Friday, August 07, 2015

A New Address

I am not gone. I am still here. Part of the Blogosphere, just moved to a new address. If you liked reading my posts here, please show your support and visit my new blog, Mukulika still musing...

Friday, July 10, 2015

A Foodie's Weight Loss Story

I believe that my weight woes started about six years back, about the same time when I had joined my first job. After spending three years in a college hostel whose primary menu included rice, rasam, and appalam, this job promised me not financial independence but also food that was approved and liked by my palate. That sounded like music to my ears and tasty food in my tummy!

If someone told you that Chennai is a land of idli-dosa and nothing more, then know for sure that they are yet to discover the culinary delights offered by this place. I can say this with confidence because even now my Bengali taste buds crave for the Thalapakatti biryani, rava idli and ghee podi, and hot sambar sadam. Add to this an occassional cup of hot, aromatic filter coffee and you are good to got for the day. 

I never complained nor did my body decline any of the nourishment it received as I continued to go restaurant hopping in Chennai. Bengali cuisine for me is comfort food and I was lucky enough to have a room mate who loved food just like I do. So our weekend lunch was usually at a small dinghy eatery called Annapurna in Egmore which served home style cooked Bengali meals at pocket friendly prices. A look at menu and I was torn if to go with potol dolma or alu posto.

The company had offered a free health checkup and most of us at office registered looking at it as an opportunity to sneak out of office for a few hours. That proved to be the undoing of my foodie avatar. The weighing scale no longer showed the familiar number. The immediate feeling was panic which soon gave into worry. I was aware of my food intake and was assuming that daily walk to the bus stop and back, occasional run behind MTC bus and the weekend Zumba classes would help in counter the weight gain. But I was proved wrong, by 7 kilos. Next to maxing out your credit card right when a Flat 50% sale is announced, a reading of the additional kilos to your weight is similar heartbreaking experience. I decided to embark on a dark, dangerous journey for a quick weight loss bidding a sad farewell to all my favorites.

Honestly, it did not turn out so well. I reduced my portions of food, said no to that extra dosa and idli, no ghee with my podi, had chocolate with sans the hot sauce, but the results were not just not visible. And then I met G.  An ex-colleague, she was the closest friend I had in Chennai. We had spoke often on the phone but had met very few times since she had left the company. She did mention she had surprise for me, little did I know that it was going to resolve all my worries. 

Now about G, she is a lovely girl with a warm personality, a best friend who is wise beyond her age and gives out the best advise. G  also loves her food and juice, and yes she was slightly plump. I had trouble locating her that day in CCD, Anna Nagar. That plump girl was no where to be seen, instead there stood a thinner, fit G. I was astounded and ran all the way and greeted her with a yell and a hug. Over a cup of green tea, she told me how she had to work for months to achieve this fit and fine figure.

She said,"Success cannot be achieved overnight. I had a very difficult first week, the second was a stretch and I had almost given up. But didn't. After that it was slightly better. Balance diet is the key. You need little bit of everything. Too much of anything can throw it off the balance. And crash diets, well the demerits of GM diet exceeds its merits". Incredulous, I asked, "Is it really true? Does it work?". She smiled, took a sip of tea and said, "You can see the difference. A balanced diet makes a difference. Be patient. And yes, say goodbye to sugar my dear, else all the efforts will go for a spoil.". My eyes went round at this suggestion, no sugar meant no sweets, no desserts, no happiness. SHe probably sensed my apprehension, and quickly told,"No to sugar, not to sweetness dear. You can always add Dabur Honey to your cup of cereal or pancake. Honey diet is a healthy way towards weight loss. A glass of warm water with Dabur Honey and lemon will not only detoxify your body but also recharge you with energy and strength". 

She did give me the best advise. Since then I have never looked at food the same way. Eat until you stop feeling hungry, have something of everything, and not underestimating the power of exercise - these points have been my guiding lights in the journey of weight loss. 

