Archive | January, 2017

Day 30 – Samosas for dinner

31 Jan

Samosa sandwiches to end a tiring , tiring Monday at work – that’s what I had got dinner.

 I usually feel righteous and good after having a salad for lunch. I know this is a regular lunch for some folks but it’s definitely a hard one for me to keep up with every day.Anyway I try to atleast do it once.or twice a week. 

So I  ate my hearty salad at 11:45 am and was starving soon afterwards. I grabbed a bag of baked potato chips around 2 pm and was good for a few hours. At 5:15  my tummy was rumbling as I drove to quickly pick up groceries before I picked up Bandar. Our grocery store is located in this strip mall near an idnain restaurant. Every evening this restaurantn fries up pakodas or something and has the entire vicnity smelling of this. Today my hunger knew no bounds and I found myself going in to order 4 samosas ( 2 each for the husband and me). There was a moment there when I debated 6 as they were really on the smaller side..Not the cocktail sized samosas but not a huge big one either. Anyway, I got them home after I picked up Bandar and deposited her and the samosas ( not necessarily in that order ) inside and rushed to change and make myself a delicious samosa sandwich. Bread was toasted for two sandwiches , and chutney and chili sauce were spread on the slices . The samosas were smashed in then voila ! Party in my mouth.

P.S. That’s all for today folks. This is maybe my shortest post this marathon. I have loads of office work ahead of me tonight and lots on my mind but getting a post in today was really stressing me out . Hoping to finish strong tomorrow with one more post before calling it a month.

Day 29 – Making up your mind to be happy

30 Jan

So today I actually woke up in a decent mood, but somehow in the process of getting breakfast made ( poha) and Bandar fed and planning the day , I got into a terribly bad mood. The husbadoo brought up that the weather was really good, as in hot for January at around 1 pm and suggested the beach. I agreed half heartedly but was grumpy. My definition of hot is very different from his..I like being at a beach at a 85F plus day while 70F is perfectly fine for him. I find the water terribly cold even normally here and January waters seemed brutal. Plus the prep for going to the beach is never easy…From sunscreen to snacks to change of clothes to sand toys .

So I grumbled and grumbled, picked a fight a d made up and apologized and picked another fight still about why we have to go to the beach in Jan and apologized yet again. Somewhere during the excruciating process of finding Bandar some beach shoes that she hadn’t grown out of, I made up my mind that enough was enough , we were going to the beach and I better be happy about it. I somehow needed to tell myself this in firm tones and had a sea change in attitude. I hugged the husband and Bandar and started looking forward to the rest of the day. When we actually got out, the husband actually commented it was a tad colder than he expected with a good wind blowing and that I was going to be mad at the beach. 

Anyway we got there and got parking fairly quickly, always a good sign and set up our paraphernalia at a nice spot. We decided to check out the water temps immediately and though the first 10 minutes were as cold as I expected, I slowly grew accustomed to it and enjoy wading in . I wished I brought a change of clothes to actually get wetter like Bandar and the husband . But I hadn’t , so I just stayed at the periphery but had fun with the whole experience. 

 Then sand play ensued and we munched on a few cookies and sipped ginger beer.Later sitting on our mat, reading a magazine in Kindle with the sun shining down, with the husbadoo’s head on my lap and Bandar digging all the way to Australia  at our feet,  I felt at peace with myself and the world . I felt relaxed and calm looking into the blue of the sea and gave silent thanks for all our blessings. I am so thankful I made the choice to change my mood today ..Imagine if I hadn’t , I would missed out on a day of lovely memories.

Day 28 – Singing along to the music

29 Jan

We are just back from watching Disney on Ice. This was Bandar’s second time at a similar show and with each year I can see her comprehend story lines and appreciate performances better. My favorite part though was watching her singing loudly along to her favorite Frozen songs. She was up by her seat , swaying and singing loudly without a a care in the world. The very picture of childhood innocence and happiness.I was debating whether this show was worth it a second time, albeit a different set of stories for the most part. But I am glad we went ahead with it and bought tickets for this one as it gave me very happy memories to last a lifetime.

