Author: obsessivemom

Ma ke haath ka khana #Mother’sDay

Ma ke haath ka khana #Mother’sDay

One Sunday the Husband said he wanted to eat aloo puri for lunch. The children chimed in their yays and I was game too. Not too tough to put together, thought I, as I put the potatoes to boil and got the dough going for the puris.

Half an hour later I checked on the bubbling curry on the stove. As the spicy whiff of fresh gram masala reached me I thought I’d done a decent job. I dipped a spoon into the pan and tasted the gravy. It was good but a tad less tangy. Also, it wasn’t the ‘right’ orange. So back I went to the fridge, got out some tomatoes, ground them, sautéed them separately then added them to the gravy. I’m not sure that’s the right way to do it but that’s just how I cook – tasting and adjusting, adding spices and ingredients till I get the flavour I like.

Finally lunch was done – a thick rich orange potato gravy, perfectly puffed up puris with dahi and salad. As the children helped lay the table I was happy with myself. Tucking into the food the Husband remarked, ‘We used to have aloo puri every Sunday but that used to be a yellow gravy, it wasn’t so thick nor so tangy but it was way spicier.’

Seriously!

After all the trouble I took to turn it from yellow to orange he says he wanted yellow? And ‘way spicier’? Would the children eat ‘way spicier’?

See, that’s the trouble with ma ke haath ka khana. While I was attempting to get as close as possible to my ma ke haath ka food the Husband was dreaming about a replication of his ma’s.

This, I’m sure, has been the undoing of many a happy marriage.

Mercifully ours stands on sturdier ground than the quality of aaloo-puri I turn out and thank goodness for that. All the Husband got for his pains was my routine dagger look. Gratifyingly enough the children ate on, unaware of this exchange of visual weaponry, gushing all the way.

I wonder now, if I was laying the grounds for more battles when they grew up.

Cooking has never been my forte but H and N don’t seem to think so. They happily eat up whatever I serve. When my dosas stick to the pan they fight for the broken bits insisting they’re the crunchiest, when my cake turns out hard they christen it biscuit-cake and munch on it and when my atta laddoos don’t bind well they scoop up the mixture with a spoon relishing every last bit.

They have made friends with all the various gourds and pumpkins I put on the table no matter how they’re cooked. Sometimes I wonder how they will reminisce about my food when they grow up.
Perhaps one of them will say something like, ‘You remember mom’s lauki?’ 
And the other one will reply, ‘Oh yeah that delicious watery gravy and the smoky smell (from the burnt bits)’.
‘Remember the time we had to scrape off the rice from the pan and it turned all crispy?’
‘Oh yeah,’ the other one will reply and then they’ll shake their heads together ruing that no maid could ever match the flavours of their childhood.

Quite unlike me, my mother is a talented cook, a really talented cook. From delicately flavoured Navratan Pulaos to cheesy Veg Au Gratins she has a knack for them all. Her melt-in-the-mouth pineapple pastries are the stuff of family legends. Once when I remarked to my friend that my mom was a great cook, she casually, rather patronisingly, dismissed it saying ‘all moms are great cooks’ implying that all children thought their moms were great cooks. That incensed me so much that I launched into a huge argument with her.

Now however, I wonder if there’s more truth in her statement that I cared to admit that day. Perhaps we just get used to what we eat through our growing up years. Or perhaps there really is something special in the flavours of our childhood, something that transcends the science and skill of cooking.

What do you say? Is there one thing no one can make quite like your mom?

PS: I still maintain my mom’s a great cook and I love H and N to bits for believing I’m one too.

Adieu April #GratitudeCircle

Adieu April #GratitudeCircle

April always is the most eventful month of all. This is the time that the children finish their exams, get to see their papers and we travel to Lucknow.

This year we also changed houses (in the same city though).

We hadn’t shifted in a decade so it was a huge step. The amount of clutter we accumulate is amazing. I am pretty proud to say that for once I gave the hoarder in me a rest and got rid of quite a bit of it. Nope, it wasn’t easy but having done it I feel lighter and happier.

Settling in the new house remains a work in progress since we left things midway to make the annual trip to our hometown. That’s something I like to think of as non-negotiable. Not only do two sets of parents wait for us anxiously each year, but also it is my annual recharge more than any other holiday I take through the year.

April was a busy month

What with shuttling between hardware stores picking out things for the new house and coordinating with carpenters while also trying to help the children with their studies, April was crazy. The pressure took much of the fun out of doing up the house but in the end I’m grateful most of it is done. It’s going to be a while before I get the new house in order but I have to keep telling myself that there’s no hurry. 

