Tuesday, December 30, 2008

My Daddy Strongest!

A year ago, I wrote about how my grandfather's death was extremely upsetting and took me a while to get over it. I can't even believe how naive I was in imagining it to be the worst experience of my life...

A year later, I am unable to even frame my thoughts as I try to get over the sudden death of my dad! My father, and not alive anymore?????? Can it even be possible? Though I was there holding on as his harsh breathing gave way to an eerie silence.... and my part of the world that comprised my parents, sister and me and all our memories just toppled!

I must have been 4 when I remember insisting we walk to the local train station though my parents wanted to take an auto... My dad, good naturedly would grumble saying that 5 mins after we started on our way, I would started moaning about my legs hurting and he would have to carry me all the way. Despite my promises about walking by myself, his prediction would come true and I would be hoisted on his strong broad shoulders! This episode was to be repeated most weekends for a few years till we bought our car! And now, years later, I get the strongest feeling of deja vu each time this story is played out again, only this time by my daughter and husband!
I have had the support of those same broad shoulders throughout my life literally and figuratively, even after his paralytic stroke 4 years ago paralysed his left side. He fought the doctor's grim prognosis and was on his feet in no time, proving where there is a will, there is most definitely a way.

I am most definitely going to miss him, as will my sister and mum.... and all of us for different reasons. He was definitely the rock of the family and his untimely, unwarranted departure from our lives leaves a wound that hopefully only time will soothe away.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Growing up 1

Just found an old drawing of Anan's which she did at 3 1/2 yrs.

Its a picture of Amma, Appa and Anan at the park, with Anan sitting on Appa's back! I remember us being stunned at her portrayal of the scene and being very proud of her. Less than 2 years down the line, her drawings have become very refined and creative. Looks like she definitely has a good share of the artistic gene from her paternal thatha!

Tuesday, December 09, 2008


When I was pregnant with Anan, life was very blissful. We had just set up home in Bangalore and my days were spent doing totally useless things like getting new curtains and bath mats and arranging stuff in our apartment. Of course, in my attempts to impress as a new wife, I kept inviting family/friends over for dinners and spent hours slaving over 100 dishes for 4 people! End result- food was perfect, but my back and feet hurt like hell, especially in the last trimester and I couldn't wait for everyone to leave so I could go to bed! Bottom line- I didn't enjoy the fruits of my labour (pun intended!).
Nevertheless, I enjoyed the entire 40 weeks of my pregnancy and savoured every moment of pampering and TLC from both sides of the family who were just waiting for their first grandchild to make her grand entrance!

Six years down the line, I am definitely older and wiser, not to mention heavier!! And travelling as much this time around.. And definitely not entertaining like a lunatic the way I did the first time around! However, looking back at the last 6 months, where did the time go? It was just yesterday in July when we called family to share the "good news"....and now suddenly just another 3 months to go...

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Out of the mouths of babes!

The one person most excited about having a new baby is Anan. She was the first person we told, stressing that it should be kept a secret for a while.

But promptly that same evening, when our neighbour's daughter came over to babysit, Anan whispered in her ear- "My mummy has a secret in her tummy, but I can't tell you what it is!!" Definitely wasn't a secret for much longer...

Its interesting how kids have the most funny thoughts, at least according to us.  Anan now knows that when a mummy and daddy want a baby, they get married. So she was totally confused about how the baby could be born if mum and dad didn't get married again! Not being sure how to address that concern, we gave her the most evasive replies. 

She has also decided that its her baby that is just growing in Mummy's tummy!! Therefore, it follows that Anan doesn't have to ever get married because she already has a baby!! Truly, go figure!

Monday, June 23, 2008

Rich, Richer, Richest

Today, I had a look at an article in Forbes about the world's 100
richest people in 2008. In this haloed list of people from the same countries are 32 Americans, 19 Russians and 10 Indians, most of whom live and earn in their own country. So then, lets go back home and add to their numbers!

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Georgie Porgie

We were a bunch of giggling 13 year olds who listened non stop to George Michael and Michael Jackson and Madonna. In our defence, 1. Its was the eighties, 2. we lived in gujju Mulund and 3. these were the most popular artists selling at Telecast, the one and only decent music store in said Gujju Mulund. There was a blink- and-you-will-miss-it period of worshipping the now extinct"NYOKB" or for the uneducated- The New Kids on the Block, but it was George Michael all the way, atleast before he came out of the closet and dashed our teenage dreams.

We had posters of our favourite celebrities on the walls of our rooms or on our wardrobe doors. It helped that Femina had a section for teens, (can't remember the name for the life of me!) with free tear-off posters every month. I would have probably postered all the walls of the room I shared with kid sister, but my grandmom-albeit with blinkered vision (acc to me) but with a stronghold on my mom ensured that said posters were kept to a minimum. Sigh!! Double sigh!!!!!