The only other time I have seen a child I know sing out this carefree and happily at a theatre was my two year old sister in 1996 when we went to watch Hum Aapke Hain Kaun. We saw the movie a few years after it released and my sister was apparently well versed in the songs by then . She sang out happily to most of them , munching a samosa and eating popcorn in between!

 I am far too conscious now and was so even as a child that singing out loud in a movie hall or show would not have come naturally to me at all. Bandar is like me in far too many ways, but this is one where I am glad she ,atleast at the tender age of four currently , doesn’t seem to be bothered by fellow patrons looking on. Hope she continues to throw caution to the winds and sing out loud when life gives her the right moments to do so.

Day 27 РTimeshare 

28 Jan

Have you ever made the acquaintance of a timeshare salesman and then sat through the whole experience ? Well, I have and I can break it down for you !

We were on our honeymoon in Vegas in 2009 and strolling through one of the hotels , we met this friendly guy who stopped us and asked us where we were from. When we mentioned we live in the US but in another city, he then asked us if we wanted to come back to Vegas for an all expense paid stay. So this seemed too good to be true and as naive as we were at 23 and 25 we listened on.

The whole idea is quite simple, he explained. We paid $120 now. We would get two nights at a good hotel , in fact the one we were standing in and admiring at that moment and  we could use it within a period of two years. Once in Vegas , we had to attend a 2 hour seminar on their timeshare with no obligation to buy. At the end of it, irrespective of our decision we would be given $120 in gambling chips which we could use at the hotel’s casino or cash out with. As this seems practically easy to accomplish , we went ahead put down the $120 and were excited with the prospect of coming back to Vegas.

About one year in, we planned a trip with some friends and decided to use our free stay. We pulled out the paperwork to find a bunch of blocked out dates when we couldn’t use this. So we had to take time off work and pick two working days like a Thursday and Friday for this. We called the number indicated and booked our stay. They prompted us to register for the seminar on the second morning of our visit. Wanting to finish it off as soon as possible we complied. 

We got to Vegas and checked in. The room was decent as expected. The next day we went down the lobby as instructed but to our surprise met a whole bunch of other couples like us who were there for the same reason. And here was the next surprise , a bus came by and we were told to get in. We were driven about 10 minutes away from the strip to this timeshare property. The sales pitch was planned to be there , as I guess seeing is believing . We were herded into a big building where there was a decent breakfast spread . We helped ourselves and saw a quick video on the timeshare, which started off at somewhere in USD 30k plus range to own for life. We then were taken to a seperate table and assigned a salesman who started off asking us what we did for work and how many vacations we took.Slowly he built upto cost of vacations for a lifetime and how this timeshare purchase would bring down costs. He then walked us around the property, specifically the actual vacation home you would own a share of and I must say it was really nice. Especially , if you want to vacation with kids and parents or extended family. They explained exchanging your share for cash or trading in for other locations etc whenever you wanted and made it all seem simple.

We had discussed before hand to be anchored on “No” and definitely not buy the timeshare that day and we stuck to it. He lowered the price with fewer benefits and tried again and again we said no, making up some random excuses like wanting to relocate possibly out of the country.He immediately started on his international location sales pitch and tried to sell that. We again said no. When this salesman grew a little tired of us, he sent another guy to our table who offered a lower price still. We were now down to the $15k range for a a shorter duration . We again refused to buy. Finally they bid goodbye to us and sent us a level below in their office to get our money back. Before we actually got our money, there was a final pitch again at a ridiculously low price and it really seemed foolish not to take it. But we stuck with our “No” and got our money and awaited the bus back to the hotel. On the way back we discussed if anchoring ourselves on no had been worth it.At that point in our lives it made sense.

