Thursday, August 31, 2017

The gold standard

So something super-duper-awesome happened over the last two weeks.

Viv was selected to be part of the Singapore national cricket team to play in the SouthEast Asian games (SEA Games) in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. This was the first time cricket was included in the SEA Games, and they had a 50-over and a T20 series. The countries playing also included Thailand, Myanmar, Vietnam and Indonesia, but Singapore's arch nemesis was mighty Malaysia.

I didn't go to Kuala Lumpur for the matches as it would have been impossible for Xena to sit still and watch all the matches in the heat. Luckily, the Malaysian Cricket Association livestreamed all the matches, so we watched it on the computer. Xena, who is still TV-free, was very excited to have the opportunity to watch her daddy play. (I'll do a separate post on her hilarious remarks and commentary.) Because he's the wicket-keeper, we had a clear view of him the entire time Singapore was fielding. He did well, getting four stumpings and a catch overall (plus a stumping that wasn't given out, and I'm still half-sore over that.)






Both countries reached the finals of the 50-over series which was played first, but Malaysia edged us out for gold. It was nice to get the silver, but we were all slightly disappointed because aakhir gold toh gold howe hai... nahin? Now all our hopes were pinned on getting the gold in the T20 series. (Bollywood drama queen that I am, I asked Viv to please listen to SRK's 'Sattar minute' speech for inspiration before the match, and the poor guy actually complied. What a keeper -- wicket- and otherwise.)

And what a nail-biting final it was. My heart was literally in my mouth. The match literally ended at the second last ball, and... Singapore got GOLD! I have been screaming non-stop since, and on some level, I think I'm still screaming on the inside. This was Singapore's first ever cricket gold in an international competition, and hence, a very very very big deal. Like Aamir Khan said in Dangal, "Agar silver jeete toh aaj nahi toh kal log tanne bhool javenge ... gold jeete toh misaal ban javenge ... aur misaalein di jaati hai, bhooli nahi jaati."


(And why did I never mention a thing on the blog all this while? Because I'm a person of science and people of science do not believe in jinxing themselves. Erm, except when their spouse is playing for the country. Hehe!)

So now that it's all over, and has ended on a high note, and Viv is home with two gigantic medals, I can finally get my original heart rate back and blog about everything. He just got home yesterday and what a reception the team got at the airport! (I plucked Xena off school early so she could go to the airport with me and shake hands with everyone in our golden team.)



Our immediate and extended families have, of course, gone completely bonkers. My aunts (who I've always suspected like Viv more than they like me) are making statements like "Arre we don't care if he got a gold or a silver. He's always been a diamond to us." Wah wah.


We have, of course, been celebrating nonstop. Within hours of his landing, our neighbours had thrown him a welcome party. That was a real surprise. People he had never met before came down with their kids to shake his hand and take photos with him and hold and wear and admire the medals. A lady whose son is a big cricket fan came to drop off a bottle of wine. It was fabulous. Viv generally likes to remain low-key, so it was a pleasant surprise to see him in the spotlight, being treated like a celebrity. (I swear I felt like Gauri Khan at one point.)

Viv's hard work and dedication aside, it's not been easy for Xena and me either. He already travels a fair bit for work, and to have him away so much for cricket training or matches means that I can never truly get away from holding down the job, the kid and the household. Our family time has definitely been compromised a lot, simply because of the immense amounts of time the game of cricket takes. Unlike football or badminton or tennis, each cricket match already takes the whole day, and add to that, all the training sessions. Most of his weekends basically went into cricket, while Xena and I made our own separate plans. It was difficult but then you can't make an omelette without breaking a couple of eggs, can you?

I know Viv feels the guilt of missing out on Xena's childhood too. Two years ago, he was seriously contemplating retiring, but in spite of my selfish interests, I had to disagree. Here's the thing. How many of us in our 30s pursue a hobby so passionately that we are willing to put in that kind of crazy hours? How many of us have hobbies that automatically keep us fit? And I'm so glad that he continued playing at the club level all these years. If he had been out of touch, there is no way he would have been selected to represent Singapore at the SEA games.

Here are some more photos from the SEA Games cricket matches, which feature Viv.
















Thursday, August 10, 2017

The smell test

After I tucked Xena into her bed and said good night, I told her I was going for a shower.

"Okay, but come back after your shower and hug me, okay?"

So I went back to her room after my shower and hugged her. She was kinda awake.

"Mama, you smell so nice..."

"Hmmm... like a flower?" (My shower foam is lavender -- my favourite.)

