Food on my mind

Reading has always been a window to a lot of things for me. To different ways of life, experiences and(perhaps, most importantly) food.

As long as I can remember, I remember being tantalized by descriptions of food. Not that I was a foodie by any standards, I was a picky eater, driving my mum crazy. Despite being a picky eater, the one thing that would induce me to try stuff was the food described in books. Enid Blytons descriptions made my mouth water. What exotic stuff they ate. Scones, eclairs, wafer thin cucumber sandwiches, pickle… I suspect I started eating our Indian pickles after reading about them in those books. Little did I know that those pickles were a world apart(and far less tasty, now that I have tasted them). I figured that the eclairs they ate were not the same as the Cadbury’s eclairs that we got from our shops, yet in my imagination, it was the same. I was fascinated enough with scones to try them as soon as I could when I landed on English shores.

Not all my food fantasies had nice endings though. Once I told me grandfather than sardines sound so exciting. The famous five used to carry cans of sardines and tuna. It was such a disappointment when my granddad showed me what sardines actually were. And tuna sandwiches, those are something that even Enid Blyton will not persuade me to eat now, but then it was just perfect – in my mind. But the books were magical that even knowledge refused to defuse my fun. I’ve imagined that my idli with sambar was actually meatloaf, who cared what meatloaf actually was. In my imagination, that was it, and delicious it was, I can assure you. There was this short story in our English Literature syllabus – in ICSE, about Subbiah a road side vendor, who used to sell the most delicious idlis and dosas. That had me drooling despite the fact that it was regular fare at home.

Now, as a grown up , who has traveled( a fair amount), and eaten most of those exotic foods that I had only read about, I still drool. Writers who weave food and recipe magic. Books that transport you to another place, making you lust for luscious tomatoes, crisp salads, delicious gravies that tantalize your tastebuds, the aroma of bread being baked, the description of chappathis puffing up, soft, snowy idlis, perfect, crispy dosas, cheese that take you to another level.. Those books on Italian cuisine, makes me want to drop everything and eat those heavenly pizzas with truffles, or perhaps pasta, tossed perfectly with the seasonal vegetables.. of course, its not just books that make me drool these days. Blogs are far more efficient, what with pictures and recipes to boot, is there anything stopping me? My weight ought to stop me, but even that isn’t a strong enough deterrent.

I just realized that life has come a full circle. Now, I have company. My six year old comes up and tells me, ‘ oh, this sounds so delicious, Amma, rosemary bread with wild mushrooms! Please can I have it! I feel like eating it after reading this book’. Of course, that has me grinning like a Cheshire cat and I guess the least I can do is bake her some bread, if not rosemary bread, right?

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You know you have a bookworm for a daughter..

.. when the child who doesn’t notice a new sofa, notices a new book on the shelf the moment she enters the room 🙂

And has been glued to it ever since she got her hands on it 🙂 Although, given the fact that she’s reading Calvin and Hobbes and seems absolutely hooked to it, I can’t help wondering if I should have kept that book locked away in a box 🙂

You know you have a booklover in the house..

.. when she wakes up and asks for a book, the first thing in the morning

.. when she can’t go to sleep because the story is so very interesting.

.. when the sight of the mobile library is enough to make her happy.

..when we leave the library, we have the biggest pile of books ever with us.

.. and when a friend asks for a book from her collection, she tells her very sternly, ‘ its only for BORROWING, you have to give it back to me.’

OMG! I’ve turned into my husband!

You know, how they claim that couples married for ages start looking like each other? Well, I’m not quite sure about the that, but what I can tell you is that I’ve started reading like husband. Rather have started reading the same things as husband.

It all started when I started researching to figure out which phone to upgrade to. Husband told me about a few websites that are good, with comparative analysis and technical specifications, and needless to say, I am hooked. It is great fun, you know, and not easy at all, zeroing in on the one you want, the perfect one, the one you will hold in your hands, well, until the next upgrade 😉 Research is important, isn’t it?

It was all fine before ordering my phone, but I continue to read them, even after ordering it!

The time I used to spend reading blogs, I have been reading about the Android-Apple wars, nameless people fighting on the internet, about who has the smartest phone of them all, and not having enough of it.

