Monday, August 6, 2018

Summer Sun

I love the summers. The sun shining down. The kids at home. The lack of routine. It all spells awesome.

Last summer I was freaking out before the vacations began. How to keep two kids entertained at home. I am one season older. So of course more accustomed. I took the first week off for being with the kids. And it was amazing. Waking up at 0730! Relaxing coffee followed by play time with the girls. Then a trip to the park, lunch, siesta for the little one and screen time for the elder one. Evening another trip to the park( yeah we have a lot of parks around), then dinner followed by books or TV or games. No routine, no sleep time - Chiyaa would keep playing and suddenly say 'I am tired' - her cue for bed. So would Pumpki. She would mention 'I want to lie on the bed' and off we would go. 

We made a trip to an amusement park too. We stayed in an on premise hotel. It was two days of purest fun! There were rides( we elders are chickens so we all went for the kiddie ones), walks, dancing ( mostly by the kids) and fun and games in the water park. What endeared me most was the bonding between my daughters. I am so so so happy with the way they bond that I just hope it stays like that forever. It's not hunky dory all the time. Pumpki tends to go for the toys Chiyaa is playing with which results in us telling her to relinquish it. Which in turn leads to her getting upset since its always she who is asked to give up a toy. Then a whole lot of screaming and shouting ensues. 

On the way to the resort, Pumpki was getting a bit fidgety in the car.  Chiyaa made all the effort to keep her happy. She kept offering toys, sweets, singing rhymes and the whole lot. It was really sweet to see the effort she was putting her baby sister engaged. The night Chiyaa drifted off to sleep first and Pumpki roamed around aimlessly asking for didi. They are lost without each other. They seek each other as if  pulled by some gravitational force. On the return journey Pumpki fell car sick. Chiyaa got the wet wipes and spare clothes ready even before we stopped the car. When we moved on, again she was the responsible elder sis taking care of Shambhavi. They are two amazing creatures who drive us crazy and make our hearts overflow with joy. May the love always shine as the summer sun.

Saturday, June 30, 2018

Right a wrong

She never got it right. No matter how hard she tried. Her cakes tended to implode. She read blogs, checked online videos, consulted friends who were adept bakers - but to no avail. Her cakes ended up being wrong. 

But she wanted to get it right. At least once. She wanted for once for every corner of the house to be invaded with the heavenly smell of baking. Over the weeks she had managed to speak to a colleague who had given her  tricks - sieve the flour, equal amounts of baking powder and bicarbonate of soda, do not open the oven before 20 mins, keep it at the lowest shelf at a low temperature in the oven. Some she knew before some were new. 

As she was walking home from work, inspiration struck. Why not attempt a cake? 

She opened the door, checked the clock, put on the apron. Bowl, sieve, mixer, flour, sugar, oil, butter, eggs, baking powder and soda. It looked like a mini troop had assembled on her kitchen counter. Sleeves rolled, she took the sieve and started to pour the flour. It looked like white rain. The flour gently falling through the sieve onto the bowl. Her nose twitched. Uh! A sneeze was bubbling. In her enthusiasm she had ignored that she was highly allergic to particulate matter. Before she knew the aaaaa became a chooooo. The grip over the vessel of flour loosened and bam! there were  clouds of flour in the room. And a heap of it on the floor. 

So much for baking. Dejected she started packing up. As she was keeping the sugar, inspiration struck again. She kept a pot on the gas burner, poured some clarified butter and poured some jaggery. It started to melt, looking like shining mud. She grated a coconut and roasted it. She mixed the coconut in the jaggery, added a pinch of cardamom. She waited for the mixture to cool. She shaped balls out of the mixture and placed a roasted cashew on each like a kiss

This post is a part of Write Over the Weekend, an initiative forIndian Bloggers by BlogAdda.

Monday, June 18, 2018

General updates :D

For the lack of anything better let's go with some general updates.