"Noooooo... if you were a flower, bees would go into your nose!"

"Uhhh okay. Not a flower then..."

"Yep, not a flower. You smell like... uhh..." (thinking hard)

"What?"

"You smell very nice, like a... like a..." (thinking harder)

"Like a what, baby?"

"I know! Like... the opposite of a skunk!"

Touché.




Friday, August 04, 2017

The rolling stones

Two months ago, a friend added me to a very cool pebble-painting group whose main objective is to get kids away from electronics, and out and about in nature. It's become a big craze in Australia, New Zealand and some parts of the US, and something that tech-crazy kids of Singapore desperately need. It's like the analog version of Pokemon Go.

The rules are simple -- you paint pebbles and hide them around parks and playgrounds for other kids to find. What you find, you re-hide in another location. You post photos of what you paint, hide and find, and your personal hashtags at the back of the pebbles can help you trace where your artwork has travelled. Singapore may be a tiny island, but it sure is heartening to find in the west coast a pebble painted by a kid living in the east coast.

Xena and I already do a lot of art and craft and outdoorsy stuff, so this fitted right into our interests. However, I had no clue how obsessed she (and me; mainly me actually) would get.

Here are my top reasons for loving, loving, loving this new hobby:

1. It promotes creativity and resourcefulness. 
You can paint absolutely anything on the pebbles using any media you like. In the beginning, we had no suitable art supplies —just two bags of pebbles we had bought. Xena's water colours and finger paints turned out to be no good for painting on the surface of the pebbles. While I checked around to see what kind of paints and markers would be the best, we had to make do with whatever was at hand. So we used nail polish for colours, a correction pen for white and markers for outlines. Since I was really into nail art at one point, I do have some very funky colours and nail art tools. And I have to say they served us very well. And because the 'canvas' is so small, you don't need any real artistic skills. Anything you paint on a pebble will end up looking cute.

This entire batch was painted using nothing but nail polish and nail art tools.

At this point, I'm doing most of the painting, though Xena helps me do the base coats and paints some of the simpler designs after I do the outlines. 

Most of this is Xena's handiwork, with a little help from me.

2. It gets kids out and about. 
Xena and I often go for long walks to faraway parks and playgrounds. By the time we are done, she's often very tired and if we haven't taken her scooter along, I encounter some "carry me" whines. (Now, she may be super-light, but I ain't carrying a 6-year-old home.) However, since we started on this, I don't hear any complaints at all. Scooter or no scooter, she cheerfully ventures near and far in search of painted pebbles. And she goes to great lengths to find them.

We were pebble-hiding near the cable ski lagoon at the beach with a friend, when she borrowed his toy binoculars and said, "Mama, I'm looking hard for pebbles!"

3. It teaches kids to share. 
It's simple: paint --> hide and find -> re-hide. You can't hold on to the pebbles you find, no matter how pretty they are or how much you like them. You can keep them to admire for a day or two, but you gotta release them eventually for others to feel just as happy as you did when you found them. Xena gets this, and I sure am glad that she's able to let go of stuff this easily.

4. It's a cycle. 
If I had a penny for every piece of artwork that Xena handed to me that I actually kept, boy oh boy. Every term, her preschool also sends me every single drawing of hers, and some of them are, well, I have no idea what they are. On an average, I keep about one in twenty. The rest dutifully make their way to the recycle bin, mostly when she's asleep. It's true; kids are inherent hoarders. They get attached to the most random things -- leaves, twigs, candy wrappers, ribbons, pieces of blu tack (I kid you not), etc. What they'd want to do with these things is anybody's guess, but they do love them dearly. So you can only imagine how attached kids can get to a cute pebble with a cute mascot painted on it. Now imagine if you kept every pebble you painted and every pebble you found. That's a lot of stuff to keep in the house, and goes totally against our general KonMari philosophy. So I'm actually happy that the pebble artwork gets renewed and recycled without anyone having to throw anything away.

5. It teaches kids how to deal with disappointments.
This is my absolute favourite. This generation of kids rarely have to deal with failure and disappointment in their childhood. (That's why 'participation prizes' bug me. Why are we rewarding kids for just turning up?) My worry is that when they grow into (rather entitled) adults, they will not be able to cope with all the curveballs life is gonna throw at them. Rock-hunting is great for this reason -- you might spend an hour combing through a park and find ZERO pebbles and that's okay. And of course, there is always the heartbreaking possibility of your beautifully painted pebble being discovered by someone who doesn't know what it is; someone who just picks it up and keeps it, or worse, throws it into the bin. Oh, well.

