Category Archives: Musings

And the potter’s wheel turns…

We also had pottery classes as part of the interactive sessions at office – aimed at trying to bring out the hidden talents among the employees and to bring about a refreshing change in the routine work life. Neither of us knew head or tail about pottery, but we enjoyed the session nonetheless. And we all took away quite a few lessons and some cute clay masterpieces. 🙂 It’s fun to challenge yourself once in a while with something that you do not do in your daily life. The pottery session went on to prove just that.

The potter who visited our office has been making clay pots and pans for years, probably since childhood. He only had to put one finger to the wet clay on his wheel to give it a shape, to widen or narrow the neck of a pot. The pots started breaking the minute we tried to do the same. How much difference a trained and knowledgeable hand makes as opposed to an untrained, unknowledgeable one! Isn’t that the case with us, as well? A gentle, loving and knowing hand makes all the difference in the world to the way a person is moulded?

It was amazing how the potter went on creating different things using apparatus as simple as a tyre, a stick, a pole, an iron plate and some wet mud. I had an amazing feeling as I looked at him, happily creating his little masterpieces. We all have some wet mud given to us too. We just need to turn the wheel to make it something beautiful and meaningful.

Have you ever laid your hands on the coolness of wet earth and tried to shape it into something, while the wheel furiously turns away below? If you haven’t, I would recommend that you try it some time, as it can be one of the most wonderful feelings in the world. The feeling of holding your own creation in your hands and feeling the weight of it, however twisted or ugly it might be, is one of the happiest feelings, too.

Thank you, dear workplace, for giving us this opportunity to learn! 🙂

Images Courtesy: All pics in this  post are by my colleagues.

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Filed under Musings, Work

Creativity Galore

I think I was in college when I last tried my hand at fabric painting, and gave up. The ‘masterpiece’ I wanted to paint then didn’t turn out to be one. I got a chance to try my hand at fabric painting once more at the interactive sessions held at our office. Our workplace had arranged some fun activities over the last 2 weeks, and one among them was a T-shirt painting session. I LOVED these sessions, fabric painting et al. 🙂

The creative sessions made me realise a lot of things. I realised that I love the process of creating. I love the feeling of creating something from scratch. I love filling up a blank canvas or paper or a T-shirt with multiple hues and make it something different from the one I started with. I love the process of learning – I love it when someone guides me and helps me add finishing touches, perfecting my raw finished product. I love a mix of work and play. I love the feeling of living life, doing something creative, bonding with people in the midst of a busy day.

I always knew that there’s more to people than meets the eye. These sessions reminded me of that. We were amazed to see the talent in people shining through tough exteriors and normally subdued characters. I realised, once again, that seeing passion and creativity writ large on the faces of people touches me, impresses me, inspires me.

I realised that there’s a lot to learn -if you want to and are interested enough. I learned that learning something new can work wonders for you. I realised that once in a while, you should throw a little challenge to that part of the brain which does not get enough work in a monotonous lifestyle.

Enough said. Before I bore you people to death, take a look at some of the T-shirts that our team painted. 🙂

**Drumrolls**

This is the one I painted, doing full justice to my fascination of sea horses. 🙂 Yeah, I know it’s not a masterpiece again, but I liked it. 🙂

This one is an angel-cum-devil by a colleague. 

The inimitable Calvin & Hobbes by another colleague.

The lady who painted this felt she ruined it, but I think otherwise. I loved the colours and the Indian feel of it. 🙂

The Mysore Palace came alive on another colleague’s T-shirt. I loved this one – it looks so professional.

I loved the creativity in this one – it was done with just one pot of paint and a few brush strokes. No pencil, no marker.

You like?

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Image courtesy: All pics are by a colleague.

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Filed under Motivation, Musings, Work

Foodie Memories

I came across this post about the influences of tradition on food quite by chance, and it has set me thinking. It made me think about why I like the food I do, and why I cook what I do. And the memories made me smile. It took me back to long, long ago.

