Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Recipe for peanut curd/yoghurt...a vegan special

I didn't know this...that one can make peanut curd! I mean, peanut butter is a part of my life, so is peanut chutney and the famous masala peanuts etc. But this was like ....WOW. For me it was a fantastic prospect, and a "first". (Maybe vegans already know this...I haven't Googled it yet).

I'm just back from a very dramatic experience at a holistic retreat where I was on a completely no-oil diet (yes, it's possible to cook traditional Indian food completely without oil) and a vegan one at that (no dairy products whatsoever).

The Wise Woman taught me how to make it and I want to put it down for myself (and anyone else who wants to try) before I forget.

1. Soak raw peanuts overnight (try a small quanitty to figure out if it turns out right the first time).

2. Churn it in a mixie/blender with a little water (if the peanuts have soaked up all the water).

3. Strain it in a thin muslin cloth to get the peanut "milk ".

4. Heat the milk and when it's lukewarm (like how you set regular milk-curd), drop in a small piece of muslin in which is tied some cooked tamarind (setting agent). If you like you can add a spoon of regular dairy curd to set it (instead of tamarind), but it would defeat the point of the yoghurt being dairy-free then.

Psst: And it's supposed to set much faster than curd. I'm gonna try it some weekend. :-)

And i didn't know you can made tadka/oggarne/seasoning without oil. Just splutter the mustard/jeera directy in a heated pan. Season your pan well for a few days and you can make dosa/chila/pancakes without any oil.

But I must admit it was a very difficult transition to make and a phenomenal change to accept -- even if it was for a day or two. Our tastebuds so eaily absorb the joy of all things oily that I was mentally craving fat!!!!!

Saturday, June 26, 2010

How mothers can be frutsrating

First -- I'm a mother, yes. But that can't stop me frm cribbing about my mom.

Two -- There's some time at least before Sonny Boy grows up to crib about me. That can surely wait.

Three -- I love my mom. And without her, I wouldn't even be (not just in the "given birth to me sense". I mean in a larger all-encompassing sense.) I wouldn't be able to work without her now for sure. I couldn't have asked for a safer mommy-in-charge arrangement for my li'l one, with her supervising the nanny...

...but mothers being mothers, they want to mother you all their life.

The other day the husband and I were having a conversation about some logistics for the next day, to attend a ceremony. Mom, who was hanging around, had to tell us what to do, even before husband had replied.

She always does that -- tells me what I should do, specially when I don't ask for her advise. But when I do ask her (like when I could easily do with a second opinion or genuinely feel lost and need guidance), she turns around and says "Do whatever you want to..." And that's the end of the conversation.

She can be soooooo frustrating sometimes, when she treats looking after her grandson liek a chore. All responibilities are strictly to be stuck to. She will not feed him dinner at any cost -- unless I'm really late and have no hopes of gettin home even by his late-est dinner time, and have informed her well in time. And she'll do it muttering a hundered things under her breath. And the moment I land at home, it's like "Here, take your boy's dinner" almost "My time's up" look and she vanishes into the receses of the house.

I agree she's old, physically not really up to coaxing the brat to eat at a time when she's itching to just hit the bed. But what the hell, my grandmom did it for her. My mum went to the movies, attended weddings, and had a full-time job all because grandma took care of me.

So I expect the same from her for my baby. But then I guess I'm being unreasonable. My grandmom was much younger...but i can't be blamed for that too.

And that's where the paradox in the Indian family system lies -- it's great to have a support system you can totally fall back on, but in always falling back on that family, you never become independent.

In fact you're so dependent on it, you can't survive without it. Take that family away and you struggle to cope. You're lost.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

How malls can lure you into buying what you don't need...


Yeah that's what i have always feared most. And it happened yesterday.

I avoid malls like i avoid visiting my mother-in-law (which is saying a lot ;-))
I usually buy at local small markets, specially vegetables and fruits, greens that are fresh and sold on the streets by hawkers. That way I avoid hybrids and stale food.

And even when I need clothes, jewellery, books, I do gully (street/lane) shopping or shop in my local shopping area.

Back to yesterday, I had to rush to this mall to pick up a book (a wedding gift for a going-away bride). It was 9, and most of my local stores would be shut. So there. And the husband decided he wanted to pick up some expensive cologne. Just like that!

