Friday, July 17, 2015

Eid Break

I did not know I liked traveling till I started doing so. As kids we traveled to Nainital and Mussourie and that was it. When I was an adult, I had a fortune of having a cousin getting married in Dubai, so we visited her place. When I was 23, my uncle decided to be brave and take all his nieces for a trip to the Far East. We had fun; I am sure he did NOT!

When we were getting married, the Boy's job was a tad uncertain. He was so worried about everything that we didn't even plan a honeymoon. A wise person told me that no matter what, you must go on a honeymoon. And so, I persuaded the Boy to atleast buy the tickets. Eventually we did manage to go with just our tickets in our hands and still Goa was perfect.

We were in India back then. Within 2 months of our wedding, we moved to Bahrain. This was a whole new experience for me. I was awe-struck with every aspect of a foreign country. Even though I had visited a few before, living in one was a totally new thing. For the first one year while we were discovering each other we ended up discovering the place as well!

Not only that, we went to Qatar and Kuwait in the process. The Boy worked in a consulting firm and his job required him to travel. He made sure he was given an extra ticket for my visit as well! I learnt how to live in hotel apartments and cook on one electric stove.

Our second holiday was to Ladakh. We initially thought of going to Kashmir but they had security concerns that time. And so, just on a whim, we went to Leh. It was a beautiful place but both me and the Boy had health problems there. When they say it is not for everyone, they are not lying.

Another trip to Dubai with free accommodation at the dear cousin’s place was made that year. Since this time I was with the Boy, the trip was more awesome. Very soon he changed his job and our travel map widened. He had more leaves and we had a little extra money to cover foreign locations.

Our first real trip abroad was France and Switzerland. I cannot tell you how much I enjoyed that vacation. I think Europe is really God’s favorite child and He has showered all his blessings on that land. I loved Paris and Nice so much that I wish to spend half our old age there!!

We’ve been to Turkey, U.S.A., Austria, Greece, and Bangladesh after that. Every vacation has been like a dream that I wish never ended. The moment I enter a town I fear that time will fly very soon and I will have to go back home. But it is that fear that makes me love every moment of my journey and motivates me to do everything in my power to embark on the next one. Silly how we constantly need motivation to take life that way.

I’ve been reading tales of people who quit their jobs for the love of traveling. I am not sure how anyone can do that because it can really put your entire future in danger. I, too, believe in living life to the fullest but that doesn’t mean we should shun all responsibilities and go on a world tour!

Anyway, the grapes are sour this side. If I did have the money and security, I would spend all my life in different corners of the world! But since we are normal people with normal amount of security and money, we are just taking a small vacation. I’ll see you on the other side of this week when I come back from Cyprus. Wish me happiness!

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Stamped with Love - Khushi ke Pal

Think of authoritative parents and the one figure that comes to your mind is Amreesh Puri from the movie Dilwale Dulhaniya le Jayenge. That man could send shiver down anyone’s spine, let alone his beloved daughter Simran! Anupam Kher, on the other hand, was completely opposite. He was the type of buddy parent to Shahrukh Khan that made you wish you were born in another home, in another era. How amazing their relationship was; it was like the duo had a constant companion without the need of venturing out. 

But this post is not about celebrating the success of the movie; it is about buddy parenting which was very well depicted in it. I was lucky to be born in a family where my mother was like a friend. She never spanked me for anything or gave me any commands. She set examples which I was always happy to follow. To cut the long story short, she knew how to extract ghee with a tedhi ungli!

In the process she became a cool mommy as well. She wore pants to impress me, curled her hair on my insistence, solved sudoku with me and made it her addiction, stayed up-to-date with technology by playing video games, and so much more. So this is dedicated to her – a few postcards that could go to her doorstep and make her day!

That's me and my mother 'reading'!!

Now mommy dearest was addicted to reading whatever was delivered at her door-step. So much so, that when I got Hardy Boys and The Famous Five from the school library, she finished them before I could when I was away! We actually discussed the plots and had so much fun trying to play detective before the suspense was revealed. 

That's where the cake goes - on the left cheek!

You know how birthdays were celebrated at home in 'those' days - chole bhature, chaat, and cake from the local bakery? My brother and my mother teamed against me and colored me white with the cake's cream! But I took revenge, and guess who howled like a baby on her birthday? - you guessed it. 

In the process, we both shed our inhibitions. Embarrassing moments in front of family and friends took our tolerance a tad higher than the rest. She wasn't the timid girl my dad married at 22. As for me, I was learning to say I-don't-give-a-damn from a very early age!

