Monday, June 9, 2014

Hello from The Rose City!

We moved! Yet again! And even with all the craziness associated with a cross country move all the way from the east coast to the west - new beginnings are always welcome!

Portland is a beautiful city, no doubt about that. We have been here for a week now and all these cedar and pine trees with hilly terrain everywhere and the balmy breeze with the bright sunshine (did I say sunshine - well yes - we are still to witness the characteristic gloomy weather of Portland!) remind me of my hometown in Uttaranachal India - similar topography and climate BUT no comparison in terms of infrastructure, resources and comfort - that is a :) and a :(. 

We have not yet settled into a routine - the cooking, eating, sleeping schedules, especially for the little one, are all over the place. And we are still to call a place home - temporary acco is just that - temporary. But, what we have managed in just about a week's stay is visit to two landmarks - the Oregon zoo which is supposed to be one of the best in the country (though we were not very impressed - on a weekend afternoon there were lots of people and hardly any animals - M ofcourse was elated to spot elephants, gifaafe (giraffe for her), hippo, monkeys and lots of birds). The other place is called Mt. Tabor - an extinct volcano - a fun place with a playground and hiking trails. 

It looks like we will have lots of options for recreation and within reasonable driving distances!

So far so good, I say. Let's see how this fairs out!


Friday, May 23, 2014

Hollow Lives

Sometimes the line between truth and lies
Is ambivalent like weather with cloudy skies.

Where the light ends, and the darkness has not yet begun,
The romance of the crimson twilight may be overdone.

I'd like to believe I know the wrong from the right,
But then why do, for simple choices, I sorely fight?

Morning follows every night, they vehemently assure me;
That night follows every morning is what haunts me.

If nothing that we do or say changes this never ending saga,
Then why these discourses on good, and bad, and karma?

Destiny is a desolate consolation - we live to die;
This vicious circle remains unbroken as hard as you try.

Before and after the intermittent streams of consciousness -
There is no memory, no sound, no pain - only stark hollowness.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

BlogHer Voices Of The Year 2014!

BlogHer is the largest community of women who blog. And I am delighted to share with you guys that this post of mine: A Letter to the Previous Owner f MY Mobile Number has been selected as one of their Voices Of The Year posts.
So happy to be part of the illustrious bloggers' community!


Friday, April 4, 2014

Because Olive Garden does not home deliver!

Pasta is one of my favorite dishes - like an anytime dish - I can eat it for main course or snack or even have the leftovers for morning breakfast. And it is a pity that such a connoisseur as I proclaim myself to be, I am yet to visit Italy and taste the authenticity for myself. Now, if I had a bucket list, that would surely make it there. But, I digress.

So it happened. A rainy day. Under home arrest with a slightly sick baby. And the craving for creamy delicious pasta strikes. 

P.S. While I have nothing against the red sauce pasta - and till this past weekend that was the only pasta kind I had ever experimented with and made, it is the white sauce pasta that is my weakness. 

So, I decided to attempt the unknown. I followed Martha Stewart's recipe. And so what if I have to say it myself - the bechamel sauce was delicious. Her recipe is perfect and the addition of garlic and onions gives it just the right flavor. I steamed some veggies available in the refrigerator and my yummy "comfort" indulgence was ready. Oh, the joy when your own cooking turns out good. It got a thumbs up from the husband too. The daughter was unimpressed (as always). 

And, I remembered to click a pic too!

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

The Stages of My Weight Loss Program

So, let's start with being honest. I have never ever been size zero - not for as long as I can remember (and I have a great memory). However, neither have I battled any weighty issues - mostly plump but not really overweight! Since I was about 16 or 17, whenever the weighing machine would tip on the wrong side of the 50 kg mark, I'd start a short-lived exercise (and a highly unsuccessful diet) regime, and things would be more or less okay. 

But, things are not so simple now. I blew 30 candles on my birthday cake last year, and delivered a baby the year before that. Frankly speaking, the 13 kgs I gained during pregnancy weren't all that much, and I lost 10 doing nothing at all. That made me very complacent and even 16 months after delivery, I have not been able to knock off the last couple of pounds! 

Month after month, I have drawn up long plans, which obviously have amounted to nothing. And the cyclical nature of my weight loss program is so hilarious even to me that I thought it might give you a reason for a good laugh too! So here are the different stages I go through, time and again:

Stage 1: I am so fat and ugly. 
I look at the old Ts in my closet that I have yet not packed away. Surely, I could get into them. But, wait I am so fat. I am sooo fat that I look ugly. How can I do this to myself? Oh my god, is that my photograph? I look round! This is depressing. I need to lose all that weight NOW.