Last night I read until 12:00 in the night before I realized that my head was aching. That di did not stop me from waking up and reading some more. Who would’ve thought that phones would hook me so badly. Now, I understand why husband hates the idea of anybody gifting him a phone or any other piece of technology – that would rob him of hours and hours of analysis!

I tell you, I’ve turned into my husband 😦

Books are for Showing Off?

I heard someone say that people read to show off. That started me thinking.

A lot of my posts are about books, book reviews, or just how much I love reading. The only reason they appear here, is because reading is such a huge part of my life, part of who I am. People who know me personally, will tell you how I always have a book with me. Always. Because that’s what I love to do – read. I grab every minute I can, to do that thing I like doing the most.

For a long while, after I started blogging, while writing about my love of reading, I never reviewed books. Mainly because I was not sure if I would ever do justice to the books. I mean, the authors put so much energy and effort into crafting the book, it just takes half a page to spoil it for someone, doesn’t it? Which is probably why, I don’t review the books that I don’t like too much. It took me a while to get the confidence to write reviews of the books I liked.

I started listing the books I read, because husband keeps asking me if I have any idea how many books I read in a year( I suspect he wants to figure out how much money the library helped us save ;)). So when I saw Monika listing her books, I decided that I should do that too. Just to keep track.

If you came home, you would see how much books are part of our lives. We have books everywhere, mine and daughter’s mainly. Husband just hangs on to his precious Kindle. He is so hooked on it, that he claims that he can no longer read normal books. Sigh! That Kindle was supposed to be a gift for me, you know! Anyway, nothing makes me happier than lugging bags of books back from the library.

Talking, writing, discussing about the books we read, is so much fun. So many books I read today are the result of books that have been recommended by so many of you. And I think I have loved every one of them! And it is not just the books that I enjoy, I love the discussion on books that we have in comment sections – those are just as much fun, aren’t they? They offer so many perspectives – on the books, on the author’s writing style, and sometimes, it makes me realize that books that I adore might be books which others might ever want to touch.

Now, I can’t help wondering if there might be people who might consider it all a show-off. Do people think like that? I was really surprised to hear that some people do think of it as that..

Having said that, I do know of one person who told me to give her all my books(the few that I have bought here) because she likes to ‘collect’ books. Not read them – just collect them and display them on her shelf 🙂

On a kind of related note, do read ‘How to be a woman’ by Caitlin Moran. That is one book, I could definitely not do justice in a review. I can’t thank CR enough for that recommendation! I liked it so much that I went hunting for reviews – and found this one that I really liked 🙂 and one by a man. Go on, read it and tell me what you think!

This is how we keep busy ..

during term breaks when the weather forces us indoors.

We make pizzas.. with play dough..

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We do crazy craft things which don’t look they way they should..

That creature is supposed to be a lion, although any self respecting lion would cry if he saw this 🙂

We make our tributes to Easter. Although since mum was too lazy to bake a cupcake, we made do with chocolate mousse.

We dance..

And when we run out of things to do.. we always have our books, don’t we?

We also had a bunny trail at home, and another at the library, but I did not take any pictures of it 🙂

That is the first week of the holidays almost over. We have plans to go away for the weekend, but it all depends on the weather. Hopefully it will be dry enough for us to go. Fingers crossed. Otherwise, we will just relax at home.

Hope all of you have a great break, I’ll see you next week – if we do go away, or else, I will be here reading and commenting 🙂

That lost personal touch..

This morning, at the library, it dawned on me, how little person to person contact we have these days. I go in, take the books I want to return to the machine, return them, browse through the shelves, select books, and then self check them out.

Libraries have always been in my top of my list of  ‘happy places’. Ever since I remember. I actually remember how the first library I visited looked like. It was the library of my school’s primary section. I remember how I used to wait for the library classes – we had a period reserved for the library. We were not allowed to take home books until we were in Class 3, and I remember waiting impatiently to reach Class 3.

