. But despite having supportive in-laws and amicable neighbors, she missed him terribly. At times, she felt lost too. Nonetheless, she immersed herself in her new job as a professional writer, which was to be her shield against her loneliness. 
Soon, it was two weeks since he had left. And then, he suddenly called, “Hey little munchkin! What have you been up to?” The moment she heard his voice, she thought she would choke. Then, realizing that she was in office, she snapped, “You devil! What took you so long?”
Later, the calls came once in six days and lasted for exactly 50 seconds, each time. Gradually, she became an expert in conversing crisply, unlike in the past, when she yapped with him, all night! Then, followed days of uncertainty with no calls from him. 
The routine continued and it was already past two months. She was home from office, earlier than usual. She thought she had a headache. But it was not merely that. He had called her and said, “Hey won’t be able to come today on leave, as planned. Cancel my flight tickets. Something has come up! Won’t be calling for a week!”  The call ended abruptly without a bye. She had been waiting for this day, for long. She had even applied for leave in the next week. She had gone through all his favorite recipes in the head, deciding what to prepare which day. She had made a list of places to go around, in the three weeks’ vacation he was coming for. 

And then, she rushed out of home feeling breathless as she decided to take a walk in the cacophonous pocket of the city she lived in. And, with all that noise around, she felt deaf. A newly wedded couple walked by, as they held hands together with sweet little nothings transpiring between them. She suddenly felt a lump in her throat and ran back home, in tears. 
The following week passed slower than usual, with no calls. She never wanted to go back home in evenings. But worse, were those sleepless nights and strange dreams. As she stared blankly at the list of topics to write on, her colleague tugged at her, “Want to check out the big sale in Big Bazaar near your place? Be ready at ten tomorrow!” She mumbled a yes. Girlfriends are soul sisters! Aren't they?

She came back home that evening, washed her face and picked up her marriage album from the drawer and sat down, flipping through it. There she was, in a turquoise Kanchivaram with striking emerald necklace around her neck, and those jhumkas dangling from her ears. Sitting next to her, on that oonjal (a swing for the couple in TamBrahm weddings), was her knight in shining armor. The photos made her smile, blush and cry. She clutched the album tight as she closed her eyes. It was 8 PM..... 
.....Next day, the door bell rang. It jolted her up from a deep slumber. It was 8 AM. And the first thought was, “Oh God! I am going to be late for office!” But then, she remembered, it was a Sunday. The door bell blared incessantly. “I am going to kill this moron whoever he is!!” And, she froze as she opened the door.....

Her knees felt weak. Her mouth was wide open. And, her eyes welled up! Her ‘bright eyed bushy tailed’ Captain was standing right there, with open arms. She squealed in delight, as he scooped her up and kissed her. A sudden wave of euphoria flowed deep in her veins. She smiled ear to ear as she yelled, “I hate surprises! You nearly killed me!”

Her world became normal again. She felt alive again. And then, slowly it dawned on her that, being the army wife, this was to be her life with many unseen challenges. As, she was making his favorite ‘adrak wali chai’, she heard him screaming, “You naughty lil devil! What have you done to my study room?” And her hands flew to her mouth, “Oh no! I never remembered to tidy up his room, after all!”


Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Highway ~ Movie Review


If I were to wrap a review in three sentences, it would be something like,

Alia Bhat has it, in her!
Randeep Hooda is inexorably handsome!
And, Imtiaz Ali is a terrific director with an amazing story line!

This movie convinced me that, Bollywood can produce intense, real and meaningful movies too. Coming to the review part, the movie has a great direction and amazing soundtracks (Needless to say, A.R Rehman revives his magic in music). The movie revolves around three characters, Veera Tripathi (Alia Bhatt), the captive with an abusive childhood who suffers from a Stockholm’s syndrome when she gets abducted, Mahabir Bhati(Randeep Hooda), the abductor who is what he is, as a result of a traumatic childhood and the highway, that covers the natural yet strange, pure yet complicated relation that forms between Veera and Mahabir.