When someone asks for the opinion of a 10 year-old on clothes, what do you think happens? She feels very important, learns to make important decisions and develops oodles of patience!  I was mom's shopping buddy who stood outside trial rooms and gave perfect advice. Well, almost. The trend continues till today and we love how patient we both are towards each other. No 'other' friend or even our respective spouses have reached that level of satisfaction! 

My mother came from a humble background. She studied till class 10, took care of her siblings and then, got married at 22. She got busy handling a household at a very early age. There was absolutely no time for her to enjoy the little things in life. Having a daughter meant having a companion to do all silly things which she missed out on. 

That friendship made my childhood so wonderful and, I guess, gave new meaning to her life.

I pulled your cheek, you swirled me around
I styled your hair; you teased me with a shrieking sound.
One brilliant chef, one in the making,
More than that, buddies who loved laughing.
A confidante, a  Best Friend Forever,
She’s no one else but my adorable Mother!

 I'm glad I shared my 'Khushi ke pal' because of this contest by Kellogg's Chocos and IndiBlogger!

Friday, July 10, 2015

Punjabi Takkar Dating Diary - Entry #8754

Like I’ve mentioned a few times before, I lived a comfortable life in my parent’s home for the first 26 years of my life. I did my schooling, graduation and then MBA from the city of Nawabs and lived like a princess! I was fortunate enough to be born in a well-to-do family and always had the luxury of a driver or my own car to move around. Life was easy and thankfully, still is.

Even then, my parents always taught me how to value money. I was given a meager pocket money and had to bear all my expenses through it. I was given Rs. 5000 a month to spend on my outings, do any shopping if needed, recharge my cell phone and refuel the car. My college was really far so most of the money was spent on petrol.

There was a time when the Boy had gone for a student exchange program to France for three months. The call rates were really high and had to be borne by me since he had already spent a lot of money in traveling abroad. I remember keeping the windows of my car open just so the vehicle will give a higher mileage and I will be able to buy extra recharge for my cell phone!

I was so afraid of being caught by my family that I was dating this guy that I used to get this recharge from several places. I was afraid that the recharge wala uncle will call my parents and let them know! Oh boy, I was scared of my family knowing!

We always dated at the most discreet of places. There was this restaurant at a remote location where none of my family members, friends or relatives could ever come. The location also suited the Boy because his college bus had a stop near-by and he could easily come there. The chicken biryani was modestly priced at Rs. 70 and made for the most sumptuous meal. We were students and living a cheap life!

I started writing this post because I wanted to tell about one particular incident which involved money. Since my father is a businessman, he hardly ever uses any debit/credit card, whereas the Boy and his family don’t use any cash. One time the Boy had to withdraw some money. The ATM was located right outside his college gate and so we stopped there for a bit. My eyes shone when I saw money coming out of a machine – it was such a new and exciting experience for me! The Boy started laughing and still reminds me of the incident. What’s more, I still have the receipt from my first time ever at the ATM!

I am still a princess though who uses the husband’s credit card and asks him to withdraw money whenever I have the need. I am still careful with money whenever we need to save. I still splurge on priorities and compromise on luxuries if I have to. I am grateful to God that He has given us enough, but I am more grateful that He has taught me to value my privileges.

Substitute and Balance #HoneyDietIsHere

Going on a healthy diet every now and then is like second nature to me. Not that I love eating greens and sprouts and non-greasy food, but I understand the importance of maintaining a healthy weight and its long term benefits.

Our generation has grown up on all kinds of unhealthy food items. We started with noodles in childhood, had lots of ice-creams and literally lived in the school canteen during break time. Even though the pocket money was limited, we made the best out of it by buying only items that were for 1 re. While growing up, we were fascinated by new malls that sprouted in our cities and the Burger and Pizza joints that came with it. So up until we were in college, life was all hunky dory and we ate whatever came in front of us - I mean the junk!

But these things were only good till the late twenties. Once you start growing ‘older’ you begin noticing the perils of unhealthy eating. The weight starts to increase disproportionately. You see doctors more often. And more often than not, you are diagnosed with one deficiency or the other.

It is then you understand the importance of a balanced healthy diet. You start to drink more water, have your nuts, snack on your fruits, include dairy in your diet and eat your vegetables. Trust me, after a while, it actually becomes like second nature to you. And unlike people who might think it is giving up in life, I think it is a sensible lifestyle and makes your life more fulfilling.

It is actually small changes which go a long way. I was never a tea addict. But give me some spicy breakfast and I need tea to gulp it down. Similarly I love cold coffee. There was a time when I needed to have a huge glass of coffee at 4 in the evening. I started having oats for breakfast and consumption of tea at my place went down to zero. And before I could crave for coffee in the evening, I started having a huge glass of milk and the craving vanished.

