If only I could capture smells..

.. because that is about all that I did not manage to get hold of, in our holiday to India.

When daughter was little, husband used to inhale her baby fragrance and wish that we could capture it for eternity. That is the one thing I wish too, now, back after my 8 week-long holiday.

The aroma of mom’s cooking,

the fragrance of flowers lingering on after collecting flowers for the pookalam,

the fragrance of properly fermented dosas,

of ripe, juicy jackfruits,

the smell of wood fired ovens – I can’t get enough of it..

I guess, I don’t need to say that I am terribly, terribly homesick. If there is anything bad about a holiday at home, it is the returning. How I wish I could just bypass it entirely. This holiday was a mixture of everything, a roller coaster of emotions, combined with the excitement of my and Poohi’s very first Onam in Kerala, being around to celebrate my great-aunt’s 90th birthday, meeting relatives, rejoicing in the way Poohi enjoyed with all her cousins and basking in the love one receives from everyone… Even if I did not manage to capture smells, I did manage to capture the sights, and we were so very lucky to get to meet Deeps and Namnam 🙂

I do owe apologies to everyone who I did not manage to call while in India. I will call you all over the next few days.

You know you are hard up for time when…

..  You have no time to think

– when you waste no time, and yet, have most of the things that was planned for the day undone at the end of the day,

– when you end up chatting with dear friends over the FB scrabble game or on the blog, instead of writing a nice long mail or calling them up,

– when the car knocks up over 10 miles in under 2 hours while finishing off errands,

– when the clothes go into the dryer, despite the wonderful weather outside,

– when you have no time to comment on blogs, or reply to comments on yours. I can’t tell you how bad I feel about this.

– have loads of unanswered emails,

– when you go to bed at 11:30pm  and still feel guilty,

– when two suitcases have been lying open, and empty for the last three days.

– and worst of all, when you have no time to read all the books sitting around. Can you believe it, I have ‘The Space Between Us, Shantaram, A house for Mr Biswas and the The Sari Shop waiting to be devoured, and I have no time to read. Thankfully, I found out today that the library has a concept called ‘Holiday Renewal’, that might be my only hope. That and if I manage to convince husband that it is absolutely essential that I carry these books with me on the trip..

I am in the midst of getting ready to go on our India trip, and nothing, absolutely nothing seems to get done. To add to it, it is Poohi’s last few days at her old school. Come September, she is moving to ‘big school’, a wonderful school near us. It is all wonderful, but she is so going to miss all her friends from her old school. So in the middle of all this, I still plan playdates with her friends as all of them are going to be very busy once school starts in Sept. I feel bad that she will miss all her friends and wonderful teachers.

I have been getting, ‘knock, knocks’ over my ‘disappearance’, so I felt I had better explain my absence, before you guys accuse me of ‘selective commenting/reading’ 🙂

The non-tweeting me.

A few months ago, was it over a year ago, somebody invited me to join twitter. And I joined. That was that for a long time.

Then a few months ago, some of our blog friends joined twitter and started adding me. Then I had a little more incentive to actually log in to my account, rather than have a dormant account, which  I never used. That point in time, I ended up adding quite a few interesting people.

Funnily, despite following really interesting tweeters, I somehow do not seem have the time or inclination for tweeting. I find that I need a lot more time to be able to tweet, read through people I follow, and to respond to tweets. On the blog world, I feel I can read, comment and respond at my own pace. On twitter, on the other hand, by the time, I read a tweet and want to reply to it, the tweet is forgotten and 20 other tweets must have come from that person. So in that sense, I find it far more difficult to use twitter.  Again, even on social networking platforms, I rarely post any status message, so I guess that is another mind-block that I have, when it comes to short posts.

But yes, it is a lot of fun, when I log in once in a while, and find an interesting hashtag going on, I do have a lot of fun reading them, but as I said, very rarely do I log in, in time to read most of it.