I was born in Chennai, but brought up entirely in Gujarat. There would be month- and two-month long visits to Chennai in the summer holidays. Part of my family drooled over Gujarati food, while part of them liked only purely traditional South Indian. I spent part of my childhood in a locality full of Maharashtrians. I had a fast friend who was a foodie, and she was largely responsible for introducing me to a variety of tastes. My stints at eating out made me realize I am fond of Indo-Chinese and Indo-Italian food.  I am married into a family that has strong Keralite connections. The husband loves Kannadiga food, and introduces me quite often to flavours from Bangalore. As a result, my taste buds and my kitchen have had one influence too many.

Mom and granny majorly used to cook traditional South Indian cuisine. I was blessed in the sense that both of them are wonderful cooks. I fell in love with Masala Dosas, Avial, Cabbage and coconut curry, and with the variety of chutneys and thokkus that these ladies used to make. I loved my nani’s vettalkozhambu and morkozhambu, and would plead with my mom to replicate the exact taste. Nani taught me the joys of adding a spoonful of liquid ghee to a plate of steaming rice and vettalkozhambu, or just plain, salted paruppu. Of course, rasam and sambar were ever-present both at our place and nani’s, but I never much fell for them. Mom and granny’s Gujarati and Marathi friends taught them a lot of recipes, which have now been passed on to me. It was in Ahmedabad that I developed a taste for sweet dal and sabzi, Bombay chutney, vegetable pulav, sabudana khichdi, chivda, khaman, undhiyu, patra, samosas, jalebi, methi na gota, paav bhaji, and dalwada, among several others. Granny and Mom learnt how to make soft parathas and roll out the fluffiest of phulkas, arts which were passed on to me. Because I should not feel different among my Gujarati friends, Mom learnt how to make several Gujarati and other dishes like Paneer Butter Masala, Patra, and Sabudana Khichdi, recipes that were painstakingly noted down by me and which I use till date.

Whenever Mom had to make South Indian food and I wasn’t in the mood to eat it, I would head off with that foodie friend of mine for some yummy but affordable street food. Ahmedabad is a heaven for food lovers, I tell you! I fell in love with the street sandwiches, pani puri, dahi puri, sev puri, et al, and even learnt to make a few of these things at home. Another option when I wanted to eat something different was Maggi – the faithful Maggi which never lets a hungry soul down. Mom and me would experiment with Maggi, and try to cook it in as many ways as possible. And then there were the Knorr soups, which made quite a regular appearance at our place in the winter months. I learnt that I prefer Indo-Chinese and Indo-Italian food over typical Italian or Chinese food. Mom and me developed our own recipes for homemade pizza and Indianised pasta, which we would keep experimenting with.

Bangalore taught me to love Bisi Bele rice, Masala Puri, Holige, and medu vada. My aunt who resides in Bangalore taught me several new recipes, like a customized version of Fried Rice, Gobi Manchurian and Kurma, which I fell in love with too. I thought rasam was only for sick people till the husband made me realize it’s not so, with his wonderful rasam. He taught me to love bajjis, smoked sweet potato, brinjal rice, papads, vadams, and his own version of sambar. The MIL taught me to love Palakkad Adai, Onion and tomato rice, Parikkai Gotzu, and Kerala style kootu and morkozhambu. Like marriage has expanded my viewpoint on a lot of things, I believe it has expanded my tastes also, and (I think) it has improved my cooking skills too.

My taste buds crave change quite often. I’m not one of those who can eat curd rice or roti-subzi or upma or Maggi for one week straight. Hence, I keep experimenting. One day our kitchen turns into a South Indian one with coconut, dry chillies and paruppu all over the place. The other day, it emanates strong smells of garlic and onion and tomato. I refer to several food blogs too, and each one of them has taught me new recipes, which have been tried and tested and loved. I prefer homemade food over outside food, the only condition being that it should be yummylicious. If I love some dish that I had somewhere, I try to get the recipe from somewhere and try it out in my own kitchen – like the mushroom sabzi that I made recently. Thankfully, I liked to eat the food that I cook, and the better half loves it too. He is more than willing to be a guinea pig for my experiments, and is generous with his praise. What else could I ask for?