6. It's 'reboot' time for me.
Viv has been insanely busy with cricket so our weeknight Netflix sessions start only around 10 pm after he gets back from training. I end up with some free time after putting Xena to bed, so I just sit down and paint the stuff that *I* want to paint, without getting distracted with phrases like "Mama, this fish looks angry. We need to change its mouth!" or "Mama, please draw a JigglyWigglypie [aka random cartoon character she learnt about from her classmates that I have no clue about and have to google to draw]." This 'me time' is really calming. I can literally tuck away all my other thoughts and just focus on the pebble I'm painting. And now I have armed myself with acrylic paints and better markers, so the pebbles are looking better too.

Here are some of our latest creations. Will update as we paint more!









Wednesday, August 02, 2017

One of a kind

Where possible, I try to sneak in a message about kindness and compassion to Xena.

The other day, we were waiting for the lift to get home after school. I had a splitting headache and she was insisting we take the stairs up.

"I'm not feeling very well, Xena. So let's take the lift today. We can take the stairs tomorrow. Or you go up the stairs and I'll take the lift and meet you upstairs."

"Nooooo... let's both take the stairs."

"That is not very kind, Xena. I'm not well, so you need to think about me too. Imagine if you were very sick and I said, 'Let's go climb a mountain right now.' Can I do that?

"No, Mama, you can't."

"That's right. Do you know why not?"

"Because there are no mountains here."




Tuesday, July 18, 2017

The big bad word

Xena - Mama, do you know, some children in my class say some bad words...

Me - Oh yeah? Like what?

Xena - Like... the S word.

Me (alarm bells ringing inside my head but keeping a perfectly calm exterior) - What's the S word?

Xena - It's a bad word. We should not say it.

Me - Yes, but what's the word? What does the S stand for?

Xena (leaning closer and whispering) - Stupid.

Me - Hmmm yes, that's not a nice word. We should not use it.

Xena - There is another bad word they use...

Me - What's that?

Xena - It's very bad.

Me - What is it?

Xena - The F word.

Me (alarm bells going a bit bonkers, but still maintaining the calm exterior) - Oh. What does the F stand for?

Xena - I can't say it.

Me - But what's the word? You can tell me the word. That's not the same as using it.

Xena (whispers inaudibly) - F...

Me (horrified, thinking that I'd heard what I'd expected, but still wanting to confirm) - Sorry, what's that? I didn't hear it properly.

Xena (whispers very loudly) - FART.



Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Money's worth

Me - So Xena, when you're a teenager and you have long holidays, are you going to take up a job?

Xena - Yes.

Me - Where?

Xena - Where can I find a job?

Me - Well, you can work in a shop, or a restaurant, or a fast food place like McDonald's.

Xena - Okay. I can work at McDonald's.

Me - Okay.

Xena - Will you come to eat there when I'm working?

Me - You wouldn't want me to?

Xena - No, I want you to!

Me - Oh yeah?

Xena - Yeah. You should come.

Me - Really? Why?

Xena - Then I can serve you food. And I can also give you my salary. You can take it home first. Because I will only go home later.

Me - Oh. Wow. You will give me your salary?

Xena - Yes. You can give it to me later.

Me - Oh, I have to give it back to you later?

Xena - Yes.

Me - And what will you do with it?

Xena - I will buy something.

Me - Like what?

Xena - Like... if you are at NTUC (supermarket) buying something and you don't have enough money, I can pay for it.

Me - Oh. Really?

Xena - Yeah. 



Monday, July 03, 2017

In the pink

There are men and there are women. All men like women and all women like men. And oh, there are also the half&half -- the hijras. They are the 'abnormal ones'. They dress like women and they lust after men. And they clap their hands when they dance, and they sing in their hoarse voices and it's damn funny. 

This was the state of oblivion I was in, growing up in small towns in India in the 80s and 90s, under the influence of one too many Hindi movies that featured the hijras for 'comic relief'. And I laughed. Oh, how we all laughed. Such was the social conditioning. That was how we were.

Even at the age of 18, when I stepped foot in Singapore, I was quite clueless about the concept of gender and sexual orientation. I thought 'gay' was just another word for 'happy'. In fact, on day one, one of my seniors introduced himself to me as "Hi, I'm XYZ and I'm gay." while his friends guffawed in the background. And I was left wondering why this guy I had just met felt the compelling need to tell me that he was happy. Turns out he wasn't even gay. It was all a big joke.

Over the years, even though I was eventually introduced to the concept of what being gay was, it was still as a source of amusement. "That is so gay!" Someone would say and everyone would laugh.