Chiyaa's half term  got just over a few weeks back. I am not sure if you remember how I was sweating it about her first half term ever. Being so nervous about handling her and Pumpki at home. The first time was a bit of a challenge. But this time it went swimmingly. Being six, she's so much easier now. She's independent, has ways of keeping her self engaged and is catching up mentally. So it's not like being with a little kid. It's more or less like with a young person. She would finish her morning chores, read a few books, play for sometime and then watch some shows on telly. I was loving sitting beside her and working. Then pronto at four we would go and pick Pumpki and then both would wreck havoc in the garden :D It was the most pleasant 5 days I have spent with her. I was so missing her once school started, looking forward to the summer holidays in 6 weeks time. So parents of young kids don't lose hope, it gets easier eventually. 

We have been in the UK for 8 years now. We tend to revolve with in familiar circles. We tend to associate with fellow Indians. But I am lucky to be 'friends' with some colleagues ( who are ex- colleagues) now, cos they have moved organisations. So I planned a lunch party to have them around our new house. It was the first time we were having non-Indians at home. I had plans of making Indian food, but not tried and tested restaurant options. I wanted to be a bit more adventurous. I sweated over the menu, reaching out to my sister and a few friends who are able cooks. I ended up with cabbage pakoras, puri, jeera rice, paneer kalia ( which is one of my cheffy friends recipe and even won an award in a 'curry off' organised in K's office), chole and a chicken curry my kids like :D Dessert was vermicelli kheer. 

I knew my friends were not averse to new tastes. But I wasn't sure how much I was pushing the borders. The pakoras were a big hit. And so was the chicken, chole and the kheer. The paneer ( the award winning one) had mixed reception. The rice was a dud. Thankfully we have K on our side who is the leftovers demolition man.;) It was a very fun filled day. All the spouses got on famously. There was jovial teasing, arguments, and lot of good natured conversation. One minute we were talking about economic conditions of countries, while the next about processed food and the next about men v/s women. The kids were all in the same age group and played on and on. It was fabulous. We spent around 5 hours together without a minute's awkward silence. We all departed promising 'we should do this more often'. 

Talking about friends, my parents went on a trip to Kashmir with their friends. I remember as a kid making trips with Papa 's friends and their families. This time it was a couples only trip. All of them are in the same age group, with kids grown up and settled. It was a fun filled trip for all of them. My sister and I thoroughly enjoyed seeing the photographs with the contentment written on their faces. It is lucky that they have the right company to associate with. I hope these friendships remain forever. I wish we had such circles but K and I never have found mutually agreeable companions. I think for activities like travelling together there has to be a higher degree of likeness. It never happens for K and me. We have not yet found the family we have the same degree of bonding with.

Well...Someday hope we find 'our' friends too! 

Friday, June 1, 2018

In it together

Today  it is two weeks since amma started back to India. Things have a way of moving don't they. 

Within these two weeks we have managed to establish a routine. Routine is too bland a word. It's more like a symphony. We do things which lends itself beautifully. And by we I don't mean just me and K. It's the kids as well. We have managed to establish a day time schedule  where I wake up pretty early, do the cooking for the kids and prep for K and me. Chiyaa is quite independent now and needs some supervision while she does most of her stuff herself. Eating still needs a bit of coaxing, threatening, shouting and the whole lot ;) But I can't complain. 

Pumpki has a personality of her own. She exclusively seeks me. Mummy is all she wants. But as long as I get  her ready and feed her, she is all right. Towards the time when I am about to leave home, she tends to get a bit anxious. That's when a children's program comes to the rescue. K drops the kids and starts his day. 

By the time he is at work, I have done an hour at my work ( It's sounds like doing time doesn't it :D). My work day is shorter than his. So the pickups are mine. It's a scurry. Catch the bus, come home, take the car, pick kid 1( Pumpki is closer home, so if I am running late it's her first so that I have one in my kitty) followed by kid 2. At home, the divas take turns. If one is having a meltdown  the other is a saint. If one is screaming her head off, the other is brokering world peace. Each day is a different challenge. And on some unique  days, they are both sitting on the table,each with a book, tucking into what I am trying to feed them ( my heart is crying tears of joy). On some other special  days they are both bringing the roof down. 

