I had forgotten how it feels.

I had completely forgotten…

That pride that fills your heart when you hear the national anthem, or the patriotic songs that you’ve been hearing for years. The lifting of hearts and spirits as we stand tall and sing the national anthem from the heart.

Days like the Independence Day and the Republic Day, which had been so part of us, until we moved abroad, was ao much fun to relive and also share with Daughter, for she had never experienced it before. So much that we took for granted, so much to be proud of.

I have a lot to be thankful for the last year we spent in India. It wasn’t the easiest of times, but it has given me memories that I will cherish and the hope that maybe one day, I would be back in India.

Happy Republic Day, everybody!

Day 26: Popping Paniyarams.

The house we live in, at the moment, is nice, but unfortunately is one that doesn’t tick a lot of boxes for us.

It was the best we could get at that time, given the fact that I was in India and husband was in Glasgow. House hunting wasn’t the easiest thing. Also this place is very sought after, so houses that come on rent go off within seconds. We were lucky to find something decent in a decent locality.

One of the things that always annoys me is that I have an induction hob. It is better than an electric hob, but very annoying when half the pans I own can’t be used on it. I’m just thanking my stars that both my pressure cookers are induction safe. I had a tough time finding a pan that can double as a dosa pan as the one I got from India was a non induction one. The one pan which I longed to use but couldn’t was the paniyaram pan. We love paniyarams here but my pan doesn’t work on that hob of mine. So it’s been a non paniyaram season for us.

Until I spotted some cake pop makers. They have been around for a while but I never saw the point of buying one until i figured that I might be able to make paniyarams with them.

We bought one of these last Sunday. Didn’t have a chance to do much apart from cleaning it. Today, I decided that I should give it a try.

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All set, waiting for the batter to be spooned in.

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Paniyarams ready to be gobbled up:) They took five minutes to get cooked, and tasted delicious as usual!

I can’t tell you how delighted I am. This also has mini doughnut moulds. I can’t wait to make baked doughnuts. Although husband refuses to eat them unless they taste as nice as Krispy Kreme ones. I guess that leaves me and daughter to polish them off. When they get made, if they get made :)

Day 25: I’ll be your friend, only if..

One of the things you get used to living in Western countries, I shouldn’t probably generalize, but this has been my experience so far, is smiling at people you see around you.

When we first relocated to Bangalore, I found that I was becoming an embarrassment to myself. I would smile at people in lifts in the apartment, and then find myself being completely ignored. People would just look through you. However, some were very curious. Now, they might not smile at you, but they would ask you if you were renting. If you said you were an owner, the next question would be when you bought the property. In due course I came to understand that all that was part of the hierarchy of the apartment ecosystem. Sigh. The different types of categorization which would then dictate how they would be with you. You might get a few friendly nods if you were owners, may be not if you were tenants. I’ve heard that even maids are more likely to come to you for work if you were owners rather than tenants..

Although not everybody was like this, but I met plenty to realize that it might not be the norm, but there was more than a few to be called an exception.

In the UK, one of the places, I meet new people is at Daughter’s school. When she started Year 3, she moved from infant school to Junior school. Some schools are divided into sections like that. And all infant schools feed into certain junior schools. In case of daughter’s school, two feeder schools fed into this junior school. Before school started, we had certain sessions and were given information packs. This included the list of children in each class. We glanced through it to figure out which of Daughter’s classmates would be in her new class, and that was it.

On the first day of school, we were walking back to the bus stop(this was in the days before I got my manual driving license), and I smiled at another mother with her child, who was walking near us. She didn’t smile back or anything. Daughter waved bye to the little girl and I asked her if they were in the same class, and daughter confirmed that they were.
Suddenly, the lady turns to me and asks, ‘What is your daughter’s name?’.

When I replied, she says, ‘Oh you are ‘x’ caste, aren’t you?’

Well, you see, my daughter has my husband’s surname, which is also the same as his caste.

‘We are also the same caste’, she went on to say,excitedly, and smiling for the first time, ‘ I saw in that information pack!’.

I was flabbergasted to hear that! People still look for their ‘castes’ before deciding to be friendly. This lady did not even smile, before she figured out the caste equation!

Needless to say, I don’t have much to say to this lady. I still smile and give her a friendly nod, when I do run across her, but that is about it.

This whole caste thingy annoys me. I have been brought up in an environment where my parents always stressed on how things like caste are of no importance. My grandfathers, both of them, had different ideas for not naming their children with the caste names. My paternal grandfather was a Gandhian and felt strongly about equality of all sections of society. My maternal grandfather was a communist, who again believed in equality of all castes. The combined effect has been for us to grow up literally blissfully ignorant of the caste equation around us. It helped that we lived in a wonderfully cosmopolitan place where I’ve never heard of caste based divisions while growing up.

So I find this diffucult to come to terms with this slotting of people into ‘castes’ for various reasons. I have heard people assume that because some people of a particular caste is successful, ‘it must be because of reservation’. Or people trying to find out my caste because my surname doesn’t give a clue. But this was the first time, a person completely ignored me, showed no signs of being friendly, suddenly was bursting with friendliness as soon as she realized that we might be of the same caste!