We have stayed clear of all other timeshare presentations after that incident. I do think the experience is worth sitting through once, depending on the freebie you get. In Hawaii for example , the freebies are great – usually a full day excursion is covered. We have been on the opinion that a half a day of our vacation is not worth spending at the presentation . But of course, this opinion can change depending on the situation and the freebie.

Day 26 – Raising a Bandar

27 Jan

Intentionally or unintentionally , we are raising a kid who absolutely does not care for gadgets , technology and the like  , atleast for now. 

Yesterday I really wanted a picture of myself in a new dress and as I usually change before the husband is home into my comfy pyjamas , I had to ask Bandar if she would take a picture of me. I thought she would be excited to comply but surprisingly she was not. Her first reaction was “Can’t you just take a selfie ? ” , followed by , ” It’s too tough , amma. I am only a baby. ” Anyway I convinced her to atleast try and she gave the screen a half hearted push and grumbled as I shifted pose to show off my better side. And after four awful pictures  she was done.

Another day she was set up with a YouTube video , one of the few standard ones of this show she likes. I had a conference call that night and as she was in Full screen mode , I asked her to simply hit escape , get to the standard view in YouTube and pick another video of the panel once this one ended. My call duration was longer than the original 15 minute video. Immediately I saw the panic on her face, ” No Amma , I don’t know how. I will just come to the study without talking and ask you to change it for me” . And she just refused to even try it.

Our library has the ABCmouse learning package. I have asked Bandar if she wants to try it and in the two attempts she has made she definitely does not feel comfy using a mouse and pointer at all and instead prefers I do it. She loves solving the puzzles the game poses though.

 I have zero kid apps on my phone and the only thing she requests to see on my phone with me handling it are old baby videos of her.

So that’s that. I have heard that elementary schools now expose children to a considerable amount of technology and expect a certain amount of technology literacy. I wonder if Bandar will be at a disadvantage then. But for now though I am thrilled my child prefers conversation and an imaginary game to mobile browsing . 

Day 25 – Learning new stuff

26 Jan

Have you ever tried to master something and practiced and practiced till you got it right?

For me, as a child it was a few things. One of these was learning to blow a bubble from bubble gum. I first saw my friends do it around age 8 and wanted to try it. They used either Double Yum gum and then a year later Boomer.( Remember the two flavors in green and pink that originally released ?) . I practiced and practiced and spent every extra rupee I got on bubble gum and finally by age 10, a good two years later, I had figured it out !

At a much younger age, maybe around 6 years old, it was making this silly 5 pointed star trick from a rubber band stretched between your fingers. Try as I could , I couldn’t get it just right . But a few years of trying every time I laid my hand on a rubber band, I suddenly got it.

It’s fun to see Bandar try new things enthusiastically now. A year ago it was  learning to snap her fingers. She tried and tried and kept asking us to show her how. One day, we heard a distinctive snap and she had figured it out! She can now do it on one hand only,  but is quite happy with that and just says her other hand isn’t good at snapping.

Then more recently it was drawing a five pointed star on paper. This one she practiced and practiced with the husband and finally got it! This one I think is pretty cool as I did it much later in class 1. Her enthusiasm and attitude till she gets it right it amazing to watch. At some points , I had to tell her to take a break and just wait a few months till she is older to get it . But she kept on trying using every scrap bit of paper around her till she figured it out. 

I wish I had the enthusiasm and never give up attitude now in my 30s. Somewhere along the way to adulthood,  I have lost it .If I can’t figure out how to cook a recipe  such that it tastes or looks like it’s meant to right , I usually won’t attempt it again.A classic example is thr cheesecake disaster of 2012.

 If I suck at new  skills like skiing , I don’t even bother getting on skis the next time . 

And more simply , I cannot eyeliner each day to be a thin straight line. So bottom eyelid liner is not even something I try now. Upper lid , I make a feeble attempt 

Is there anything you remember trying for months before mastering as a child ? What about now as an adult ? 