Besides, showing a breathtaking landscape covering highways of Rajasthan, Punjab, Kashmir, Haryana, Uttaranchal and Ladakh, the movie also digs into the complexities of life that are same to all, not withstanding which economical background a person hails from.

Everyone is fighting their own unique battles after all!

That is what Highway is all about.

Rating: 4/5

P.S: I was so tempted to give it all stars, but the movie dragged a bit longer than usual. 

The movie review is late, as I watched it yesterday.

Although, Randeep Hooda is one talented actor, it was Alia Bhatt who stole the limelight! 

And credit goes to Imtiaz Ali for the story and direction. 

And, I love this song!!


Friday, March 7, 2014

Happy Women's Day 2014 ~ From a Nomad's diary

So, it is 8Th March. And when I logged on to FaceBook, it brought a big smile on my face as I saw one of my friends celebrating her son’s first birthday and my cousin celebrating her 8Th marriage anniversary. But most importantly, the link connecting all the good news was the day today, 8Th March. And it happens to be a Happy Women’s day J

Women’s day! A day for us! A day celebrated for us! A day that marks the existence of the powerful Venusians who take the world by storm in unexpected, but inspiring ways. A day that glorifies the achievements the talented lot of our kind have made in life, in the process becoming the role model for many more! 

And now I am suddenly reminded of a powerful quote by Margret Thatcher, the Iron lady,

She just said it all!! That is our power!! May our tribe multiply!!


There is writing and then, there is quality writing..... ~ From a nomad’s diary

I recently happened to read a confession on Bloggers' confessions page on FaceBook. It was more of a question and less of a confession, though the confession part was more asserting than the question asked. And the confession goes.....

“I am shocked at the quality of some of the blogs that I read. The language is ungrammatical and the issues are so boring!!! The point seems to be to communicate - by hook or by crook!! And if you have lots of friends in the blogging community then it gets a lot of visibility too. I am curious how one goes about getting visibility for one's blog? Blogging today seems to be more to do with tech savviness rather than ability to write.”

Before I worked as a content writer, I blogged as a hobby while I was still and very much a working IT professional. And at that time, I never gave much attention to grammatical mistakes, incorrect framing of sentences, or excessive use of articles. If you read my earlier blog posts, you would know. Not that I am good, but I have surely improved from that time. And about five years back, the language, the words, grammar or the way I phrased sentences were not relevant as long as my feelings gushed out in my writing space and as long as readers were able to understand what I was writing about, despite the fact, I never really blogged for readership. For me, the concept of blogging started as a channel to emote healthily and as long as I did it, I felt at peace.

But when I joined a small firm as a content writer after a stint of 3 years with IT industry, I understood for a fact, that writing is no child’s play. It is not some regular blogging for fun. It appears simple. Deep down, it is a work that needs an eye for detail. The grammar has to be correct. Punctuation has to be used in the right places. Sentences have to be short and crisp. Excessive usage of articles should be avoided. And most importantly, plagiarism is a sin in the world of writing. Content has to be put in a way that when a visitor happens to read your article, he does not get the feeling that he has read it before and that, he must be glued to it from start till the end. Yes! Even rephrasing sentences are not allowed, although it gets tricky with articles that were based on facts alone. And, when I wrote my first article, I got my first shock. When the editor sent the article back to me, it was painted in yellow. When I read my brightly painted article the first time, I could not find anything wrong with it. I went to my editor and she pointed out my genuinely grave mistakes that never met my eye. She was not-so-pleasantly surprised as to how I could not identify them. Nevertheless, I made the corrections, as had been asked to. It took me a long time but, the outcome was surprising. I compared both versions and this is what I felt. The edited article was neat. It was crisp. It was shorter than the earlier version. It sounded good to read and most importantly, it had a novelty that was lacking in the previous one.