Basically when you are hungry you wish for your addictions. If you are pre-emptive, you can slowly watch your cravings go away.  I substituted oily greasy breakfast and tea with healthy oats with nuts and evening coffee with milk – I made healthier choices and saw my addictions fade away.

It is not that you can never have what you love. Going on a crash diet can lead to several nutritional deficiencies and can be extremely harmful in the long run. Giving up on carbs can only mean loss of muscle, and we all know how it takes ages to build them back. I do have coffee and tea a few times during the month, but I will not die if I didn’t have them. We go out to eat at Indian and Italian restaurants, but we love our grills more. I’ve learnt how to make nice chicken salads, and I use honey in my dressings!

Frankly, I think it is all about maintaining a balance and finding the right substitutes. Then you can have your cake and eat it too without feeling guilty or adding inches on your waistline!

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Surf it All, Surf it Fast with UC Browser

My husband is an avid cricket fan. By avid I mean that he can recall certain matches like they were played yesterday, he follows the score even if he is on an important project at office and he schedules his parties only on days when a cricket match is not being played.

So, for him and people like him, a cricket match is before anything else. There are times he is in soup; he has to make a choice between a match and something else. It is then I have seen his most creative side – he comes up with such innovative ideas to combine the two so that he can watch the match and still not miss the things that make life worthwhile.

I remember how he found a way on the world cup semi-final. It wasn’t a usual day at work; he was supposed to go on some training. If it was work, he could have taken a leave, but this he could not skip since the bank had paid the trainers a few hundred dollars to teach them new stuff. His heart was stuck on the fact that India should enter the semis, yet his mind kept telling him that he won’t be able to witness the fun.

This man, he went ahead and bought the most expensive 3G connection there is so that he can stream the match live on his smart phone! He took a friend’s id and password for an online streaming channel and tuned in from the place of his training. Thankfully the ‘professor’ was not like the ones in our college; otherwise I don’t know how it all would have worked out!

This other time when I saw him go out of his way for a match was on huge family event. He had no interest in any small talk with some relatives he hardly meets but was given no option by his parents. And so, he went ahead and spoke with the organisers. He convinced them to arrange for a big screen in the party so that the men can watch the match. Needless to say, the party was a hit and we bonded more than we could have had it been a boring eat and go meet!

But there are times when it is not possible to watch the match. It is then live scores on the smart phone help. Sometimes multiple screens are open on the laptop. When the boss is lurking around the cricket screen is immediately shut down. And when the cat is away, the mouse really watch the play!

Sometimes I play the commentator; I send him live updates from home. It is fun to discuss on chat bowling, century, and catches when he is at work. It connects us over something which is not particularly common between a husband and wife.

And that is why cricket is amazing. It connects us all in very different ways. There is no way we should miss these matches and more so when we have things like UC Browser!

Monday, July 6, 2015


Blah. That’s what I’ve been feeling since a few days, or should I say, weeks. There is so much happening in my real life that online life has taken a back seat. Now, ofcourse, I am no Salman Khan busy with promotions of loser of a movie called Bajrangi Bhaijaan, nor I am Mr. Modi aiming for 65 before 65 (countries, ofcourse), but I am a lazy housewife with, mind you, plenty to do!

So I fired a temporary housemaid because I felt she hated her job and was giving me an awful lot of stress. Firing is no easy task - I had to mince my words, be as kind as possible, and keep my mouth shut about the fact that she sucked. I didn’t want to do anything to her self-esteem, so I just lied and said I am going on a vacation.

Now this wasn’t a complete lie. I am indeed going for a vacation albeit for a week. There will be sun and sand and a whole lot of other stuff which would keep us happy for seven whole days in Cyprus. It’s an exotic destination. But then what do you do if you have already covered a lot of the famous ones. Ahem! No, no, I am not bragging. We just want to cover like 40 countries before we turn 40 and we have our list ready. Although Cyprus wasn’t a part of it, we made the list after we booked our vacation. So. Anyway. A vacation is a vacation is a vacation. I am EXCITED!!

Every time we go on a holiday we try to shed some weight before boarding that plane. This is just to stay fit and make sure that we eat to our hearts content while we are in a foreign land. These days our schedule runs tight. I do atleast one and a half hours of exercise. Now that needs a lot of rest in between for my amazingly feeble body. So, after finishing the daily chores and doing that workout, I chill the rest of the day! Ha! See I have a very valid excuse!!