So gettting back to Georgie old boy, he is currently on what is said to be his last tour ever with the finale being in London. And guess who has good tickets for his last concert ever??? Take a guess or two or ten- C'est moi, bien sûr!!

I am actually going to be cheap enough to mail the other girls , some of whom I am still friends with and who were also crazy about him and gloat!!! Ah, the thought of it makes my day!!

Georgie Porgie, pudding and pie

Refused to kiss the girls and made them cry

When the boys came out to play,

Georgie porgie, ran after them

Saturday, June 21, 2008

New blog template

I want to change my template and dont want to use the templates given by blogspot. Any suggestions?

Partner 1 and 2?

I got to watch some TV by myself and without distraction a couple of evenings ago, when I went on my solo trip to Geneva. There was a news clip about same sex marriages and same sex parenting. Apparently, in Massachusetts which has legalised it, there is talk about changing the wording on marriage certificates from name of Husband/Wife to read as Partner 1/Partner 2 and on birth certificates of babies from Father and Mother to Parent 1 and Parent 2.
While i do not have any strong views on homosexuality and same sex parenting, I think children have the right to stable protective parenting with either one or two parents. So it should not technically matter if your parents are gay or not. But I cant help wondering how I would feel about being Parent 1 or 2 on my child's birth certificate. I dont think I want to let go of my "mother" title, even on a piece of paper.

Monday, June 02, 2008

Camping in London

It is about five weeks since we left on our Euro-American holiday, five weeks since I promised myself and others that I would write regularly through my travels in Europe and later in the US. Its interesting how the best laid plans always go awry. This trip was well planned (by me), atleast broadly. Somehow after the first week of travel in Vienna and Prague (more about it later), and ever since we landed in London, our plans have been shuffled with the ease of a pack of cards.

We have now pitched our tents (in a rather nice flat) in the vicinity of Hampstead Heath's beautiful gardens and show no signs of wanting to resume our journey. Instead we are plotting the course of our life over a long term (thats 1 year in our vocab!).

I have got Anan settled in a nursery near by, where she spends a few days each week happily playing with kids her age. It works brilliantly for both her and me because its is a break from me from feeding her myself and at the same time moaning about how she does'nt feed herself. Guess anyone can see who the problem is!!

Also gives me time to spend a couple of hours in the gym and get that fit toned body I keep craving for but don't have the will power to put myself through the regime. And another couple of hours to do some reading and writing... (yes dear friend, good news indeed, if my meandering thoughts do interest you!!)

I am missing my dear Shivamma- my right hand back home though- not just for the cleaning and pampering she does to keep me from reality but also for the company. I should write about her sometime, its amazing the kind of lives our domestic help sometimes live, but yet manage to show up cheerful and smiling each morning at work and make our lives so comfortable for a pittance of a salary.

However, I am also enjoying managing my home here, without any interference or disturbance from anyone including the cook, dhobi, courier guys (who call a minimum of 7 times to ask for directions, or is it the address verification guys who do that??)

I realise that I get more creative with my cooking here, trying to rustle up stuff that requires minimal preparation but still passes my stringent requirements of freshness, health and taste. Just have to remember to keep my camera nearby so I can take pictures of the food when its ready and well presented and not when its half eaten!!

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Learning french

Finally, after many years of wanting, procrastinating and not doing anything about it, .....finally I started the beginner's level at L'Alliance Française de Bangalore (or should it be Bengaluru?) a couple of months ago and at the time of writing this blog, Je peux parler un peu français bien sur!
I had a great couple of months with a nice mixed crowd of folks most of whom were below 25. Definitely made me feel younger, hanging out with this energetic bunch, having tasses de thé et café avec les cinnamon rolls et gâteaux.

Et maintenant, je ne peux pas attendre pour commencer le prochain niveau. Pardonnez mon français, si j'ai fait des erreurs. Et c'est la fin de ma écriture française, pour maintenant!

And so, I am off on vacation tomorrow and hopefully will write a regular travelogue from starting in a couple of days... if I can start relaxing and let go about forgetting to pack trivial stuff like lens solution and toothpaste!

Monday, February 25, 2008

Reviewing Restaurants - Rim Naam & Oye! Shaava

Hiya there! Am back after hibernation. Dunno why I haven't been writing... just haven't, that's all. I have been pretty preoccupied this month with moving into a new office, setting it up, planning our vacation(Yesss!!), learning french(Oui,Finalement!), gymming and organizing my day around these activities.

Since we moved to the centre of the city- doesnt get more central than 1/2 minute away from Brigade Rd and MG Rd, we seem to be eating out practically every other day. Which obviously translates into more reviews!

