Sunday, March 29, 2009

A Leap Of Faith.

"Isn't She beautiful? Her sari is so heavy and bright and different...and her make up is perfect...!", exclaimed Alekya's relatives as they examined the bride to be minutely.

"Yes, yes...true...I think the nose ring is too small though...", they criticized as if she were either absent or deaf.

"It's almost time...the baraat is here...I'm just going to go check Tarun out, be back soon!", whispered her sister excitedly as she left.

Alekya felt her stomach lurch. There was no way she could go out there. She felt nauseous and her heart was racing. She clasped her hands together to stop them from trembling pretending that she could squeeeze them so hard the pores would close and perhaps they would stop sweating. Not working! So much for medical scientific logic. Deep breaths now, deep breaths.

No one, except Tarun probably, would even take a wild guess as to how she was feeling. After all, they could practically read each other's minds now. That was what being together for ten years did to you. The duration of their relationship was also the reason why no one would understand how she was feeling. Lets face it, she wasn't the most communicative of people. And even while she presented her precise logic to people, they failed to grasp it in the first go and she never had the patience to present her case twice. Why bother now?With Tarun it was different, he understood and he was her best friend.

But even after ten years, she had her doubts about them. Together. Married. She was scared shitless. There were times she felt she were one with Tarun, and times when she felt he was a total stranger.

"They're here! You're Dulha looks so handsome!! Lucky girl...But he didn't come on a Ghodi...he came in a car...! Guess both of you are well...different. You ready to go out now...?", her aunt came and chattered away.

"Just give me a few mintues, I need to be alone for a bit.", replied Alekya quietly.

"NOW? You want to be alone now? There are people waiting for the jaimal!", exclaimed her aunt.

Seeing no point in replying, Alekya kept her mouth shut. Her aunt left the room and shut the door.

Tears welled up in her eyes. Damn it, not now, not after all those hours of sitting still for make up. No tears. Just thoughts.

Mentally she made a list of all the things she was scared of. Making lists was something she was good at and did whenever she felt overwhelmed. Always helps.

She was scared of his temper. It was the cold kind. He would treat her like a stranger.
She was scared of his family commitments.
She always had the feeling his mother and sister didn't like her very much.
Then again, it was an age old problem, generations of women had been through this, the saas nanad wars...why should she be any different? But they were overpossesive...and while they clearly saw the fights between her and Tarun, no one saw the love. No one saw how much she cared. She put his life and happiness before hers. She went out of her way to make him feel special...No one saw that. Any little thing his sister did for him was praised to the skies...whereas Alekya was never praised that way. Nothing she did for Tarun or his family, sister included...was very well recieved. That wasn't the reason she did things...but it pained her that she wasn't on the same level or even close, as Tarun's sister, even if she treated his family like her own, in fact better.
She would've been ok with all that...if her own mother praised her occasionally, like Tarun's mother did her kids...blindly at times. But Mom didn't...she wasn't like that. She didn't feel the need to excessively praise her kids or defend them when someone was talking nonsense about them. No matter how much people's words hurt her.
Alekya didn't want to enter a family where she was anything less than a daughter to her in laws. And anything less than a sister to her sister in law. Of course she would've preferred if Tarun had had a cheerful loving younger brother who'd love his bhabhi and want to bond with her. But we have to make the best of what we have.
She was also scared of Tarun's passiveness. She was the one who planned dates, raised thought provoking topics of conversations, found new things for them to do...she took most of the initiative in the relationship...kept it going.
And she was the more romantic one... Not that Tarun wasn't romantic...he was, when they were alone, he was the most tender man she knew. No one in the outside world, not even his family, could guess about this side of his nature. But he wasn't the one who googled "how to make your beloved feel special" on the internet...nor did he give unconventional gifts...and she was scared that they would get bored...she would get bored. Or fed up. She'd stop nagging him to be more romantic.
Then there was his whole, huge extended family. Most of whom had a poor opinion of her...without even having met her. Three guesses.

She couldn't go out. She couldn't face them. No one out there knew how much she loved him. All they wanted to see was the negative side which had been presented to them. No one even expected Tarun to be that "Type", as someone put it...the type who had a steady girlfriend. He was so simple, so sweet, so shy, so polite. So honest. Not the type at all! So it was probably the "tez" shrewed girl who had trapped him.

"Didi its time, come on. Up now.", her sister had come to drag her out.

"No. I'm not going."

"WHAT? Where? To get married? WHY?"

"I can't. I don't think it will work. "

"After TEN years you think it won't work? What are you saying?"