Situation permitting, there are video calls to India. Once K returns, it is time for the bedtime routine to kick in ( while we manage to put some food  down our throats). It's divide and conquer when it comes to putting the kids to bed. After they have been tucked in, preparation for the next day begins. K loads the dishwasher and gives a vacuum  if needed. 

There is a certain rhythm to it all. It helps that the days are longer and the weather is warmer and it's generally brighter. It helps that I can work from home some days and multi task a few household chores. It helps that Chiyaa is a bit more grown up and is much easier to take care. It helps that Pumpki 's day care is at the end of the street and we have easy access to her. She herself is settling down better. It helps that we are all a unit in this. As the advert for one supermarket chain goes ' every little helps'. 

Friday, May 25, 2018

Hmmm interesting

There are some things in this world that only I can do. Listen ( or read) this incident to believe.
Yesterday I decided to make egg curry. With a lot of love. Special egg curry( what's special? Nothing much, read somewhere add cashew nuts  to the the tomato puree). Now I put the tomatoes in the grinder jar, along with ginger, garlic, coriander seeds and yes the magic ingredient - cashew nuts! Gave it a whirr. A loud clanging sound came out of if. Rather than stopping ( which any sensible person would have done) I assumed there must be piece of ice in the tomato( sometimes the tomatoes freeze if they are in contact with the back of the fridge). I kept grinding. The clanging noise continued. I was not one to give up. I thought hmmm extra hard ice eh? I kept blending. But when the clanging still continued I thought, that much blending would have melted the ice berg that Titanic got hit by. Now was a good time to see what the matter might be.

I opened the lid and saw a spare blade of the blender being the culprit. The plastic bits of the blade had started coming up. I think if I would have tried 2-3 hours, the blade itself would have disintegrated. 

The incident reminded me of something similar during my school days. One day I felt something knobbly in my shoe. Now rather than looking into  it, like any sensible person would, I continued. Again I assumed it would be a small stone. Whole  day long, I kept turning my foot this and that to let the 'stone' be near my heel or,my fingers. I came home and opened my shoe and saw...........................

A frog!!
Long dead, definitely looking like a stone now! ( The place where we lived had all sorts of fauna)

Well...history repeats they say ;) 

Yesterday evening after K finished his dinner ( he ate before me), he said ' I think there is glass or something in the curry '. I said ' don't worry, it's only plastic, you won't get hurt :P)

And we survived after eating curry mildly laced with plastic :D

Friday, May 18, 2018

Friday Release

I am lucky to have my mom or amma being with us intermittently. In the absence of any other family or much close friends that is the best we can have. Amma was to travel yesterday after her 6 month stint in the UK. When someone has to travel I feel jittery. To allay my jitters I take the day off ( convenient ;) I know). I asked K to also book the day just in case. We could have some much needed 'us' time.  Ironically  in the 6 months that amma was here, we never ventured even for a movie. Though  we have had the occasional grocery run :) . So we decided to take the day off - to get used to the routine with out amma as well. Amma helps quite a lot in the kitchen. She is also an additional pair of hands once the kids are back cranky and tired from day care and school. 6 months of that needs a day of unlearning.

Our original plan was to have a nice, quiet lunch at some place where the menu would take ages to be served.  You get the drift 'fine dining'. But then we got pragmatic. What is point of engaging in an exercise which will make our pockets lighter and bodies heavier. Why not catch a movie..better still catch two movies ( I know very uninspired). When I was staying at Hyderabad and K had come to say bye before his on site trip, we had watched 3 movies back to back! Why not relive those days. We also had two movies to our liking - avengers and deadpool 2! 