I am yet to experiment with a lot of flavours – I have never tried Arabic cuisine or Mexican, amongst several others. There is a world of taste I am yet to explore, and I do want to get around to doing it.

I think I love Gujarati food above all – I love the sweetish taste of it, sans the generous quantities of oil. But then there are days when all I want is rasam rice or curd rice or Maggi. Some days, I crave for a combination of North and South – I want avial with phulkas or mushroom sabzi with dosas.

Curious people have asked me – what will your child eat? Will he/she eat roti-subzi or rice, dosa or fried rice? I honestly don’t know. I would leave it to my child to experiment and discover the joy of finding a taste that he/she loves. I can only make sure that I provide him/her ample exposure to every taste that I have had the good fortune to taste.

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Filed under Life, Musings, The better half

The one with wishful thinking

The Japan quake and the subsequent terror and devastation made me realise that we might be nearing THE END. We might. We might not. You never know. But we might, you know.

About a week after the quake, I was looking through the photographs of my Delhi-Agra trip. This might sound selfish, but I was so glad I could see these places while I could. Both Delhi and Agra had been dream destinations since God knows when, and I was so happy I finally made it to these places. Our trip to Kerala last year too falls in the same category. It had been on my dream-places-to-visit list for, like, always.

My parents have never been great travellers, and neither was I before marriage. Basically, I was always interested in travelling, proper hard-core travelling stuff, but lacked the company to do it with. I didn’t just want to take off to places alone. I found a willing and interested travel partner in the better half, and together, we explored several places in the 2 years we’ve been married. He has toured to many places in India on work, sometimes out of country, and travelling with him is so simple and nice – just because he has travelled so much he knows what to expect and what to be pack and what to do and all that. And also because he lets me feel the places we visit like I need to, like I want to – he doesn’t rush me up like most tourists we’ve seen do. We’ve travelled to some places new to him too – Goa for instance, or Ahmedabad – and we’ve loved those experiences too.

India itself is huge, with its rich history and natural beauty. We have heard stories about every possible place, and have longed to visit them. Then, we’ve always wanted to see the world outside India – the United States, Paris, London, and, of course, Japan too. We’ve wanted to do the touristy stuff in all these places whenver we have read about them. And then there are countries not all that popular for tourists. For instance, I was seeing some forwards about the scenic beauty of Iceland and Austria, and wondered if we would ever be visiting these places. Parts of me want to settle down in the places we visit – at least for a year or so – and feel the place. Soak in the culture of that place. Eat the food of that place. Be one with the people of that place. And that has happened at many places.

Travelling the whole of India itself – really, properly travelling – is a daunting experience. I don’t see any way I can do it before I’m sixty years of age. We can just quit our jobs and take off in a caravan or whatever, but there are the bills to be paid, and I do want a home. 😀 So, for now, it has to be a balance of work and pleasure.

Well, the point of this story is that we’ve just about started to explore the world, and there is so, so, so much to see, do and feel. It, kind of, saddens us. I don’t want the world to end. I’m not ready to go, yet. I want to see the whole world, properly, before I go out of it. Apart from the travelling, there is so much in life that I want to do.

Here comes the wishful thinking part. I wish companies could find out some way of balancing their employees’ personal and professional aspirations. Especially now. I wish I could be able to take off at a moment’s notice and explore places to my heart’s content, and still hold down a job. I wish I were able to avoid a meeting or a call just because I wanted to do some finger painting or prepare a greeting card. Or simply spend some time with the better half. I wish every employer could see ‘soul satisfaction’ as an important part of employee satisfaction.

The better half feels it would be great if companies could give their employees a year off every 5 years or so – with pay – to pursue their heart. To renew themselves. To find themselves. He says he would go on a world trip now if he could get a year’s salary credited in his account and a year off work. His dreams are grander than mine. 🙂 I just want to, possibly, explore more and do all that I want to before I realise that I can’t do everything, any more.