"Just...I can't go. Take me out the back door...please."

"Ok, Just...wait...Let me get Tarun...", Her sister started rushing out the door and ushering everyone else out too.

"NO! No, he'll be so angry... he'll never forgive me."

Before she knew it, her sister had left and she was alone again. And then Tarun walked through the door...smilling...
He sat down on the chair next to hers...and took both her hands in his...he put one finger under her chin and tilted her face up to look into her eyes. They were brimming with fear and tears.

"Hey Sweetheart...your sister said you're getting cold everything ok? Tell me what's bothering my baby...?", Tarun squeezed her hands gently and said.

And as she looked into his huge, warm, gold brown eyes, crinkled at the corners in a gentle smile of understanding... She felt her doubts ,melting away...but not quite.

Their relationship flashed before her eyes...

Beautiful flowers, his complimenting her snoring, making love, Tarun helping her cross the road, Tarun indulging her love for coffee, His sincere, neat painstakingly written letters and cards, Tarun taking her shopping and linking little finger's together, Tarun holding her hand in the cinema, Tarun wiping her tears, Tarun calming her rage, Tarun applauding her awkward dancing, Tarun telling her she had a beautiful voice, Tarun telling her not to worry about his mother and sister, that he was there for her and he'd never let her feel awkward, Tarun listening to her chatter about work, writing, friends, moviess, books, Tarun recharging her mobile without telling her, Tarun enjoying eating with her hands, Tarun playing with her dog, Tarun fixing her laptop, Tarun making her music and movie Dvds, Tarun sharing his things with her, silly possessive loveable adorable Tarun.

"How about we go to the nearest Barista and you can have that Caramel coffee you love and we'll talk?", he gently persuaded.

"But what about all these people?", Alekya mumbled.

"AHHH....them...we'll tell them to wait awhile. Its us who're getting married...lets go. Back door."

He left a text message to his cousin brother saying we both would be back shortly.

He held the hand of his bride and helped her out. They caught an auto and headed to the nearest Barista and didn't care that everyone else was staring at them. There, over a shared cup of hot foaming capuccino, Alekya talked...Tarun listened and they discussed their fears. It was an uncommon sight. Frankly the manager came by and asked if he could click a picture as this sort of thing had never happened before. Gladly they allowed. By then they were ok. Ready to go, get wed!

Tarun had his fears too...but if they both had faith, it would work. They had been together for ten years. The had love and faith and were best friends.

It was time to get married.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

FaSt FoOd.

This is an old, typically maharashtian recipe used on days when one is fasting. Like for the next nine days of Navratre. Its light, salt free and can be made in a manner that is healthy. The point of a fast, is to A.] Offer yourself to God humbly, and B.] D-E-T-O-X! Unfortunately in Delhi, most people fasting in Navrathre, simply use these 9 days as an excuse to gorge on fried potatoes, puris that aren't made out of wheat [grains are forbidden], Fried paneer and in general fried anything. They end up heavier than before and they claim to have "Fasted for NINE whole DAYS!" ha!

This Year, do your body a favor, and take care of it. Since salt isn't allowed, try not to cheat by eating rock salt. Drink fluids, eat lots of fruits, have curds, salads with lemon juice dressing. This is a v.simple recipe. Let me know how it turns out.

Sabudana ki Khichdi.

Ingredients :

2 cups sago [sabudana]
100 gms peanuts.
green chillies
Cumin- zeera
1 large or 2 small potatoes, cubed.
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice.
mustard oil.

Method :

Soak Sago seeds in water till soft to pinch.
Heat oil.
Add cumin seeds...when they splutter, add cubed potatoes.
when potatoes are nearly done, Add chopped green chillies and the sago. Sautee till done. Don't be worried about the sticky secretions, that cause the sabudana to stick adds to the flavour...and kids find it a lot of fun to eat.
Add the peanuts. Cook till done.
Sprinkle lemon juice once flame is turned off.

Since I've not added any salt or masalas here, eat it with slightly sour curds.
[If you're not fasting, and just want this as a snack, Add salt and 2 pinches of turmeric powder. ]



I Have an odd mood pattern. Well not odd to anyone who is an Aquarian...but it definitely feels normal people.

There are times I don't feel like communicating with anyone...and I mean anyone. Call it communing with thy spirit in silence or what seems pleasant to you. But I appear cold, and distant. I don't feel like and often don't answer phone calls. Sometimes I don't answer the door. Or answer people when they talk to me, not in depth anyway. I write, lots...I read and I think. But I don't talk.