Grateful for friends I left behind

While saying goodbye was hard it was gratifying to realise how very many connections I’d made over the years without even realising it. The farewells from friends, acquaintances and everyone in between were warm and heartfelt.

The new house

is something I cannot but be grateful for. There’s something exciting and happy about doing up a new home despite the work it entails. The curtains have to go up and the ACs fixed but most of all I’m looking forward to re-organising 12 whole cartons of books. I’ve saved it up for the last as a delicious pleasure. And I’d love for ideas on how to organise them. Should I go author-wise or genre-wise or should it be according to the continent they’re set it? This is going to be fun!

Yup, books are the mainstay of my happiness

Through the crazy last month it was reading, friends and reading-with-friends that kept me happy. I don’t think I’ve spoken about it earlier, but I’d been longing to join a book club – a real live one – for a long long time. Finally, at a cafe near my new home, one was launched and obviously I was there at the very first meeting. It was as wonderful as I’d imagined and I’m looking forward to happy times.

I also buddy read 1984 by George Orwell. This was my third time reading it and I managed to do so without skipping a single page. That was a bit of a feat because it gets heavy and pedantic in bits. It was good to chart my progress along with that of others and that kept me going.

And now I’m home

..shuttling between multiple homes, for I have more than one here in Lucknow. Somedays when I’m torn between how I should divide my time between the large family I wish everyone lived in different cities so I could have undivided time with everyone. However, in my saner moments I realise how wonderful it is to have them close by, despite the time-management I have to do. I’m set for flitting between my parents’ home and my in-laws’ as also those of uncles and aunts and cousins and childhood friends. I know the month shall fly past and I’m looking forward to it.

Linking up with Vidya’s Gratitude Circle.

 

Do you have five minutes?

Do you have five minutes?

I’d been lying awake for a while, waiting for the alarm to ring. When it did, I gave it a five minute snooze. And I slept off. Till I was awakened with a start by the second alarm. That five-minute nap seems so much longer because it is the deepest most peaceful of all.

Another day I had to make a start on an assignment I was not looking forward to, and my laptop beckoned alluringly. ‘Five minutes’ I told myself, ‘I’ll check FB/Twitter for five minutes.’ Lo and behold before I knew it, an hour had flown by!

Five minutes is a truly miraculous time-span, able to stretch and shrink at will or so it would seem. It never really is ‘five minutes’ as your clock tells you.

As a mom to twin almost-teens ‘Five minutes, please’ ranges right up there in the list of most annoying statements ever along with ‘Chill mom’ and ‘Sup mom’.

And then quite by accident I stumbled upon the the five-minute rule to beat procrastination. Yup the same five minutes that I thought were a procrastinator’s BFF can be used to beat it.

It was Instagram Founder Kevin Systrom’s who came up with this idea. Here’s how it works: When you come across a task you dislike or think of as too tough to handle (managing laundry for me, cleaning the room for the kids) all you do is tell yourself you have to do it for just five minutes.

Two things may happen – you might do it for five minutes and stop, in which case you would have at least made a start. Also, you’ll realise how much you really can do in five minutes.

However, chances are you’re going to continue doing the task for much longer, maybe even to completion.

The thing is, a task looks insurmountable only till you don’t dig into it. Once there, it often isn’t as hard as you imagined and you tend to keep going at it.

We’re changing houses this summer and that means lots of decluttering, of opening drawers never opened before and taking down books and knick-knacks I am not even sure what to do with. I am tempted to pack everything up and take it along, while also realising that this is the best decluttering opportunity I’ll ever have. The five-minute-rule has helped me get a grip on things.

I tried it. It works.

It’s exam time. Again.

It’s exam time. Again.

If you’re a somewhat regular reader here you’ll know that exams have a way of bringing out the creative side of H and N. They suddenly remember all their half-done or thought-of-but-never-done projects which must be launched/completed right away. Case in point: Last year N wrote a 5000 word story during her exams.

Here’s what they’ve been up to during this new and exciting exam month.

H found a new hobby

The son has developed a fascination for countries and flags and the wars of the world. So while I am teaching him the Circulatory System he suddenly comes up with ‘Do you know about the Balkan war?’ Or ‘Were you born before the Cold War’. Or while I’m helping him negotiate the Rennaisance Period he’ll suddenly run to the map to check where exactly a country is.

 

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I blew my fuse each time until finally I allowed him to do his own research during his afternoon break. I wonder how he crams in all his course work along with so much not-really-necessary information. I have to admit though that it’s darned interesting.
PS: Did you know El Salvador and Honduras actually had a war over football?

and N has a million things on her mind

The doll needs a new wardrobe. What to do? Clothes have to be made, no? She cannot wear rags till end of exams, right? So she sits chopping up socks and embellishing them with ribbons and sequins to dress up her doll. And there’s nail paint. I smell it even before she opens it, not that she’s making a secret of it anyway. ‘I’m not applying any,’ she explains when I ask her to put it away, ‘just counting.’ And of course periodic nail-paint inventory is so important. Who knows new ones might have been born over night.