Stage 2: Size Zero, Here I come!
People lose tens and tens of pounds, and I can't even lose a few? I am not ambitious enough. If I want to lose only a couple, I'll never lose them. So here's my new target - forget getting back to pre-pregnancy weight, I will now aim to be a size zero!

Stage 3: Exercise AND Diet Plan
I am a sensible educated person. No crash dieting, no heavy exercising. I draw a nice plan that is complete with a diet chart, which incorporates healthy meals every two hours - lot of fiber, fruits, veggies, low carbs, high protein and all the latest fads doing the rounds. Then a plan for exercise - squats, push ups, crunches, cardio - very holistic.

Stage 4: I love food. Exercise Only.
I have one life. How much do I anyways eat. A little bit of comfort eating here and there is not going to not make me size zero. I think I need to focus only on exercising. Let me increase that.

Stage 5: Where is the time to exercise? I need to diet.
Seriously, with a toddler to take care of, I think I can exercise? Don't I get enough exercise running after her and worrying about her. I don't even get enough sleep these days, how can I be healthy enough to exercise. Let me cut back on the calories in my food.

Stage 6: Food is my weakness. No strength/time for exercise.
No, just who can diet. I don't have fancy cooks nor can I afford those personal trainers. I mean who am I comparing myself with. My life is so busy - I don't have time to dish up healthy meals every 2 hours, and I am just too exhausted to exercise. I can't lead a deprived life - and there's only so much slogging out one can do, no?

Stage 7: Am I really that fat?
Sure, I am not as slim as before, but can I really call myself fat? I mean I might look fat in a particular kind of cut of dresses - and you know all those tops - those maybe just shrank in these god forsaken dryers. They are good for nothing, anyways. Isn't my BMI in the normal range? And, that weighing machine is not even reliable, I think. Hell! Skinny is not even healthy and not like I have signed a bikini modelling contract! 

Stage 8: I need a wardrobe overhaul!
I am just working myself into a depression. Oh c'mon, I can't go on trying to fit into old clothes all my life. The fashion trends are changing. I need to shop for more flattering silhouettes, that's all. Who knows, I might fit into a S size in some brand somewhere. And, anyways, what is that feel-good quote doing the social media round these days, "I might not have a perfect body, but I am a mother, and that is perfect." (bleh.) :P.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

My latest gastronomic indulgence...

...Is Apple Crumble! 

And, no, I don't mean the painstakingly one done in an oven with the aroma of baked apples in the whole house. I would love that but time is at a premium these days, and the oven in not so great a shape, and I have these cravings (no, I am not pregnant again - but then I never had any cravings during my pregnancy :D) that need to be satiated almost instantly. 

This is a quick apple crumble in a mug kind of a recipe (except, that I make the dessert mug recipes in a bowl because I don't really have those huge 10oz+ mega mugs in my collection yet :)). I looked around for quite a few recipes and no particular one sounded absolutely doable and great, so I took them as inspiration and decided to experiment with the measures etc. And without being modest, I must tell you I concocted an awesome recipe (especially if you don't like your apple crumble super sweet) that I had for three consecutive days for lunch (and not dessert, mind you!.

So, sharing the recipe that I followed here - you can play around with the ingredients and their measures as you will :). 

1. In a bowl, mix together 1 tbsp butter (melted), 2 tbsp flour, 1 tbsp sugar (this is for average sweetness), 1 tbsp quick rolled oats, 1 tbsp walnuts, and a pinch of cinnamon powder.

2. Peel, core and slice n dice an apple, and place in a microwaveable bowl. Crumble the mixture in step 1 on the apples.

3. Bake for about 5 minutes (till the apples can be pierced with a fork). 

And you are done! 

By the way, this is a kid friendly recipe too. I tried it for my almost-16-month-old daughter but she didn't like the sweetness too much - she was happy munching on the cooled baked apple pieces instead. I didn't really mind - I don't care sharing desserts anyways!

Thursday, February 20, 2014

7

I, oops, we have been married seven years now. The regular readers of this blog may recall the High Five post I did on our fifth anniversary. Here's another one dedicated to this great milestone :D :P.

So, here's presenting the 7 secrets of a long and happy married life:

Secret No. 1
There are 7 notes in music but the combinations of these are gazillion and it is not necessary that a married couple enjoys all these equally. A separate iPod with separate music libraries, and a pair of decent noise reduction headphones for each is a must to enjoy the music of married life.

Secret No. 2 
7 is the neutral pH value between acidity and alkalinity. It is also indicative of the balance a marriage must have. If you are arguing to no end at a point of time, your spouse must back off. There's no point both messing with chemistry at the same time. (P.S. If you are a man, and reading this, you must always back off.)

