life

Hope from 2016

Like I said earlier, I am not making any resolutions this year. But there are a couple of things I have in mind that I hope to work towards and achieve. Calling something a resolution gives it an inflexible quality in my head, and it’s this sort of inflexibility that I am hoping to eliminate from my life this year.

So, here are a few things I want to achieve, and the only reason to pen them down is to have a list I can go back to in case I forget.

  1. Get into the scientific study of nutrition and health. I love all things diet and nutrition: reading about it, cooking holistically, trying different grains and millets, veggies, oils, salts, what have you…, understanding various eating philosophies, understanding what food does and doesn’t do to our bodies. I read about everything related to eating well and living a wellness-inspired lifestyle, that I might as well look for some distance courses to boost up my mere interest.
  2. Eliminate a constant feeling of insecurity and anxiety. I really hope to grow on a personal level into a balanced and well rounded person. A part of that would include living in the moment and not stressing about what the future outcome of a current undesirable situation might be. I have plenty of inspiration at hand to look up to. Dad, sis and husband are classic examples. Mum is also a deeply content person who doesn’t get affected by things like status anxiety.
  3. Focus more on fitness. I already do regular exercise,  but I want to strive towards having a more active lifestyle rather than just doing bursts of intense physical activity 4-5 times a week.
  4. Read more and diversity reading topics. I mostly read fiction and that too of a specific kind. This year I want to diversify that and pick up books without prejudice and judgment.
  5. Find ways to connect with people. I pretty much constantly oscillate between feelings of superiority and inferiority complexes, which compromises my ability to be friends with people who are not like me. Which brings me to the next point.
  6. Be accepting of people who are not exactly like me. I realized that as much as I like to think I am not judgmental, I am bitterly so in case of people who are not what I deem rational and progressive. While I think that rationality and progressiveness is what all societies should consistently drive towards, it’s really wrong to discard people who don’t fit the bill. Because let’s face it, I am a result of my social setup and conditioning which by a stroke of unbelievable good luck was the best one could get. So, while I can’t force myself to like people or agree with their views, I can definitely make an attempt to be civil and calm when I deal with them. Which brings me to the next point again.
  7. Listen more, speak less. Need I say anymore?
  8. Work towards de-addicting from all kinds of social media and compulsive dependence on the internet. Again, this brings to my next point.
  9. Cultivate more patience. I have never been an example of calm demeanor and patience. But the internet and easy availability of just about anything has made me more impatient. I noticed that the moment I find myself in the middle of a conversation that is either boring or related to subjects I don’t care about, I start scrolling the net for interesting stuff to read. This easy access and flipping from one activity to another definitely adds up in making your patience takes a back seat.
  10. Work on relationships. I used to think that I don’t like people and prefer to be on my own all the time. This is partly true. But it’s not that I don’t like people in general, just that I like very specific kind of people. I am consciously going to work on fostering relations I care about and make an attempt to reach out to people, even if that doesn’t come naturally to me. It doesn’t even have to be new people. Just people I love dearly but take for granted…like my grandparents.
  11. Not overthink stuff. I have decided to give less fucks about stuff that doesn’t really matter. I have a tendency to over analyze every little detail about stuff and then end up feeling guilty about it for hours. I am going to develop a rational attitude towards not dwelling on things in the past that have already happened and can’t be changed, but will focus more on not repeating the same mistakes or errors in judgment again.
  12. Accept reality and things that are beyond my control. I have always had problems accepting the status quo and stressing myself crazy asking why and how. But since it’s easier to accept the situation to deal with it better, I am going to develop a coping mechanism to deal with unpleasant truths and realities that I can do very little to change, or for which I have no inclination to spend enough time to bring about any change.

There. I have made a list of what I think is important, no essential, to be a better version of myself. Here’s hoping that I find the positivity to inculcate this and make micro-level changes in myself.

Dear readers, is there anything you hope to change in yourself or in your life this year? What are you looking forward to?

 

 

Some Days are Also Good

I realized that I generally use my blog as a sounding board when all I want to do is scream and rant. But some days are so nice, and yet I forget to write about them and put it out in the universe. May be because these instances are very rare. It hardly ever happens that you come across someone totally random, and have no expectations of any kind whatsoever, and what you experience is pure, carefree, human interaction.

Today was one such day. I had given a basil plant to the guy I carpool with yesterday. He said that some lady who sits next to him had asked if she could get one too. So I potted a little cutting for her and sent it along with him. I received such a beautiful e-mail from her sometime back. She thanked me for sending a little pot to a total stranger. She was only expecting a small cutting. So we got to talking, and in the next e-mail exchange, she thanked me profusely again for getting her a potted plant and finally giving her the push to kick-start her kitchen garden. She spoke about how little gestures just make your day

Those were such kind words from a lady I hadn’t even met, that it made my day as well. I hope that more and more people cool down enough in their daily lives to be able to look around and appreciate the little things. That is such a welcome change in the otherwise rat race like corporate life.

