Wednesday, December 28, 2016

The day, the cake and the lesson!

Image Coutesy of SOMMAI at

Usually I take some time to write a post and publish it. I do proofread it a couple of times and yes every time it definitely gets better. Today I have decided to type away a post at one shot and publish it.  The moments when the mood to write and the availability of time coincide seem to be quite less. Hence I have decided to just write, read once and publish. To grammatically err is human!

December is a month of birthdays in my family-My father in law, my brother and both my kids. My children have their birthdays in the same week - his on the 26th and hers on the 30th. So besides the festive mood the whole world is in, we actually get into a special family celebration mode.

I don't bake frequently but I do experiment once in a while with a small oven that I have and an eggless chocolate cake is something that usually gives me satisfactory results. After filling my seven turning eight year old with enough excitement about it, I put all the dry ingredients in the sieve , mixed them up together and thought of turning the oven on for the preheating part. Plugged it , switched it on and Lo! The lights, fans, TV and every other thing dependent on electricity for life went off. The switch in the power circuit breaker box had tripped. Switched it back on  and tried again and it tripped again! Tried switching off some other appliances possibly causing the overload and yet it tripped again. The oven had decided to absolutely not cooperate. I have an oven that is super cool. So cool that it simply refuses to heat or even preheat for that matter. Sigh! Grrr!!

The immediate thought was to throw away the mix into the dustbin and go buy something at the nearest bakery. I was disappointed, frustrated , irritated and mad at the oven. The birthday boy was actually cool about it but the birthday mom was getting on the nerves of the rest of the family members. Anyways I decided to discuss with Google about other alternatives. Pressure cooker? Microwave? A couple of youtube videos later - microwave seemed to be not bad an option to try.

I put in things in the recipe and those not in this recipe but other recipes supposed to work best. Milk, baking powder, lemon juice and God knows what else i added. Poured it into a suitable vessel, put it into the microwave and started praying.

Six minutes later when I took it out, the results were YUMMILICIOUS!!!

It had the same taste and texture that thirty plus minutes of baking in the electric oven would have given me. In fact it was a teeny weeny bit better. The cooking was much more uniform.

We did have a home cooked cake after all and day two - the plate is clean. No cake left and we did eat it all.

No the cake in the image is not mine. That is someones whose oven never gave trouble. Yes, the art of making a cake lies entirely with the machine and not the humans that prepare the mix ;D

SO time to enter 2017 with a philosophical lesson from an eggless chocolate cake.

Things may not proceed as we expect. But going ahead with possible alternatives instead of grumbling might give us better results we never ever imagined.

If your plan does not work out, see whats in the big plan for you. It may be a much better option!

I can't think of any philosophy to explain a new bread-making baking tin and a couple of ingredients that I had purchased on a become-an-expert-in-breadmaking whim.  Thats a different story!! :) Happy New Year all !

Friday, December 2, 2016

It is contagious!!

Saturday morning! Here I am, sitting on my most favorite piece of furniture in the household - a wooden rocking chair, holding my cup of filter coffee and letting myself go in its aroma. But wait - The reflex act of opening one's mouth wide and inhaling deeply due to tiredness creeps from inside my being. In other words I am letting out a big yawn and resisting the wild urge to get back under the sheets and cuddle away into my world of dreams.
Image Credit

A yawning kitten is an absolutely adorable sight. Babies too!...For that matter, any yawning baby, puppy, kitten, cub, calf etc. looks amazingly cute...err!...wait a minute!....Do calves yawn? I have seen kittens yawn and the wide yawn of a lion is an oft-repeated sight on the likes of Animal Planet and Discovery channel...But horses? Cows? So I meditate upon Google baba and he enlightens me...Except for maybe teeny weeny insects, most animals do apparently!
Image Credit

Yes there are places where yawning can be really dangerous. Like in the classroom, for instance. The Biology teacher would be cursing his fate for having to explain the human respiratory system to a bunch of obviously uninterested teenagers. Yet, a practical display of the same in the form of a huge yawn can drive him bonkers. I had one teacher who used to keep telling us in Tamil " Athu kottaavi illa , athu ketta aavi" ...Well kottaavi is yawn and ketta aavi is bad spirit/ghost. So it kind of translates to "Thats not a yawn, its a bad ghost" . I know it doesn't sound that amusing in English, but in the native tongue, it did have a nice rhyme to it. 

