food

I want to live like Julia Child

I cannot remember the number of times I have watched the movie Julie and Julia. It’s undoubtedly one of my most favorite movies about food and cooking (correction, THE most favorite…because well, Meryl Streep).

I feel so positive and relaxed when I watch this movie. I don’t think I have ever gotten bored of this movie, except for those parts with Julie’s story, which I have no respect for.

But coming back to Julia Child, and Meryl Streep in particular, every time I watch this movie, I’m amazed at Streep’s potent acting. I haven’t watched any of real Julia Child’s shows, but I did watch a small clip and Meryl Streep has to be the only person who can do justice to the character. What I am about to say is more about Meryl Streep and Julia in this movie, rather than Julia Child herself.

Julia and Paul Child are such a lovely couple. I want to grow old like them…with the same kind of joie de vivre and the same passion and pure love for each other. I want to retain that kind of zest for life forever. Sometimes I fear I am too jaded already at a very young age. But this movie is an inspiration for how a happy and fulfiling life would be for me. Julia’s childlike enthusiasm and sheer joy on chopping opinions before anyone else in her Cordon Bleu class is almost palpable and immensely contagious, as is her sheer dedication to the art and science of cooking. I love the parts where she is shown to retain her childlike romantic attitude towards her husband, and the way in which he reciprocates it. She is a misfit in France, in terms of her looks, manner of speaking and body language, but is far too big a person to take that to heart and become subdued.

I know I keep coming back to this point, but I simple LOVE the chemistry between Julia and her husband. They are so different and yet so together. That’s the kind of mature love I hope to share with the husband even 20 years down the line when we are no longer newly marrieds. It’s amazing how they both boost each other’s confidence all the time and encourage the other to pursue their individual dreams. I could ramble on for hours, but I want to go back to the rest of the movie.

Cheers Julia Child!

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Vegetable Paradise

I am always ready to go vegetable and fruit shopping. It takes me some coaxing to go to malls to buy clothes, especially with the possibility of doing it online without moving an inch from my comfort zone a.k.a the sofa. The sofa where everything I need: water, cigarettes, munchies, fruit, laptop, kindle is within an arm’s distance from me. But every Saturday, I simply can’t wait to go to the local market nearby and touch the thousand different textures and revel in the rainbow of the vibrant colours of fruit and vegetable.

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Today’s treasure

In fact, fruit and vegetable window shopping is always at the top of my travel itinerary, no matter where I go. Especially in foreign lands, I think local markets are the only place where you feel less like a foreigne. I got the same feeling of domestic warmth when I visited the farmer’s market in Yorkshire, or the local market of Santa Fe in Granada, that I get in the markets in India. My weekly vegetable market tour never disappoints me. Most of the times I don’t even have to buy anything in particular. I order most of our groceries online, but I have to go through my weekly routine to stay sane. In fact, more often that not I end up buying stuff I’ve never brought before, without any idea of how to use it in cooking, but this doesn’t deter me one bit from buying it anyway and instantly going home and using it in some way.

This is probably going to sound like something straight out of Pearl Buck’s The Good Earth but when I am walking on the narrow lanes in between small stalls with huge wicker baskets of fresh fruits and vegetables, I feel so connected to the earth, to the mud and to the very feeling of being a human animal. And it’s a wonderful feeling when an unexploited patch of earth is a rarest of rare sighting in the fast metro life. Going out to buy food for yourself connects me to the very meaning of existence, to the primal act of providing for yourself, just like animals in the wilderness. Of course, I know my life is a lot simpler with just having to shell out money and get WHATEVER but the brief feeling of connection with life itself is so exhilarating.

I will live, I’ll grow old, my walk will perhaps become slow and vision impaired, but one thing that I never want to change is the primal joy I get out of inhaling the fresh smells, taking in a myriad of sensations and colours and feeling a sense of belonging and fitting  into the larger scheme of things, through this seemingly simple activity.