I hope I don’t sound like a typical motivational speaker. 😛

Ciao!

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I turned today. Had a very demented start to the day. A friend called and said hello in a very enthusiastic tone and I replied by saying “Happy Birthday” with equal enthusiasm, like Happy Birthday is a common greeting. And no, it’s not her birthday. Husband gave me a very weird look.

Then spent 45 minutes discussing where we could go for breakfast, but didn’t come to a definitive conclusion, and finally just landed up in Cafe Max rather listlessly. But before that, I spent a good 5 mins looking at my face in the mirror. I had a bleaching tragedy recently. I have a lot of facial hair, and had a pack of bleach lying with me for a good 7-8 months. So put it on last week, and must have done something wrong, because when you look at me from close distance, it looks like I have golden fur. I can totally compete with a Spaniel now. Somehow my facial hair seem a lot more when they are golden. Aarrrrggghhh!

Oh, and the sis had sent a lovely hand made card with a beautiful message, and also joked about how I’m almost 30 now. I didn’t feel sorry. 35 is my most sough-after age. For some reason, I find 35 and early forties extremely exciting ages to be.

I went to Levitate. GM had told me about this place. I had been wanting to get a silver nose pin since forever. I got one that I really liked. I also ended up buying a pretty brass earring, and a brass ring. So I totally stuck to the plan I made yesterday. Plus, I realized that this store has a LOT of the collection similar to a hand-made jewelry brand, JUNK,  I like. But they are overpriced and charge some additional Rs. 200 to ship stuff from Kolkata. When I saw the same designs at at least Rs. 300 less, I realized that JUNK might not be all that exceptional after all. And if a boutique on 100Ft. Road charges less than them, then they are REALLY over priced.

On the way back I threw a horrible tantrum for no reason. I thought the husband was speeding (he wasn’t), and the traffic was horrible. I blamed him for not being able to buy litchis on the roadside stall because he sped. He patiently turned the bike around to go to the stall(the stall was barely 100 metres from home), but I started yelling saying now I didn’t want it. I realized how unreasonable and stupid I was being in the next 5 minutes, and felt bad. Especially since you are supposed to show some sign of growing up on your Birthday at least. Massive failure.

Then came home and took selfies with every thing I got from the store and sent it to various people. Then made some vodka mojitos. As usual, head started aching after one drink (aarrgghhhh!), then slept for a good 2 hours.

Woke up, made Tamarind chutney for Ragada Patties tomorrow. Completed most prep for Thai Chicken noodle soup. This soup is my soul food. It’s light, delicious, and aromatic.

That’s really it. Now here I am blogging  about my day, which could just be any other day really. So my Birthday is almost over, except that technically, 28 years back, I wasn’t yet born. Was only on the way. :). Previously smiley cancel, because I realized that birthdays are mostly also the days when our mothers had gone through a LOT of pain to deliver us. Sob. 😦

 

 

 

Smell

While discussing something on GM‘s blog, she mentioned the movie Aiyaa and then Gandha. That got me thinking about the sense of smell in general. I also thought about the movie Perfume, which I had liked a lot and have watched multiple times. It’s about a guy whose body has so odor at all. That’s pretty much like not having any identity, because all of us have our own individual scent. I can’t imagine what the world would be like without the sense of smell.

I’m very intrigued by the particular smells of anything and everything. I sometimes find myself inhaling deeply to get a better sense of a hint of a smell. It’s not even always a great smell. But I do tend to associate people with smells. Sometimes it’s the perfume they use, mixed with their own scent which creates a unique combination. Like my mum always carries this fresh, powdery, and flowery scent; dad always has a hint of brylcreem; the sis is generally a mix of fruity perfume with body lotion; I can identify my sister if I smell her used clothes. When I smell my used clothes, it’s kind of like a fruit going stale. I like perfumes form the fresh and fruity family.

I don’t think there’s any food that I don’t smell before eating. It’s an intrinsic part of the culinary experience for me. I love smelling leaves on trees. I smell my mint and basil plants every now and then, or nip a bit off the lemongrass plant to release the oils that carry that lovely scent. Or the smell of freshly ground masalas, which is so heady.