Thursday, July 09, 2015

Cricket in my Country

In my country, cricket is treated with a lot of reverence, the players enjoy a demi-gods and trips to Eden Garden and Wankhede Stadium are considered as a pilgrimage. I am a child of the 90s, a time when pictures of cricketers, Gandhi, and Gods graced the walls at any home. The world cup used to be most eagerly awaited event, any match with our not-so-friendly neighborhood country would be the talk of the whole country, drawing crowd across all ages. Streets would sport a deserted look, some shops would just drop shutter and people could be seen gathered around a television or radio following a ball by ball coverage of a rivalry that has become legendary over the times. 

In my purview, the worst hit were the students and the office goers who had no means of following the match, until they lunch break when news would somehow trickle in from outside sources. Technology was limited to wireless phones, VCRs, and pagers. 

We have moved to a new century since then, and except for one factor the scene has not changed much. Cricketers continue to represent the country, they are celebrities with big brand endorsements and VIP status. Such is the power of the game, that the fate any man donning the blue colored jersey changes overnight. It is a dream of countless children who idolize their cricketers and play the game for the sheer love of it. 

Few years back, the board governing cricket affairs in my country came up with an innovative plan, it would go on to prove a game changer in the coming years. Matches with an innings of 20 overs, teams representing different regions of the country, thus taking the game to next level altogether. As a cricket loving nation, we lapped it up and have been enjoying it every year since its launch.  

Technology has evolved in means beyond our imagination. From mailing to calling people sitting thousands of miles away, to reading books, newspapers, and watching videos - all of this from a device that measures not more than your palm and can be carried around in your pocket. What makes this technology incredible is that it is affordable and widely available to the masses. 

UC Browser takes you a step closer to enjoying the game by introducing their service UC Cricket. For any cricket follower, it will be a one-stop shop for information on all ongoing matches. UC Cricket is truly an innovation in the area of gaming application. Along with providing live updates, you can also set a reminder, participate and follow discussions. The match is not just a click away! 

Do check out this interesting video by UC Browser to learn more about them.

Sunday, April 05, 2015


Gender studies class, Mrs. Lahiri was telling the class about the state of women in our country in the pre-independence era. Their lives were confined within the boundaries of the house, dictated by the male members of the family. Married off at a young age, they were denied education and expected to remain in purdah. 

She was lost in thoughts. Life must have been difficult for these women. To have remained subjugated for long years, they would have lost their voice. Loss of voice is equivalent to loss of identity. Without identity, there is no existence. 

The enormity of their loss, large disparity overwhelmed her. Her thoughts were disturbed, and questions filled her mind. How did they survive? Did any one even try reasoning out? 

Answering her question, Mrs. Lahiri's quoted Maya Angelou, "If you don't like something, change it. If you can't change it, then change your attitude."

Everyone changes, it is just a matter of time.

Friday, April 03, 2015

Afraid of the Dark

It had been a busy week. Meera, five years old in the elearning industry had taken the big career leap. After passing the multiple rounds of interview, she had been accepted for the position of a senior technical writer. The new company was one of pioneers in the elearning industry and Meera was excited to start a new chapter of her career. She had found an apartment in a neighborhood close to the office. Today she would move in with a couple of bags and planned to set up the place over the weekend. After spending all those years in a hostel, sharing rooms, she was thrilled beyond words at having a place for herself.

After doing a final check on the Tasks for the Day list at her desk, she decided to call it a day. The cab took a left turn at 15th Cross street. It was little off from the main road and gave a deserted look except for a dog who kept running from one end of the street to the other. She had quickly grown fond of the place with its quiet surroundings and tall dark trees; the apartment had an open balcony that looked over to the East. She could picture herself curled up in her favorite chair with her copy of Wuthering Heights sipping tea from her purple Powerpuff Girls cup. She had found her corner in this world.

She unlocked the door and stepped into her new home. Dropping her bags she looked around. There were a few things leftover by the previous tenants. Meera decided to get down to cleaning business without wasting any more time. 

One hour later, the house looked more habitable than when Meera had first stepped in. She had collected the abandoned, old things at one place, planning to dispose them next morning. But she was not ready to let go of the rocking chair. Made up of shisham wood, the chair gave an old world look to the whole place. She was besotted by its charming style and it would go perfectly with her minimal decor idea.