He also decided he would buy a DVD of a movie I'd asked him to borrow from friends who have it! It was like 300 bucks. And it wasn't one of those MUST SEE movies either.

And my eyes were already going over to the toys section, looking for something to amuse Sonny Boy with. Bah!! How i hate myself, when i graze-shop -- you know like a cow slowly grazing grass i eat up all that i get around me.

I was peering down to see what other shops I could spot, and I found...more toy stores! And here I was thinking God! I want to bring the li'l one here and show him all this. I found a playpen too at the mall.

I'm feeling so miserable I've succumbed to the seduction. I've fought it so hard. But why is material temptaion such an easy crumbler of all resolves?

But i won half the battle -- persuaded him not to buy the DVD. But he bought the cologne, which i generously used today HAHAHAHa. Shameless me.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

The F word that kids hate

It's a word I suspect if Sonny Boy hears, he just understands what it implies, and clams up.

What is it with food and toddlers? Pah!

Right now I'm going crazy. He won't eat breakfast. If the all-powerful almighty that he is, decides to have a mid-morning snack, ummm he may. He'll think about it, he'll decide...he'll see. He may touch it, play with it a bit. But eat????!!

Oh does not EAT food! How ridiculous.

It is something that's best left plastered and pasted on mommy's dress, on her jewellery, in her hair, in his own hair, on his t-shirt and shorts, rubbed on the floor or table, (and yes, smearing ketchup IN his ear is his favourite mamma trigger).

He's been showing an eagerness sometimes to eat his own dinner, which I'm very glad to let him do, because it involves, actually, EATING! But, somewhere down the line, he decides it's so boring sitting in one place and putting food in his mouth.

So he'll settle in my lap, and the plastering of food begins. If i object, he heads straight for the walls and bedsheets!

He wakes up too late to head for babysitting and refuses to have anything but some milk. And when he's done with baby-sitting (where he snacks a bit) he won't have anything to do with breakfast.

So FOOD is becoming my obsession. How do I get in more into him? How do I get in nutritious stuff? He outright rejects fruits and veggies and if theyr'e masked in a milkshake or parantha, he spits it out. He's also a great detective of hidden tastes, I figured.

The Wise One sits on the potty and even tells me that his poop will come out hard if he doesnt eat fruits and veggies. But that knowledge is left behind, I think, in the potty, with the poop, once he's done.

I try to make peas look yummy by popping them sensationally into my mouth and making those "Oh this is so yummy" faces and noises. On that day, he chooses to balk at peas. On other days, he'll eat them just fine.

I read on many parenting sites that you must keep a food journal (tells you if the tot is eating adequate amounts of all food groups. Did it for about a week-and-half and that week he really behaved. (He must have seen me making notes!!)

And if all this doesn't make me sound like a paranoid (and therefore normal?) mum, what else can?

Monday, June 21, 2010

Coming away from a film...with nothing :-(

As much as i like to crib about motherhood, if there's one joy I like going back to, it's watching a movie at the theatre. Something I do so little of since my dear S was born. And something I like to crib about -- no movies in my life :-(
But it is (or rather was) also my baby -- films!! Sigh!

But, by quirk of fate I got a Saturday noon free (I work otherwise) so I finally saw "Rajneeti', voting to go for it, and not "Raavan", which is the latest release, and THE thing to see, considering it's Mani Ratnam. But a colleague whose opinion I trust, came back with an exasperated look after "Raavan". Non comprehendo, she said. So there. That decided it.

I'm not trying to review anything here, just some random thoughts.
"Rajneeti" was disappointing. So much so that i was wondering if it would have been better to be at another theatre watching Abhishek and Aishwarya instead!

"Rajneeti" was fast-paced to begin with, but it became such a cycle of predictable patterns, I would rather the director had called it "Love, Sex aur Dhoka". I mean seriously. There's lots of kissing, lots of sex, some love in between, and most of all, lots of dhoka. And it's a superficial skimming over of the wily world of politics. Ok at least Prkash Jha made a film on such a subject. Most others are busy with just candyfloss love stories. But this was a candyfloss political story.

I like it when I come out of theatre with the movie buzzing in my head, making me dizzy with thoughts and possibilities.