I am very interested in perfumes and how they smell different on different people. Like I had an ex-boss who used an amazing perfume. You could tell of it;s good quality such by the smell. It had a great sillage and left a trail for a good 2-3 minutes after he’d pass by. I could tell he has arrived by just that smell. I asked him what perfume he used out of curiosity. He was generous enough to tell, mainly because I gave a very academic explanation about what I wanted to know. I then made the husband buy it. The same perfume would bring out the mango fragrance on the boss, and brings out the patchouli on the husband. I’m sure it’s got to do something with the body temperature. I gifted some other perfume to dad, and am often surprised by how it smells like the perfume the boss used to wear, even though it’s a different brand.

Smells really are such an interesting topic. Sometime a vague waft of a random smell brings out so many old memories from the deepest and oldest memory-closets. It takes you by surprise that you still even remember something so old. You might not have even associated that event ot place with a certain smell at the point when the memory was taking shape.Like the heady and almost alcohol like but cloying sweet smell of dried bakuli (not sure what it is in English) reminds me of when I was about 16-17. That’s all I remember. No particular event, just me, when I was that age. I invariably picture that period in a certain kind of light as well.

I might have written about the smells I like before, I don’t quite remember, and am too lazy to check. But here’s some of the smells I like a lot.

  1. Bread baking and fresh bread
  2. Hot Waran Bhaat with green (smells of home, warmth, and safety)
  3. All citruses and mints
  4. Original dettol liquid mixed with water
  5. All kinds of soups
  6. Smell of rain
  7. Flowers going stale after falling off on the ground
  8. All kinds of fresh flowers
  9. Strawberries
  10. Fruity fresh perfumes
  11. Polo Black on husband, Olay cream on mum, Escada Sexy Graffiti on self
  12. The smell you get when you add a splash of water while roasting garlic
  13. Fresh basil on tomato sauce
  14. The smell of mountains, and valleys
  15. Old winter clothes stored in suitcases with naphthalene balls
  16.  Wood being cut while making furniture
  17. Old books the pages of which have gone yellow
  18. Khus in water
  19. Buttermilk with kaala namak and mint
  20. The mild smell while cutting fresh cucumbers
  21. Cinnamon in porridge
  22. the smell when you open a new marker or highlighter
  23. wet mud
  24. When you crush kaffir lime leaves in your hand
  25. Homemade “aamti” simmering
  26. The smell of hot chapatis (mum, home)

Does smell do that to you? Drive you crazy with some extreme emotion?

Greenspiration

My day started with reading this incredible article about a man who took a patch of land outside his home and converted it into the stuff of my dreams.

And then, just as I stepped out for work, the Bangalore landscape just seemed like an extension of the green thoughts from the morning.  There are beautiful blooms in a variety of pastels all over the city: lavender, baby pink, egg shell, light rose, pink, violet, golden yellow, and what not. It’s just stunning. I took this pic when I went for chai in the office campus. And my pc doesn’t do even one percent justice to the actual colors.

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So, I was suddenly bitten by the gardening bug about two months ago. On a whim, I went to a nursery and got three plants with varying shades of green. All I wanted at that point was to have some soothing greens in my balcony. I was, and still am so clueless about gardening, that I started off pretty scared. I knew I was green-thumb challenged when I had almost killed the one plant I had. And it was aloe vera, which is supposed to be one of those hardy plants that just grow, irrespective of your complete lack of gardening skills. But then, I casually watered my aloe vera along with the new plants, and in just two days it started looking mighty replenished. I also realized that it wasn’t dead after all. So, apparently you are not supposed to water the plant too frequently anyway. It’s a desert plant and can contain itself without water for weeks. In any case, I saw little pups in the aloe vera pot and replanted these in smaller pots.

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I then started reading about gardening and the plants that are very forgiving and would grow even if you were a terrible gardener. I have been taken by the idea of having a lovely herb garden since as far back as I can remember. I then started reading up about growing herbs. But then the question was, whether to grow them from seeds or cuttings. I decided to experiment with a bit of both. The second question was if I was using cuttings, would I keep them in a glass of water till they sprouted roots, or would I plant thicker twigs in a sapling tray directly. I again decided to try a bit of both.

I got some coco-peat, one bag of potting mix, a couple of medium sized pots and a tiny water spray. I then took a few cuttings of mint and planted them in the tray. Unfortunately, by the next day, most of the leaves had wilted. That’s when I realized that I had sed the thinnest part of the twigs which simply weren’t sturdy enough. So I went to the store and bough another bunch of mint and this time stuck the slightly thicker stems in the sapling tray covered with peat. I then covered it with a plastic and kept watering.

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A lot of these wilted away, but some stayed. After 2 weeks, I transplanted them into bigger paper cups to give them more room for growing. And then another 2-3 weeks later, I stuck in 2-3 twigs with the white roots in one small pot. They are growing slowly but steadily.