Too tired to cook, she crashed into her bed, hungry. Sleep came easily, and she drifted in and out of dreams. There was her mother advising her to eat well, her project manager listing out another task for the day, Abhi sounding concerned over her decision to live alone, and then she heard a faint creaking sound. Startled, she woke up with her heart beating fast. The creaking sound, it happened again. And again. 

Heart in her mouth, she gathered courage to walk into the living room. The chair was there, moving back and forth, slowly, rhythmically. The creaking sound, loud and clear now. 

"Oh God! I am afraid!", she thought. "I am afraid of the dark".

This post is a part of Write Over the Weekend, initiative for Indian Bloggers by BlogAdda. WOW theme of the week: 'Your response to the question, 'Are you afraid of the dark?'.

Thursday, April 02, 2015


School bag in hand she walked slow steps towards her desk. She was not looking forward to the day. She was not looking forward to come to school. In fact, last night her mind was busy coming up with excuses to skip school. But somehow all of them fell flat after a second of reasoning. And today, here she was sitting at her desk, head between her hands, thinking hard. 

It was not the Maths class that she dreaded, nor was she bothered by the constant chiding of the stern Mrs. Lahiri. Life at school was pretty normal and fun, until N had joined. She brought along with her the air of the big city, something which was looked at like exotic in this simple community life of Roing. Boys and girls had fallen to her charming ways just like bees to honey. They were the ones who were treated often by invites to the weekend parties at her place. And for those who did not belong to this group, quickly fell out of favor in her book.

Emboldened by her new found popularity, N had started picking on the few who she decided had offended her senses. M had the misfortune to be one of them. Life at school had become a sore point of her life. She lived each day in fear of being laughed at , being ridiculed, being harassed. She tried keeping a low profile, talking less and keeping to herself, and walking away from the school as fast her feet could carry her; but none of these measures could protect her from the mad, juvenile antics of N. 

Now after several encounters with N and her entourage, her shell had developed a crack, it had grown over the week, and now it was threatening to break. N walked in a supercilious smile on her pink lips, looked straight into M's eyes and said, "Good morning sweetie!".

Wednesday, April 01, 2015


It had been a busy week. Meera, five years old in the elearning industry had taken the big career leap. After passing the multiple rounds of interview, she had been accepted for the position of a senior technical writer. The new company was one of pioneers in the elearning industry and Meera was excited to start a new chapter of her career. She had found an apartment in a neighborhood close to the office. Today she would move in with a couple of bags and planned to set up the place over the weekend. After spending all those years in a hostel, sharing rooms, she was thrilled beyond words at having a place for herself.

After doing a final check on the Tasks for the Day list at her desk, she decided to call it a day. The cab took a left turn at 15th Cross street. It was little off from the main road and gave a deserted look except for a dog who kept running from one end of the street to the other. She had quickly grown fond of the place with its quiet surroundings and tall dark trees; the apartment had an open balcony that looked over to the East. She could picture herself curled up in her favorite chair with her copy of Wuthering Heights sipping tea from her purple Powerpuff Girls cup. She had found her corner in this world.

She unlocked the door and stepped into her new home. 

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Defining Happiness

Happiness is an emotion, a state of when one is filled with positive, pleasant feelings. A sense of contentment and joy prevails over one's being. Happiness is unique to every person. It has a different meaning for an individual. It is very subjective, has a personalized touch to it. 

There have been many such moments where I have experienced this "happy" feeling. To me Happiness is ...