How it all began…

I have never really been thin, nor have I ever been what might be considered fat. But I have had a struggle with weight since as far back as I was 16. It’s after my school that I started becoming heavier. I always had a near flat belly and slender waist but the rest of me was increasingly becoming voluptuous to the point that I’d feel that my boobs always went ahead of me to announce my arrival. And I have no idea why I had issues staying slim like my friends and classmates who ate  crappy food and hardly worked out. I on the other hand would go for walks with dad everyday, do at least 2oo jumps and our household never really needed a doctor’s intervention to train us on eating healthy. My mum, extremely nutrition conscious that she is, made it a point to not use even an extra drop of oil than is the recommended daily intake for adults. We’d eat a lot of salads, buttermilk, pulses, everything which is good for your health…but I was still unable to reach my dream of being a slender and irresistibly lithe young woman.

It was after I moved to Pune and met EM that I started becoming desperate to look thinner. It was not about being healthy; all I cared about was having a 24 inch waist. EM has always been markedly skinny, in fact I would totally make him participate in the Indian version of Super-size vs. Super-skinny if there was any. I realized that I had started thinking of him as more than just friends when my mind would constantly try to picture us together and I’d feel that we wouldn’t suit each other physically. I know, I know…love should be blind and how you look physically is the least of concerns, especially if you are literally a perfect fit in every other way. But I was only 17 and what wisdom do you expect from a teenager anyway! Plus I have always been obsessed with things like harmony and fitting together. 9 years down the line I realize that this was nothing but an inexperienced mind’s randomness.

The more I started thinking of the probability or rather inevitability of a romantic liaison with EM, the more convinced I became that I needed to lose a few pounds. I thought I owed it to myself. Thus began my first official weight-loss journey. I don’t remember being so determined about anything else, perhaps not even about being with EM.

I would wake up at 6 every morning, diligently go for jogs and do a couple of sprints if possible. I’d come back and do some stretches, several exercise to cinch my waist in, drink water constantly. I’d down litres and litres of water. Making sure that every time I peed, it was as clear as water had become sort of an obsession. I’d have only salads for breakfast. After that I wouldn’t snack and only have lunch and dinner. Nothing I did was even remotely advisable or recommended for a healthy weight loss apart from probably cutting down junk food completely. I’d get up every few minutes from where I was and do a couple more jumps, then again after an hour I’d get up and do a few more crunches, then an hour later side twists. I had become very imaginative and had even invented exercises. The results soon started showing and from a healthy but slightly plump 52 kilos, I went down to 47. This should have satisfied me, but no! The results made me feel powerful and I wanted to explore my power a little further. I kept at my rather insignificant diet and increased the exercise. When what could have been a minor stomach upset due to a spicy chutney I had one day manifested itself as a major bout of vomiting and food poisoning, I realized that my body had reached  its limit. No no, I was not smart enough to realize it then. I was rather happy about the timeliness of the food poisoning that helped me slim down further. It was around this time that along with food poisoning and the general feeling of restless which had become a constant for me during my first 4 years with EM, that I reached my all time low of 41 kilos. I was happy but it had started worrying mum and dad. More than weight loss, it was their daughter’s obsession with a sickly skinny body and increasing emotional dependence on a guy (“sheer insult to her upbringing”..courtesy the mother) which was worrying my parents.

Finally, my love for good food took over and I started eating well again. Point to note, I have never been into deep fried oily stuff anyway, although I cannot resist things like panipuri and chaat. But I eat healthy most of the time. anyway, I gained some weight post the all time low and maintained a recommended 45-46 kilos for the next 2-3 years. That’s the ideal weight recommended for me as I’m only 5 ft tall.

I tortured and tested my body during this time, cursing it for not letting go of its fat stores, for not making me happy and such other insensitive thoughts. I broke it down and made it lose the excess weight. When I look back at that period, I wouldn’t completely discard myself. I know now that it was important though not advisable for me to do what I did. It is an important phase in my teenage years. It was probably my way of dealing with the insecurities of suddenly coming to a new city, suddenly falling in love when till that point I was sure that I was above love and didn’t want to tie myself to anyone (aaahh…the immature thoughts of a baby mind that thought it was so mature! ), suddenly realizing that I was hating what I had gone to Pune to do and wanted to study something else instead, suddenly feeling emotionally exposed and vulnerable and still having to pretend to be strong because EM was 5-6 months younger and there was no way he’d get what I felt then with his mind flooded with equally turbulent emotions. In all the turmoil that defines teenage years, even though unhealthy and wrong, I know I wouldn’t have evolved if I hadn’t been a crazy, idiotic, superficial and impulsive little woman who just did what she thought was good for her then.