Anurag Kashyap's "Gulaal" was one such film. Rocked my brains. In fact it was a better and more complex, layered film on rajneeti (politics) than "Rajneeti" was. The characters (except the hero) were so well-etched in "Gulaal" and their stories so viciously twisted.

Ajay Devgan is one guy I love in such roles. Where his quiet mean look works. He can't be lover boy or comic hero, I strictly believe. But he was so so so much better off in Bhagat Singh. This was so disappointing, I dont even know what he was doing in "Rajneeti". I doubt even Ajay knew what he was doing there, but that's another thought.

I'm just upset that after having spent my precious few hours watching a movie (instead of spending it with Dear S like a good mamma)I came away so unsatiated.

Made up for it by taking Dear S to teh park, and running around with him so much my back still hurts!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Uneasy calm that suffocates me

I've been troubled the last two days by a report I read in the papers of a 14-year-old girl in Ramanathapuram delivering a baby in her school toilet, abandoning the baby, and going away home.

It's just disturbing when you hear of/read such things. Teenage pregnancies are on the rise, the media always tells us. It always triggers discussions on TV with sociologists and psychologists.

And then it happens all over again with another girl. There's an uneasy calm and clinical distance with which all this is handled. By media largely. By schools and parents even, maybe.

Doesn't such news always send a chill down your spine? It' something you take at a personal level. You may be appalled, scandalised, you may sympathise, empathise, scorn, ridicule -- all depending on your worldview and experience.

It's left me very confused, sad, and uneasy. It says so much about us as people. About our society and times. There are so many questions to be raised. I'm only scratching at the surface. Because I can't really figure out the entire chain of responsibility, lack of awareness, an attitude issue, women's health issues, mental state of being, assumptions, presumptions, blame-game -- and a gamut of so much more it involves.

What was the 14-year-old thinking? How did she go through pregnancy without letting anyone know? What was going on in her mind those nine months? Did she know what she was going through? What about the boy who got her pregnant? Will anyone talk about him? Talk to him?

Then again, it's easy to blame free sex, teenage promiscuity, lack of parental supervision, lack of knowledge of contraceptives and so many other things. ("Juno" was such a romanticised take on something like this.)

But ultimately what worries me is the girl. What would her life have been like while carrying the baby? And what happens now, now that she's been "discovered"?

What will her attitude be in future, if she has a baby again? Will she? What happens to the baby? Questions, questions. More questions.

I'm uneasy and quasy as I think over this, over and over again. Of a chubby girl who supposedly hid her entire pregnancy under the garb of being "chubby", of delivering in the school toilet and cutting the umbilical cord with a shard of glass she had brought...of just walking away from it all.

And here we are treating motherhood like a totally different ballgame.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

That sweet morning face

Honestly, nothing can be sweeter and heart melting than your baby's face soon after he/she wakes up in the morning. Ever felt that way?

I just love to cup his face in my palms and kiss his little dot of a nose.

The eyes seem bigger than they usually do, and so much more innocent, inviting and kiss-inspiring.

The whole face looks different -- smaller, tender do you say it...lost? Yeah, I guess he looks lost.

And my morning routine with him is something I really look forward to. (Of course with him going to the babysitting place the last few days, it's shortened.) He asks me to come cuddle him in bed. Then he'll babble some gibbergish. Then we both laugh like maniacs and I kiss him like crazy and he LOVES it and coos back in return, and tries to kiss and bite my cheeks! His entire tone changes with this morning's shower of affection. Actually, it's the best part of my day, I realise, even as I write this down.

I always remember that song from the Darsheel Zafary-Amir Khan movie "Taare Zameen Par" - that exact line in the song "Jame Raho" where it says "Yahaan alag andaaz hai..." where Darsheel wakes up languidly and reluctantly to the morning.

That's how I hope he'll take his life -- cool, slow, easy and at his own pace. Amen.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

What motherhood has done to me

Sometimes I keep wondering why I think so much of motherhood, why its taken up my whole life right now. And why I'm making such a big deal of it, when most of the world is full of mothers who go about their daily lives without freaking out and acting like it's SOMETHING BIG.