I had a colleague who I'm pretty sure (now) was gay, but I had no idea back then. Whenever he'd go on a vacation, we'd tease him that he was going bride-hunting and when he'd return we'd ask him for pictures and stories of his bride-hunt. I feel SO ashamed now, just thinking of those days, us laughing around him, with zero consideration for what he must be feeling. It was all fun and jokes, wasn't it? Ha ha.

Except that it was not.

And I have only started to realise the gravity of the matter. My ignorance and insensitivity of those days leave me ashamed. Things like inequality and injustice are not to be laughed at. Discrimination is not funny. The only thing 'abnormal' about the hijras was that no one would give them a 'normal' job. And though the realisation came to me very very late, I need to make amends. I need to make sure the prejudices I grew up with do not spill over into Xena's childhood. I need to raise her to grow up with an open heart and mind, and a strong sense of equality for everyone.

And that was one of the big reasons why we took her to Pink Dot this year. Pink Dot is a social movement to garner acceptance for the LGBT people in Singapore. They have a gathering every year at the Speakers' Corner in Hong Lim park to raise awareness about LGBT issues and to spread the message of inclusiveness. (Speakers' Corner is the only area in Singapore where citizens and permanent residents of Singapore can hold demonstrations and speak freely on all most topics. After prior registration on a government website, of course. You can't do all this in any other part of Singapore. You'd be arrested in a heartbeat.)

Pink Dot is in its 9th year, but this year is different. Amendments made to the Public Order Act now prohibit foreigners from participating in assemblies and processions at the Speakers' Corner. Sponsorships from foreign companies for such events have also been restricted. This means that past sponsors, aka the big guys -- Facebook, Google, JP Morgan, Goldman Sachs, BP, Bloomberg and Twitter can no longer show their support for Pink Dot. It was therefore, even more important that locals and local companies turned up to openly show their support this year. And how they did. A mind-boggling 120 local companies came forward as sponsors, and 20,000 participants, dressed in pink, gathered to show their support towards the freedom to love.

And we did too. The last two years, we showed our support by simply wearing pink on the day because Xena was too young to be taken to such a crowded and noisy place. But this year, we knew we could. We had to.

Since there were barricades all around Hong Lim Park and they were checking IDs and bags before letting people in, we had to stand in the queue for almost an hour before we got in. Thankfully, Xena didn't complain at all. Soon, we had joined the massive sea of pink. A friend was there and he introduced us to others who very kindly shared their picnic mat, snacks and drinks with us. They also thanked us and shook hands with Xena for turning up to show our support.




Last night, a friend sent me the post-event official Pink Dot video. This morning, three others sent it to me. Viv's friends and colleagues have been sending it to him. The reason? We are in it! Well, it's a blink-and-miss appearance, but yes, we are there at the 26-second mark. Xena tells me that even her teachers were talking about us being at Pink Dot with her.

It's a very powerful video. Check it out.


Of course, to Xena, Pink Dot 2017 was pretty much just a pink picnic in the park, but we had started talking about all this much before, so she has a fair idea. I'm glad that she thinks that it's okay for 'an uncle to love and marry an uncle' and 'an aunty to love and marry an aunty'.

Though she's too young for an in-depth understanding of what all this means, I'm glad the conversation has started early. And we will be taking it forward. The law will change some day, it surely will. And when that happens, I want all of us, especially Xena, to look back and see that we were on the right side. That we supported what we believed in, and we stood for equality for all. 



Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Mexican fiesta

"Excuse me, what is the recipe of your Michelada?"

My jaw dropped.

I couldn't believe what Viv had just asked the waiter.

We were at one of our favourite restaurants, and whenever we go there, Viv orders their speciality Michelada, a Mexican cocktail made of beer and magical spices and fairy dust and 384789572 other secret ingredients that no one knows, except for maybe the cocktail-making androids in their kitchen.

Not that we hadn't tried to look up the recipe on the net, but there were too many differing views on how to make the perfect Michelada. One actually suggested Maggi masala powder as a key ingredient! I kid you not.

So Viv, drunk on his Michelada I presume, decided to get it straight from the horse's mouth.

The very loyal employee of the restaurant hemmed and hawed and laughed nervously and moved along. However, the waiter at the adjacent table who had overheard our conversation came right over and casually told Viv the recipe.

I couldn't believe Viv had actually asked the waiter for the recipe!  I couldn't believe the waiter actually told him!