Day 24: Happiness is

25 Jan

– seeing not one or two but four beautiful rainbows on the way to work!

-The ease of online shopping and having a flattering dress delivered to your doorstep in a few days.And wearing said dress just lifts your spirits the whole day.

-Having a four year old little girl fussing about her hairstyle in the morning and reminding me vividly of myself as a teenager 

-Waking up a little later than usual but still getting Bandar’s lunch packed on time. Grilled cheese veggie sandwiches for the win.

– Sriracha sauce, it seriously makes everything better

– Huffing and puffing my way up four floors to my office each day. It’s the only exercise I get .

– Digging into a bag of Skinny Pop popcorn just 30 minutes after lunch.

Day 23 : Rain soaked memories

24 Jan

The rain has been pouring down in Socal over the last week or so.As most people here are not used to rain, the traffic is a little crazy and people are fairly unhappy about it in general . Though the rain held us back from being out this Sunday , rains remind me fondly of the monsoons in Bombay growing up and I can’t help getting nostalgic with my favorite memories.

– Swimming in the pool in our Apartment complex and have the rain start suddenly. Swimming in the rain is definitely something everyone needs to try in their lifetime ! The only nasty part of monsoon season and the pool was the fact that leeches (the animal / bug variety  and not the human, though those were aplenty with rains or no rains by the swimming pool year around !)  would come out and line the sides of the pool. Ughhh!

– Enjoying hot onion pakodas with ketchup with the family on a rainy Sunday evening.

– Picking up my baby sister from kindegarten in the rain in the cab.  I must have been in class ten and on prep leave or something. I had to ensure her blye raincoat and muticolored umbrella were ready for her as she stepped out of class. She named her umbrella , “Lucy Ann Umbrell” and Lucy Ann lasted for a good 4 years atleast despite looking incredibly flimsy.Anyway I was allowed to bring her back by cab, instead of the bus when it rained and I remember feeling very grown up about it at age 14.

– Marine drive in the rain ! No other promenade will ever measure up in my eyes. The beauty of the sea swelling with the rains . And those sights of the water sometimes even hitting the divider of the street.

– Street food during the rains was always frowned upon by my mom for some reason. She apparently found it more unhygienic during those months than it usually isn’t, I guess. So instead we ended up in restaurants by marine drive after a trip outside often . Getting pizza at the Pizzeria – Jazz by the Bay with the family in the rain, atleast once every year during this time was a ritual.  I used to love getting a corner table and watching the rain pelting down. The smell of hot , delicious pizza and the rain together makes me smile even today .

– Buying rain shoes for school every year in June . And carrying spare socks to change out of once you got to school . 

– Buying a cute raincoat , the long kind through school and then a shorter , hipper one in college.

– Walking from the station to college and traversing huge potholes and mud puddles and traffic in the short 10 minute walk.

What are your favorite moments in the rain ?

Day 22 : Weekend Snippets

23 Jan

– I woke up early on Sunday morning and was about to fall back asleep as it was a weekend morning afterall, but I looked over at the husband. Bandar lay between us like she does most days. This is usually the case if we fall asleep with her. (A few days of the week  when Bandar is in bed before us, we move her gently to one end and snuggle up together at one end of the bed all night long till Bandar wakes up the morning to demand why she isn’t in the middle). I woke him with some prodding and beckoned him over to my end and he complied.So I had one more hour of blissful sleep in my favorite sandwiched spot between them both.

– Talking of sandwiches, the husband and I were both craving Bombay style grilled veg sandwiches on Sunday morning for brunch. The husband on impulse decided to go get us a sandwich maker and came back with a new panini grill ! Meanwhile , I prepped the chutney,veggies ,cheese and reheated the potato filling I had premade by our weekly cook.And then this deliciousness followed , made by the husband.

