Friday, March 6, 2015

India's Daughter


Yes, yet another Media Mention of the infamous documentary  India's Daughter.

When I sit to write about it, there are so many topics that come to mind, Poverty, Lack of education, Gender inequality, political media censorship, patriarchal society, judicial system, women safety and yes, Rape.

So instead of talking about all, I choose none. I will talk about how it all relates to my experiences growing up in a middle class simple Marwari family.

My maternal grandfather was a historian and a freedom fighter. He got married really early and has a family of 6 kids. 4 boys and 2 girls. My mom grew up in a small UP town and he mandated, 'My daughters will study'.  My maternal grandmother, not educated herself supported this and wanted the independent young girls in her family. She supported her older son's wife entire education after marriage. My mom did double MA (Masters of Art's). Much against the society norms in the 1950's 60's.
My maternal grandparents are a typical Marwari couple, conservative and yet very progressive.

My father, is one of 11 siblings, comes from a very simple and modest family of farmers. Having lost his dad at a very young age, he tells me stories of how much resistance he had to fight against him studying. He got support from one of his siblings and completed his education. His is the story of studying under street lights, living in cramped quarters with roommates and being focused on one thing: Education. He saw most women in his small town Rajasthan being house wives, girls being married really early and no support structure for women. But my mother tells me tales of my paternal grandmother, widowed really early brought up the 11 kids independently. This and my father’s education broadened his horizons and his perspective. His one hope for his kids: Education.

My parents form a very progressive couple. Growing up, they had similar rules for my brother and I. We had the same opportunities for education, lifestyle and extravagance. My brother now is an entrepreneur and as for me. I am an Engineer with a Masters in Engineering from one of the top 10 school in US.

But this story is not about my brother or me. 
It's about the foresight of our grandparents and parents. They didn’t follow societal norms. They followed the path of 'What's right'. They had a vision of their own family being educated, being equal and being independent.

I am sure they dreamt of having their kids in the best possible jobs, businesses and with happy families. And that is the best part: They thought of 'Their Kids' Not just sons! Kids.


Wednesday, February 25, 2015

With kids, funny things happen, ALL THE TIME.

You just have to stop and smell the flowers as they say.

But sometimes things happen that you just laugh your socks off... and this was one of those:
Now I qualify this as 'Kids say the darnest things' though not word was said.

A few weekends ago, one afternoon we were chilling with very dear friends of ours. And they have the most friendly and cute dog.... lets call him 'Roomba'. Why? Since if there is a piece of food on floor he eats it away! I always say, they never need a vacuum.

So, my friend was teaching Miss Chatterbox a few tricks for Roomba, the dog, like Sit, Sleep and then offer a treat.
The story goes like this.

My friend holds out the treat and says.
' Roomba, Sleep, Roomba, put your head down, Roomba stop wagging the tail'
The adorable dog, Roomba is, he does all three and then happily gets his treat.

My chatterbox (7 years old)follows the cue and repeats the same :
' Roomba, Sleep, Roomba, put your head down, Roomba stop wagging the tail'
The adorable dog, Roomba is, he does all three and then happily gets his treat.

Everyone is happy and cheering the dog, Roomba and the girls.

My friend then asks Little Lady (who just turned two), Do you want to try?
And the little lady does the following:
'She Sleeps,She puts her head down, and she stops moving'

So now, the two year old is cutely lying on the floor and we are in splits and laughing hysterically.
Miss Chatterbox goes and says, 'Little Lady deserved a treat!' and feeds her a cheerio

I assure you, this will be a memory etched in all our minds for a long time to come. I swear, I wish we were making a video, it completely would have made it to AFV!

Monday, February 23, 2015

Dosa from Scratch: It's NOT hard at all..


 We are a foodie family. We experiment, we attempt, we fail and we try.
I am one of those who try to cook a fresh meal daily for the kiddos. I say try. The menu needless to say has to be quick and easy to put together. Our week's menu range from Indian Staples: Tortilla/Roti, Vegetables, Curry to Pasta, Quesdilla, Burgers, Panini and snacks... Who says snacks can’t be dinners at times!

In the last 6 months there is one new item: Dosa I have learned that has changed our weekly menu's

My friends MIL gave me a recipe and I have been at it pretty much once every 2-3 weeks
Dosa from scratch!

As you read below, you will think 'My Gosh, it's a 3 day process' yes and no. From the time you soak to you cooking the dosa is 2-3 days. But your involvement is only 20 minutes tops. I guarantee, else I would not be sharing this recipe

Time Breakdown
Soak: 12 hours
Grind: 5 - 10 minutes
Ferment: 24 hours
Prepare the dosa: Depends on your speed!