Office Meetings of course! Especially after one decides to make it the cheat-the-diet day of the week, and gorge on a lunch solely to satisfy the taste buds. The sales forecast graph on the wall begins to look like a stroke of Ravi Verma's brush. The recently devoured biriyani begins its anesthetic reaction. The words coming from your boss's mouth transform into musical notes and gently float in the air - all nervous links from the ear canals to the brain, totally numbed in your stupor. Some Ilayaraja song that the morning fm in the car implanted in your consciousness starts playing in your head. The body reacts to all this - your mouth opens wide without listening to you and you let out a massive yawn. God bless you if you do it without any noise, and are aware enough to stifle it as much as humanly possible. Especially when the bespectacled guy next to you is listening with rapt attention to every word being said and is equally particular about  venting out a flurry of relevant ideas, in his desperate attempts to secure a place in the next promotion list.

The most contagious thing on this planet is not influenza or cholera or chicken pox or bird flu. Its not even a disease or an ailment. Its this simple everyday bodily action this post is about. One person lets out and almost immediately the other person would repeat and its a classic example of a chain reaction. I had no idea that it could spread without face to face communication until a few days back, when I was talking to my brother on the phone. As we were discussing a whole lot of mundane things neither of use to us nor anyone else on earth, I heard his words getting garbled by a yawn and I followed suit in almost a nanosecond. In fact I was just browsing the net trying to find an image suitable for this post. Just the sight of all those people and lions and hippos and dogs and cats yawning somehow infected me again.
This thing is really dangerous!

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Song of the rain

Reasons to be elated,
 Image courtesy of [Suriya Kankliang] at
Reasons to grieve,
Reasons to be excited,
Reasons to further achieve,
Reasons to worry,
Reasons to fear,
Reasons to shriek with joy,
Reasons to shed a silent tear,
Reasons that push us high,
Reasons that cow us down,
Reasons to illuminate with a sparkling smile,
Reasons to submerge in a melancholic frown,
We all have some.
Yet, now,
In this infinitesimal slice of time,
When one cloud kisses another,
The air reverberates with the noise of the skies
The heavens take pictures
Of me,
The man in the black jacket
And the woman with the red umbrella
All silenced in unison
By the song of the rain!

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Whats news?

I decided to write a blog post today. About what? Well, I opened a new post page and stared for sometime at the white space and then assuming that it might give some ideas , I shifted my gaze to the Publish button, the Save button, and then at the B  I and the U  on top but no ideas.

There have been times in the past when something in the news has triggered an idea. I open a new tab and say "Get me the news". The main page usually has the "Breaking News" topics. They do successfully break ones confidence about goodness still existing on earth and I prefer to simply skip it for now.

I decide, let me check other sections. 
Entertainment:Its Shahrukh's birthday and he has turned 51 already. Ok, heres the guy who was going ka...ka...ka...Kiran when I had barely entered my teens and he is 51!!!!  I am a fan yes but all the related news reminds you of ones own age!!!

Ok moving on to Lifestyle! There was this dolphin in Sea world Orlando that grabbed an onlooker's I Pad and dove into the pool with it. Its now quite I-bad!!!!

Ok, may be the Health section would give me some nice topic. "Dont Miss! A list of celebrities who have aged horribly over the years". Yeah right! That piece of knowledge is the most significant thing that would impact my health for now or for that matter the health of anyone on this planet!!

Its really what my dad used to say. Not news but nuisance!! Sigh!!!

Monday, August 29, 2016

A little more sensible talking and a little less sensitive listening

I have always been a big fan of animation movies. It does take us into the world of kids and definitely its more peaceful than the world of adults.

I remember watching the Disney movie Bambi as a kid. I also recall feeling terribly sorry and sad when the hunters attack the forest and kill Bambi's mother. Another scene that comes to my mind simultaneously is one from a dubbed Asian movie that I watched as a kid again. This one I dont remember the name, what original language it was in, the actors , the story;Nothing!- All blank. The only thing I remember is the guy telling his girlfriend that his favorite movie is Bambi and that he has watched it 14 times. Why has this stuck on to my memory like it accidentally stepped on some chewing gum? No idea! Maybe the idea of an adult watching an animated move 14 times fascinated me?

I had quite forgotten the detailed scenes from Bambi till I watched it again with my son last year. There is one character who has become my favorite now. Its a little rabbit called Thumper. There is one important lesson Thumper's mom teaches him.

Quite simple and straightforward. But its one advice that can mend a lot of things in the world and in our lives.