Secret No. 3
There are 7 deadly sins: lust, gluttony, greed, sloth, wrath, envy, and pride. It doesn't matter which one you or your spouse is committing (ofcourse while being reasonable, you know) - all are pardonable as long as there is food on the table, money in the bank, and icecream in the freezer. 

Secret No. 4
There are 7 days in a week. That is a little too much time to spend with each other because (a) Familiarity breeds contempt, and (b) You need a life of your own. A little time each day and a little day or two each week is a great way to make it last :D.

Secret No. 5
Interestingly, in NBA, 7 is the maximum number of games in a playoff series. What is even more interesting that is that after you both make the decision of getting married and then get married, you will realize that is the last decision you could both agree upon. After that, it is a series of playoffs! Don't forget that even the greatest rivals shake hands before and after every game.

Secret No. 6
There are 7 continents and 7 seas and that's for a reason. There's enough place to run to when you want to take a break. Take time out to travel and be on your own every once in a while - If it doesn't make you miss your significant other or realize his/her value, you would have atleast seen a new place :D :P.

Secret No. 7
The rainbow has 7 colors and just like without even on of them, it wouldn't be complete - your spouse would not be the person he or she is without his or her good and highly annoying habits. So be a saint (coincidentally, there are believed to be 7 saints in Hindu mythology (Saptarishi) and in some other religions too!) and forgive (But, don't forget - you could always use an ace up your sleeves at a later fight :D :P).

So, my much married friends, over to you - care to add to the list?

(By the way, there are umpteen sexist and non-sexist jokes on marriage online most of them are funny - those that talk about separate date nights and beds and continents etc. but my favorite happens to be this one:
An old woman married was sipping wine on her 40th wedding anniversary and exclaimed, "Oh, dear, what would I have done without you all these years."
Her husband asked, "Is that you talking or the wine?"
She replied, "That's me talking to the wine." 

HA HA HA - Sorry, couldn't resist sharing this one - really over to you now!)

Friday, February 7, 2014

Confessions of a desi: What holds us in awe during our first few days in Amreeka!

I liked the response I got for my post on Decoding Desis, and you could consider this as an extension. 

Now, if you are an Indian and came to the States as an adult - for education, your first onsite assignment, a holiday trip (aah u stinking rich brat!), or your honeymoon (first or not), you have to admit that a few or all of these things did leave you awe struck in your first few days here. 

  • Voicemails. It doesn't matter that India is technically still a developing country, our rickshaw pullers, vegetable vendors, house maids, all boast of cell phones. So, we actually do consider the cellular revolution in the US with its really crappy prepaid plans and charges on incoming calls and messages as quite neanderthal, however, what fascinates us absolutely is the concept of voicemails. I cannot get more honest on the web than this: The first time, I actually rehearsed my voicemail message and kept re-recording it till my throat was sore and I was still not satisfied (I am still not with my current one). I did that on my office phone and home phone as well!
  • Pedestrian signals. While the use of traffic signals in our home country has been the butt of many jokes, here, we absolutely get fascinated when we push the walk button for the very first time to cross the road. It actually amazes us that the drivers stop, don't honk, and continue to patiently wait for us to cross the road completely. What tops this, is that you actually have cops who ticket a jaywalker! The first time I noticed this in LA downtown, I was just mesmerized on the spot.
  • The uniformed men! While on the cops, what is with the policemen here - forget policemen, even TSA agents at airports. 90% of them are so gentlemanly, polished and good looking. I still remember being of sheepishly giggly with a flirting TSA guy at an airport with a dear friend (If she reads this, she will know :)). ANd I will never forget the two amazingly handsome, polite cops who helped me with my luggage and got me a cab on my very first day in this country. I am yet to come across a good looking cop in India - that mouche and pot belly just doesn't cut it. (While, to be fair, I must admit the men in the armed forces in our country do have a very gracious air about themselves).
  • Costco and Uncle Sam's. I mean I would not be a true desi if I did not mention these two retailers in my post, would I? The first time I went to Costco, my eyes rolled over a few zillion times. Who consumes such enormous amounts of colas, cereal, energy bars. Oh forget that. Who uses so much toilet paper - infinite rolls and rolls in a single package! (P.S. For the last so many years now, I have been a loyal Costco customer. :P)
  • Black Friday. No, I have never stood in a black friday sales line. I swear. But, I have got out at 7AM the next morning to check out the hullabaloo. The stores looked like a tornado came and swept it away! For the first time, the madness of thanksgiving is really something.
  • There is no ground floor! It is one thing to have a different metrics system and a date system - we are left confused with the pounds, the miles, and the Fahrenheit, and the mm/dd/yyyy, but didn't we Indians share with you over telephone lines (or pigeons) or something the concept of zero? You go to lease an apartment and you have to keep reminding yourself, that the lovely lady means the ground floor when she says first, the first when she says second and so on - ditto our state of mind in the elevators!!!
  • Weather.com obsession. We had never partaken in conversations such as these: "Keep a light jacket for the evening, the temperature is going to fall." Let's begin on our drive an hour later, by then the rain would have stopped at the intended destination.", "It is 10F but feels like -10F because of the windchill". Thank you for teaching us how are entire lives can revolve around the forecast for the day.
  • Portion sizes! Oh my, the pizza slices, the burger bites, the triple pancakes, single entree pastas, the humongous omelettes, the huge "small" coke - You are getting me wrong - we are all not exactly thin but our appetites are way less!
  • The animals and birds! I don't if my fellow desis have noticed or not - but the average sized cat, pigeon, crow, squirrel and sparrow are much huge compared to their Indian counterparts. Not only are they huge, they are fearless.I have never had to fearfully cross a path because an adamant grey eyed cat refused to give some way. I was scared for dear life at the Battery Park in NY while eating falafels and rice because the birds would refuse to be "shooed" away. To make things even better, there was once a raccoon in our trash can in Schaumburg, IL and not to mention the number of deer I have seen cross the road in a hoity doity fashion in so many places :).  
  • Parking lots. I mean there is parking every freakin' where. Not just malls, grocery stores, plazas, but even in the chaos of the downtown hub, during peak hours - somewhere, somehow you will find a parking - never mind the rates, never mind if you have to walk 10 blocks left or right or straight - but you can be assured you will get to park (under reasonable circumstances ofcourse - you cant be looking at parking in Times Square or Hollywood Boulevard now!). What is even better, is that you can chalk those parking spaces online while planning your trip. Every place is "mappable", like that :D.