That day I got two lessons for a lifetime:
  • A healthy criticism if perceived in the right manner will not only make you perform better but will fetch you more accolades.
  • And that, one needs to have an open mind when accepting criticism. The thoughts “I cannot be wrong” or “The other person does not know as much as I know” or “The other person cannot see what I am good at” should be flushed over and out of your system. Only then, passion can make a hobby fascinating and that hobby can become an interesting profession.
And now, I shall connect the dots. The question raised by the confessor is genuine. There is writing and then, there is quality writing. It is fine to de clutter your mind every now and then. Sometimes, the idea is also to communicate. More so, the content should be such that once it is read, it commands a respect in the reader that he feels inspired by the writer in some way or the other. Just communicating should not be the only criteria. After all, it is not a hypothetical saying in the world of writing that............................................................................................................

Which is why, language is a weapon. A dangerous bow that uses words for arrows! The ripples its impact can create in a crowd, is astounding. It can make or break an idea. An unintentional mincing of words can add a ‘mis’ to a perfect understanding. And coming to think of it, what is the harm if writing/blogging comes with quality? A blog’s look is important nonetheless. So is readership which is a reward to the writer/blogger. But then so, is the content. It is the content shared in the right words that will leave a foot print in the reader's heart and will urge the reader to come back to the writer for more interesting reads.

Blogging is fun. Writing is good for soul. But, quality? Quality adds life to writing.

P.S: And going by what this blogger has confessed, I would agree to that line, “Topics need to be interesting as well!” You bet!

Any grammatical errors or wrong phrasing of sentences or anything for that matter may be spotted and I would happily make the corrections.

And I found something in Google for myself and for whoever visits my writing space.......................


Thursday, March 6, 2014

In the growing years of a child..... ~ Challenges of Parenting

Should one of the parents stay at home?"

So there was this discussion on a blog forum of blogadda, “It is important for one of the parents to be at home in the growing years of a child”. As a parent, I voiced my opinions in favor of the statement. But then, the topic set me off thinking, “When I grew up, I have seen many kids grow up quite normally even as their parents were working. In fact, I myself know a couple of people who have been exceptionally good at parenting, even as they were working. Then why, today I don’t feel comfortable with the fact that both parents are working their brains off, while their child is still in the process of blossoming?” Of course, children always stand corrected at some time or the other, irrespective of what they learn in their growing years. However, the fact remains, sooner the better. And I have some good reasons for why I shall speak for the topic.

Times have changed

How many of us believe it? When I was a toddler I did not go to any day care or a playgroup. I was main schooled from two and a half years of age. And, I never had trouble in my social life too. My mother would leave me at school with absolute confidence that I would be well taken care by the Sisters of the Carmelite Convent I studied in. The first open school session for us, way back then was a fun fair, where parents were invited to spend a day completely with their children. Although, I have vague memories, my mother sure remembers everything as she recounted how I enjoyed those horse and camel rides, and how I squealed in joy when I, for the first time sat in the merry go round. About 27 years later, I am a parent myself. My son who will soon be two and a half has been going to playschool for about 10 months now. And the first open school session I attended was “I-Care”, a campaign started by Zee Group that speaks about awareness of child abuse of all kinds and on how to protect your child from it. I attended it and I found the session useful, nonetheless. But, it disturbed me. And it disturbed me a lot! It is disheartening to read/know about the various gut wrenching incidents about how innocence is butchered in the times we live. And I sat thinking, were these things happening in our times too? Ignorance is sometimes, a bliss – is the answer I get from the older generation. And it is at these times, I wonder if it were so absolutely necessary for both parents to be working, leaving their priceless gift in the hands of people they just know as caretakers? Answers will vary.

How well do you know your child?