Is it any wonder that caste based politics works so well in India? I could have understood this reaction had it been from a person in some village with no access to a different value system, but when you see this sort of attitude in someone who ought to know better, someone, who I assume is educated( or may be not), I feel sad. Just sad.

Book Review: Yesterday’s Sun by Amanda Brooke

Smitha:

Today’s post on the book blog.

Originally posted on Any Excuse To Read:

This was a book that I found on the ‘Just Returned’ shelf of the library during one of my lunch time sojourns to the library.

The blurb caught my interest – ‘How could you ever choose between your own life and the life of your child?’. I assumed it would be Jodi Picoult-ish, as TGND might call it. But then I had never heard of the author or the book, so decided to give it a try.

After bringing it home, though, I started to have, well, not negative, but some sort of reluctance to pick it up. It looked like a general book, why waste time on it? It sat on my book shelf until I had finished all my unread Alexander McCall books. Finally, I had just one book – this one unread. I had the option of picking this one or the Kindle. Of course, a real…

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Day 23: I am as bad as my daughter..

.. when it comes to being hooked on a book.

I spent most of the morning reading. I read while I made coffee, while I had that coffee, while making breakfast, and eating it. I even tried reading while supervising Daughter’s bath. And when after all that, I still had not completed the book, I lay in bed, and read in peace, until I finished the whole book. Late for work, so be it.

Tell me, how can I nag at Daughter to stop reading and do her stuff, when she has me to learn from?

In my defence, I only do it once in a while, where as she does it everyday. Ok, can you guys please not tell me that I am an adult and she only a child?

Day 22: Joys of Walking

One thing I’ve enjoyed since forever must be walking. Ever since we came to the UK, it just got a little more pleasurable.

When we first came here, we used to walk a lot. Walk to the tube stations for work, and then on weekends and Friday evenings, we would spend the hours on our feet, walking around Central London. It was a wonderful magical time. Walking through the busy tourist areas, tiny alleyways, by the Thames, I actually miss it all, just thinking about it.

Daughter, when she came along, changed a few things. We still walked but not as much. Just the necessary bit to work, nursery and back. But that was quite a bit too.

Once I went on a break from work, in London, I would pop Daughter into the buggy, and we would go to the local playgroups or the library. At least a few miles of walking under my belt everyday. It was a lot of fun, and some exercise. My walking continued when we shifted to Leeds. It didn’t reduce, but it did become more interesting. The first house we stayed at, had a lovely wooded area surronding it. We have spent several weekends as a family, walking and exploring. There were cute little meadows that looked like something out of Enid Blyton books, to blackberries growing wild. We moved houses, but we were lucky yet again to find a wooded area very near where we lived. It was even better that the shortest route to Daughter’s school was through there. And we made the most of it. I have hardly ever driven to school, and most days after dropping her off at school, I would enjoy a long and refreshing walk.

Then, of course, came the time when we decided to go back home to Bangalore. Now, Bangalore is one place where walking wasn’t the most easiest. While in UK, you could happily walk on footpaths, secure in the knowledge that you are safe, in Bangalore, well, not so much. Daughter and I have had terrifying experiences of bikes on footpaths right behind us, without the slightest of worries that they are on footpaths. It was totally up to pedestrians to keep ourselves safe :) We did, however, manage to find a lovely lake close to where we lived. It had a path all around it, and there was this portion of it which was totally serene and it made you feel that you were in a different far away place, away from all the pollution and noise of the city. The only sad thing was that it was gorgeous at dusk, and I got to truly enjoy it only when husband was around on holiday. I didn’t feel safe enough to venture there by myself. Which was sad, but well.

Back in the UK, we were in a new town. The neighbouring areas not as picturesque but walking was still fun. I would drop off Daughter at school and walk part of the way back, or sometimes, the whole distance. I was not walking through picturesque areas, but I still enjoyed it.

Now, that I’ve started working, walking has become a little more limited. I don’t get as much time to walk and enjoy it. Whatever walking I do has a purpose, and more often than not, extremely hurried. You would find me rushing to work or rushing from work. Hardly a frame of mind to enjoy the surrondings or the views, but every once in a while, nature forces me to stop, and soak in the splendor of nature.

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Day 21: The Black Hole in My Hand

Yes, you read that right. I do have a black hole. My own personal little black hole. My handbag.

You see, I carry one of those large handbags which can carry everything. Well, I have several of them, and each of them equally bulky and voluminous. And each one has huge amounts of stuff. According to husband it will take a complete evacuation to get anything out of them.