There is one thing though. I do think that twitter does give a feeling of familiarity especially when it comes to celebrities. I hear friends talking about what Shahid Kapoor tweeted or what Shahrukh Khan said, and it almost feels as if people have started feeling far more involved, if I may call it so, albeit ‘virtually’. People can actually talk to celebrities on twitter, which I think is an incentive for some people.

Right now, my twitter usage is almost nil, but I do wish I had that kind of bandwidth and that kind of wit to be on twitter. What about you guys? Are you active on twitter and if not, why?

A mid-summer morning

This morning, I spent some quality time with my garden. Well, it was screaming for attention, so I had no real choice.

When we moved here, I started hunting for gardeners, only to find that every gardener around here was super booked for spring and summer. My neighbour’s gardener offered to come by, if he comes across some free spot, but that hasn’t happened so far. So I had to take matters into my hands and tidy it up. I had done it once before and in no time, the garden is over-grown again. I was hoping against hope that one of those numerous gardeners would get free, but that does not seem to be happening, and my garden looked ready to grow into a forest, so I had no real choice.

We have a little front garden and a little back yard, and believe me, it did not look so little today. What with Poohi’s running commentary about how she can’t talk louder than the lawn mower and us finding a little baby snail, which then turned into a conversation about how we could build a house for the snail, with her building blocks. I had been absent-mindedly saying ‘yes’, when she ran in to get her blocks and I realized what I had just agreed to.

So then it took some story telling(around the snail) to explain why the snail does not need a house. Then off madam went to find the rest of the snail family. Anyway, here is the all-important snail. And in case you guys, don’t remember about this obsession with snails, it started quite a while back. And will someone please tell me, how a child who loves snails can be scared of bees or any insect for that matter?

And a few pictures of my garden in bloom. These are plants that had been planted before we came here. And I love the roses! The one in the picture is one the first of the season, and there are so many buds, I can’t wait for them to bloom.

And these are my contribution to the flora around here.

By the way, there seems to be something eating up some of my plants. I had planted some marigold and dahlias in the garden but something seems to be eating them all up. I can’t see anything but some slime near the plants. Any idea what it might be? I took a couple of marigold seedlings and planted them in a planter and kept it in the conservatory, and so far, it seems alright.. So I do think that there is something that is eating up my plants in the garden. And eating selectively too! It leaves all those weeds untouched!

And oh yes,before I forget, I have started associating summer and sunny days with the sound of lawn mowers. Every lawn mower in the area gets used during the few sunny days that we get.

This and that and a recipe.

You know what, when I started the NaBloPoMo, my worry had been that I would have nothing to post. Funnily, the more I write, the more ideas I get. Even if I do end up boring you guys to death.

The bigger problem I have been having is that I have no time to blog-hop or to reply to comments. And that is killing me. I just hate it that the time just flies. Add to that, with the BPL contest, I have come across some more wonderful blogs and more to read, and no time to do it. Unfair, don’t you think? Anyway, I do think that NaBloPoMo, is not for me, and this is probably the last time that I do it.

To make life easier for all you guys, who have been groaning about the number of posts clogging the reader, let me post a recipe today.

I have a morbid fear of oily things. Not that I don’t eat them. I do, and then I feel horribly guilty. But one thing I draw a line at , is making them myself. I go to ridiculous heights to avoid frying things. I bake just about everything I can and whatever cannot be baked, does not get made in my kitchen.  So here is my version of baked Sabudana vadas/cutlets. Easy-Peasy, as Poohi says and delicious too – certified by husband. Just so that you know, most of the things I make, do not pass his certification process.

Baked Sabudana Vadas


1 cup sabudana – soaked – I soak it for around 6 hours – but even 3 hours should be good enough
2 medium potatoes – boiled
3-4 green chillies – as per taste
1 cup peanuts – roasted and coarsely ground
1/2 inch grated ginger
salt to taste
1 tsp lemon juice – or as per taste. You can also use amchur powder, if you prefer that.
chopped coriander- optional
Mash the potatoes, add the rest of the ingredients and mix them well.
Shape into vadas.
Grease a baking sheet or tray with oil and place the vadas on it. Spray the top of the vadas with cooking oil spray or simply brush with some oil.
Bake until golden brown at 400 deg for around 20 mins or until golden brown, turning over midway through the process.