When I reach home after a 14 hour long bus journey and Ma welcomes me with open arms.
When I eat the orange ice candy on a rainy day.
When I listen to Fix You by Coldplay.
When I meet my mokka poda oru group friends from Chennai.
When Dada gives me some of his alu posto when I have greedily eaten off my portion.
When Ma applies oil to my hair and I get a head massage.
When I get books as a gift.
When I cook food for my family and they ask for second helpings!
When I see my parents after 3 months in Skype.
When my cousins come over and we have an adda over endless cups of chai and pakoda.
When the project manager takes leave for the whole week.
When I watch a Korean drama starring Lee Min Ho.
When I read an old letter from my husband.
When snuggle into my blanket with Wuthering Heights and a box of popcorn.
When the musty smell of the wet earth fills my lungs.
When India wins a match in the cricket world cup.
When I meet anyone from Jamshedpur. 
When I spot the yellow board written Chennai Central as the train slowly pulls into the platform.
When we have Tamil Nadu meals at Saravana Bhavan.
When I celebrated Holi with my roommates in Marina Beach, Chennai.
When I received a dreamcatcher woven by three of my closes friends as a farewell gift.
When my fiance surprised me at work on my birthday.
When I find money in pockets of my old clothes, folds of notebooks, and my secret hideaway.
When we have ilish machh with hot rice for lunch.
When we go for long drives along NH 44 heading towards Chennai.
When I go for karaoke with friends on Friday evening.
When friends wait patiently, delaying the party plans and I am held at work.
When I eat piping hot gulab jamuns.
When I meet friends from school and we share our memories of teachers, classroom, and days of the past.
When I write putting down my thoughts in words. 
When listening to Vividh Bharati and my favorite song is playing. 
When I watch the old episodes of Byomkesh Bakshi.

It is not en easy task to define happiness. Life consists of so many moments. Each day we build a new memory, something which touches our heart, something we would like to treasure and remember fondly when we get older.

And to make it even better, celebrate these moments of happiness with Coca-ColaPlease do check out their new TVC.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Changing to a New Self

Everyday as she looked into the mirror she saw a fat girl looking back. She would open her closet and look forlornly at her old clothes. She did not fit into them anymore; she had outgrown them. She knew this routine. She would be upset for a while, feel guilty for those moments she had snacked on a few Oreos when no one was looking, steer clear from any fried items, junk, fast food; starve, and then helplessly she would get back to holding a bag of namkeen in her hand and stuffing the contents in her mouth. She felt guilty all along! But there was no way she could break out, and this guilt was consuming her daily, slowly. 

She had a close circle of friends who loved and cared for her. Though she had been living out of a hostel, she never felt away from home. She had got to know them at her workplace, and they all had got along famously. They had so many things in common - year of birth, Coldplay, Friends - the TV series, appetite for hot chilli bhajis,Magnum ice cream, and the list could go on. 

When her weight soared up by 8 kilograms, she became a worried girl. She had been on the better side of "healthy" all her life, but never did the number on her weighing scale frighten her. Suddenly the extra kilos all started making sense to her. In the few days she had to stop often to catch her breath when she climbed up the stairs, the frequent foot aches, glum feeling that accompanied her mood swings - all these moments flashed through her mind. She had to take a bold step to save herself. Save herself from ruining her health, body, and mind. She loved her life at present and too much was at stake for her to lose. 

In her heart she knew this was a difficult target for her to achieve, but she also knew how significant it was for her personal development. Her friends encouraged her when she discussed her plan with them. Finally, she enrolled for dance classes, jogged early morning at Natesan Park, religiously completed 12 cycles of Suryanamaskar each day. There were moments when her body cried out in pain, at the sudden exposure to exercise, but somehow she kept going. It had become a battle between the mind and the heart. Eating small portions of food, stretching between hours at work, walking briskly to the bus stop - she tried incorporating exercise in her routine. She prayed silently for it to work. 

2 months later - she weighed herself at the medical room in her office. She gasped out in surprise when she saw the number on the machine. She now weighed 10 kilograms lesser! It was indeed a moment to rejoice and she literally hopped, skipped, and jumped her way out of the room, and announced the happy tidings to her friends.

As most of you might have guessed, this is a non-fictional account. It was a difficult time for me as I always had faced weight issues, but this time the figures were alarming. I soon figured out that change is not always a bad thing. 

Please do check out this amazing video from Housing who also love change!

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Lookup to be a Better Person

Chennai is one the oldest cities in our country. The city's walls are seeped in history and culture. Chennai Fort, Connemara Library, Anna Salai, Kapaleeshwar Temple, RK Math in Mylapore, Elliot's Beach, Dakshina Chitra - these are some iconic spots which are the landmark of this ancient in terms of age, but modern in terms of thoughts - city.