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Filed under Life, Musings

Thank you, Blogsville!

I was not an Internet-savvy person as a kid or even in my college times. We got a computer at home only in 2007, after the whole world had already gone places. I pushed and prodded keys and taught myself about the Internet world, and I’m so, so, so glad I did. It opened up a whole new world to me – one I had never glimpsed before. It still amazes me – the way treasure troves of information open up to you at one touch of a key, how you can book hotels and trains and flights sitting at home, and how you can talk to just about anyone, anytime, from anywhere with a net connection.

I started blogging to make note of those little moments of my life which get lost in the daily humdrum, as well as to give vent to those poems and stories running around in my head. Over time, blogging became an inseparable part of me. It taught me to discuss about various things. It instigated me to pursue those latent interests of mine – like photography and travelling – which I wanted to, but never did. It made me more aware of the things going on around me, and taught me a lot. Some of the most important lessons blogging has taught me are that nothing is too trivial to discuss if it has been bothering you, and that there are always people who have had similar – if not the same – experiences and feelings as you, and that asking for help/suggestions/guidance was never easier. The blogging world has made me read a lot of wonderful books and authors that I would have missed out on otherwise.

Many a times, I have felt that a certain issue in my own life is too trivial, too taboo to talk about, but then, I have seen the same issues being discussed on people’s blogs. That has opened me up to discussing a lot of things, which I never used to talk about earlier. And I cannot tell you about the comfort it has given me to know that there are other people out there feeling the same things as me, facing the same dilemmas as me, having the same issues as me, and feeling the need to discuss trivial issues too – sometimes for the simple reason that discussing a thing gets it out of your system.

In the blog world, I found posts that echoed my thoughts about worshipping while menstruating and the dilemma of wearing a mangalsutra or not (which I never wrote about though it bothered me). I found posts about the everyday frustrations between a daughter-in-law and mother-in-law. And this made me feel that I am not alone. I read about people fighting their fears and succeeding, and that inspired me. I read about book bloggers having a huge pile of unread books and yet feeling the need to buy more books and read them, and I realized that I am not weird. Blogging turned out to be a comfort zone for me – who never really fit in anywhere with my different thoughts. I fit in perfectly in this world.

To quote The Mad Momma, “I understand that people are private and I understand that it hurts. But I also think that communities are built in sharing experiences.….Any taboo topic needs to be aired simply because it brings about awareness, sensitivity, and understanding and takes away the mystery and shame around it.” And I entirely agree with this.

I still have a long way to go in terms of blogging, understanding the Internet and opening up to discussions, but I cannot deny how much these things have changed me and my life. My blog has grown from when I started it, and so have I. I can’t thank the Internet and the blog world enough for that.

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Filed under Blogs, Discussions, Musings