An Ideal Weekend…Finally!

I’m in my office sitting at my desk, but my mind keeps going back to the insanely lazy and spaced out weekend I had. All the weekly frustration, depression and resentment is totally worth the while if it’s going to be followed by an ideal weekend.

I woke on Saturday morning determined to not let this weekend be boring like the ones I’d been having since I moved to Bangalore last month after marrying EM (That’s a whole different story and deserves another post). I had been totally organised and professional about my Saturday. I had booked an appointment for a massage at 12:00 pm, right after EM would have left for work. This made me feel like an awesome mature calm-headed wife (which I’m obviously not) who has it all figured out. It was the first Saturday since our marriage that I felt so relaxed, probably in anticipation of the massage. I woke up early, made pancakes for EM, had tea, smoked a couple of cigarettes and it was still only 9:00. When EM asked me what he could do for lunch and if I could make anything, I surprised myself by saying I’d actually pack a lunch box for him. Wooohooo! This was another way of making myself feel like a power-woman who just moved about nimbly juggling between a zillion tasks like a seasoned monk, when the reality was that I had no intentions of making a habit out of it. As much as I love cooking and find it therapeutic, making chapatis and aloo bhaji does not quite fit in with the romantic ideas of cooking while sipping a glass of red wine, that generally flood my brains. I also had an ulterior motive in cooking btw, I knew he’d eat with his colleagues and they’d be all praises for the hard-working, loving young wife. Reality: The wife doesn’t move her ass off the couch because for her a little bit of mess never hurt anyone. While the husband is perennially in the kitchen, doing dishes left by his culinary enthusiast of a wife who pretends that she is Nigella and keeps cooking just for the heck of it.

I left home with EM and reached for my ayurvedic massage appointment at sharp 12:00. They pretty much strip you of any decent piece of clothing btw. I had no idea since this was my first professional massage. It was like a nightmare come true when my therapist gave me what looked like a very basic and ancient version of a G-string..eeek! Now I had no idea how to wear that long string of cloth with 2 strings attached. I decided to be bold and put it on anyone after making unsuccessful attempts at persuading the masseuse to let me keep my really old underwear which I didn’t mind throwing later. It was surprising how I felt quite at ease after I plunged in. The next 45 minutes were sheer bliss apart from the incessant thinking my mind kept doing. Well why wouldn’t it after it’s owner lay with her precious derriere sticking up in the air and being manipulated in really unflattering angles. I’m sure that now there is only one person in the world who has seen parts of me that even my partner hasn’t…thank God he’s not into trying acrobatic sexual positions. By the end of the massage and steam I felt all new and pretty.

Out of the massage centre, I went straight into one of the exotic veggies store I like here and quickly picked stuff faking efficiency all the time. Back home, the sweet after effects of the massage had just begun to spread their haze over my eyes and I spent the next 2-3 hours awake but unaware of anything around. The evening was reserved for making delicious and super healthy tomato soup and potato wedges for EM and Thai Chicken Noodle soup for me. I know…it seems unfair that I eat light and make heavy stuff for EM. But believe me you, I’ve taken up a personal project of making him heavier by 10 kilos before the end of the year…even if it means making 2 batches of food every time. Then I spent 10 minutes pickling baby cucumbers…yumm!! After what felt like a long fruitful day, I sat back watching Seinfeld and that is exactly what I did for the next 3 hours, even as EM came home and we had dinner.

Isn’t it absolutely empowering to look back upon a day that was so relaxing yet so productive?? Sunday was equally relaxing only with a lot less activity. We woke up late and started drinking at 11, right after breakfast…no wonder then that I hardly remember the rest of the day. 😛

I don’t mind this being my weekend routine…something to think about, huh?