And it's precisely why I'm blogging. To give vent to my own thoughts, to see it solid in print, and to stop friends and colleagues from getting bored. Because I'm quite sure they don't want to hear me say all this to them every day. I know how irritated I get when a colleague (who's pregnant now) can't stop talking of her pregnancy -- whatever we're discussing, be it football or Iraq, she'll inevitably somehow link it back to pregnancy and come right back!!!

Just yesterday one of my mentors at work told me motherhood has made me a strong person; rock solid. Otherwise, earlier I was a crybaby, she said!!! Maybe true. (Well, I guess that "cry baby" role's been taken on by my dear S now.)

Another colleague (whom I've worked with for an equal number of years, as with my mentor) says motherhood has softened me and sobered me down. Otherwise I was too forthright, rude, and curt, she says! Maybe true.

I know one thing for sure. Motherhood has made me less judgemental about other people. Earlier, so many things that people chose to do, shocked me -- choose not to cook at home, not have babies, not to many things that are considered a "must" in our culture.

But now, I always tell myself, there must be a good reason that makes people do what they do. Who am I to judge them?

Just like I don't want to be judged for the way I'm handling motherhood, or the way I'm raising my child.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

10 Tips for travelling with toddlers

1. Be ready for surprises! Yes, as much as you can possibly be. They sleep when you're excited about a view and they're excited when you're exhausted. They'll hate the sea when all you want them to do is embrace the vast expanses of water. That's step one - mental preparation.

2. Hunger strikes are a great way for toddlers to protest, I guess. Protest against new environments, people and new food. So be prepared to see your kid seemingly starve himself and freak you out in the process. Keep the liquids flowing and going into them at least. Prevents dehydration. Milk, water, juice are quite universally available.

3. No-go-potty is an inevitable result of the above protest. No input, no output. And if your kid is used to a certain potty or potty seat don't forget to carry it along. They won't poop till they're on familiar ground.

4. If your toddler is a real picky eater, like mine (and most toddlers), DON'T FORGET to carry non-peridshable favourite foods. Even if it's junk. In a remote place it comes handy and your tot won't starve at least. I would say if you're flying short distance or doing a road trip short distance carry perishables too if you have access to a fridge at your holiday spot.

5. Call your hotel/resort in advance and ask if your kid's staples are available. If it's not, it'll help you carry stuff that you won't get but your child is sure to ask for. I thought tots just adjust and go with the flow when on vacation. Uh huh. No chance. They like the routine and familiar and will not budge. (At least most of them. I envy those parents whose kids eat whatever's on the buffet!)

6. Don't forget emergency medication. Though it's a hassle to carry umpteen number of bottles that leak, you'll be thanking yourself if you have medicines on hand, if, god forbid, things go wrong. Don't forget to carry something your doctor has recommended for small cuts and bruises for the kid, depending on the system of medicine you follow. Also take something for internal injuries -- kids have an amazing tendency to bump themselves (especially on the forehead) against furniture in unfamiliar hotel territory.

7. Favourite shoes (to make sure they walk willingly), clothes (no new trials on vacation), toys (to bring that smile onto their face), and definitely, his blanket/shawl. Maybe even photos of grandparents if that's who they are with when back home. Chances are they'll miss them and be happy to see their pictures. My boy just drove us mad insisting he wanted to go to grandpa's when at the beach!!

8. Favoutite music/books and definitely crayons and paper/book. Maybe a new puzzle or toy to add a holiday surprise and remember the holiday by. Maybe a toy camera for them to go "click" every time you do! Or they'll be fighting for yours.

9. I would also suggest, if you're travelling in India, that you carry along a scrubber and some liquid dishwash sachets (like Vim)to clean up your tot's favourite cutlery if you're taking that too. And at the cost of sounding like a cheapie, I also carry some sachets of clothes washing powder. I'd hate to pay 60 bucks or some such ehxhorbitant amount to have my child's underwear laundered, if he peed in it. Most hotels have running hot water. At least you can rinse out his undies with soap and water.

10. Kid's sunscreen if you're going to a hot place. Lots of woolies if it's a cold one. And sachets of whatever drinking-powder you use to mix in his milk. (I know it's all random and in no order...but these are things i remembered from the recent vacation and needed to put it down for myself, before I forget, for the next vacation, if I ever dare take one again!!)