Ingredients: Makes about 25-30 dosa
2 cup rice
1 cup Udat Daal
1 tsp Methi Dana
1 tsp Chana Daal

Process:
1. Mix and wash all the ingredients and soak overnight
2. Next morning, drain the mixed rice/udat daal and grind them using a heavy duty blender, Example: Blendtec, Ninja Turbo
3. Grinding Notes
1. The grinding takes about 5 - 10 minutes
2. Add less than 1/2 cup water during the process of grinding
3. The batter is a thick white paste, I feel it with my hands, if its grainy, I blend some more.
4. At the time of grinding, feel free to add 1 cup of Poha (washed) for extra crispy dosa's

Ferment:
Pour the batter in a box that seals well and after pouring there is some : My Pyrex works magic!
Size of the box in which you seal the batter should be 2/3 filled since on fermenting the batter rises.
Place the batter in the closed oven (no need to start it)for 24 hours plus to ferment.

Making Dosa:
1. The fermented batter generally rises a little more.
2. Take 1/2 the batter and gradually add water (1 cup) to make the batter liquidy. The batter should be like the pancake batter consistency to make dosa's
3. Add 1 tsp of spoon of salt and roll out the Dosa like Crepe's

The remainder half can be stored in refrigerator upto 5 days. 

To Eat:
I have attempted the following varieties over the past few months:
Sada Dosa,
Cheese Dosa,
Aalloo Masala Dosa,
Paneer Dosa,
Mysore Masala

You have some other variations, please do send my way!

Accompaniments with dosa:
Nariyal Chutney: Recipe coming soon
Green Chutney:
Red Habanero Chutney: Recipe coming soon

Sambhar: I make a 'quick fix' one of these days I will learn the traditional recipe for Sambhar, for now my family is happy with the 'quick fix sambhar’ which tastes really good, if I may add that!


Wednesday, December 31, 2014

The year of extremes, the dramatic year

2104 will be that for sure: The dramatic year!
Thankfully nothing extremely bad, but enough to take stock of life and count your blessings. Thankfully everything good was very very good.

On one end we were hiking on Volcanoes, swimming with fishes, dancing at weddings, engagements, road tripping, chilling with family and on the other extreme: we had couple of ER visits, car accident, calendar blocked with just medical work, more medical work. I have had MRI, MRA, CT and all poking and prodding possible. There has been lots of work stress, stress related injuries and in general just one day high, other day low moments.



But its me, its me always trying to look through it all for some silver linings.
The kids stayed strong, they massaged my aching arms, and they kept chirping around, they made the stress disappear. And for those blessed evening and weekend hours we get with them, all was forgotten and smiles ruled.
We danced a lot, we sang a lot, played a lot of games, colored, ate, cooked. Bliss.
Sumit, my partner in crime stood by me. On one hand he was making ice water bath for me and on the other hand he entertained the girls. He took care of both girls un-interrupted, flew alone with them and made me feel completely at ease. I can't imagine anyone making me laugh away the pains the way he did. He encouraged me to take another sip of water with 104 fevers, he cheated me in another round of exercise for the arm.
I guess timing matters, through my worst illness, my mom was over for her 'just like that’ trip. And it was perfect, well the illness not as much. I fell ill 4 days after my mom arrived. So for those three weeks, I was clueless about everything around me. It was my mom and my husband doing everything for me, the kids and the house. Everything functioned well and I am thankful for them for being around.
My parents, brother and sis in law gave all the moral support I needed
I guess through the thick and thin, it made me take stock of some friendships & some relationships. Some I called sobbing to in the middle of the night, some I just could not even pick up the phone to. Some stood through my weak health moments and others made it a conversation point. I renewed some friendships, made some amazing new ones and some I am letting them slip by. It hurts, but it's fine. So all in all, I think facing the not so good helps to see you more clearly.

For all of our trips and vacations this year, I happy to say we had a lot. I am content. Yes, you read that right, I am content, there could be no more, no less vacations. It was amazing reconnecting with cousins, planning, meeting friends after years, some after days. We travelled a lot and it makes me smile.
It's our thing, travel, travel with the kids, make them have memories of a lifetime and above all, chill and enjoy the moment.
But the year of extremes: I am done. I want a simple event free healthy year. An average year would be just fine!
 I am happy for 2015 to come, I am happy for the new beginnings, I am happy to say adieu for a year dotted with drama and happy memories.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