We ate this with a new bottle of Maggie hot and sweet ketchup we had purchased after years at the Indian store. Best meal of my weekend for sure.

– If the previous point does not elaborate how awesome the sandwiches were, consider the fact that my other amazing meal this weekend was this good looking and scrumptious pizza from a wonderful day downtown with the family on Saturday.

– I also got gelato after months in a humongous cone and indulged in three delicious flavors. After hogging almost all of it, I threw the last half inch of the cone as the sweetness just was too much at some point. My last giant ice cream in a cone was in Portland in May 2016, so I figure I can allow myself to indulge once a year in this treat. Nevertheless, much guilt over this sweet treat ensued in my head and I had only watermelon – 2 bowls of it , after the pizza and gelato to try and make up for the calories.

– I gave my deep kitchen later much TLC today after a year of moving in. They had become a dumping ground and I am ashamed of the junk food and snacks I buy for the family and never eat. It goes into the depths of my larder to never surface again.A lot of it is being given away to my cleaning lady next week . All this wastage is definitely my fault as I am the sole grocery decision maker in the house and snack  packer for picnics. 

– I got my closet a little organized this weekend which is a small win considering how bad it was. Next stop the husband’s side of it. 

– Bandar has been her delightful best off late. So to reward her on Friday evening , I got to her school around 4 pm and despite the pouring rain , we set off on a fun Mother Daughter evening. We went to the library and picked up ten books. Then went to Starbucks for hot chocolate and cake pops. She is such a fun conversationalist and I am enjoying motherhood more and more with an older child. 

– Here the first orange ever from the new tree in our garden . It tasted pretty good too.

– The most average thing I ate  this weekend was a hurried Pad Thai I cooked up Friday night. The tofu was marinated for 48 hours and delicious when baked  but I screwed up the sauce using tamarind extract instead of regular tamarind that I am used to using, resulting in far too sickly sour noodles.
That was my weekend ! What is the best and worst thing you ate this weekend ?

Day 21- The one resolution I want to keep

22 Jan

I make several resolutions every year that I seldom keep.This year is no different , but if there is one that I hope stays , it’s infinitely more patience .

I know  I am by no means a going to morph into the epitome of a calm and patient wife,mom , duaghter , daughter in law this year but I would like to incorporate patience in small digestible doses into my life.

Patience first with Bandar, especially on weekday mornings. I am raising an ultra sensitive child who can judge even the smallest hints of irritation in my voice. Sometimes it’s impatience when she doesn’t put on her shoes properly , other days it’s when she doesn’t hop out of the car immediately. ” Are you made with me , Mama ?” ,she asks and it’s probably the last question I want to answer at drop off when we are going to be apart for the next 9 hours and I cannot reassure her enough with words and hugs before we part. 

Patience with my parents. They are getting older and are the only two people who love me unconditionally come what may and care foremost for me before anyone else ( even Bandar). So with that in mind , I need to take joy in our interactions on Skype , my mom’s requests to see me on video chat however tired I am, my dad’s constant reminders to incorporate prayer in my life and so on. 

My in laws . I know I am blessed to have good in laws, they are genuinely good people and care about me.I haven’t been the most patient daughter in law  at times and though I hide my irritation a tad better with them than with my parents I would like to develop more tolerance overall.

With the husband. He does so much for me but he sure does it in his own way and may not do it exactly when I need it. But he does come through and I have to come to realize we are different people and have different methods of approach on almost every thing. This year I want to appreciate him more instead of taking him for granted as I am beginning to realize there are a ton of men folk who don’t lift a finger.

With myself. I often don’t live upto my own high standards and am my worst critic . I think of the worst situation always and like to plan ahead. Though this helps me deal with life most times, it can be exhausting to stay ahead of the game all the time . And the few times I am behind in thought and action ,I  can run myself down with negativity and critique . So this year I hope I am kinder to myself a tad and have more patience to deal with myself when I am overwhelmed, indecisive or just plain stressed.