Thursday, January 16, 2014

Darling S,

I don't know where to begin. Rusty, rusty and rusty is what my writing is. And even rustier is my typing on the ipad. But I know I will write, for one day I would want to look back at this wonderful point in time and relive it again. Last year around this time I was absolutely terrified. The countdown had begun and I was getting sick thinking about all the blood and gore and pain and labor that child birth entails. I know all this is normal and almost every woman does it - but that doesn't make it any less daunting, does it? I have always known myself to be terrified of pain - someone who feared the prospect of removing a tiny splinter. Yeah, that weird patient who howled at the dentist for a routine check up is me. So anyways, here I was biting my chewed-down fingers wondering why I even got myself into this situation. The fear of physical pain was really overwhelming.
And then like countless women who have given birth before me, I went ahead and had you, my baby. And like all the cliches I had read, for that microsecond when I first held you, nestled in my arms, pain was a distant memory.
So the last year has sped by just like that. You continue to amaze us with your new found skills, your sweet babbling, your smiles, gurgles and just your whole self. As you take your first steps, we celebrate your growing independence and sigh - our little baby is almost a toddler.
Well, well, well. Before I get carried away and need to be rescued with a box of tissues, here's our wish for you - stay healthy and happy sweetheart. And always, ALWAYS know that you are deeply loved for what you are and what you choose to be.
Aai & Baba
PS - you are proving to be a daddy's girl, and how! You constantly chant Baba, Baba like a mantra. So far, you haven't been able to say Aai. Ouch! It hurts.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Just so sad

22 (at least) poor children lost their lives in Bihar after eating the mid-day meals served in government schools. And so many more have taken ill. What a sad situation...Does anyone care?
On the one hand there are millions of kids who are homeless, hungry, abused endlessly and vulnerable to even more abuse, struggling to survive and on the other hand are the greedy scamsters who are pilfering away millions and millions and still can't be satisfied. What world is this? I'm so tempted to join the atheists. :'(

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Sweet, tender and beautiful

Is how being a mother feels like. Our precious bundle of joy, our daughter S was born on Jan 20, 2013. She arrived one week before her due date, but not a moment too soon.

With our lives revolving around the little one and her newborn activities, there is time for hardly anything else. The house is filled with the baby stuff, her tiny clothes in the laundry bag, her sweet smell lingers in the air and the favorite activity these days is to stare at this cherubic little person.

It's frightening how fast time is flying by, S is already five weeks old! A part of me is relieved to have survived the difficult first month, but five weeks already? Go steady little S, for your mamma's sake. :)

More updates as soon as A and I get back to our senses.



Friday, November 16, 2012

Belated Diwali wishes!

Wishing you all a very happy (belated) Diwali! I hope you celebrated the festival with your loved ones just the way you wished!

Our Diwali was made special by K3 and AG who visited us from VA. Or it would have been just another long weekend with just the two of us. With fabulous company, it was all the more exciting to cook special favorites, shop and relax. In the four days of Diwali we cooked up quite a storm, literally. Never before has this little kitchen been so active (not counting mom's endless cooking).

Day 1 was shev-aloo pohe and ladoo for breakfast and bise bele hule anna and boondi raita with soan papdi for lunch. We ended the day with Skyfall and lunch leftovers.

Day 2 was more elaborate with shev-upma and soan papdi for breakfast and poori-shrikhand, potato bhaji and lemon rice or chitranna. An afternoon nap was really what the doctor ordered to recover from the lunch but instead we headed to a mall to get our Diwali shopping done. Dinner was a variety of dosas at an Indian restaurant.

Day 3 breakfast was subdued with just simple oatmeal and toasted bagels as our stomachs struggled from the previous day's eating. But the lunch menu was already planned and there was no looking back! We had black channa usal, bhendi panchamruta, gulab jamun, poli and tondli-bhaat. Yumm!! We seriously needed to rest that day to make breathing space in our well-fed bodies. :) And then we made some pani-poori in the evening to use up that space.

Day 4 breakfast was non-existent. :) We made some delicous vermicelli kheer, kadhi, simple yellow daal and rice, beans-potato bhaji and mixed peppers-apple raita for lunch. The evening highlight was the motichoor laddoos we bought for Lakshmi pooja.