Rim Naam- the thai restaurant at the Oberoi. Like on every other review, it scores a clear 5 on location, ambience, food and service. You just can't make a mistake going there. I cant wait to go back. I loved the pad thai and the raw papaya salad (which is a personal favourite). A meal for two without drinks costs about Rs. 1500. Its perfect for that special date!

Oye! Shaava- On Church Street.
This place is practically in our backyard and we have already been there a few times. The Oye part of the name keeps reminding me of the really old MTV countdown show called Oye MTV! (Does anyone even remember that?)Shaava is the more upscale version of Oye! Amritsar which is kitcshy, with humorous loud posters all about the place. I came across another blog that had a review of the same restaurant and echoed my thoughts- Review of Oye! so I am going to be lazy and let you read it there!

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Fettuccine with Pesto Sauce

I really like Pasta! As does my daughter, who asks for either a mac and cheese or Alfredo every other day. Pasta with pesto sauce or Puttanesca are my favourites. Ever since I started growing herbs, I make my pesto with homegrown basil. I made some yesterday and decided to post my version on Pasta with Pesto. Ananya loaded her plate with grated cheese and insisted I only post that picture, so try to look for the pasta beneath the cheese!

Fettuccine with Pesto
Dried pasta- any shape
Pesto sauce as required(recipe below)
1/2 cup chopped veggies- onion, peppers, broccoli, etc
sliced olives, grated cheese -to garnish
Cook pasta as directed. Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a pan, add onions, peppers and saute for a couple of minutes. Add pesto sauce and cooked pasta. Mix well and garnish.
For Pesto Sauce
2 tbsp pine nuts (chilgoza), if not available, use walnuts
5-7 cloves of garlic
1/2 tsp coarsely ground black pepper
1 small bunch Italian basil
2 tbsp of olive oil
1 tbsp grated cheese - I usually use either cheddar or Parmesan, which are easily available
salt to taste
Grind all above ingredients coarsely in a food processor or mixie, if its difficult to grind, add a tbsp of milk to thin it down. This freezes well for 4-5 days,if doing so omit milk and cheese.

Restaurant Review - Yo China! - Brigade Road

I had both seen quite a few carts with a Yo China! logo in Delhi doing brisk business and read a couple of articles about the Chinese fast food chain in India which claimed- Chinese food at Chinese Prices.

So we were quite open to having lunch at their Brigade Road outlet last week. Really bad decision! The restaurant smelled stale as we entered and we had to wait a long time to order our stuff at the self service counter. We ordered combo meals - Red Thai Curry with Rice and Chowmein with Vegs in hot garlic sauce. The combo meals came with an order of khimchee, spring rolls and a fizzy drink or mineral water. Unfortunately they didnt have bottled water.

The people who run the chain probably forgot to add Chinese food at Chinese Prices with Indian Timing! We waited almost 20 mins for our order which was announced through an intercom just like they had in the nationalised banks long ago - Token No Two Two twenty two- in English, Kannada and Hindi!!

We were quite famished by the time we picked up our food and unfortunately for us the food really sucked! The spring rolls were a few days old refried a few times, the khimchee - god knows what it really was, the noodles totally tasteless and both curries were laden with gluten and soggy vegetables and not one dish had any taste. We couldn't eat more that a couple of spoons and dumped the lunch.

So Yo China! gets two thumbs down from us and we will definitely not be visiting any of their outlets again. Food was bad, service was poor, the decor was very average with the terribly annoying OOH media screen running loud. I visited their website to send comments- that particular page gave an error message. How convenient!

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Restaurant Review- Fiorano

On an impulse, we decided to travel all the way from our neck of the woods to Koramangala for Sunday dinner at Fiorano. Fiorano is situated on 100 Ft Rd Koramangala right next to Sukh Sagar and has valet parking which is a boon in most areas of Bangalore!

Their decor is very tasteful with textured walls in whites and black furniture. Its really nice to find interiors done where there is no deliberate attempt to display art/decorative pieces which announce an expensive interior decoration!

Warm, attentive service, muted music, classy decor and great food-makes Fiorano one of our favourite Italian restaurants. Your experience starts with a "make your own bruschetta"- a platter of warm bread with peeled garlic, basil leaves and cherry tomatoes. For the uninitiated, the staff are all too willing to show you how to rub the garlic, basil and the tomatoes on the slice of bread with a dash of olive oil. Ananya loved it and was happy experimenting by herself.

They have a good selection of wines and non alcoholic mocktails, juices, etc. Since we weren't keen on alcohol, we tried a Virgin Mary - which was good and a Mint & Lime drink- which was way too sweet and felt just like chilled soda with tons of sugar!. For starters, we ordered the fried mozzarella balls, which was quite good, though I felt a dip would have made perfect.