I was startled by the question in the same campaign mentioned above. The question, of course was directed at every parent. Of course, we as mothers had our hands straight up in the air asserting a hundred percent YES on how well we know our kids. But I pondered later, do I really know my son as well as I claim to? For instance, one of the days when my son returned from school, he was in a remorseful mood. Usually he smiles and plays a lot. But that day, which may have been one of his blue days, he was not his usual self. So the alert mother in me awakened and my mind was clogged with questions like “What is wrong with him?”, “Why isn't he speaking up?”, “He has not even eaten his tiffin! Why?” and so on and so forth. When I tried calling up his playschool, he immediately came running and snatched the phone and said, “Nah! School Na!”  I sure deceived him into believing I wasn't calling up school but later, after engaging him in watching his favorite channel, Nat Geo, I called up his teacher to clear my doubts. And his class teacher said, “Oh! Yes, today he was at his naughtiest self! Not only was he not listening to us, he coaxed the others in his class as well in doing what he enjoys doing most – playing with sand and throwing it on one another! So, I had to reprimand him in a sterner way than usual.” And, when I later asked my son, he gave me a sly smile and went back to his toys and trucks! I am not the only parent who is beginning to understand that, children today are smart, perhaps smarter than we were at their age, at hiding mischief. Some weeks later, he caught up a viral that leaves a skin rash behind. As he complained about itching in those rashes, I grabbed my chance and explained to him, “This is what happens when you play with sand.” Ever since, he has stopped playing with sand. A friend of mine, whose son is a year senior to my son, says “My son is so totally well behaved in school. But when he is home, he is on a rampage! I do not know what to do.” As toddlers, children imagine a lot too. Sometimes, it is hard to believe what they say, as we have no idea what part of their versions are made up. And needless to say, children have a mind of their own, a personality of their own. They perceive emotions, language and actions in their own way. To understand their thought patterns, one of the parents has to be home in the primal years, so that the parent gets to correct the course of the child's thought process and bring it right on track.

Train your child.

Studies have shown as to what a tremendous capacity toddlers posses in terms of grasping and learning. Up till the age of five, they are living sponges who absorb everything being said and done around them. Their span of concentration may be less, as they easily get diverted. But, talk about their memory and grasping power, sky be the limit. Which is a good thing as long as their observation and actions are scrutinized. But what about the unwanted things children learn in their growing years? There is a high probability of children picking up a lot of unwanted habits and vocabulary along with the regular academic contents they learn at playschools/pre schools. And it is important for one of the parents to know what and all, a child is learning in his growing years. Because it is these years that will cement the bulwark of his/her character. Train your child to share everything with you. Be the friend, be the teacher, be the sibling and be the tyrant when necessary. Besides, train him to understand the difference between familiar people and strangers. Train him to not accept anything from a stranger. And most importantly, train him to understand the difference between right and wrong. I emphasize on the word ‘train’, because that is how imparting cautions to our children has come down to. We need to prepare our kids with a sound moral health so that they can contribute towards making this world a little more bearable, safer and saner. Which is why; I feel that one of the parents has to stay at home in the growing years of a child.

Career, money, fame and name come and go, and come again. But growing years of a child is a one time affair. Needless to say, the plinth of a character is always laid at home and that too, only in the growing years because.....

What is your take on this debate? Let me know!

P.S: Before people misjudge me thinking I am against parents working altogether and  that they must invest all their time in bringing up their child alone, let me clear the air. I am merely stating that my opinion is only for the time window that caters to the child's growing years (up to age of 3 or 4, considering this time span to be the most vulnerable age of a child). And people who do manage working round the clock and still managing to bring up their kids impeccably, for them, I take a bow! Respect!

Healthy arguments are welcome as long as the intention is not to prove someone right or wrong.


Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Love for cooking, cooking for soul ~ Gourmet Chronicles

About a decade back, I belonged to a crowd for whom cooking was nothing less than a nightmare. Maybe, because I was never allowed to cook as I grew up or it would be more appropriate saying, I was a walking disaster in kitchen (as my mother would have said it, way back then). But things change with time. And, things definitely change when one gets married, more so when your spouse also happens to be a food lover cum critic as you. Of course, you are never the same person you thought you will be. And, destiny too doesn't cease to surprise, as usual. In those lines, cooking which at a time, topped the list of things I would never want to do, suddenly became a passion and later,  a skill that I started chiseling, blissfully unaware of the time when I started enjoying it. So, coming back to what I have in mind right now are the words my mother, one out of the world cook, keeps telling me every now and then 

Oh yes! As harder it may seem, as difficult it may sound, as herculean may appear the preparatory tasks, as tiring may go the entire drill of cooking, it all becomes easy and worthwhile, when passion to cook is fueled, mind is relaxed and one’s olfactory senses are its best.

Cooking exotica!!
Be it baking sensuously enticing multi flavoured cakes or making pasta Alfredo and garlic bread topped with fresh olives, be it making a home one barbecue nation once in a while or becoming the Chinese chef, busy tossing the long steamy rice noodles with soy sauce and ajinomoto, cooking is more of a stress buster once in a while for many. It relaxes your mind as mixed spices play tunes in your head drawing images of mouth watering pastas or grilled vegetables floating in colorful sauces, cheese sauce, tomato sauce, vegetable stock, name it! The herbs rosemary, thyme, basil and mint play their parts well as flavors and aromas explode when the food arrives on the table. That look on the husband’s face with his eyes closed as he gently takes in the aroma followed by the first morsel after which he says ,”WOW!”, makes a dull noon vibrant. After all, the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach!

Knock! Knock! What is Cooking?
But then, needless to say, one cannot be a Nigella Lawson or a Rachel Coo everyday, and exoticas are meant to be surprises and not some part of the daily grind. So then, rises the question "what to cook?" As thoughts drool, the aroma of cooking oil as it simmers and that melodious crackling of fennel/mustard seeds in that oil sparks up your waning zest and then it is, boy does it tingle those taste buds, invoking an instant desire to cook something special? And, that desire coupled with love for your spouse does surprise pleasantly. Right from the time the dough is made by mixing the coarse wheat flour, salt, a little milk cream and water and then kneading them all together gently as your slender fingers plunge deep into the soft  texture of the dough that caresses your palms gently and till the time of making those uber soft phulkas that emanate a smoky whiff, the entire exercise of doing the same becomes gratifying all of a sudden.Then, chopping and dicing vegetables of lovely shapes and shades, the sunny yellow color of cooked lentils which later fills the home with a soothing aroma that comes with garnishing it with coriander and some fennel seeds sauteed in margarine and the steaming white rice does nothing less than feasting the eyes to a delight for the stomach. Cooking this way on any regular day brings a smile on my face. The sweat is forgotten. The tiresome of it all wanes away as my husband and son look forward to the lunches I prepare for them. My son more often plants a kiss on my cheek, saying ‘yummmm yummmmm’. What more do I want?
And then there are comfort foods!
But then, cooking can get monotonous. There are days when I feel like running away from it. Sometimes, I wish my mom stays here with me. Her culinary skills remain unparalleled till date. And when I rant about my sudden surge of laziness, my mom says, “This is where lies the catch. The moment when you feel the routine is getting drab, it needs to be tweaked. And says who, life should be drab? What are comfort foods for, after all?” How could I forget comfort foods? For Indians, comfort foods span across all states, right from Idlis and Dosas to Khamans and Dhoklas, from fafdas and theplas to puris and chaat, and from jhaal muris and roshagullas to upmas and sheeras....name them, and our country never faces a dearth in comfort foods, thanks to the diversified culture we thrive on. And then, the steaming hot idlis served with fresh coconut chutney and sambhar, the dhoklas and khamans served with tangy imli ka chutney, the sheeras and upeets floating in a knock-down-senseless smelling ghee and the adorably brown chole tweaked with a zing of lemon, would suddenly beat out all the weariness and melancholy of the day, thereby putting a new perspective towards the gourmet world. There is no end to comfort provided by these comfort foods and no end to the love for it.