Words, words are all I have..

Is there anything more magical than words?

Words can make us cry, words make us laugh. Words express love, hate and scorn. Words can make such a difference in our lives. Words that make us live another’s life through books and blogs 😉 Words that can join and break hearts, words that hurt, words that heal…

And for some mad people like me, words make us addicts –  of all sorts of word games. My latest addiction is a word game on my phone.

I must be crazy, but I just cannot seem to stop. I used to be a scrabble-addict, but blogging kind of cured me. Then again blogging is all about words too, isn’t it? So is reading and so is talking, for that matter?  Come to think of it, can you even imagine a world without words?

All those magical words to savour? Do you have a favourite word? I keep having favourite phrases. Some phrases that I latch on to, and then end up using a bit too much, driving everybody else crazy. So do you play favorites with words? Do you feel the way I feel about words.

Weekend tales

I can’t help wondering if I was right in the mind, when I decided to take up the NaBloPoMo for this month. Whatever made me think that it would be do-able?

From the look of it, every single thing is trying to ensure that I do not complete it. For one, the weather is so beautiful, despite it being not-so-sunny, that it is impossible to be indoors, and then to top it all, Poohi decided to run a temperature.  So it means that I have no option but to write this inane post, which by the way, I am giving you enough warning to skip 🙂

The weekend was one unexpected bonus. We woke up to a clear and sunny sky and that had us scrambling for the phone to check the weather at a nearby seaside resort. Turns out that it was all sunny and gorgeous and not one bit windy. Now, that is too good to be wasted, so we started calling all our friends and getting together a plan to spend the day at the beach. We set off, all excited, all the beach gear in place and praying that the weather stays the way it was.

We got stuck in the longest queue of traffic, within half an hour. Husband started figuring out detours on his beloved android phone. And turns out, Google Maps reported heavy traffic ahead and gave us a much better detour. That lead to him declaring his love for google, which incidentally he declares far more than his love for me. Did I mention that I drove this time, and it was my first really long drive – 70 miles, so it gave husband all the more time to spend with his phone and google( all the while declaring how great google is, btw).

Finally,we were about 10 miles away from our destination, when Poohi notices dark clouds in the horizon. Within minutes, we were being pelted by the heaviest rain we had experienced in the recent past. With disappointment weighing us down, we continued on our way, deciding that we might as well go and shop, since we are this close. Husband kept refreshing BBC weather and exclaimed that BBC still shows sunny! As if, that will make the rain go away.

Once we reached, we decided to take our time, have lunch and wait for our friends, who by the way, had not taken the detour, we had not been able to contact them before we took the detour. After lunch, the weather still looked dismal, and we decided to walk around the town,when suddenly the rain disappeared and it got sunny again.

It was the best moment ever! We could not believe our luck and we raced to the beach. Needless to say, we had the best time ever. Plenty of splashing around in the water, making sandcastles, lazing around in the sun.  It was the perfect way to make up for the previous disaster of a weekend.

We are still recovering from that one day of fun 🙂 And poohi most certainly seems to have exhausted herself and has come down with a temperature. So she has ended up missing school today. She was so upset because she was looking forward to meeting her friends again – they had a half term break last week. And I was looking forward to her going to school, so that I could get some work done, but it was not meant to be 🙂

So how was your weekend?

What makes you blush?

No , not the romantic types, the cringing with embarrassment types.

The first time that happened to me, in a big way was when I first came to work here in the UK. I had a team full of people who used to use expletives like adjectives. They used to sprinkle it in their sentences the way we sprinkle herbs and spices in our cooking – liberally.

All kinds of colourful words would abound in their conversations.  One of my British colleagues used to find my reaction to it, extremely funny. He used to laugh out, and exclaim, ‘Look at Smitha, she can’t stop blushing in this place! We are scandalizing her way too much !’