Anyway, we excitedly messaged the gang because we had decided that the theme for our next pot luck would be Mexican, and this fitted right in. Our last pot luck (themed comfort-food-that-must-also-have-the-acronym-PP) had been awesome and we had been considering making it a monthly thing, with a different cuisine/theme each time.

So last Saturday, we got together at Maya's place for our majestic Mexican fiesta! (I spared my friends from a Mexican dress code though, and I could literally hear the collective sighs of relief. Sigh.)

Viv and R immediately busied themselves with all kinds of permutations and combinations to achieve the perfect Michelada and after quite a few prototypes, finally tasted success -- quite literally. It was really good. Even a beer-hater like me didn't mind taking a few sips. 

Maya and Pizzadude made some killer jalapeno poppers, guacamole and salsa
(Okay, who replaced the cheese dip with the Tiger beer can for this photo??)
I made vegetarian quesadillas. 

Margaritas! No can do Mexican without margaritas!

Till the next one, cheers!




Monday, June 05, 2017

The spice girls

So Xena starts primary school in about six months and even though I have promised myself that I will not stress her about/towards academic excellence, I'm sure the desi parent in me might kick in at some point and I might go all ballistic with the 'follow-in-my-footsteps-carry-the-legacy-forward' attempts. (Though come to think of it, no one stressed me when I was a kid; I was just inherently into studies). Anyway, whether I go 'Y U no centum' on her about studies or not, I am aware that there are many other ways in which she can make me proud and carry my legacy forward.

Pani puri worship, for example.

Well, to be honest, my stomach isn't what it used to be when I used to live in India some two decades ago, and even now when I travel there, it is with much trepidation that I order roadside pani puri. And yet, during Xena's first trip to India, I offered her some. I believe it was one of those moments I could milk in a future interview.

"Tell us about a big risk you took."

"I offered my Singaporean 5-year-old roadside pani puri during her first visit to India."

"You're hired. When can you start?"

To be honest, I was a little relieved when she rejected the pani puri, just like she did all other food. But I knew that this girl was not made so much of sugar as she was of spice. In fact, long before she started on solids proper, she used to eat Haldiram's spicy aloo bhujia. It's another matter that she used to literally eat them piece by microscopic piece, and if heaven forbid she got a 'double', she'd shake it with all her might until she had successfully performed a Bheema-on-Jarasandha action.

Lately, I've been sneaking in a little spice into her food (chilli powder in paratha stuffing, tabasco sauce in pasta, pepper in fried rice, etc.) and she doesn't seem to mind. So I'm hopeful that one day she would be chomping on pani puris. If not the roadside kind, at least the made-by-mommy kind.

When my mom visited me last month, she brought for me a pack of ready-to-fry puris, half of which I used at our recent PP party. I wanted to consume the other half before it was ruined by Singapore's humidity, or a "very reliable" WhatsApp forward claiming that an HIV-positive factory worker in Ambala has injected these puris with his contaminated blood, or that Dr Ashok from AIIMS or Dr Richard from America (did you notice that these docs are SO famous they don't have or need last names?) has said that eating these will turn your hair purple.

So I invited a friend over one evening, and we decided to get high on pani puri. On the dinner menu was literally pani puri and nothing else. I'd made the pani just the way I like it ("Bhaiya, zara mirchi maarke banao" types), with green chillis blended into it.

I had, of course, made Xena a legit dinner and by the time she was done with it, we were done too, with nothing but a bowl of the pani remaining. I intended to slurp it up, of course. (What? You don't drink up every last drop of the pani in your bowl? Get out of my bar now!) But just then, the risk-taking interviewee in me woke up and I offered it to Xena instead.

Bear in mind that it was very, very spicy and I only offered it to her as a joke. In fact, she realised that. She laughed. I laughed too, and then told her that she just needed to try a little and if she didn't like it, she didn't have to have any more.

She took a few drops in her spoon, and placed her tongue on them. Fire! She coughed and immediately gulped down some water. She thought she was done. I thought she was done. However, within seconds, she wanted more. Soon, she was slurping it up. Keeping her water bottle very very close, but not yet willing to let go of the spicy pani.

I sat there and stared at her. To say that I was thrilled or proud would be an understatement.

I took a deep breath. All was well with the world.

The pani puri legacy SHALL be carried forward.





Wednesday, May 31, 2017

The perfect potluck

So my friend Pizzadude has got himself a cat. We decided to have a get-together at his place so the rest of us could be formally introduced to Ishta. (I'm still outraged, btw, that an avid F.R.I.E.N.D.S. fan like Pizzadude named his cat Ishta and not Smelly Cat.)