This and that

  • It’s been a long, long, long time since I did a quickie post in bullets, or randomly rambled on on my blog, and figured it would be fun to do it again. Hence the post.
  • The Internet at home has a mind of its own. It refuses to work for more than 5 minutes, ever since we returned from our Goa trip. I haven’t been able to post the pictures of the trip and a few others. Will do so as soon as the Net decides to stay put at our place.
  • The trees all around Bangalore, which had lovely blooms just last month, are now wearing a bleak and deserted look. Bare of flowers and leaves, most trees look sad. It’s kind of depressing, really. I try to remember that there will very soon be new leaves on these trees, and summer flowers would be blooming.
  • We visited the Bangalore Palace last week, and it turned out to be an awesome experience. The guided tour around the palace is very well planned out, albeit the tickets being priced a bit on the expensive side. Do visit the palace and take the tour, if you haven’t already.
  • We also visited the National Handloom Expo 2011 at the Palace Grounds. Both the better half and me loved it, and we shopped for some clothes for ourselves and the folks at home.
  • A husband who loves a black saree at an exhibition so much that he ‘does not want to leave it behind’ and who loves the process of shopping is definitely for keeps!
  • I discovered, once again, that I love shopping. Window shopping as well.
  • We missed the Bangalore Habba, which got over on January 29th. Didn’t even know that it was on. I would have loved to visit it. Sad. Anyone knows if it’s held just once a year?
  • The orchid plant at our place has been blooming, and it looks awesome.
  • We bought a couple of more plants and worked on our garden a little bit more. Though it’s not yet much to speak about, I love our little garden at home. It gives me immense peace of mind just looking at the plants and feeling them.
  • The husband is definitely a Mr. Green Thumbs. I’m not boasting, but I’ve found that he has this unique ability to tend to plants and nurse them. He’s brought even some half dead plants back to life. Amazing. Me? I would probably kill them even if I just water them every day. I just take solace in the garden, that’s all, apart from helping out the better half every now and then.
  • Oh, and our tomato plants are coming along wonderfully. It’s fun harvesting the ripe cherry tomatoes from one plant, and checking on the ripening large tomatoes on the other plant. We’re having fun cooking with home-grown tomatoes till the monkeys (which are rampant in our area and famous for destroying plants) discover them.
  • And did I tell you that the rose plants are also in bloom?
  • I have been experimenting a bit in the kitchen lately, and the results have been good. So far. I realised, yet again, that cooking is therapy for me, right next to writing, talking to a dear one and music. It soothes me from within. Especially when the dish I’m making turns out well and the family eats well. Gosh, don’t I sound matronly?
  • Of late, I’ve been missing my friends a great deal. I’ve lost touch with some of them, and we’re trying to get back. Just the process of trying to renew the bonds is fun. Satisfying.
  • I’ve been trying to carve some time out just for myself every day. Kind of struggling, and it does not happen every single day, but I do enjoy the me-time whenever I manage to get it.
  • I found some wonderful sites that I enjoy reading every day – The Tree Year, Well Hello There Lover, and A River Of Stones. I’m thinking of getting involved in The Tree Year and A River Of Stones. Just learning about the concepts have made me more observant and compassionate about my surroundings. Do check out these links!

Till the next post, ciao! Have a nice time! 🙂

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Filed under Everyday polambals, Life, Musings

Parallel Worlds

Red and green socks and dangly, silver earrings with stars for Christmas. Green socks with yellow frogs on them on holidays. Dressing up to the hilt. Fun dressing, she called it. An intense love for reading. Ready smiles and tears. For everything and everyone. A song ready on her lips for every occasion. Feet ready to dance at the slightest hint of music. Had to have corn on the cob on a rainy day and chocolate mousse on a cold one. Adored food. No hesitation in going on that merry-go-round or this elephant ride. A craving to see the entire world. Full of passion and zest for life. A belief in getting the most out of every moment. Counted moments rather than minutes. Rashmi. The always smiling, peppy, lively Rashmi. The apple of her friends’ eyes. The star of her office. The person whom people wanted to tell all their secrets to. The secret and not-so-secret love of several. Several believed Rashmi would, some day, open some fortunate guy’s doors to life and love.

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Why did she have to go all out when she went out? Couldn’t she dress more… subtly? Such a dreamer. Wonder how she managed to get any work done at all. Absolutely no value for money. Did she really need to go on that joyride? Would the sky fall down if she didn’t visit one tourist spot in the city? Reading and music are her passions, they say. Come on, be practical. Reading and music didn’t feed anyone. Her job… in an NGO… It’s what her heart tells her to do, apparently. Why can’t she do something more routine, like teaching? Why can’t she just be home-friendly? Dusting the carpets, cleaning the pooja room, putting the clothes in the washing machine… that kind of thing. Talkative to the core. Always chirping. Zillions of thoughts always crowding her mind. Can’t she be a bit more silent? Like the other women around her? Rashmi. An absolute no-no. Pity her unfortunate husband. He’s so good and quiet and decent. Poor guy.

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Two parallel worlds. One common factor – Rashmi.

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Filed under Life, Musings, My stories