Archive | January, 2012

SMASH!

24 Jan

So let me just start by saying I am awkward and clumsy and have always been.

I remember being as small as 3 years old and proudly displaying multiple black and blue bruises to my parents from bumping myself against furniture all around the house- the bed, dressing table, dining table etc.

Dropping stuff seemed to follow suit. I was the kid who dropped the huge 1.5 L Coke immediately after picking it up from the fridge on a hot summer’s day much to the wrath of the cousins and other relatives eagerly awaiting their share. I was the kid who dropped expensive Chinese vases when out antiquing with my parents and my dad was promptly footed with long bills on more than one occasion and I was the kid who almost every day upset my milk at the dining table.

Anyway, all these accomplishments and several others earned me the name of “Butterfingers”   at home when my parents were in an endearing mood. There were more unkind names bestowed upon me by relatives but we will just let that pass.

Anyway I went through my awkward adolescence, with the multiple bruises scratches on my person and the reputation of being a bull in a china shop, quite literally sometimes, wherever I went.

The Husbadoo was obviously exposed to this when we dated in college. I have upset my glass of water a few times when out at one the many small pav bhaji -tava pulav serving places we frequented. The first time it happens when you are with this guy you are trying to impress, it’s embarrassing. After it happens twice or thrice, it then just becomes the norm and neither of us thought much about it.

Overall through the 7 years we have known each other,  I think he handled my clumsiness pretty well without overreacting and making me feel even more conscious of these accidents then I already was. For this I am extremely grateful. When we got married and lived under the same roof, his exposure to these grew even more. Breaking crockery is something I do on a weekly basis; we just keep the dustpan and brush handy to sweep up the spoils. Husbadoo proves quite handy with these. He also responds in appropriate symapathetic tones when I show him a freshly stubbed toe.

Now this clumsiness that he had seen previously was only in relation to inexpensive stuff.When I moved to electronics,  I think it scared him a bit.I dropped my Android phone in the parking lot a few months ago and smashed the screen. A quick cost analysis vs. contract renewal (new phone) time revealed to me that changing the gorilla glass made no financial sense. Besides the phone worked great despite this.I don’t particularly care about a cracked screen.

However, I think last weekend  my clumsiness reached a whole new level.With a swift wave of my hand, I knocked the husbadoo’s brilliant 5 inch tablet cum smart phone out of his hand at the mall.The gorilla glass shattered and I think the husbadoo’s heart did too .The phone still worked though,  as I insisted on demonstrating to him multiple times. The drive home was in silence.

Anyway, after numerous apologies, and phone calls made by yours truly, I tracked down a screen repair shop for this particularly hard to find manufacturer a few states away. They then told me about an unknown (no online presence in this day and age, seriously?!?) local store which did this at the other end of our city. They had the part and the Husbadoo took it over the next day for a new screen .I heaved a huge sigh of relief once he got it done and was back to his usual cheery self. As he is such a non-sulker (I own all the sulks in this family), I had totally not expected to see him so distraught over a silly screen. Especially considering mine was in pretty much in the same state for a few months now and I was managing just fine. Oh well, boys and their toys, I guess. All’s well in our little world again and I did accumulate a few brownie points for effort in tracking down the repair options!

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Bombay Dreams

20 Jan

I had a dream last night which I remember quite vividly. The Husbadoo and I are roaming the streets of South Bombay hand in hand looking for a place to eat. I can’t for the life of me make up my mind whether I want a hot Masala Dosa at Kamat or whether I want to go to the small hole in the wall – Sukh Sagar at Nariman point for spicy Triple Schezwan. Some where between all this we are weighing the options of going all the way to our college canteen in Matunga and having some Vada Pav vs. driving a little further to Ghatkopar and going to his favorite Achija for Pav Bhaji.

Anyway we are sitting in a cab and somehow are now in Churchgate and we decide to go to the Pizzeria instead. I can see the checkered tablecloth, the corner table, the sea view and can even smell the desi pizza with lots of Paneer. That was when I woke up

The Pizzeria is a place is close to my heart.