After amma started and the kids were dropped, we decided to get off asap. As we were about to step out - boom! No, not thunderstorms. The back door won't lock!!! It was like the stars were aligned for us NOT to have a good time. K was the picture of despair - as if India lost world cup by 2 runs, like he opened his lunch expecting paneer and ended up getting poha( yeah he hates poha - I can't imagine how! I love poha), like he was about to finish work and his boss gave a severity 1 issue. 

We Googled. Emergency locksmiths ( gosh the things you can Google! So so,useful ;). One would come within 30-60 mins. Will do. We waited hoping it would be 30 rather than 60. He turned up in 36 minutes!! The job was done in another 30( seems like the door 's hinges had worn out and the door wasn't aligned straight. So much for technical details. The man did have a passion for locks and keys - explained us three types while we kept eyeing the clock). We paid the price and noticed we were 10 minutes away from the show. 

We decided to dart for it. We scooted. We made it! Deadpool was ok( K loved it!) Huh! Avengers was mind blowing! Funny, intelligent, deep!!! A movie that made my day. Sadly we did not have time to engaged in fan tradition of waiting for  clip after the end credits since we were getting dangerously close to pick ups. 

Kids picked up and reality hit in :D

Thursday, April 19, 2018

My man

There are foodies. And then there is K. I have not seen anyone so driven by food. He would have had a full meal, and if he sees something delectable, he will have it - the full portion( not just taste) again. I prepare our lunches after finishing dinner. If the lunch is something that he likes, he will have a meal again. He tells me to hide food, so that he does not end up consuming them and feeling bad ( not guilty bad, physically sick). 

Once in Paris, we were going through the Louvre. K had his mind on Shree Krishna Bhawan, which was half way across the city. He had given up on French cuisine cos duck and soups and breads wee not to his taste * rolls eyes*.  To think about it half the works travels to Paris to eat precisely that. K has exacting standards. He wanted good food. He tried an Indian place which according to him was ' too gourmet and too fake'. So Shree Krishna Bhawan it was! We spent an hour traveling with a bored and tantrum throwing toddler in the pram. Had our food  at the place ( which I agree was delicious - so much that we spent an hour eating). Trekked back to the Louvre. Only K had the stamina to walk through the corridors enjoying the museum on a full belly. I was beat. 

It's not just Indian food he craves. He can write poems about bean baha chalupa, go to town at a carvery, stuff himself like an anaconda with Pad Thai noodles or sweet chilli tofu and dessimate grilled whole chickens. His love for food is legendary. 

The day we were to return from India, K wanted to pay homage to the great Indian Street food. We made the trip to the place which hosts all sorts of them. He started with a plate of papri chaat, followed by aloo tikki chaat, then had pani puris ( countless). We were exhausted by then. K had to conquer momo s - all of them.  The fried and the steamed versions. After plate full of them ( he was getting tired by now, since he had started offering us some). Down but not out. K had to wash all the food down with a glass of laasi. And he never says no to betel leaf. Lichie's new husband who was a spectator to K's super human capabilities was impressed and appalled at the same time. He confessed that he  was a foodie too but K's passion was at a different level!

Last Saturday we hosted some friends at home. We had 15 people (which included kids). Thanks to K's estimating skills, we had food for at least 30 people. So the contest  began  between the remaining food for 15 and the remaining 3 hosts ( K, amma and I). With K on our side, the chances were 50-50. We persevered trying to tackle one dish per day. K came back from work the next day and had the paneer pakoda and onion pakoda. He said he was too full for anything more since he had had 3 pieces of each. When he saw us eating, he came back and asked for a heated aloo and onion paratha with kadhai paneer and chole. I asked him if he wanted Rasmalai and he said 'of course'. 

Around 2100 I heard K groaning like a pregnant lady. He confessed he had too much. I asked him if he had kept the remaining Rasmalai in the fridge. Pointing at his stomach he said 'those babies are safe here'. I was aghast! There were 5 pieces! 5 huge pieces and this man who was saying he wouldn't eat any more after the fritters ate them all! I asked him how could he! And he said ' I thought if I was going down, I rather go down with glory! '

My salute to this marvel of a man!

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