It was to be a potluck at his place and we were discussing the menu. Pizzadude suggested comfort food as the theme and offered to make his speciality dish - pesto pasta. I offered pani puri because my comfort food (and every other food) = pani puri. That's when I realised that both foods had PP as the acronym. So I suggested that Maya should also bring something with the acronym PP and she very sportingly agreed. (Yes, we are very random like that and very fortunate to be in a group where people are not only fine with the randomness, they actively participate in it.)

We got cracking. While she suggested sane choices such as pumpkin pie, pecan pie and puran poli, I couldn't think of anything at first, so I suggested poha pizza (on hindsight, YUCK!) and peela papad (duh!). But then eventually I did have some better ideas -- paneer pizza and paneer paratha. And then randomly I said, "perfect pongal!" Coincidentally, Maya's hubby was craving pongal and pickle, which is his comfort food. So we were all set with our PP-comfort-food themed menu.

For the drinks, I suggested the only PP drink I could think of -- pomegranate punch. My plan was just to add a bit of juice to a large amount of tequila a bit of tequila to a large amount of juice, but Pizzadude jazzed it up by adding pomegranate seeds and mint leaves. It was kickass.

And what a lovely evening we had. Ishta turned out to be this stunning black kitten with gorgeous eyes. We had only seen photos of him, so it was really nice to finally see him in person cat.

Ishta's pic added with permission from Pizzadude

The PP food was a big hit too. Multi-cuisine comfort food and the company of good friends -- what else can one ask for? Later, another random fact struck me. Our WhatsApp group is called Poorab-Pachhim because some of us live in the eastern part of Singapore and some in the west. PP!



To the Passionate Peeps Planning Perfect Potlucks using Pointless Party themes!




Tuesday, May 30, 2017

What's in a name?

"Mama... Mama... Mama..."

It was one of those busy days where I couldn't listen to one more "Mama". (I'm trying to get Xena to stop looking for me for everything. Well, the inane stuff, at least. Sometimes I even get "Mama, can I go and pee?" I wonder what would happen if I said no.)

"Oops, you've reached the max limit of the number of times you can say 'Mama' in a day." I said.

She thought for a moment and readily agreed, "Oh okay."

Wow, that was easy.

I went back to whatever I was doing, while she got busy with her stuff.

In about 3 seconds, she spoke again.

"Mother..."

:| 



Thursday, May 18, 2017

Devil's workshop

Everyone and their grandmas are aware of my kind and loving feelings about WhatsApp forwards.

So imagine my face when my horrified and terrified mother sent me this, asking me if it was true and if she should "follow the instructions".


*deeeeep breath*

What the hell.

I mean, seriously. WHAT. THE. HELL.

So I sat down and explained to her that it was nonsense and no, she didn't need to do anything and no, she won't get charged for using WhatsApp and no, there is no over usage of user names, and no, Modiji's team is not debugging WhatsApp issues (they have better things to do... I hope), and no, her account will not be deleted, and no, she doesn't have to "actively chat with 50 people" (what the...?!) to retain her WhatsApp account.

Then I showed her some articles about how all WhatsApp-related WhatsApp forwards are hoaxes.

She had one question. It's a very, very good question.

"But who would come up with something like this and why???"

Beats me.

Got any ideas?




Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Random review: Baahubali

"Why did Kattappa kill Baahubali?" Mom asked me.

Oh dear lord, no.

Over the last two years, I'd seen and received enough Kattappa-Baahubali jokes (but to be honest, this one was really funny) and I just wasn't ready to hear another one. As it is, Mom keeps relentlessly sending me terrible jokes on WhatsApp. I couldn't believe that she was going to crack one in person.

Turns out it wasn't a joke.

She was genuinely curious.

"I... have no idea, Mama."

I hadn't even watched the first one to know what the hullabaloo was over. I generally don't watch epics or dubbed movies (Hey, don't judge. I watched Jurassic Park in Hindi when I was a child. When you hear something like "Bhaago, badi chhipkali aa rahi hai!" you never want to watch another dubbed movie ever again.)

"Let's go watch Baahubali 2. Then we will know why Kattappa killed Baahubali."

"Err... we could, but do you know who Kattappa and Baahubali are?"

"No."

Wow. Here was my Mom, with no idea who the heck Kattappa and Baahubali were, eager to find out the answer to the question that the nation (and other nations) wanted to know.

"I think we need to find out who they are first, so we can care about the question."

"But how?"

"YouTube."