My dad took our family there when we first moved to Bombay in 1996. Since then it has remained a favorite among our small family of four.

The Husbadoo and I have our own little memory there too. This was our real last Bombay date before the Husbadoo left for the US. It was a special occasion and a special place for lunch it had to be.

We next went there a few days after our wedding with my parents and little sister. Just sitting there, sipping Coke and eating Pizza with the 4 people I loved most in the world was out of this world.  After dinner we headed to this small ice cream palor down the road, where Dad has been eating ice creams since they were a few paise in the 60s and bought the Husbadoo his first Pista ice cream sandwich. We joked about how he was now truly initiated into the family.

This evening somehow has stayed with me over the last 2.5 years since our wedding. I am incredibly close to my family and that evening together was a glimpse of how my life could really be if we ever moved back to India.

We often talk about going back but never really with sense of seriousness and a timeline in mind. We joke that apart from family, it is really the food that makes us want to return. We both aren’t huge on maintaining old friendships (besides most of our friends are in the US,) do not really care for distant family or attending family functions , do not think  that our prodigy by any means would grow up in a more sheltered environment , closer to the Indian culture  or have anything else to really drive us to return. So it our parents, siblings and food that really draws us home. I am not naïve enough to know that this won’t change in the future and that multiple elements will enter the equation as we grow older (and maybe more mature !) but currently our reasons for ever wanting to return are pretty simple.

We also know that it’s probably high time that we consider a timeline here as our parents are already getting older. We both want to be there with them when they are in the prime of their health, do the fun eating out, family trips, watch them play with their young grandkids and not just show up there to do our “duty” when and if God forbid, they are really old and ailing.We long to spend these in between “fun years” with them.

Of course, then the reasons for staying back here during these years comes into play and there are several pulling us to stay as well. But that is another story or another post!

Anyway, till we give this a good solid thought, I will have to make do with my midnight excursions to the Pizzeria!

A trip to the Indian store

17 Jan

It’s funny how a trip to your local Indian store makes you reminiscence so much bout home and family. This little home from home draws me in every few weeks when I need my India fix

First, the waft of agarbhatti that greets us when we open the door takes me back to many a quiet moment spent with mom on the prayer mat as she lit the diya and taught me my first shlokas.

As we head to the vegetable section, I am transported to the scene of mom haggling with the subji wallah who came to our door with his produce .Or better still it takes me back to the walk that husbadoo and I did every couple of days when we had just started dating that involved walking me home from college and the fact that he had to often stop to buy a few veggies for his mom on the way!

We move to the biscuit aisle and familiar names in new 2012 jazzed up packaging stare back at us.

Cheeslings- My favorite ! Dad often surprised me with these.

Pure Magic Vanilla- Mom got me a packet every time I was exceptionally good and helped her with some big house chore.

The Orange cream ones which my grandfather always stocked up on and lovingly shared with me when I visited during the holidays. I loved to lick the cream off each side first.

The Britannia digestive ones – Mom and I often shared this and a cosy talk with our evening tea.

I push my cart over to the dals and flours and the vision of an excited 20 year old girl trying her hardest to understand what each one is comes into my mind’s eye. Mom is explaining the various dals with hope that I don’t starve through grad school and atleast know some basics of cooking a few of them. My eyes glaze over after the initial 10 minutes and it is only 3 years later that I finally can identify most of them and use them appropriately.

We stop by the spices and I remember the husbadoo’s bachelor kitchen in grad school , completely devoid of even the most basic stuff but well stocked in the Badshah Pav Bhaji masala .His mom knew it was his favorite and always sent him 6 packs of these at a minimum. As one lasts for ages, after 3 years of marriage and several scrumptious Pav Bhajis we are only now down to our last pack.

We pass the small shelf with the various oils – the Sesame one reminds of Diwali mornings in our Tam brahm household and being awakened at the unearthly hour of 5 am on a holiday for an oil bath.