When I first decided to come to Chennai to pursue my higher studies, most people on receiving the news expressed their unhappiness. Their unhappiness stemmed from my choice of city. Chennai they told me was hot, humid, and sultry, and this is all they had to tell to me everytime this topic came up for discussion.

Having received a similar response from most of the audience, I was apprehensive of the move. I tried hard not to get influenced by all the feedback, as my bags were all packed, and tickets booked to take us down south to Chennai. Honestly speaking, I was in a state of doubt even when I boarded the train. It was one of my weakest moments in life as I was not sure if my decision would ruin my career plans. In fact, I was not even sure if I would fit in! And then I realized I don't even know the state language - Tamil! 

I was afraid of leaving behind the familiar roads, comfort of the known, and spending the next few years in a metropolis all by myself. Tears welled up in my eyes. Fear had just balled up in my chest, unwilling to leave. 

This was my state when I reached Chennai, after that everything was a rushed affair. Interview at the department, paying the admission fees, hunting for a habitable hostel, moving into my room with two suitcases and a mattress - it was all just a haze.

My parents left for Jamshedpur not much later. I had moved into a hostel not far from the college I was going to attend, and I shared my room with five other girls. Four of them had come from Manipur and one was from Salem, Tamil Nadu. Our language of communication was English. It was clearly understood that all of us had a common grievance, all of us missed our families and were hundreds of kilometers away from the place called home. That moment I learnt an important lesson. In times of sadness, one does not need any language and speech skills to help, and we all became good friends in the course of time.

Due to the nature of my subject of study, I had to frequent the public library where I discovered a treasure hoard of books. For a bibliophile, nothing is as beautiful and breath taking as the sight of a room full of books! It was my Alice in Wonderland moment. That was Connemara Library, one of the oldest public libraries in our country. The library has the distinction of housing all books that have been published in India. Every day as I walked down to the library, I used to thank my lucky stars for getting me to this city.

And for the people who could describe Chennai only by the words hot, humid, and sultry - I feel they need to come and experience Chennai. Come here not for a vacation, not for a flying visit, stay and experience the glory of this old metropolis, understand its culture, enjoy the rhythm of life bustling in its streets, and then lets hear what you have to say!

Chennai transformed me from a timid, unsure eighteen year old to a confident, independent girl. In my mind the city is a beacon of optimism, moving ahead with its glory fighting against the common perception. It showed me to #lookup and discover the wonders around me.

Do check Housing who envision a world full of positivity and possibilities.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Of Road Trips and Togetherness

New city, new house, new office, and new friends - all this novelty means new memories! After my extended period of stay in Chennai for eight years, I was eagerly looking forward to my move to Bangalore. I was told that one of the many perks of being a resident of Bangalore is the proximity to many travel destinations. And in the like-minded company of my spouse, my travelbug self has never been this happy before.

In the past three months, we have planned and gone on four road trips to Chennai, Pondicherry, Mahabalipuram, and Madikeri. When the road beckons, there is no looking back. 

One of the points I learnt on these trips, is that teamwork is vital. We need to work #Together, use our existing skills to reach the destination. I am limited by my lack of driving knowledge, but I am good with directions and routes. So while my partner is behind the wheel, I am the designated navigator who is logged into Google Maps in my smartphone, checking and verifying the route and traffic details. 

Some of the best memories from these trips are on the road. I fondly recall the time when slowed down to admire the many plantations adorning both sides of the road. The sight of tall eucalyptus trees, short green shrubs of coffee, and a small house in the middle of all this greenery - it was like a picture from a book. 

Another time when passing through an old town, we were greeted with the many memorable sights - a bullock cart driven by an old man with a white flowing beard, children dressed in their school uniform walking with satchels on their back, walls plastered with the poster of the latest movie running in the nearest movie theatre - it looked like a scene out of its timeline. Somehow the life in a city had robbed us of the simple colors of life. All that looked familiar was the jazz, bright, neon hues of the electric billboards. We missed the presence of the uncomplicated life and appreciated them the few times whenever we got a chance. 