I can’t really say that he is far off the mark, after all, I have found 3 year old receipts in there, although I would NEVER admit it to him. After loads of nagging by husband, I have started clearing them, and sorting them out, regularly. Ok, Ok, regularly by my standards. So now I have comparatively empty bags with just essentials like pocket tissues, hand cream and the like, in them, so that I could just put my wallet and my phone in whichever bag I fancy, and I’m good to go. And it works beautifully. I try not to over load them. Apart from that book that absolutely needs to go in there. Apart from that, my bags just have the essentials. Of course, they are not essentials according to some people, namely husband. But let’s ask him who comes to the rescue when he needs some tissues suddenly?

So I had my handbags all sorted out nicely. Until I started work. Now, I’ve come to realize that I have a lot of black/grey clothes even before I started work, but all my handbags are vividly coloured. And all quite bright colours too. Bright pinks, purples, tan etc. not a single black, official looking one. So I had to go and buy one. A black sleek bag, just for work. Sleek, and yet with multiple pockets and space to fit everything I need. Books, tissues, snacks, lip gels, hand cream, the works. Now, in the last few weeks, things have been going into the bag, and I’ve just realized that nothing has come out of it, ever since I started using it. I use it just for work, so for the fear that I might end up taking out my id tag and forgetting to take it back to work I leave the bag untouched, as far as I can.

The other day, I realized what I’ve ended up with. I had an early morning meeting. I had some print outs that I had taken the previous day, just to be on the safer side, all in preparation for the meeting. Those printouts, for some unknown reason, I had popped into my drawers and locked it up. And popped the key into my handbag. So I rushed in, just about in time for the meeting, and realized that the darn drawers were locked. I had some vague memory of popping the key into my drawer, and set about the job of searching for it. Hunt, hunt hunt. Of course, as expected, I found everything and more but the keys. Week old receipts, money, loose coins, everything except those keys. I could have just taken fresh printouts for all the time I spent searching in there. Finally, I was left with no option but to tip it all out and locate the keys.

Thankfully, I did find the key, eventually but I might have lost some of my dignity though trying to rummage through the rubbish that was in my handbag. I guess, I had better listen more to husband and organize that bag of mine better. Although as I said before, you’ll never catch me admit it to him :)

Day 20: Randomness and Books

You know those Monday’s when you actually feel relieved that the weekened is over? It’s one of those Mondays.

A Monday that feels quieter than a Sunday, even though when I look back, it doesn’t feel like a day when a lot got done and yet, I felt swept off my feet with work. At the end of day, all I could do was hit the bed. And I managed to miss yesterday’s post. For some reason, I thought I had posted already, only to realize this morning that it was Saturday’s post that had been posted. I didn’t even have a draft to post. So not good. Will try and get in an extra post one of these days. If I can. Let’s see.

Although, having said that, I do hope that I don’t jinx it by saying it out loud, and Monday turns out truly manic. Well, wouldn’t be totally surprised if that happens.

Have been reading Alexander McCall Smith, back to back these days. I got hold of Tears of the Giraffe(Second in the No. 1 Detective Ladies Agency Series). It was cute, and cozy, but I didn’t love it as much as the first. It’s probably just me. I’ve started ‘The Sunday Philosophy Club’, and love it so far. I’ve been sneaking reads whenever I’ve had a chance, but the last few days, I haven’t really had much time. I feel sad just writing this down. Yesterday, when I could have done some reading, I forgot to take the book with me. Normally, we go on an hour long walk when Daughter is at her keyboard lessons. I also carry a book, just in case. Yesterday, we walked only for about 35 minutes. We came across a very wet patch, and decided to turn back, as neither of us fancied walking about in wet shoes. That left me with around 20 minutes of reading time, and no book. I did catch up on the news, but it feels sad to waste 20 mins off reading time.

I’ve got a few books on the Kindle that have been waiting for ages. I have to stop picking up books from the library
until I’ve read a few off the Kindle.

Daughter, on the other hand, has been reading all sorts of books. She was quizzing me on the First World War, based on some stuff she found in her Horrible Histories Collection and I just realized that I hardly know anything about the war. This is what happens when you don’t really pick up much in History when you were in school. I guess I will have to read a book based on the First World War, to prompt me to go and research it :)

So what have you guys been reading? If you guys are on Goodreads, please join me there, I love finding out new books from everybody’s updates! I absolutely love Goodreads. I know I have said that before, but I can’t say it enough.

And how was your weekend? Did you get to do something exciting?

Book Review: Secrets She Left Behind by Diane Chamberlain

Smitha:

Today’s post is on the book blog.

Originally posted on Any Excuse To Read:

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Maggie is finally leaving prison. She had been behind bars for the last one year. Convicted for setting a fire that killed many children, and one that almost took her own brother’s life, she is in living hell. Her release from prison, sadly hasn’t released her from the prison of guilt.

Keith Wes has had his life turned upside down in the last year. He almost lost his life, by an act of arson. He has been terribly disfigured, and now the person responsible for it all is coming back from prison. He feels that Maggie had it easy. The fact that Maggie and he are half siblings has not helped, given the fact that he and his mother Sara live in half poverty, while Maggie and her family live in comparative opulence.

The day that Maggie is release, is already one full of tension for Keith and to add…

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