Fortunately, we found a good print on YouTube and watched the first part. I mostly liked it, except of course, the cringe-inducing part where Baahubali Jr., transforms "warrior" Avanthika to "woman" Avanthika. Over the course of a song. And he dares to say, "You're mine so your mission is mine so you go home and chill ya, I'll go get the queen." And she instantly abandons her mission, something she'd dedicated her life to, and has the audacity to go back to her army and say, "No worries, my bae's got it. Chill ya. Oh, btw, I just met him like... 5 minutes ago." That really infuriated me, but other than that, I found it a highly watchable movie for many reasons.

So last night, now that we cared enough about the two characters, Mom and I finally embarked on a journey to find out why Kattappa killed Baahubali.

Here is a list of my random thoughts about the movie.

  • Perhaps it was the fact that I was watching part 2 on a big screen -- the way such movies are meant to be watched -- but I liked it much better than the first part. The grandeur, the colours, the music, everything was stunning and delightful. It also had a lot more humour than the first one.
  • It's not easy to play such-a-good-guy-that-he-cannot-be-any-gooder character without making the audience hurl, but there is something so sincere and likeable about Prabhas that he makes it work. I'd never heard of him before, and now I'm looking up his interviews. It's incredible how shy he is in real life!
  • I loved Anushka Shetty in the movie, but mainly her pre-wedding avatar. In fact, when we saw the first movie, we were wondering why they cast such a young actress as the mother, but we figured she probably had a meaty flashback coming up. And we were right -- what an effect she had every time she appeared on screen! However, I did feel that she kinda became a little useless just like Tamannah did once the guy was in the picture. When they were banished from the kingdom and Baahubali was coming up with all sorts of ingenious ways to make the villagers' lives better, if only they'd shown her to have had some of the ideas, it would have been awesome.
  • Mom was very agitated that the older Devasena was not doing anything while the fights were going on. "She's old na..." I suggested. "She's as old as Bhalla, and look at him go!" She countered. Fair point. But then Bhalla had continued honing his body and skills, while she had been chained, so maybe that knocked some wind out of her.
  • I generally loved how regal both Anushka and Ramya Krishnan looked as the queens. They really nailed their stately characters. I couldn't believe this was the same Ramya Krishnan from that terrible SRK-starrer Chaahat. (Have you watched it? Don't.) I wonder how Sridevi would have fared as Sivagami -- she'd been offered the role first but she turned it down. As money no enough.
  • The movie was loooooong. Surprisingly, I didn't mind the songs too much -- they were gorgeous -- but I did think the battles and fight scenes could have been shorter. Speaking of the fight scenes, whatta lot of blood and gore there was! Ufff.
     
  • Mom was horrified that Kattappa did actually kill Baahubali. She was expecting some kind of a twist I reckon. "He really killed him???" She turned to ask me when it happened. Even Viv (he'd watched it with his cousin while he was in the US) said later that he didn't expect Kattappa to be so loyal to the throne that he'd actually kill Baahubali. It was a pretty horrifying betrayal indeed. We wondered if killing himself instead would have been a solution to his dilemma?
  • I expected Aslam Khan from the first movie to make a surprise appearance in the climax, but it didn't. The scene between him and Kattappa had been quite significant and hinted at a possible re-entry so I'm not sure what happened there. But then all this coulda-woulda-shoulda is kinda unfair to the filmmakers.
  • My heart was going out to the poor CGI animals. They'd all better be CGI. Were they all? The horses that kept slamming into the ground seemed very very real. If that was CGI, I hope the VFX team got a big fat paycheck.
  • The stunts were amazing, and because I was so into the movie, I didn't mind all the Physics-defying stuff, but I did literally burst out laughing when the army not only propelled itself into the palace using the coconut trees, they even made mid-air sky-diving formations using their shields, before making perfect landings on their feet. It was hilarious.
  • Oh, by the way, the theatre had a total of eight people including Mom and me. Three Indians and five Malays. I don't know why I expected a full theatre on a Monday 8.45 pm show.
  • Why were the tickets so expensive? The weekend tickets were $18 each and the weekday tickets $15 each! We pay less than half of that for regular movies. Is this partly why the movie is the highest-grossing ever? 1000 crores in net profit apparently!
  • In contrast, here are some sad numbers (and they just get progressively sadder) showing how much the actors got paid: Prabhas 25 crores, Rana Daggubati 15 crores, Tammannah 5 crores, Anushka Shetty 5 crore, Ramya Krishnan 2.5 crores, and Satyaraj 2 crores.
  • So, will there be a Baahubali 3? What do you think? And will there be a Bollywood Baahubali?  BaahuBolly? I hope not. I can think of a gazillion ways in which they can screw this up. 