 And when It is late in the night, we are inching our way into the city leaving behind the traffic and darkness of the highway, the sight of the road bathed in yellow light is a relief -  a sign of coming back home! 

Do check Housing to learn more about their optimistic approach to help the world live better. 

Saturday, March 14, 2015

The Unsent Letter

Dear A,

I apologize for not responding to your letter. As I had told you earlier, all my waking hours were occupied by a project of gargantuan standards which had robbed me off the little social life I had for the past few weeks. Now the project is drawing to its closure, I am having some breathing space and am able to sit down and write a letter in reply to yours.

I did not know where to begin. You see, I was hesitating till the moment I wrote down the first word, and then it all came pouring out of me. Most personal letters are intimate; they act as windows to one's soul and mind. Sometimes when one writes, its such a rush that one leaves behind thoughts of apprehension and just pens down their thoughts in a flow. One forgets to hide, conceal what they would have done naturally. So there it is, my reason. But now that I see I have made substantial progress, allow me go on.

A, it was a delight meeting you last December. People say it is the best month to visit Chennai. I am glad you visited the city at a good time. I say this because the same people complain that it is too hot here, and it doesn't get better. December, according to them is the month when its the least hot.

I enjoyed the walk, back from Spencer Plaza. We talked about quite a few things back then. I found you extremely patient as I went on rambling about my work, the books I had been reading, and what my friends had to say about you. I recall that you were smiling. I would be very much interested to know which part of the conversation did you find amusing. Frankly, I was surprised when you showed interest in my work and even suggested a few solutions to the issue I mentioned. Till date I have not been very successful in having a discussion on this subject except with my friends at work. And when I could talk to you about it, I knew that I had found a friend in you. 

When we first started talking back in June 2013, I did not have much hope for us. My search for my ideal partner was drawing a nil, and I had very low expectations. But you surprised me from the first word. How do I summarize it? We connected on so many aspects - our experiences of growing up in a steel city, love for food, Bengali culture, and movies. I could discuss Gulaal, Coldplay, and Posto in the same breath and be understood. Sigh! It was happiness redefined for me.

I hope you would give me a chance to find some moments where I can bring happiness to your doorstep. It is with this thought that I hope we can continue this correspondence. 

Yours truly,

This post is a part of IndiSpire, initiative for Indian Bloggers by IndiBlogger

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Book Review: Ramayana - The Game of Life - Shattered Dreams

This book is the second part in the Ramayana - The Game of Life series by Shubha Vilas. The timeline is set twelve years after Ram's marriage to Sita. The author has drawn influence from the writings of Valmiki and Tulsidas, and attributes his interest in this epic mythological drama to the daily storytelling session by his grandmother. The book begins with Rama's coronation as the king of Ayodhya, followed by Manthara's sinister scheme to crown Bharatha and send Rama to exile, which leads to the death of a heartbroken Dasaratha, and ends with the trio of Rama, Sita, and Lakshmana's departure towards the Dandakarnaya forest. 

High points:

1. The narration is gripping, it kept me hooked to the book with its interesting storyline. I was intrigued by the author's method of looking into the soul of the character and writing out his deepest, innermost feelings. 
2. Each page is filed with vivid description of the scene and the characters. Its like the scene is coming to life in front of your eyes. Its a reader's delight when one gets to read such a visually enriching scene.
3. There is a detailed character sketch for the characters who drive the story forward. I could feel Dasaratha's fear as he was tormented each night by the recurring nightmares, and also his relief when the subjects at the royal court accepted Rama as his successor. 
4. Presence of footnotes. This book is not only a retelling of an epic, but also aims to motivate the reader and help him in his spiritual journey as he embarks on this reading trip. It would not have been easy, if not for the presence of footnotes at the end of each page which offers a simple but detailed explanation for the section referenced.

Low points:

1. Since the book is part of a series, it is best if one has read the first book in the series Ramayana - The Game of Life - Rise of the Sun Prince. 