The Coconut one just reminds of my grandmom pulling me onto the floor during holiday visits , complaining my much shampooed , conditioned hair is terribly unkempt and oiling it well and truly much to my many protests.

I spy the Maggi aisle and remember this being the first thing I ever cooked. I must have been 14, mom was out  and I made this for my 5 year old baby sister , even though we were both forbidden to switch on the gas (yes, I was over protected at 14!)

As we near the desi brand of OTC meds , a notice the Hajmola. I remember sneaking a few out every now and again for my sister and I to chew on. Many moons later she told me she never really liked it but ate it anyway to fit in and be cool like her big sister. Thank God it was only harmless Hajmola that I was feeding her!

We are now nearing the check out section and the sight of samosas and kachoris transports me back to opening the door for dad who often brought us home some hot samosas from  the Punjabi Chandu Halwai shop on his way home from work. One day when I was about 11, he got home kachoris instead and I was hooked- so much better in my book.

We head back to our car with our haul and I am left marveling that the world they create in the little 40 by 50 feet room can invoke such lovely memories. A quick 15 minute trip has now sparked atleast a joyful hour or two of conversation with many “Do you remember”s. We order some chaat and chai from the desi restaurant next door and reminiscence to our heart’s content. A totally productive evening!

Rotis over pride

12 Jan

So I took the plunge – I now have a cook (once a week) and hopefully also a cleaning lady (once/twice a month). I am going to lead quite the pampered life!

So though  I am ok with joking about this, I spent entire Saturday night tossing and turning thinking if I was just a lazy pig and the $$$ I would be burning in this each month.

Work is suddenly super hectic for the pair of us and I realize that we have not been able to really cook or clean all that much. I can choose cooking over my work out some days but then working out is my refuge , it’s for my sanity and it is probably not something I should cut considering the unhealthy stuff we tend to eat.

I think back to the last time I made or even ate a homemade roti and it is definitely early November. When the husbadoo and I got married in 2009, we ate rotis almost each night. Fresh ones to boot.I even made parathas and other fancy stuff. I still love cooking but have taken to some easier options , for which most of the prep work is done over the weekend. I make subjis but we have brown rice.I chop veggies for pasta ahead of time, I make a whole lot of soups.

We also eat dinner out on average twice a week and lunch about 3-4 times between us.

So a colleague with a 1 year old baby and another on the way ,was lucky enough to find a nice desi lady who is available twice a week to help with some cooking. She dangled this option in front of me when I told her I was a little worried about our diets off late.

This aunty is supposed to be a ninja in the kitchen –a chopping, roti making, cleaning machine and the thought of a spic and span kitchen and hot rotis was too tempting to pass on!

 

So she made an appearance when my kitchen was at its most ignored dirtiest best. She rolled out 30 rotis at top speed, made a lovely Gujju dal which the Husbadoo loved , made another subji and spent the rest of the time grumbling that my kitchen was a mess. Anyway, she cleaned it up significantly and left it all so bright and shiny that I am scared to even boil some milk now for fear of making a mess.

The  food lasted us a few meals and it was a comfort knowing I wouldn’t have to rush home-rush to gym-shower-cook-eat-work.I probably won’t be making this twice a week for now but will strongly consider it in the next few months if my workload continues to be this bad.

Funnily, I realized I was ashamed to tell some of my closest friends about hiring a cook. The ones who use this Aunty’s help have kids and probably really need her. We on the other hand maybe do not. Also I have always fancied myself as a bit of a do-it-all-gal : keeping home, cooking many a mean meal , working out regularly and exceling at work. Accepting that you just can’t do it all is hard and voicing it to your closest friends is harder still. So my cooking aunty and the lovely rotis we feasted on this week is pretty hush-hush for now.

Next for a reliable cleaning lady and we are all set for a life of comfort!

Tales from a tropical holiday!