The food we cooked had so many memories - we cooked them just the way my mom, amma cooks it. In their typical Maharashtrian-Karnataki style. When I told my grandmother (amma) on the phone that we had a good time at Diwali and really feasted like she would like us to, she specifically asked about every day's meal. :) We are such a foodie family!

K3 and A were wonderful sports as always, not getting overwhelmed with my bossy behavior in the kitchen and staying calm and getting their tasks done. :) What would I do without them!

There are a lot of pictures I want to share but would have to wait for K3. She was our official photographer you see.

And yeah the feasting is not done yet! We have some good old fashioned Diwali faraal of chakali, karanji, shev, ladoo, chvda and chirote coming to us all the way from Aurangabad! :D

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Sherlocked

I have been a huge fan of detective series for a long time now. Right from Nancy Drew, er...if one could call her a detective. Agatha Christie's books were a feast growing up and I would care for nothing other than a good thick Poirot volume and a cosy seat to rest myself for the afternoon. Ah! Such fun. Though I read all Miss Marple stories I enjoyed Poirot the best from Christie's characters. His jovial, good natured quirks reminded me of my grandfather, and especially his shiny egg-head. :) Those days there was a Poirot tele-serial which I watched religiously. I could not follow the British accent very well but since I had read the stories many times over, I got what was happening. Fredrick Forsythe was loved too for his extremely detailed, thoroughly researched stories and super complex plots and sub-plots. 

Then there was Sherlock Holmes and his trusted friend, Dr. John Watson. I remember reading Sherlock in school and wondering if I understood it right. The stories were dark, the plot complex and usually some things were just left as it is. Sherlock could not be compared to my beloved Hercule Poirot who was polite and nice to the fault whereas Sherlock came across quite rude really. Gruff, blunt and sometime even hurtful. Gradually, he grew on me. I understood his friendship with Watson. I understood that though he was a brilliant detective, a master at the art of deduction, he had his failings as a human being. Like the rest of us. And that's when  comparisons ceased and I started enjoying the series. 

A couple years back I got my hands on the entire collection courtesy Kindle and I enjoyed Sherlock Holmes adventures all over again. On our trip to London, we visited Baker Street and I got a picture of mine with Sherlock's statue. It was a dream come true! Yeah, that's how silly and ardent fans are - I know he's just a character out of someone's imagination. But what the heck, I love him! 

Then in India last Diwali I happened to watch BBC's tele-series Sherlock. An amazingly gripping contemporary take on Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's classic, the 90-minute long episode brings to life all the eccentricities of Sherlock and more. If Sherlock Holmes were to walk the streets of London today with the latest cell-phone stuck to his ear, it would be like this. Benedict Cumberpatch as Sherlock and Martin Freeman as Dr. Watson are a dream to watch. The dialogues and the screenplay are superlative allowing the viewers to enjoy a generous helping of British wit and humor. Ben's mannerisms, the flick of his artistic fingers, the gait, the restlessness which is so Sherlock Holmes is absolutely brilliant. Freeman's Dr. Watson is so believable, so upright, so honest and so loveable! He's the perfect foil to Sherlock's high intensity dramatics. London plays an important role too for it's Sherlock's playground, the city he knows like the back of his hand. 

The extremely talented writers, Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss have adapted the classic in tune with their unique interpretation. There's a lot more drama and emotional conflict than what meets the eye. The final work product is enthralling, engaging and completely satisfying. Of course they have taken liberties with the original, after all it's their take. For one, Sherlock doesn't say "Elementary!" Still there are no complains at all as a fan.  

Last week A and I were watching the last episode of Season 2 - The Reinbach Fall. The same falls where Sir Arthur's Sherlock and his arch enemy Moriarty both fall to their deaths. The readers know that the celebrated author had to revive his hero after nearly ten years bowing to the demand of thousands of miserable fans. So, effectively, Sherlock doesn't die in the story. Now, in this series the story is changed quite a bit with the Fall being symbolic. 