2. In certain sections, the narration loses its pace and there is an excess of detail which makes it a slow read. But then again good things come to those who wait, so patience is a quality that comes in handy when reading this book.

Final verdict: The Ramayana - The Game of Life - Shattered Dreams (Book 2) is an interesting read for anyone who is looking out for understanding the wisdom concealed within the stories of the epic, Valmiki's Ramayana. It provides a deep insight into the characters mind and also does a brilliant job in recreating the scene in the reader's mind. Since I havenot read the first part of this book series, I would recommend that one should read the Ramayana - The Game of Life - Rise of the Sun Prince (Book 1) first to gain a better understanding of the story and its memorable characters.

This post is a part of Book Review Program for Indian Bloggers by BlogAdda. Participate now to get free books!

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Heavy on Salt

"The dal was heavy on salt.", he declared as soon as he walked in to the house. Back from office, he set down the grey and black backpack on the floor, proceeded to sit on the chair lined next to the rickety rack of shoes. It was as if the salt had cast a dry spell on his day and had sucked out all charm out of it. This was of course was unacceptable to Mamoni. 

Mamoni frowned and said,"It tasted fine to me." and just like that she questioned Meera, "Beta did you add salt to the dal when you warmed it up this morning?". The question took Meera by surprise. She had been busy typing away the course objectives of the presentation for a POC which was due the next day. All her focus was in the laptop screen; she considered herself fortunate the days she did not have to  be part of such conversations. Today was not going to be one such day.

She looked up from her laptop, puzzlement written all over her face. "Are Biren said the dal was over-salted. Did you add more salt?", Mamoni asked her in a sweet stern voice. Meera looked at her husband for a sign and he looked away. Mumbling to himself, Biren withdrew into the inner room dragging the backpack after him.

Meera jogged her memory back to the morning hours. Today morning she had woken up late by 10 minutes and that had set her routine back. She had taken out the kaddu ki sabji and doled out a portion of it to warm it up for the lunch. Meanwhile she had brushed her teeth, collected the milk packet from the packet, taken out the dal for heating up. But she did not remember adding the salt. "I did not.", Meera replied softly. Mamoni looked at her with a look that accused her of lying. She was a Leo, known to be a fierce woman who reigned over her household, and the kitchen was her domain. She was not going to be found lacking in handling this situation. Just this evening she had told Meera how the begunis she had made on Sunday, were low on salt. "Baki sob thik, noon ta ektu kom chilo", she gave her critique's feedback. 

Meera was disheartened on hearing it. That afternoon, when she was serving the beguni along with hot kichudi, Mamoni had showered praises on her. She declared that the begunis had come out right, crisp and tasty. Biren was beaming with pride. He knew that it was not easy to a good word from Mamoni's mouth. If only he knew what was on Mamoni's mind.

Salt is a key ingredient which is used for adding flavour in many cuisines. One has to be very careful while adding salt. A little more and the food could become unpalatable, a little less and the food could go untouched on the plate. It has to be there in the correct quantity so that one can savour the taste and enjoy the food. Criticism is just like salt, a little more and you can make someone unhappy, doubtful of their abilities; little less and they would be too sure of their skills to even care for improving. Meera mused as she lay on the bed, eyes locked on the fan above, blades following each other in a never ending chase. 

Wednesday, February 04, 2015

Quote on Soul Mate

This quote by Elizabeth Gilbert explores the concept of soul mate as told to her by a friend. It completely shatters the usual belief that is related to soul mates and marriage. 

This post is a part of IndiSpire, initiative for Indian Bloggers by IndiBlogger. IndiSpire topic of the week: Soul mate is not necessarily your life mate. What do you feel? Express your take...#Soulmate.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Musings on the Edge

Draped in a fiery red benarasi sari, she stood still, staring at the evening sun as it went behind the old neem tree. A cold breeze blew in through the window. Meera drew the end of her sari over the shoulder wrapping it around herself. 

Countless thoughts flashed across her mind - she thought about her parents, her Dada and Boudi, she thought about Roy, who had come down for her big day cradling an adorable baby in her arms, and she thought about Sid.