I cannot explain but I just don't feel like it. And I know of two other aquarians who do the same or similar things. And I don't find it unusual like other people do. I find occasional low moods very understandable. Chocolate helps...but I'm fasting for 9 days! No chocolate. The mood swings have decreased greatly in frequency. Earlier, in school, I'd have these patterns at least 7 times a its more like once a month. No one seems to get it. They complain that I don't answer the phone and no amount of telling them I was asleep or busy will placate them. Why must I explain? I don't always enjoy idle chit chat.

I wonder how long this is going to last.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

aLL YoU NeEd iS LoVe.

Dedicated to ALL the people who make life easier for us, who believe in us, and who never, ever leave matter what.

It has often been observed that women in love are somehow more intense, expressive and exhibitionistic than their male counterparts.
This loose rule didn't seem to apply to Penelope. David was more "in love" with her, she often felt. For instance, she thought, watching him sleep so sweetly next to her, he'd never even considered leaving her during one of her "dark" days. He was the sole reason she was who she was now. David and his utter unquestionable faith in her. He brought out the best in her.

Apparently that was, that is. It make life better. He would hand her her pills every morning. He would make up schedules for her to get through her exams with decent marks. He would study with her over the phone and make sure she went to bed on time. His lullabies weaned her off sleeping pills.

[That last may sound implausible, but its true nonetheless. ]

And all the while, all those months, she waited in suspense for him to get fed up and leave her.

She thought the first time she tried to kill herself [ she had no idea why.]. She'd overdosed, he made her vomit, drink fluids, held her hand, fed her tea. Once she was well he gave her pure hell. But never once did he mention leaving her. He felt like he had failed her.

Penelope never really held herself in high esteem. Which was weird because pill popping episodes and general private moroseness aside, she was quite capable of being the centre of attention in a positive way. Always polite and encouraging, often turning into a counsellor...but once the problem was fixed or a smile placed on the face or the exam passed...she didn't know what to do. She didn't know how to keep a friend...If all was well, she was bored.

David was her first ever least a person she wasn't counselling! She could talk to him about any and everything. And he her. When she was angry with her parents, he would explain why they behaved how they did. If she was wrong, he never hesitated to tell her so. If she was right, he stood up for her. Their friendship was entertaining even when no one was in crisis. Which was a first for Penelope.

She could tell him he was dull and boring to his face and he wouldn't mind. Instead he'd appreciate her wide range of interests...and encourage them, indulge her. He'd never been much of a reader, but she was...and he loved when she would narrate to him summaries the books she read, both fiction and non fiction and they would discuss them...He in turn would share his absolute love of music...make her CDs/MP3s...label them...He shared his love for all things electronic with her and she quenched her love for learning new things by asking him to google things when she herself didn't have the Internet.

When she was jobless and spending her days sleeping, overeating and being a slob living off her parent's money...He didn't deride her. When she went out and got herself a job and started taking better care of herself and found she needed help, He was proud of her and ever ready to help out. When she excelled at her job, it was his chest that puffed up with pride. When she wanted to redecorate the empty flat and turn it into a home... He enthusiastically listened to her and offered more ideas and to go shopping with her. When she wanted to find out how to lose the 40 extra pounds of body weight, He downloaded exercise videos and made her Cd's.

He was there every step of the way. And after 3 years of being with him, she was secure enough to realise...He was here to stay. And she was ever-so-thankful for that one simple fact. All it takes, to change one life, maybe more lives even, albeit love.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

AalOo ChoKhA!

This is one of my favorite dishes since I was a little kid. We're basically from U.P, and this dish is a hot favorite and more or less a staple there. Its v.simple and the uses are quite here goes!

Ingredients :

4-5 boiled potatoes, peeled.
1-2 green chillies [if you can't stand them, use red chilli powder.]
Onion- 1 large
Garlic- 3 pods.
Pickle - Chilli or mango.
2 Tablespoons Mustard oil.
Salt to taste.

Method :

Mash potatoes
Finely chop onions and crush Garlic pods.
Mix onion, garlic, mustard oil, chopped green chillies/ chilli powder, salt and pickles with the mashed potatoes.
Now, you don't have to cook this mixture, in our village, we don't cook it...but you may be worried about the smell of onions/garlic, so feel free to cook it a bit. Traditionally theres no need.

Garnish with chopped Coriander!

You can eat this with Arhar[yellow] daal and rice...or make a sandwich out of it, wrap it in a chapati. For the sake of your heart, don't add ghee/butter etc even to the sandwich, because its a v.healthy and low calorie dish otherwise.