As I end this post, I would like to share with you on what tickled me to write about the love for cooking. Remy! Oh yes, How can you not know Remy? Remy the rat! Remy, the little master chef, the protege of Chef Auguste Gusteau. If you know not what I am saying, you must watch Ratatouille (the famous French movie that explores the astounding culinary talents of a small rat Remy) And that said, I am reminded of what the food critic Anton Ego from the movie had to say :

I am not a brilliant cook. But I am good enough in the sense, that the food I make is cherished by my family. Going by what I was a decade back, I believe I have come a long way in the gourmet world. And needless to say, I have a long way to go still. 

And cheers to that!!

P.S: Even a simple Maggi can become a dish to crave for, when it is loaded with goodness of vegetables, garnished with fresh coriander and mint! And that says it all! Simple dishes bring out the best flavors when there is a touch of variety to it! And that is what I call - Love for cooking, Cooking for soul!


The image says it all! ~ From a nomad's diary

And this inspired me to write here at :



Monday, March 3, 2014

My little Capt Jack Sparrow - Savvy!~ Joys of motherhood

1st March 2014:

Mother: Hey sweetheart! There you go, my munchkin! You get a choco pie if you tuck your pants into your socks!

Son: No! No please! Urrgghhhhh. (wailing at the top of his voice)

Mother: Wow! You would look stud in that outfit! Hey let me tie the bandana around your head.....and add some colorful beads to go with it!

Son: baaaaaabaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!!!!!!(still frowning)

Mother: Ok! Let’s do some makeup.... (as she proceeded to make the moustache, a small beard with the kajal)

Son: aarrghh!! $#%^&$^&............... (some ‘sassing’/swearing in toddler language)

Mother: Ok! Just the smokey eyes and the hat please!

Son: Go away.......................................................!!!!! (Runs away himself)

So if you were wondering what the entire hullabaloo is all about, it was all over a fancy dress competition. The frustrated child is my son Arjun and the over enthusiastic mother here, is of course, me! Both of us were busy running (with me after him obviously) as I tried getting my lil Capt Jack Sparrow in the right attire. However, my son was not convinced as he sulked, squirmed and glared at the very outfit, probably considering the fact, that he is a born pirate and did not need a dress and dialogue to define himself! Phew! Fancy dress competitions are only fancy to hear!!

A week before:

A week before, when I was informed about the school’s annual day by the Kidzee group, I was watching the movie – Pirates of the Carribean : On Stranger Tides. And that precise moment when Capt Jack Sparrow was having that not-so-common conversation with Gibbs (a conversation when for once, Jack the pirate was talking in a tongue that camouflaged his real good self) about how the Fountain of Youth tests the person’s character, I caught my son looking at the charming pirate intently. My husband smiled; nodding his head sideways (I never understand my husband’s intense expressions as he is not a very readable personality!). My son looked at me with gleaming eyes. And then, I knew! I knew what my son had to become for his fancy dress competition. Yes! My son will be Capt Jack Sparrow. Aye!

Even as rehearsals had started, my chirpy bundle of love co-operated well. He was happy with the character he was to enact, and loved swirling his toy sword in style, occasionally yelling, ‘Aye!’ I was elated, of course. And as I was enthusiastically sharing my son's antics with my husband, he cut me short asking, "sweetheart! Have you shown him the outfit? I guess you are in for one big challenge!” Somehow, it is my second nature to brush off my dear husband’s occasional cautions which seemingly sounding trivial, later snowball into challenges worth facing. And, me being me, I casually remarked, “Common! I am his mom! I know him! He loves that character and he will do it!” My husband said nothing more than a Good luck and a busy man that he is, he got drowned in his cornucopia of his never ending tasks/assignments/whatsoever!! And as the day neared, so kept on the pace of my excitement. 