Sid. In her mind, she was eighteen years old, sitting at her seat in the classroom. The last time she was here, she was ten years younger, fired with the ambition of becoming a lawyer, and nursing a secret crush for Sid. He was new to their school, having joined their class to pursue his eleventh class studies. She remembered him as a tall boy with dark eyebrows and a deep booming voice. That had got him the title of Danav. And even after all these years it had stuck.

Last month when Sunil had met her, he had been excited about the reunion that was planned for March. It would be exactly ten years since they had passed out of school. Most of their classmates had left Jamshedpur for their higher studies, they continued to live away from home for job interests, but always came back for family, friends or any celebrations. But not for Meera. Her family had moved from Jamshedpur as soon as she completed her school. She was reluctant to go back and “Meera you have to come!”, said Sunil in exasperation when she had expressed her disinterest in the event.

Last year when she turned 26, she decided to stay back in Chennai, quietly bidding adieu to her the first quarter of her life. And most probably her spinsterhood. Off late all the conversations with her parents revolved around her marriage. They were old and anxious, and promised that they could breathe in peace if only she gave her consent for marriage. Meera was caught in the web of life. She had moved to Chennai, hoping to meet the love of her life. But fate was cruel and didn't allow her to move past her memories of Sid. The clock was ticking, and she still hadn't moved on. She could not make it to the reunion. That evening she had sat with her laptop, looking at her timeline which was flooding with updates and photographs from the reunion. The faces were bright with big smiles and crinkled eyes. And there in one of the photos, she saw him. That moment she felt regret seeping into her heart. She had lost her chance. 

She was startled by a loud knock at her door. "Meeraa! Have you draped the sari beta?", it was her beloved mashi. "The lady from the beauty parlour will be here any minute now. Hurry up". Meera shut her eyes, disappointed that her sojourn with her last evening as a spinster came to an end.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Trip to the Land of One Hundred Thousand Islands

Lakshadweep - in Sanskrit it means the land of one hundred thousand islands. Located in the Laccadive sea, this archipelago is the smallest of all the union territories of India. Only ten of the islands are inhabited, for which Kavaratti serves as the administrative capital. To get to Lakshadweep, we boarded an Air India flight from Kochi which flew us to the island of Agatti. Agatti not only houses the airport for Lakshadweep, but also connects to Kochi by sea.

The water is so blue. That was my first thought when I looked down to the sea. It was azure blue, turquoise green, aquamarine blue - the sight of this beautiful, rich color just fills your mind and prepares you for an memorable experience of a lifetime.  

Our stay was confirmed at the government resort at Kavaratti. From Agatti, the island was a high speed boat ride away. Imagine my glee when I saw this beauty waiting to zoom us away to our holiday destination. 

But the happy moments didn't last long. They definitely didn't survive the two hour long ride. I could feel my stomach doing somersaults as the boat bounced up and down and cut through the waters. Finally my prayers were answered, and we reached Kavaratti. It houses a cooperative hospital, and a couple of secondary schools. They also have a desalination plant to cater to the needs of island's inhabitants. Since most of the inhabitants trace their roots back to Kerala, Malyalam is the most commonly spoken language in the island. Having said that, we never had any trouble communicating with the locals. We could converse in English, Hindi, and my limited knowledge of Tamil.

The port had a desolate look; our van driver informed us that most people had gone to the mosque to offer prayers. By the time we reached our resort, it was almost four o' clock. 

Our next couple of days were spent exploring the sea.  On our glass-boat ride we saw quite a few corals, both dead and live ones. The white corals are the dead corals and they are found in plenty around the shoreline of the island. Even the fish here were so colorful! The fishermen who had accompanied us, had brought along bread to feed the fish. I also got a chance to feed them a few crumbs. It was a thrilling moment to feel their tiny mouths as they fed on the bread crumbs. That was definitely one of the most memorable moments of the trip.

Here are a few photos taken over at our stay in Kavaratti, Lakshadweep.  

When the sea and land meet...

So blue!!
Our ride to Kavaratti

A calm sea greets us the next morning

Feeding the fish

Agatti Airport