5 Jan

The much awaited Hawaii trip has finally taken place. We are back, bags unpacked, laundry loads put in, grocery shopping done to restock an empty larder and fridge, trip pics (1500 in all, yes the Hubadoo went a little nutty over the new camera) have been looked through with much discussion on which ones to share on Picasa with parents, friends, office colleagues, which ones are Facebook worthy and have argued about which ones are for private viewing only. It is finally time to put pen to paper or rather fingers to keyboard about the trip itself.

In one word it was absolutely breathtaking .9 days, 3 islands, 4 flights – Just not enough to take in Hawaii in all her beauty.

We started by landing in Oahu., starving after an 8 hour long flight with no food(yes, why can’t domestic airlines in the US learn from Indian domestic flights-we survived on granola bars and water for 8 hours. The other option being the terribly overpriced sad box lunch available for purchase).We headed to the familiar CPK (California Pizza Kitchen) in Oahu airport and after getting some sustenance and recuperating our spirits, we  checked into our hotel, right in the heart of Waikiki, with its throngs of tourists, street shopping and side shows. We got asked if we were on our honeymoon to which we unanimously lied with a big yes and got a free upgrade to a better room than the one booked.

(BTW, Small gifts and free upgrades with the honeymoon question seemed to be the theme of this holiday)

Oahu , my very  first glimpse of Hawaii will probably remain my favorite island. Over the next 3 days we drove miles , hiked muddy trails, looked up quaint veggie food places and overall had a blast. The Husbadoo surfed and caught every single wave – I am so proud of him and this was only his second surfing class ever.

Our visit to Pearl Harbor here was altogether quite somber but totally brilliant. Taking a quiet moment in the USS Arizona Memorial and seeing the oil leak from 70 years ago in the water somehow makes things seems too real, more than what my 10th standard history textbook ever did.

We even had a close Obama encounter, when he apparently was having dinner at a restaurant in our hotel. We didn’t really catch a glimpse though with the massive crowds and barricades.

We spent a few joyful hours in the Oahu farmers market, sampling tasty tidbits – corn on the cob, basil tomato pizza, onion rings, fresh nariyal pani…all brilliant. This to me was the loveliest part of the Oahu stay.

We spent 2 days in Kauai and I firmly decided that Kauai though an untouched beauty was a tad dull for my liking. We trekked an absolutely muddy trail with a massive river crossing overlooking the Napali coast, did a lovely kayaking-hiking through the rain forest –swimming in a secret waterfall trip and took in some brilliant views of the Waimea Canyon. Food wise , Kauai had less options for the veggie foodie obsessed pair that we are and this was probably because we found ourselves there on Christmas Day.

Then we were off to pretty, pretty Maui!

Here we did the famous drive to Hana from Maui’s west coast to the east through rainforests , treacherous terrains – 600 odd hairpin bends and 50 odd one lane bridges. The Husbadoo drove masterfully through and we stopped for a quick delve into our picnic basket, a picture at a waterfall or two, a beautiful beach or two and the mystical town of Hana.This trip is supposedly called the “Divorce Highway” with couples starting bright and early in the morning happy  with each other and the world at large and arguing and pissed off with each other on the way back. We did pretty ok I must say.

We did a submarine tour in Maui which was a little overrated and probably not something I would do again. To make up for the disappointment we took a whale watching with our boat surrounded by nearly 10 whales and for $20 a head this was perhaps the most paisa vasool activity of the trip.

We ate some scrumptious veggie burgers in Lahaina, each one surpassing the other in taste, found some decent Italian places and finally tried a Mexican place on our last day there.

Through all this we made plenty of time for cosying it up in the room, reading on the beach, playing in the waves and overall really de-stressing .

We made it back in time for a small new year’s eve celebration at a friend’s place and overall called it a year! What a year – tons of family visiting (house guests), lots of holiday travel, lots of hard work for the both of us, plenty of good times with friends! 2011 has been extremely kind .Let’s hope 2012 surpasses it 🙂