And then we’ve been eating yummy salads to shed some more kgs. I’ve started making a delicious chicken salad that I actually crave for in the evenings. Whoever said that diet food was boring didn’t try searching the internet for recipes, and didn’t love his body. If you think you’re being cool by being a foodie, you also need to be health conscious to survive being one. I love food, but I love myself more. I wish people had a similar mantra.

Oh ya, this lecture will get over as soon as we are on the island of Cyprus! But that’s only for a week na, and we are prepared!

I also had a social anxiety disorder lately. After having a couple of glasses of wine, people change apparently. I did too. I became aggressive in my debates which I regretted the next morning. And since I hate confrontations so much, I don’t know how I will ever rectify my behaviour.

I could have had an altercation with a Muslim friend as well on the whole Gay marriage thing. But sanity prevailed and I didn’t say anything. I would rant here ofcourse. That deserves a whole post and post I shall.

Hope I keep reading and writing. I just like to read non-fiction and so I am reading blogs of prostitutes these days. They are very interesting to say the least. Google and hop onto one!

Much love!

Sunday, June 21, 2015

The House of Outlaws

They said you can’t eat it. Now I wasn’t addicted, but when they ban something, it becomes more enticing.

So I went to the store and bought bundles of it lest they stopped selling them. It wasn’t right of me, like mother would have said, but when it is not right, it is perfect!

Mother always had rules. Eat your greens. Have your milk. Drink plenty of water. Even after the wedding when we would Facetime/Skype with her, she would go on and on lecturing me on how to nourish my body. I would, like all sincere kids, listen with one ear and… you know.

Oh, Mother. She was coming in two days to visit me and the husband for the first time after the wedding. How would I explain the bundles of prohibited stuff to her? The menu for the next day was declared so that we finish all the packets – we would consume these morsels fit for the kings in the morning for breakfast, cook it with some veggies in the afternoon for lunch and then devour like dirty kids at dinner.

I felt naughty. And scared – what if she found out? Even in our 30’s mothers can have that power, especially when it came to food.

Things went exactly like we planned -  the day before she came, we opened the yellow packets. The husband, he likes his dish spicy, so I slit through two green chillies and mixed in the water for him. Mine was regular – water, masala and the spiral stuff. We made two separate bowls – no sharing of course – and had a hearty meal. Health is wealth went for a toss.

Afternoon and evening went in deciding how to make varieties of the same. I googled and came up with pakoras, he concocted his own dish and came up with a sandwich filled with appetizing, yellow mix. It tasted divine.

The next morning the sink smelled of the same delightful meal. While I inhaled the aroma thinking it might as well be the last time, a thought made my whole body shiver. What if mom smelled the same in the utensils? Did the house smell of it as well?

Bedlam broke lose. Agarbattis were lit around the house. The last I smelled Jasmine from the incense stick was on Diwali – mom was definitely going to get suspicious on my sudden transformation. I poured copious amount of liquid that had a yummy, lemon smell onto the utensils and scrubbed with both my hands. Yes, the maid would think it is her birthday or something since I finished the chores even before she came.

We opened all the windows, mopped the floor with antiseptic, and made sure every corner smelled like a place fit for doctors, and not like a young, married couple high on MSG. This was exactly like the time we had to hide the smell of fish curry from vegetarian guests. Or, like the time the husband's parents were visiting and we had to find ways to get rid of the smell of smoke from a party the previous night. We sprayed and cleaned like pros, like we did always, and took a bow. 

Then we rushed to the airport. It was a delight to have her in our town. She gave us the best hugs and kisses and the warmest smiles. When she stepped into our house, she complimented me on how I had kept it so beautiful and clean. She patted my back and even said something on the lines of ‘this is just how I would have kept this house’.

I think my day, no, life was made. And yes, we WERE successful in hiding the two-minute goodness smell.

She asked us for all the dishes we would like her to make during the next few days. I opened the drawer and handed over a list. Of course it was ready. She asked me to take her to the kitchen and show her around the place she would rule during her stay.

As I was pointing out the basic items, her detective eyes landed on a corner I may have never ever seen in my kitchen.  She held the tiny bit that we had missed on the floor and spoke in decibels unheard in our lawless abode, “Noodles? Have you two been eating Noodles? Have you not read how they are high on MSD and lead and can give you the most horrendous diseases?”

We never heard the end of it. Forget compliments, we were henceforth treated how a principal would treat school kids.

Much like I expected though. The only solace was that the son-in-law was treated with equal 'respect'. He was finally being accepted as her own son now and was getting the perks that come with it. Needless to say, mothers are the best!

*All the pictures above are mine created with the help of a Smart Phone application.

I am blogging for #SmellyToSmiley activity in association with Ambi Pur.