GooD MoRniNg wOrLd!

I am So not a morning person. Whenever I wake up, I make it a point not to get up. But on this day, Today, I woke at 7:35AM [checked the time], and my eyes weren't watering, my mind wasn't fuzzy and I felt...well! I've not been so well since the past few days, and in between my hectic shifts at the hospital, I've been resting. Today, I woke up refreshed...I woke up and when I realised how fresh I was feeling, I couldn't stop smilling!

Here I am, finally at rest, having a strong cup of hot steaming coffee and the tabloids! Plus I've got the whole day to do as I please, before my shift starts at 8PM. I'm totally looking forward to that too!

Saturday, March 21, 2009

CrAviNg CoFfEe...

My mom insists I'm addicted to coffee. I used to have around 4-5 cups of the beautiful brew in black daily. Sometimes more, if I had to study. But ever since i started this new job 10 days ago, I have been so exhausted I can't even muster the strength to make me a cuppa java. I've only had 5 cups in the past 10 days.

Upon hearing this my parents immediately expressed their delight and decided to give me more tips on how to stop drinking coffee. They're not alone in doing so. Many people give useless and more importantly, unwanted advice on quitting coffee.

Imagine their surprise when I coolly imform them I am not interested in quitting my "addiction". I love my cup of coffee. I love the bitter sweetness and musings in a cup. I love almost everything about a delicious cup of coffee. And I know how much to have so as not to get sick. Or gastritis!

We all sometimes feel the need for something, call it a crutch if you will, to help us get by life. For all those times when we find ourselves not brimming with natural endorphins and optimism? For all those times life tries to get us down [ several times a day sometimes.] we have something. A pick me up. Who is to say whose is harmful whose is safe? I'm not talking about big things like alchohol or drugs....not things which can ruin one's life in an obvious manner.

The other tiny addictions which we often fit into out daily routine in such a way that we don't even realise how much we need them, until our routine is upset in some way. It could be our family. Or a TV show that makes us laugh or gasp in horror [K-serials.], or several or few cups off tea or coffee, or our better half, or a few phone calls and conversations to friends to vent. For some it could be an intense round of sex or even pot. A cigarette on the balcony. Daily exercise. Love, even.

All of these in excess are harmful.

But no one advises us to quit them.

Apparently now coffee makes one hallucinate. Well, you're going to have to quit your Doctor because your doctor isn't going to quit his/her coffee! It keeps most of us on the go. That or tea. Or money.

Think about it, before you offer up unwelcome advice to someone else. Whats your addiction? And is it such a bad thing? If it helps soften the sharp corners life has to offer sometimes...?

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Pirated Pasta~!

So henceforth, I'm going to randomly describe something easy and quick to cook in a jiffy. Mostly for Bachelors/ spinsters/ Hostellers. When it's too much work to cook for one, or even two! The recipes are going to be v.basic, involving v.little work, and v.little preparation too. You are obviously free to add more vegetables or spices or sauces as you wish. Any ideas or tips or suggestions are most welcome!!

Pirated Pasta :

Ingredients ::

1 packet Macaroni [cheap n easy bambino.]

2 large onions
2 large tomatoes.
1 packet of ready made soup mix [I used Chings mixed Vegetable soup.]
soy sauce- 1 tbsp
Maggi hot and sweet tomato ketchup- 1 tbsp

Basic spices 1 tsp each
- turmeric, chilli powder, garam masala.
Sprinkling of grated/cream cheese.

Method :

Cook macaroni al dente, keep aside.
Heat 2 tsp oil in wok/non stick pan.
finely chop onions, add to hot oil, wait till it turns golden.
Finely dice tomatoes, save the juice. Add to transluscent onions.
Add salt to taste, along with the Basic spices in aforementioned quantities.
Add the powedered soup mix, Add 1 glass of water and mix well, no lumps must be present.
when it starts bubbling, add the soy sauce and tomato ketchup.
let it simmer for 5 minutes. Till it thickens.
Add the now cool macaroni to the hot mixture and mix well, turn off the heat.
Sprinkle with cheese.


Monday, March 16, 2009


Sumidha watched as the finely diced onions turned golden and transluscent, then she added chopped green garlic and turned them over. Covering the partly cooked meal, she took a sip of her goblet of red wine. She remembered old times, years before she had married Nimish.