Our high school library was just as good. And our librarian was a darling! She was a wonderful, sweet tempered lady, with whom I used to discuss books. I remember waiting for Scarlett, the sequel to Gone with the Wind. When the book got released, I was in Class 10. Our school term was almost over. We had study holidays to prepare for Pre-ICSE, and we were not allowed to borrow books(time-pass books, that is). But I managed to convince my librarian to let me borrow it 🙂

I have had a wonderful time talking to librarians, discussing books, getting recommendations. I would have never read authors like Elizabeth George, Sophie Kinsella had it not been recommended by the librarians of the libraries I have frequented over the years. One of the librarians I met was a software engineer who quit her job to open her own library. How I wanted to be her at that time 🙂

In London, I used to go to the library almost every day. It used to open late, and I would often finish a book in the time it took me to get to work and back. So on the way back home, I would either drop off my book, or pick up new ones. After daughter was born, and after I took time off from work, we used to visit it even more. I think she must have been just as comfortable in libraries as she was at home. And what made my library visits so memorable was certainly the interaction with the librarians or library assistants.

That was before the age of self checkout machines. In London, our library had just started introducing them, and they refused to work most of the time, so I always ended up at the counter to borrow books. When we moved to Leeds, everything changed. The self checkout system here worked much better. I hardly had any contact with the library staff. They were almost always busy serving older customers who found it difficult to use the machines. And that is when I realized that although I have been frequenting my current library for over 3 years, but I don’t seem to know any of the staff! I know the checkout staff at my local supermarket better than that! And they have a much larger staff!

And that is only thanks to those soulless machines which I interact with these days.. The mere thought of all this, makes me yearn for the days gone by when the librarian would checkout each book, stamp it out, and talk to you about whether they read that book or not. Sometimes exclaiming that they had no idea that this library stocked this book, sometimes  asking me how I managed to read so much, while I tell them how I used to dream of being a librarian as a young child.. It makes me feel a little sad..  a little nostalgic for the days gone by, a little sad for that lost personal touch..

Just a little randomness..

Just as the title says, this post is full of random nothings.. Please feel free to skip!

– I was suddenly reminded(out of nowhere) of the time when we were first introduced to Statistics. My Maths teacher told us that we are going to start Statistics the next week. He made it all exciting by telling us that with Statistics, we could figure out the probability of India winning the next one-dayer. In those days, when I was cricket mad(I must be the only wife who wishes her husband watched cricket!) – that was all that registered and I was waiting with bated breath, to figure out this amazing subject 🙂 Needless to say, I was a tad disappointed – but still ended up loving Stats 🙂

– My thoughts seem to be going back to my school days quite a lot these days! I am reading Gavin Menzies’ The Lost Empire of Atlantis, and couldn’t help be bemused. Twenty years back, I was so happy to see the last of history lessons.. I would have never imagined that I would enjoy reading history so much!

– Sometimes, husband starts experimenting with the camera, and comes up with shots like this 🙂 Sure makes my everyday cooking seem exotic 🙂

– While on pictures, I love the way my house looks 🙂 Far prettier and neater than in real life. If only I could pretend that that is how it looks in reality 🙂

– I had a first today – my car refused to start! Thankfully it started when I tried it again after 2 hours. It did have me in a state, I have to admit. The thought of not having the car made me feel – more than a little helpless.

– I love reading Daughter Roald Dahl books – they are so much fun! We are on ‘The Witches’, and me, being the evil mother, I am, have been scaring her while reading it. If you have read the book, you’ll know why 🙂 If you haven’t go get the book – it is so much fun!!!

– I am now in a quandary – I ‘m not sure if I should publish this post, or the review of The Lost Empire of Atlantis’. Yes, I completed it by the time I reached this part of the post.. And now want to declare how great that book is 🙂

So publish, it is!

The Truth About Melody Browne by Lisa Jewell

Another book that I picked up purely by instinct. I think this is the first book by the author that I have read so far.

Melody Browne is a  single mother with a 17 year old son. She lives in Covent Garden in a council estate and works as  a Kitchen Assistant(a fancy term for dinner lady). She goes out on a date(after years) with a lovely man she met on a bus. It takes her a lot of courage to go on a date at all. They go to a hypnotist’s show, from where her life goes a little crazy. She has flashes of memory which she does not recognize. She does not remember anything before the age of 9. He oldest memory is at the age of nine, when she is rescued from a burning house, with her parents and one painting. She does not have any recollection of her life before that. But after her experience at the hypnotist, she starts getting flashes of memory.

She starts finding out things from her past and it leads her to the missing pieces of her memory. I can’t say much more without relating the whole story. It is a fascinating read. A very quick read, fast paced, keeps your interest throughout, and leaves you thinking of how easily fate could change life in an instant…

I would recommend it for a quick read. Some thing light and interesting and at the same time captivating. 3/5