It's Just Hair? Right? ... May be not

It's hair, its vanity, beauty, identity, depends on whom you ask. For my almost 7  6 year old, Chatter Box, 'It's my decision'
Let me elaborate.
For the last year, Miss V has been patiently growing her hair. For as long as I remember she has sported variations of the 'Dora Hairstyle'. They have been short, manageable. However most of the girls in her class have long hair. When I say long, waist long hair sporting buns, fish braids etc. Playing 'Salon Salon' in break time was the thing for the girls. And Miss V wanted in!
So she grew her hair, went for the customary 1/2 inch trims, but she grew them.  She understood the importance of good hair, so let me oil them, wash them, tend to them.
And oh yes, I was happy. It was like; I have a little doll who tells me each day what she wanted. One pony, two ponies, side pony, open hair, buns. I was happy waking a little bit earlier just to play comb her hair for being school ready.
She enjoyed the pampering as well.
Then one day, in art class, the hair came in way of painting. The hair started bothering her and she was not enjoying the detangling each morning and my nagging of 'lets keep them tied' (Gosh I am turning into my mother)
She said, I need a haircut.
I delayed it; oh let’s wait for Diwali Party. She agreed.
She said, I need a haircut.
I delayed it; oh let’s wait for our DC trip.
She said, I need a haircut.
I delayed it; oh let’s wait for the Dance Recital
She said, 'I need a haircut. It's my decision'.
And I agreed.
We went for her hair cut, removing 6 inches off her lovely long hair and she was happy.
She spent time on my phone looking for the cut she needed, decided the length she wanted and the minutia details of it all. I asked her 20 times at the salon ‘Are you sure?’
She said, I need a haircut.
I think one hair cut taught an important lesson to both of us:
'It may be just hair, but one does not need to conform to fit in' And I completely am enamored by my strong kiddo….. and No I am not looking forward to the teenage  years.
Her friends still sport the long hair, but she is happy. They still play ' Salon Salon' and she comes home with 'funky' clips. But she is happy.

But I am thoroughly enjoying watching her rocking the awesome A line bob!

Before:


After

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Camelot


It was the perfect timing; my husband Sumit had his birthday on Monday and then we had tickets for Camelot at our favorite theatre: Drury Oak Lane

Now, I have seen a fair number of shows at this gorgeous theatre, but somehow Camelot fell short. The sets, production set up left a lot to be desired for. Considering this was set up in the ‘King Arthur’, to me it felt very plain, very ‘non-grand’.
The music scores however were fabulous. They were perfectly timed and well delivered! The cast and the crew were impeccable. I loved Lancelot, I think he had the grandeur and the ‘make-me-weak-in-the-knees’ quality about him. The lovely song ‘I would leave you..’ was so simple and romantic. And me celebrating Sumit’s birthday there made it all the more special.

I think ‘Merlin’ was astounding. The screen presence, the delivery of dialogues, the worries were so well depicted.
Ken Clark, as King Arthur. Well my first impression was, hmm, wait; he is The king? But I must say, by the end of Act 1, I was mesmerized. It was such a powerful close and an awe-inspiring presence on stage.

I have not seen the original Camelot production, but from what I gather it is fairly long. This production, the first half and the second half were disproportionate time wise. Act 1 was a decent 75 minutes plus, however after the interval, it was very short and it felt that the play suddenly ended. However I do understand it is hard to compress such a grand production; I wish Act 2 could continue to build on the ‘grandeur’ of ‘King Arthur’

Overall, I did enjoy the production. Mixing a celebration with a lovely theatre evening is always good. And with kids peacefully sleeping at home, I did enjoy my evening out.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Happy New Year

 Come on, you know I am talking about the Bollywood blockbuster, Happy New Year HNY and not the New Year which is alarmingly close now.
 Naah, I am not going to do a movie review. I am going to say, I loooooved it!
We went on a lazy Saturday afternoon with my 6 year old and almost 2 year girl. This is how the movie shaped up for us.
The 6 year old- Miss V aka the Chatterbox, was laughing hysterically at all dialogues and the comedy of errors in the movie and the almost 2 year old, Little Lady was standing on seats and clapping through all songs.
And with this funny drama unfolding, Sumit and I were giggling, sometimes at the kids, sometimes on screen and in general were just super happy enjoying the 'Happy New Year'
The best part about the movie, no double meaning, no jokes that need explanation, no closing eyes for the kids, no nothing. It was meant to be a family entertainment and it definitely left our family entertained.
So until the next Masala Movie is released, both Sumit and I smile and the simple concept and adorable delivery of the movie with my 6 year old' favorite star: Mr. Shah Rukh Khan... SRK! I must add, the Little Lady is getting mesmerized with the man with the ‘almost real’ but fake abs!

PS: Image taken from Google Images