"You are the most beautiful woman I've ever seen. Your features are perfect.", he murmured one night after making love.
"Maybe you think they're perfect because you love me. Love makes you biased you know?"., said Sumidha, snuggling closer.
"No, I'm serious. Look at your huge dark, cinnamon eyes, your straight nose, your pink rose like lips. When we make love, it takes a huge effort to tear myself away from your mouth!! You're so can you not believe me! There are women out there who look like puke, and they think they're supermodels. Sumi!", he said, holding her closer.

As she sliced the mushrooms, [according to her desired thickness], she wondered where she had gone wrong. Or they had gone wrong. People said this always happened after marriage, to the best of couples. Sumidha had sworn it wouldn't happen to them. But after awhile she was tired too.

"You haven't made dinner? We can't eat out everyday!"., Nimish grumbled.
"Well work was really busy today too. I'm sorry, Maggi?", apologized Sumidha.
"I miss your cooking."

A hectic job, In laws who grumbled, a husband who wasn't always around to support her, housework that always seemed incomplete...left her exhausted and resentful at the end of the day. More often than not, she took it out on her unsuspecting husband. Sumidha added the julienned mushrooms to the sauteeing mixture in the pan.

"Not tonight Nim, my back hurts."
"Well your mothers comments have screwed up my mood. So you can directly blame her for ruining our sex life single handedly."
"Have you ever woken up in the middle of the night, when our baby cries??"
"You try fighting with that bitch of a kaamwali over her erratic timings!"

Excuses excuses...She never realised when she had become so harsh.
Adding the white wine to the now nearly cooked mushrooms, she realised that when Nimish started drifting apart from her, she never asked him why. She missed him, of course, but only ever felt more angry and resentful towards him. It had been over a year since they had talked, really talked, like the old pals they used to be. They slept under different sheets now and never cuddled. They used to be "cuddly sleepers", but now it seemed like he couldn't stand her touch.

Bringing the mixture to a boil, Sumidha tried to recall the "old her". The fun one, the one Nimish always made excuses to meet, to take out on dates, to make love to, to hold hands with, to laugh talk about life with.
They told each other to take each other for granted. "Don't worry about me. Rather, don't worry about my reactions or anything, keep your mind at rest from my side.", he had said once. Translated that meant - I'm just an extension of you, I'll always understand you and please feel free to take me for granted. Which is what she had said too.

When the sauce reduced to about half if original quantity, Sumidha added the reduced fat Cream. It looked delicious as she stirred it... Nimish loved Pasta in creamy mushroom sauce. Of course now she used a non stick pan and olive oil, instead of loads of butter. But she had to watch her weight and Nim's heart too. They were nearing that age. She had always tried her best to take care of his health. His mother resented it when she decided to cook separately for herself and Nimish using her techniques of olive oil, low fat, NO ghee, non stick frying pans, microwaved pop corn etc... his mom made delicious food, rich and tasty. She was determined not to let her husband eat that anymore that he had to. Sumidha could make tasty food, without the calories. Nimish used to love her determination and self control. He loved how concerned she was about his health. He listened to her blindly. Because she balance it with indulgence, and lots of love. She was the one who spoiled him too.

She would find their lost [misplaced?] love and friendship back. A lovely home cooked meal, some wine, a long bubble bath...bed...cuddling...things would be fine. Mushrooms were an aphrodisiac weren't they? For vegetarians anyway.

She added the lemon basil, thyme and oregance, stirred for five minutes. She put the sauce in the microwave, the wine in the cooler, set the table for two with their best china and candles and silverware. She had screwed things up and she was determined to fix them as best as she could!
She filled the tub with hot water and poured the bubble bath solution. She check the bed linen and turned on the Air conditioning. Nim would be here soon. Sumidha changed into his favorite sari, Put on some makeup and perfume. High heels.

"You look beautiful.", Nimish murmured into her hair as he came from behind and put his arms around her waist...he squeezed her gently. He'd used his key to enter.

Things would be fine, they just needed to take it slow.

Sunday, March 01, 2009


ALL this and more.

A day of peace,
a good night’s sleep,
a guiltless breath,
all this and more,
seem faraway.

A satisfying career,
a decent income,
a job well done,
all this and more,
are so faraway.

A slim figure,
well fitting clothes,
appreciative glances,
all this and more,
seem faraway.

A day of abandon,
a fun filled trip,
genuine laughter,
all this and more,
are so faraway.

A happy family,
no major worries,
parcheesi before bed,
I wish I were young,
could turn back time.

My parents proud,
my sister happy,
my love at peace
all i wish to see.
Alas I wish I could,
speed up the clock…

for now,

All this and more,
seem so faraway