1st March 2014:

In the morning, my son was just too glad acting his character of his favorite pirate. And I thought, “How easy can this get?” The timing of the function was 4 PM. So, I thought it would be better to dress up my son at 3:30. And then, as the clock struck three, I called my son to have a look at his dress. He had worn it a couple of days back and I reassured myself, “Relax! This ain't going to be that difficult!”. And the moment that thought crossed my mind, began the chaotic noon with me looking like some poultry farmer trying to grab his chicken!! Well, in my case, it was a wild rooster knowing all the tactical defenses to be used against his tormentor which was me! After a lot of kicking, boxing and kickboxing followed by the not-so-appealing conversation at the beginning of this post, from his side, I finally got him to wear his white shirt tucked inside his blue jeans that were further docketed nicely within his socks. Then came, the hard part – the waist coat and a belt on it with a colorfully beaded thread hanging from his belt. The bribe I paid for getting that done was two perks straight from the refrigerator. And then, he wore his black shoes (he started hating them on that day particularly) and put on his hat. Bandana was a big no-no as he thought so! And then finally I got to do a lil makeup, giving a smoky look to his eyes and a mustache and a beard. Once done, all of us looked at him and were happy with what we saw. Well, not forgetting to mention, the pirate was not really happy as we expected him to be. But yes, our Sparrow was ready to rock the stage. He took his toy sword, fitted it well enough in his belt and then, we all proceeded towards the town hall where the function was to happen.

Kids can electrify a dull evening. I realized it on this day. And when I say electrify it means, the absolute bewilderment that gleams on the face of parents!

Oh My! Look at him, he is a lil Kejriwal fighting brashtachar!

Wow! Look at the warrior princess of Kerala! She sure has those gallant genes!

Well, who do we have next? A banana with some cool shades, a strawberry that looked every bit the fruit one would like to take a bite of, an angry bird that smiled, a tree fighting its survival and a lot more......And then came our pirate who raced towards the stage, as his father started with explaining to the audience about his perky and chirpy, cool and dramatic, funny and brave lil Capt Jack Sparrow. And then, we waited for the action to begin.


More Silence..............

Hat went flying in the air.........

Next was the sword which landed right next to the hat on stage..................

And then, more silence...........................................................................

After a while, our pirate took a walk around the stage as the soundtrack of the movie: Pirates of the Caribbean played for a minute and more. And absolutely no words, no swaying of sword and no action for minutes.....................................................................................................................................................

But then, what made me burst with pride is what followed. He refused to leave the stage and looked into the eyes of audience with a bold attitude. And in that passing moment I realized as a mother, no attire, no bandana, no sword, no makeup can buy you the attitude you need. It comes from within. And, my lil pirate had it in him! And not forgetting to mention, he taught me that by example! Yes, he has the attitude to face an audience; and needless to say, he has it a lot more to face the world.

As we got him off the stage after the music stopped, the show went on with many interesting performances by uber talented toddlers who would have put many gymnasts to shame. Yes, their stunts elated us, surprised us, made us laugh and most importantly, taught us parents that participation in an event is more rewarding than a reward itself! A very important lesson for all parents, especially mothers (like me and including me) who at a point got carried away in the zest to perform, which at some point of time did press the young powerhouses of talents in a not-so-desirable manner. Notwithstanding all that, the event was a success and it was real pleasure to see the toddlers perform sans any inhibition, sans any stage fright and sans any fear, which I feel is the most adorable and commendable quality about children.

And that said, when we reached home, my son took out his broken sword, swayed it in the air and spoke very slowly but faintly,
“Aye! I am Capt Jack Sparrow! Savvy?”

A face palm moment for me and my husband, but a proud moment at the same time!

P.S: I did not take any pics of my lil pirate, as he is averse to camera as much as I love to click him! Sigh!!