Spoiler alert - the story progresses to show Sherlock accused of being a fraud and the criminal behind all the cases he has helped solve. I watched in shock as they showed that he jumps to his death admitting in his last call to Dr. Watson that he's indeed a fraud. And he's dead! I'm so involved at this point that I'm sobbing uncontrollably, blabbering mindlessly, "But they cant kill him like this in disgrace...he doesn't die here..." A is beyond amused, he's laughing so hard his face is red and looks like he'd choke. But I dont care, I'm at the depths of despair - how could they kill Sherlock Holmes like this! Now, this is the power of storytelling. You forget it's a story. I know I'm a fan and already a believer, but mind you I'm not easy to trick. A was quick to regain his composure and tried to placate me by saying  they wont do this - how can they kill the hero in disgrace. I was still weeping silently with Dr. Watson as he mourned his dear friend at his grave. Several long seconds later the camera shifted to reveal the familiar profile, Sherlock Holmes, hiding behind the trees. Ah! What a relief! So yes, there's at least one more season. Releasing next fall. One full year of waiting. Difficult, but certainly bearable with six old episodes to be watched over and over again! 

Pic source: google.com


Tuesday, October 09, 2012

Some more nostalgia

In exactly a week, mom and dad will leave for India. :( After every few hours I feel saddened by the thought.  I will have to think about the time difference before calling them up every now and then. Technically I said my goodbyes when I left K2's place last month and did it quite dramatically. Of course knowing me it was sure that after spending almost 3 months with them, I wasn't going to be all cheerful, waving a ta-ta at the airport, wasn't it? But I surprised myself - the crying that started at the airport continued intermittently throughout the pan-American flight and hasn't stopped even now. The melancholy of the fall season and the chill in the air (and the sight of whole heads of broccoli and cabbage languishing in the crisper) make me wanna run back to my home in Aurangabad, where I'm a child again and my time with my parents is not limited to any visa restrictions. Also, most of sensible dreams (when I am not dreaming of horror stories and murder mysteries) see me in my bed in Aurangabad, sleeping next to K2. When I wake up I am a little sad and disappointed that I'm in a different time now. Sometimes I feel guilty that missing my childhood home, my parents and K2, K3 with such intensity, is it unfair to A? Hmm...I think not. He knows me well, he knows my wiring is weird. I still have the instincts of the prehistoric cavesmen, I want my entire family living together in one cave. A big roomy cave with a good internet connection that is. :) 

Till I meet my besties again, here's wishing them a wonderful time back home. I miss you already!



Anyways. A and I took off to Vermont for two days. Till we set off A wasn't sure if I was going to enjoy myself and in turn if he would have any peace. I was feeling feverish and had a slight to severe headache. Thankfully, I forgot all about it the moment we stepped out. Exactly like A had predicted. *Rolls eyes* 

Like professional leafers, we took to quaint little towns, tasted the local cheeses and fruit preserves, bought samples of maple syrup.  We timed our trip really well and were rewarded with a spectacular display of fall foliage. Rust, crimson, copper, gold, scarlet and tinge of green - it was a mesmerizing burst of colors. 



In the spirit of the season, we raided the dollar tree store and decorated our patio with tiny plastic ghosts, witches, skeletons, bloody banners and halloween lanterns. And yes, we have our own pumpkins too! We have made it into a proper festival and may even squeeze in a trip to the temple. ;) I can already smell Dasserra in the air so listen up Fall Melancholy, you are not feared anymore. :)



Thursday, September 20, 2012

Ganapati!!


Ganapati is my favorite festival – after all I’m a Marathi mulgi. :) I get very nostalgic around this time reminiscing about all the Ganapati’s from my childhood - the excitement of seeing Ganesh idols in the market, the hustle bustle, the festivities, the food, the music, the programs organized by Ganesh mandals, the processions bringing Ganapati home and then the extremely emotional visarjan or immersion processions on Anant Chaturdashi.

Weeks before Ganesh Chaturthi, the grounds next to our home would buzz with the idol makers who would work in a frenzy to add final touches to the thousands of Ganesh idols neatly lined on wooden benches. Some artists would focus on huge idols, some at least 10 feet tall. On our way home we would gaze in awe at the idols coming to life. With his cherubic features, kind eyes and a tiny mouse for company, Ganesh for us, is the most adorable of Gods. Ganapati is the God of knowledge and learning and so our pencil boxes, study-table, books, etc would have tiny Ganapati pictures pasted all over them. We would start counting days to Ganesh Chaturthi eve when we’d choose “our” Ganapati and bring him home.

Decoration for Ganapati was a favorite, much-awaited activity. I use to traumatize K2 and K3 as I considered myself really creative. The poor little girls in their excitement ignored my bullying and worked hard with colored papers, glitter, glue and what not. Most of our decorations used to be hand-made, except for those mandatory lights and paper-chain garlands. Honestly our work used to sloppy at best but the pride and happiness we experienced to have “readied” the place for our beloved Ganapati was priceless.