We tend to get insensitive about what we say about others which has its roots in lack of empathy.
We tend to get oversensitive about what others say of us which has its roots in ego and maybe stress.

The great Tamil work Tirukkural , a literary wonder capturing almost every facet of life in beautifully coined couplets has a line

தீயினால் சுட்ட புண் உள்ளாறும் ஆறாதே நாவினால் சுட்ட வடு 
Theeyinaal sutta pun ullaarum aarathey naavinaal sutta vadu

A wound caused by fire may heal but never will a wound burnt by a tongue.

A lot of arguments and fights happen, especially in families and social circles, about what someone said during a conflict, rather than the conflict itself.  I think the solution is to just swap the intensity of our sensitivity. We need to be more sensitive about what we say of others and less sensitive towards what others say about us. I don't mean to say to project deaf ears when someone gives us good advise or tries to correct something. If something is said purely with the intent of causing hurt, it could be best ignored.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Getting ready for a photoshoot at school

My little girl is two and a half now and goes to a nearby playgroup for two hours.

On Thursday they were supposed to have a group photo taken.

I decided that I should get her impeccably dressed and ready for the photo shoot. (We mothers of girls are always at it aren't we! )

Well I was busy with something in the morning and the husband was glued to his laptop. Anyone with a toddler will vouch for the fact that a silent house is a most dangerous one. The silence ignited a doubt in me and I went to check. My darling had helped herself to my kajal stick on the dressing table and was now in the bathroom trying to wash herself. Her hands were black, her dress had patches of kajal. The toilet bowl had tiny handprints of kajal all over it. Above everything else, she had smeared it all over her face. I had a mini visitor from some tribal groups in Lakshadweep standing and grinning at me in my bathroom, soot all over her charming face.

After the initial gasp of utter shock I set about cleaning her up. I applied coconut oil all over her to dissolve the stickiness and then gave her a good bath.

She was roaming around the house while I was busy in the kitchen. After sometime she came running to me, this time covered in white all over. Oh dear! Who asked me to leave the curd on the table!

I normally give her a small bindi with eyeliner. As we set off finally she said "I don't want water bottle" and proceeded to remove the bottle that was hanging around her neck. In the process she smudged the bindi and had a huge black line all the way across her tiny forehead. Thankfully I had wet wipes and I quickly went about setting things right.

Finally when we reached school she tripped and fell down. She was not hurt but crumpled the uniform I had ironed with care and the tucked in shirt came out.

Nevertheless I smoothed it out , tucked it back and sent her inside the playgroup.

At the end of it all no photoshoot happened that day. It got cancelled!

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Soup, the good old appetizer

I remember writing some post before about a topic that came to my head just like that, Bhindi.

My son has been saying that he wants soup today and hence my next post is going to be about , Soup!

I remember we had a Management course in college where the professor used to say , "In India we say we drink soup because its always a liquid here and in fact is served in cups on trains. But in other countries it has a lot of things like vegetables, meat etc and they say they eat soup not drink it" .

Its become customary starting any dinner with soup as it is supposed to be a good appetizer. But consider the gluttony all of us indulge at treats with friends or eating outside, does one really need an appetizer? What we actually need is an antacid at the end of the meal.

I remember going to restaurants with my dad and he loved adding all the sauces placed on the table into his soup. My mom would insist that those would actually shadow the whole taste of the soup and I think she was right. Of course every person has a basic birth right to eat what he wants to , the way he thinks is right!

He would also panic whenever I added salt to my soup assuming that I was mistaking it for pepper. Once he did not and the lid of the salt shaker actually fell into my soup. Of course along with its entire contents making my soup not at all consumable and an expression of "See this is why you need to be careful" on my darling dads face.

We once went to a restaurant , just me and my dad. The soup was obnoxiously spicy. Without realizing that he proceeded with his usual ritual of adding all the sauces including chilly sauce. The moment he put the first spoon in his mouth, his eyes welled up .  My poor dad! I remember how he did not want to waste what had been ordered and painstakingly somehow tried to finish it.

These days I see so many peddlers outside parks selling soups early in the morning. Somehow the word soup is associated with health conscious or sick people and so we have a variety of soups using all the traditional herbs meant to be good for the body.

I love trying different kinds of soups at restaurants and my favorite is Sweet Corn Vegetable soup. My kids love tomato soup or Tamatar Ka Shorba as its called in Tandoori restaurants.

Well thats not a bad post I guess. So what memories does the word 'soup' kindle in you?