Okay, my fellow countrymen in Amreeka, over to you. It is confession time :D.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Revisiting Nursery Rhymes

Hop on to my mommy blog for a list of nursery rhymes that may not be as age appropriate as we might think them to be! Here's the link.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

hAAPy New Year, Indeed!

(P.S. This is a post on the local political scenario in Delhi, the capital of India)

So, the cynic me has finally lost to the hopeful me. 

Back in 2011, when the whole Anna Hazare movement started, I was one of the few who were vocally against what I considered plain blackmail. I did not and do not think that in a democratic (however screwed up) set up, fasting to get one's rights is a valid means of protest. I did do a post here - Anti Corruption and Anti Hazare. Many people did not like what I wrote - there was vehement disagreement. 

However, look at how far we have come. When Arvind Kejriwal decided to enter politics, my first reaction was, "Finally!"  There's no point fasting unto death against a democratically elected government.  You have to be in the system to do something about it or elect the people who can do it for you. But, I must admit, I was extremely cynical about the progress the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) would make - honest, non-politician politicians - that was utopia! 
In that typical "dilli" style, I remember saying, "ek yeh hi option hai - but hoga kucch nahin - kaun tikne dega inhe dilli mein!" (This is the only option but it is not possible - who will let them stay in Delhi). 
As the election day drew nearer, my FB feed and Twitter timeline were flooded with forwards and shares and memes and requests - all to spread awareness of AAP. I would read each one and dismiss all the support thinking all these internet junkies are not going to vote - all this hype will die its own death. Idealism, often, seems plain stupid.

But, I was wrong. I sadly recognize that AAP may have a bigger enemy in people like me who whine against the state of affairs, yet snub any beacon of change with sheer pessimism, "iss ka to kucch nahin ho sakta!" (Nothing can help the current situation) - than actual political opposition. 
Even when the Delhi election results showed that AAP had bagged so many seats - I did a quick calculation and was like - "They still are not majority, look, I always said, they'll never be able to form the government." 

Whatever be the coalition, Kejriwal did swear into the office of the Chief Minister of Delhi. 
I wanted to do this post then, but how can cynics be so easily placated. The confidence vote was still pending. Finally, when all that seemed to good to be true did come true, I was thrilled beyond measure. This could be the happiest year for Delhi in a long long time. I don't have to mention here what all the new government has already done. Almost everyday, there is news of a new endeavor, a new fulfilled promise. 

I wanted to tell myself to hold on to all the jumping with joy - Congress' political game, BJP's counter steps, what is power corrupts those who are yet untouched - but you know what, to hell with all of that. A common man, so fed up with those in power, with the support of equally frustrated middle class has dared to change the face of Indian politics - he deserves all the respect and support. 

We keep thinking who'll get their hands dirty and messy but he has done it. I think doomsday predictors and cynics who always want to know the complete picture - the other side of the coin, the "real" reason, the "complete truth" should take a break and make a leap of faith. One man, his supporters and his voters have already done it. 

Happy New Year. everyone!

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