Labouring away

Ayyoo! What a hectic killer day today is.

I haven't had time to crib. Hahaha, unbelievable as it may seem, the Queen of Cribbing hasn't the time, and is cribbing about the lack of time to crib. :-) Howzzaaat???

It's like huff, puff, breathe, slow, easy, huff puff...almost sounds like I'm in labour!! But work today has honestly been LABORIOUS. Breathless and frenetic. An assault on my laidback senses.

I'm feeling the pains and pangs, not of labour, but of work, but boy, am i reminded of it!!! I just want to get it over with, the way I did S's birth :-) How similar can the two processes be? One organic, one mundane? One, once in a lifetime and another that happens every day?

But such is life...always. You will find the mundane in the most beautiful sometimes. And almost always you will find something sublime in the mundane.

Monday, June 14, 2010

What do they put in chips and Maggi????!!!

I must confess my sin first. I love chips and Maggi. Yes, I do.

But what's in it that makes it so addictive for children? I mean, I thought for an adult like me it takes some time, some conditioning of the tastebuds, to actually develop a taste for such "comfort food".

I can't understand how, when I try to put healthy new foods into dear S's mouth, he'll always turn his face away. But the first time i showed him chips and Maggi, he was so willing to try it!! No reluctance to open mouth, no protest! And one try was enough to get him hooked. It's almost like there's an addictive substance that's added in it that makes kids keep going back to this kind of stuff.

Is it the mere sight of these foods that works on their psyche? Wow...I just don't get it.

I must take comfort in the fact that at least he says no to ketchup sometimes, I suppose!

And now it's come upon me to decide what to put in his little tiffin box at playhome (yes, yes, I have read innumerable articles about that) -- how you don't send junk, no chips, no Maggi. Send cut fruits, healthy vegetable pieces. Fat chance that my boy's going to eat that though...

Will definitely give it my healthiest shot. And like all good mammas, wait and watch. ;-)

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Football, my foot!

He won't look at me
He won't hear me call
Because for him, life's a ball.

We've parted ways
The hubby and I
only temorarily
It's football season, you see.

FIFA is my new foe.
It's his new fiefdom.

He sits all evening and night
(and sometimes snores, when I'm out of sight)
In front of the tube.

I can't fathom why
He prefers watching a bunch of men
running around a ball
commenting on their footwork
rather than play footsie with me!


Sound of Music

I love M.S. Subbulakshmi. I love her solid voice, her devotion-laden singing. I can even sing along to many songs I've been listening to from my childhood days.

But as much as I love her, I don't relish listening to her at 6.30 a.m, when I'm catching up on my last leg of sleep, and more so when it's someone in a neighbouring apartment playing it.

A new family has moved in. Not in our apartment block. But in the one that faces it's back to ours... on the next road. But hell! He plays his "Suprabhatam" and "Vishnu Sahasranama" and "Bhaja Govindam" LOUD. And since I know most by rote, I automaticaaly start chanting/singing along. You can't help it.

But honestly, all I want to do then is sleep.
Living all my life in an independent house, this experience is irritating.
I'm sure the same people will object if I played a Hindi film song every morning THAT LOUD as my suprabhatam

Friday, June 11, 2010

Of vada pav and wine :-)

Yes, I'm back I'm back I'm back...after a VACATION!
Yipeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee finally

The sun and sand have hopefully worked magic on my mind. (So also MIL's presence ...hahahahaha)
And it's with great back-to-school resistance that I've turned up at work today.

A vacation made of all vague things -- of burying my feet in sand, of drinking fruity vodka, of long walks to the beach in the sultry sun, of making new friends, of laughing at odd things, of biting into cold vada pav and sipping strong red wine while feeding S his dinner, of lots of therapeutic shopping, of LATE mornings spent sprawled in bed with dear S, and watching him suddenly pick up language like a pro. Of brushing teeth in the open backyard looking up at a ridiculous five-star hotel looming large from behind, of trying to read a book while S slept...

Of meals that did not have to be cooked and surprise meals that had to be cooked for the joint family.....oh it was so Hahaha maybe, but right now I'm just heady and giddy from the holdiay, so it can't all have been bad. ;-)