On Ganesh Chaturthi eve, we would accompany dad to bring home our Ganapati. After much care, discussion and deliberation, mostly based on the color of the pitamber and the overall “cuteness” of the idol, we used to select one small sized Ganapati. With much love and tenderness, just like one fusses over a baby, we would carry the idol home, all wrapped up in a cloth so that nobody saw him before his sthapana the next day.

Ganesh Chaturthi day, a school holiday, would begin bright and early. Mom would get busy in the kitchen preparing the usual festival food so that the prasadache taat (offering for the Gods) would be ready in time. We would spend an insane amount of time doing rangoli in the courtyard – again yours truly bossing over helpless K2 and K3. :( Then mom and dad would be called to mandatorily admire our art, which they faithfully did.

After a quick bath we would dash out to pick “durva”, the fine grass like herb which happens to be Ganapati’s favorite. Durva grows along the road side, in open grounds, etc. It’s also sold around Ganesh Chaturthi. It needs to be picked, cleaned thoroughly and tied in tiny bunches of 5, 11, 21, 51 and/or 101 stalks. Then we used to pick flowers from our garden. Red jaswand, rose, kanher, aboli and parijat – they are all Ganapati’s favorite flowers. Dad would also buy roses and lotus flowers. With this done, we three girls would be done with our work for the day! Phew! :)

Then would begin the long wait for the pooja and prasad. Usually at around noon, our Ganapti would be ready to be “installed” and we would sing five to seven aartis with gusto, accompanied with taal and ghanta. The whole atmosphere would turn magical once Ganapati took his place in our devghar. Adorned with flowers, garlands, durva over his head, colorful lights twinkling, he appeared to smile at us. We would yell “Ganapati Bappa Moraya” at the top of our voice. We imagined that Ganapati was very happy looking at our decoration and the 21 sweet modaks mom would have placed before him. Mom always fried modaks made out of wheat flour. Of course the prasadache taat would have our favorite foods as well.

The 10-11 day festival would thus begin. Every morning we would scout for durva and flowers, do Ganapati’s arati in the mornings and evenings as well, visit our friends’ to take blessings from their Ganapatis, go out to sarvajanik Ganapati mandals to admire the Ganesh idols and the different themes of decoration, participate in various competitions organized by our colony’s Ganesh mandal. To add to the merriment and feasting, Gauri or “Laksmya – pair of Laxmis” would visit in between for three days. Though we didn’t have the practice of erecting Gauri idols in our place my mom would invite our girl friends for lunch. The highlight would be a creamy rice kheer. At my grandparents’ place, Gauri idols are erected and there’s serious work that goes in the decoration. My youngest mama who is very enthusiastic when it comes to Ganapati/Gauri decoration, even has a bamboo structure in place which can be erected easily that works as a mandap or canopy. All he has to do is drape silk sarees over it. This frees up his time to add more detail in the decoration – different lights, crystals, etc.

As days zoomed towards Anant Chaturdashi or the last day of the festival, again a school holiday, our hearts would grow heavy at the thought of saying goodbye to our Ganapati. We felt very protective towards this baby faced diety – so much so that we hoped people would stop immersing Ganapati idols on the visarjan day. With tearful eyes we would sing the last arati in the evening which we would do as late in the evening as possible just so that the Ganapati stayed a bit longer. With a little “khau” of coconut, peanuts, poppy seeds and jaggery for his journey, we would follow our dad to immerse our Ganesh in the nearby well. Chanting “Ganapati bappa moraya, pudhchya varshi lavkar ya” we pleaded with him to visit us soon next year. The house felt empty in the evening and nothing would lift our spirits. We felt such sadness while we chanted in chorus “Ganapati gele gavala, chain padena amhala.”

Ironically, A’s family doesn’t celebrate Ganapati festival for some weird reason. I was overcome with sadness when his mom told me this after our wedding. :(  Not fair, right? I haven’t made peace with it yet.

Anyways. As I count my blessings this Ganesh Chaturthi, I wish you readers all the happiness, peace and prosperity. I leave you with the following pics, all the decorations are handmade, lovingly and painstakingly.

Ganapati at K3’s in Virginia (2012)



Gauri/Laksmya at my grandparents’ in Hyd (2011)