Whats interesting about Fiorano is that they have their own Cheese factory on the first floor over their restaurant and we had an opportunity to meet the Formaggiao- Mukund during one of our visits. They make and sell their cheese like mozzarella, mascarpone(no wonder their tiramisu is yummmmy!), cream cheese, bocconcini to other restaurants in Bangalore. They have a counter inside the restaurant that sells both their cheese and desserts.

Ananya was all excited about ordering her favourite Spaghetti in Alfredo sauce, N wanted Penne with a robust Primavera Sauce and I had the Spaghetti in a spicy cherry tomato sauce with ricotta. Not surprisingly, there was utter silence at our table as we focussed on our respective pastas and practically licked the plates clean. Given that in our small family of three, two of us are pretty communicative the silence says a lot!!

N just had to order the Tiramisu which was just perfect and I had a pannacotta with a berry sauce- was fine but I probably would pass on it another time. All in all, a lovely time was had by all and we drove home sated and happy. Amen!

Monday, January 07, 2008

Aval Upma- Beaten rice flakes

Aval Upma is typically made either for breakfast or a tea time snack. Beaten rice flakes of two kinds are sold in most grocery stores, for the two dishes below, I recommend the smaller one.
Aval Upma

1/2 cup aval
1/2 onion finely chopped
3-4 tbsp boiled green peas or 1/4 cup finely chopped potatoes
1-2 green chillies, finely chopped
1/2" ginger finely chopped, optional
a pinch of asafoetida
1/4 tsp mustard seeds
1/4 tsp chana dal
1 tbsp roasted peanuts with skin removed
Curry leaves, finely chopped coriander & grated coconut for garnish
1 pinch turmeric, salt to taste, oil as required

Wash the rice flakes well in water and strain them. Keep aside for 5-10 mins. Heat 1 tbsp oil and add a pinch of asafoetida, mustard, chana dal, chillies, ginger, curry leaves and onion. (If using potatoes, add now) Fry for a couple of minutes on medium flame, add turmeric and the soaked rice flakes. Mix well add salt add boiled peas (if using) and peanuts. Garnish with chopped coriander and either squeezed lemon juice or grated coconut.

Sweet Aval

This used to be a favourite after school snack. Its very healthy too!!

1/2 cup beaten flakes
1-2 cups milk flavoured with ground cardamom powder
grated jaggery as per taste
3 tbsp grated coconut

As before, wash and drain the rice flakes. Soak it in milk according to consistency required. Add jaggery and grated coconut. Based on taste, this can be a thin or thick pudding. Its absolutely yummy, take my word for it.

Eulogy for a dearly loved grandfather

Exactly a month ago, on the 7th of December, my maternal grandfather passed away. Quietly, without much of a fuss or bother... just the way he would have wanted. Thatha was 80 and just a few months before, we had celebrated his 80th birthday quite grandly. He then spent a bit of time with family in the US and probably visited everyone he ever knew there. His last couple of months at Chennai too were spent much the same way, visiting people and showering them with his trademark"God Bless You's!" It was almost as if he knew that his time was limited.

So, from a quite logical viewpoint, there is nothing very shocking or upsetting about the death of an 80 year old who has lived a long and mostly contented life with parents, siblings, wife, children, grandchildren and even great grandchildren. Logically, I understand the circle of life and death. Emotionally, I find it difficult to believe that each time I visit the flat my grandparents lived in for the last 10 years and where I lived for 3 years, thatha won't be around to open the door. I find it hard to see my usually tough-as-a-cookie grandmother, suddenly looking fragile and older than her 75 years, living alone in their flat. I think what I find most difficult to accept is the finality that death brings.

When my paternal grandpa passed on 20 years ago, I was a child and only vaguely understood what was happening. Since then, I have not been so closely associated to someone who died...till now. Memories of life with my thatha flash through my mind daily- of him swinging me on his feet when I was four, the number of Parker pens he gifted me through school, Sunday morning brunch at Drive-in Woodlands during summer vacation in Madras, our shared humor at being academic black sheep in our families, a sudden surge in life for both grandparents when I moved into their place for a few years, his concern about my fare arguments with the Chennai auto drivers outside his apt gate (never mind that I found out later that he was actually tipping the same guys I bargained with!!), his happiness at my cousin's marriage and mine that followed soon, seeing his two great grandchildren and most recently his excitement (that he sometimes tried to hide, unsuccessfully) at his Shadabhishekam conducted by his daughters and grandchildren.

I would like to think that my living with thatha and paati for 3 years gave them both a sense of renewed purpose and happiness. I definitely enjoyed living with them, doing up their house in small measures with my grandmom and treating them both to an occasional dinner especially at the Saravana Bhavan weigh and eat buffet where they both constantly compared who ate more!!

While I miss my thatha and wish he was still alive, like my daughter I would like to believe God called him away as He was bored and wanted company. He is probably up somewhere, feasting on "vigtables" and sending a load of "God Bless You's" down our way.