Initially, I had the impression that it was only the younger folks who spoke that way, which was soon dispelled when I heard a director and a VP swear equally colourfully, in a conference call. In the two years that I spent in their company, I have to say that I did get used to it, at least got used to hearing it, if not using it.

I thought I was beyond getting shocked when I overheard a mother in Poohi’s school using colourful( and very inappropriate) language. That was a first, because I have never heard any of the mothers talking like that. I think most are extremely careful about what they say in front of a child, even if they do use swear words otherwise. The only other time I remember being shocked was when I saw a mother(this was in India), teaching her 2 yr old to say ‘Oh sh*t’ , totally oblivious to the fact that it is a profanity.

Over all, the impression I get is that a lot of people use swear words far more casually. I see status messages on Facebook, that makes me cringe. I wonder if they realize how it looks, or is it just me who is not very comfortable with swear words? Or is it generation gap come early 🙂

What is your take on it? How comfortable are you with swear words and the swearing culture?Do you cringe, ignore or just participate? Do tell.

An avial of a post..

..is what happens when I have nothing much to say..

Why, you ask? Well, we have been outdoors almost all the time, since the last few days. We went on drives, waded through a little stream, enjoyed ice-creams, and generally basked in the warmth.  Warm weather was finally here, but then like all good things, did not last long. It is back to business as usual today, cold, wet and windy.

The two of us testing waters 🙂

Chicken pox seems to be doing the rounds here, and one of Poohi’s friends has got it. So Poohi was really upset, apparently she wants to ‘eat chicken pox too, coz I love chicken too’!

The other day, we had been watching NDTV’s We the People, on the same gotra controversy. Just wanted to add my share. I cannot comprehend why it becomes necessary to force people to live by other people’s standards. Why can’t it be left to individuals to decide what makes sense for them? And does it make any sense at all, in this time an age? Why is it considered being ‘city-bred’ and ‘urban’ to think like this?  Does it mean that people living in villages have no right to think for themselves? If some people believe that same-gotra marriages are not correct, let them not get married to someone of the same gotra/village or whatever works for them. But forcing entire communities to follow rules like this, is a little difficult to stomach. More so, is the support that they seem to be getting from various sections of society.  Bones has unearthed Naveen Jindal’s interview on this. He actually seems to be support of the Khaps when it comes to same gotra marriages.

Today apparently Arya Samaj has come out with something bizarre. ‘After khaps, it is the Arya Samaj that has shocked couples in Haryana. A section of the sect has decided to ban marriages without consent of parents and villagers.’ .

Apparently in addition to dis-allowing same gotra marriages, they will also refuse to solemnize weddings without consent of parents and villagers! They also go on to say that ‘ Love marriages are harmful as in such weddings youngsters just see the beauty and not the nature and qualities which should be the basis of marriages,” said Baldev.’  And I wonder if women play any role at all, in any of these decision making.

It is funny, isn’t it that, Arya Samaj came into being as a reform movement within Hinduism, is today talking about going the reverse way?  What is your take on this? It just makes me sad that we Indians are supposed to be tolerant people, and yet, we have so many such diktats cropping in various parts of the country. Are we increasingly becoming more intolerant or is it just that now with the media, reporting all this, it is just looking that way?

*avial – a mixed vegetable dish

And it is …

.. doll house furniture.Most of you guys got it right 🙂 The picture in the previous post, that is.  And all I can wish, when I see it, is to become a little girl again.

So sorry for the delay, but I got waylaid by good weather. By good weather, of course, I mean, non-wet weather – we have long stopped craving for warm weather 🙂

Couple of weeks back, we had been to York and had 2 tourist destinations in mind, The Jorvik Viking centre and plans to climb up the York Minister. But as luck would have it, we ended up roaming the streets of York, soaking in the atmosphere , meeting ducks, and came across the cutest toy shop. It had the cutest doll house furniture. Take a look.

I just love the details in this – see the little mirrors, and that bag slung over the bed.

And look at these – miniature landscapes..The details are amazing. We have a bunch of these and we can’t stop collecting them – I love the way life is captured.

I love all things miniature. There is something about them. Do you guys like miniatures too?