I also put a few twigs in a glass of water. In just two days these sprouted (much before I could spot any growth in the sapling tray). So I just took the thick rooted twig and stuck it in a pot. This is how it looks now. 🙂

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Around the same time I got the mint, I also got some basil and put thicker cuttings in a glass of water. One of them grew fairly strong , thick, white roots. This is how the little stem with one leaf looks now.

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Around the same time, I had also sowed some basil seeds in a sapling tray. Just when I was beggining to lose hope after about 20 days, the little green miniature leaves started peeping out of the soil. There were about 35. Some off them just died, some wilted off, some rotted. It’s been about two months now, and about 15 seedlings that stayed on have only just begun to sprout the second set of real leaves. I intend to transplant all of these in one big rectangular pot.

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In this same period, I tried to work with rosemary. But it didn’t catch on, neither in water, nor in peat. I am wont to believe that Bangalore weather is simply not suitable for rosemary, or that this just isn’t the right way. I also stuck a few thyme prigs in soil a couple of weeks back, but no luck there either.

I am a big fan of lemongrass and had watched several videos about how it’s one of the easiest and hardiest herbs to grow. Around the same time I started with mint, I got a few lemongrass stalks and stuck them in a glass of water and kept it in my balcony. After 8 days the glass went missing. I found out that it had fallen off the balcony, and I never found out what happened to the stalks. I did the same again, and this time all the three stalks started growing roots almost immediately. In fact the leaves had also started coming out while they were still in water. After about 3 weeks, this is what I have.

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While I was dumping my frustration onto my mother, she suggested growing methi (fenugreek) since it grows very easily. I tried for the first time, and it sprouted almost immediately. It however collapsed after it reached about 4 inches high. I harvested it anyway, but didn’t use it. The second time was better, but it still stayed short. I harvested, and used it this time. It was quite delicious.

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I have planted it again for the third time, but don’t expect much else.  am beginning to wonder if the seeds I am using just don’t grow bigger. This is what I have after a week.

I have also randomly thrown in some organic seeds from chili I used n the kitchen last week. I saw little sprouts peeking out only today. Fingers crossed!

I sowed some alyssium seeds 3 weeks back, but none of them sprouted. I then tried daisy, they sprouted almost immediately, but also wilted and died off right after. Geomphrena seeds have just started sending out dark purple little leaves. Hoping for a miracle here.

All said and done, in just two months, my morning routine has changed. I go to the balcony as soon as I am out of the bed, even before brushing. And then I visit my babies right after I return home from work. It has been a slow process, but I feel so much at peace with myself even when I am in my tiniest garden of barely 12 little pots. 🙂

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The angst of the childfree

I am deliberately using the term child-free because child-less seems to have some sort of a negative connotation, deeply rooted in the assumption that every couple wants children, and not being able to have them is something to pity. So by child-free, I mean pertaining to willingly deciding not to have children because of the personal preference for a life without them.

So, I am in this new job and I suddenly see myself surrounded by people, who all have children. No one has asked me the much dreaded, “so when do you plan to have kids?” question; but only because they assume that I would have them. They are all just giving me time, you know, for being fairly newly married. I find myself zoning out when people talk parenthood and kids. And that’s what most women and men (thankfully, at least no gender bias there) talk about. So, I am a misfit yet again.

There is this fairly nice lady at work who was yapping away with another about their kids. I just asked in a friendly humorous way if they were complaining about their kids. It was a plain, simple statement. And she said that mothers didn’t complain bout their children. I was slightly taken aback and retorted that my mother did anyway. But then I realized that I shouldn’t have said anything. I should just have smiled politely and moved away.

I really need to learn to live with people and continue doing what I want, oblivious to what the society says about me. But it’s so damn hard. On one hand I want to be part of the group, talk to everyone, but on the other, I’d rather some subjects weren’t broached at all. Not because I don’t have an answer, but because there is room for only one answer when it comes to children…that everyone MUST have children. Sad that the people who are so religious and God-fearing have little or no tolerance to a different point of view even if it doesn’t even concern them and is about somebody’s own personal life. Sigh!

Movie with a soundtrack

Life! That’s what I am talking about. Does it ever happen to you that you are listening to some music and you suddenly realize that you are looking at yourself and your life like a third person would.

This happens to me very often. I am not a very musical person. But when I do listen to music, it’s mostly non-vocal tracks. And I sort of get the feeling that it’s the background music to some part of my life that I’m currently living. It’s very strange and even fun actually because while I like to think it’s just a background score, it invariably also has an impact on my current mood. I am listening to Gustavo Santaolla’s tracks right now and I actually feel like I am part of a movie with slight sepia colour-tone, like the one you see in Babel or Vicky Christina Barcelona.

I really do hope that other people find this fun too, else i’ll just think i’m hallucinating. 😉