Together they have revived their ‘exam’ hobbies

The children have a whole set of hobbies that they indulge in strictly during exams. Top of the list would be cooking – the cake-in-a-cup is an almost daily affair. And of course there’s maggi.

Then there are birthday plans

To have two parties or three, that is the question. ‘We should have one for each of us with our friends, and one with family,’ explains N. The date is still two months away. I have two months to figure out how to bring the number down to one.

Travel plans

are afoot too as we plan our annual summer visit to our hometown. N has made out a meticulous list of things she needs to pack down to her ‘airport look’ without even knowing it’s a thing.

Finally there’s the after exam party

which is being planned since even before the exam time-table was announced. H has invitations from at least two friends and that’s fortunate because N wants to have friends over. Interestingly, the twain just do not mix despite them being in the same class (and section).

All of this would have pretty much driven the old me up the wall but the new me takes it all in her stride. You might find me discussing N’s novel with her or listening to H’s long winding stories of the most vicious wars.

Yup Nirvana, I’m almost there!

An Attitude for Gratitude #GratitudeCircle

An Attitude for Gratitude #GratitudeCircle

Technically April is the exam month but actually it’s March that’s the toughest one because anticipation is always worse/better than the real thing. Right? 

All of March we’re making timetables, failing to stick with them (because daily school assignments are still coming in), constantly remaking, readjusting and generally struggling to get through the portion.

However once exams kick off things fall into place.

Contrary to what the children believe, I’d much rather let them play all day than get them to study, I’d much rather they be outdoors than cooped up inside grumpy and grouchy, I’d much rather curl up with a book myself than drive them to theirs.

Not that they’d ever believe it but March really isn’t the easiest of months for any of us.

Couple that with plans of changing houses this year and you’ll know why things have been rather stormy. Like I’ve said before I’m not a great multitasker so managing the children’s exams as well as the nitty-gritties of getting the new house ready, proved a bit much.

So what’s there to be grateful for you might wonder. Lots actually, when one thinks about it.

The new house

It hasn’t been smooth sailing all month – what house can be made without a few upsets? Yet, almost always, rather miraculously, things have set themselves right by the end of each day. There was just one day that I lost sleep and that because I was reading a rather disturbing book, nothing at all to do with either the exams or the house. That’s some thing to be grateful for.

New found independence

I used to have these horrifying visions of sifting through college-level portions of unfamiliar subjects teaching twenty-something H and N. Mercifully that nightmare may just not come true. Thanks to my pre-occupation with the house I have had to leave them to manage their studies on their own and they didn’t disappoint entirely. Each year I see them become just a little bit more independent and that gives me heart.

And camaraderie

In another, rather significant development, they’ve also helped each other out, though those experiments haven’t always been successful. The other day I asked H to help N with something. To his credit the poor boy tried but she kept giggling and refusing to pay attention. I realised it was a bad move when I heard him threatening her with, ‘Tell me or I’ll punch you’ and ‘Tell me or I’ll cut off your hair’ with such vehemence that I had to abandon whatever I was doing and take right over.

Conversations

Exams might be a bit of a trial but I have to admit the one thing I like is that the we’re together more than we are otherwise. You see the contradiction? I want to curl up with my book and not bother about them and yet I love it when we spend time together even though a lot of it involves being driven up the wall.

The thing is exams are a break from the normal school-homework-play-sleep cycle. They’re home more often. We go for walks in the night after we wrap up for the day and we talk.. a lot, about everything under the sun. And I love that.

Acceptance

I’ve sort of made peace with the way they study. I understand that they aren’t anything like my sister and I used to be. I understand that they won’t be glued to their books like we used to be. I’ve come to be grateful for the fact that they aren’t stressed out of their minds. I am also learning to make peace with the idea that perhaps that will affect their scores, but I have to be okay with it.

It’s not an ideal situation but that’s the way the cookie crumbles.

I’m just grateful the children have been happy and healthy, the rest, I hope, shall follow.

Linking up with Vidya’s Gratitude Circle.

On my other blog: Beat About The Book

Everything I never told you #BookReview

Everything I never told you #BookReview

Book: Everything I Never Told YouAuthor: Celeste Ng ‘Lydia is dead’ says the opening line of this book. However don’t go into it thinking it to be a thriller and you’ll love it. This is the story of… …a mixed race couple, Marilyn and James Lee, and their children Lydia, Nathan and Hannah. Lydia is […]