Sunday, May 14, 2017

Mom's the word

Though the 'new' concept of "actually every day is Mother's day" makes me roll my eyes just as much as the concept of "Mother's day" itself, it's fun to see all the cute crafts the kids do at school for such days. Someone's gonna make my kid sit down and write nice things about me? Bring it on!

Xena made a flower with the centre saying 'My mom is'. The kids were asked to lift each of the petals and write things that described their moms.

This is what I got. :)




Wednesday, May 10, 2017

The scruti-knee

So my left knee had been hurting for the last few weeks. For no apparent reason. In the past, I had hurt my knee in the gym once or twice by being overenthusiastic with the weights, but I knew that wasn't the reason this time. Because I just hadn't been able to gym.

First, we had the long Labour Day weekend, followed immediately by a school holiday for teacher training and with Viv being away, there was no one I could leave Xena with and go to the gym. Then they had Mother's Day celebrations at school last Friday morning so I was there. I start work around 9 am so if weekday mornings are taken up by something else, I have to skip gym. Also, since I have to drop her to school in the mornings in Viv's absence, if we are delayed by some reason (e.g. Xena not waking up in time, taking approx. 83748947 minutes to finish a glass of milk, etc. etc.) there goes my gym time.

Skipping gym really annoys me. Once I saw a gym named 'Gym and Tonic', and it made me nod vigorously. Because my gym really is my tonic. As long as I can go to the gym every weekday, I feel healthy and happy and I don't have to care too much about what I eat.

Anyway, so with all the gym-skipping that had been happening, I knew that the pain in my knee was not a result of a workout injury. I had not fallen or banged it against anything. I was not walking around in high heels. I did have a knee fracture but that was the other knee and it was 18 years ago.

And it was only the left side that hurt, which really puzzled me. Strangely, as the days passed, the pain only got worse. I couldn't believe it. What had I done wrong? What was I continuing to do so wrong that the pain was actually worsening with each passing day? I was struggling to climb up the stairs to go to the upper level of double-decker buses. I, who does 100 squats without pausing, couldn't even do one anymore. Working out on the treadmill hurt. Working out on the cross-trainer hurt. Working out on the exercise bike hurt. The idea of leg weights had become laughable. I couldn't even do any post-workout stretches involving my left knee. Once, I sat on the floor to read with Xena and I couldn't get up without support.

I wondered if I should go see a doctor. But what would I say? "Hi, my knee is hurting for no apparent reason." The doctor would probably ask me to "monitor the situation" and arm me with some painkillers. Going to a specialist seemed a little ridiculous. After all, I had done nothing to cause it. I had no reason to get an X-ray or whatever-other-scan done.

I didn't even want to Google it. What would I type? "Knee pain?" There are 33782758365896439857 reasons for knee pain and I was in no mood to go and read all the possible things that could be wrong with me.

There could only be one possible reason for the knee to hurt without reason.

Old age.

*GASP*

Oh dear lord no. Surely I, the regular exerciser, strength-trainer, milk-drinker, spinach-eater, broccoli-lover, couldn't be so old that her bones were giving way?

Or was I? Was this what my future was going to be like? No gym? No squats? No climbing stairs? Nooooooooo!

One night, I just couldn't sleep thinking about this. I decided to go through every little detail to investigate what exactly was happening.

1. The knee pain had started about the time Viv left for the US.
2. The only thing that was different since then was that Xena was sleeping next to me on our bed.
3. Only the left knee was hurting.
4. The pain actually got worse with each passing day, even after I had skipped gym for five days straight.

What was I doing wrong? What had happened to me without my own knowledge?

And *ting*! There it was! The lightbulb above my head lit up brightly.

Whenever Xena sleeps on our bed (Saturday nights and when Viv is travelling), she has this habit of pushing me (only me, never her father) to the edge until I'm almost falling off the bed. In addition to having my face punched and pummelled and socked and breathed into by my child, I also have to deal with this. I cannot count the number of times I have woken up and slid her faaaaaar away from me, only to find us nose to nose after approximately 3 minutes. "Please give me some space!" I'd say every single time. (She's probably going to say the same to me as soon as she hits teenage.)

So, for fear of getting head-butted in my sleep, I'd turn and face away and sleep in whatever little space she allowed me. And now with Viv being away on one of his longest trips, she'd been sleeping in our bed for three weeks straight. So I'd been sleeping for three straight weeks in a cramped position, almost at the edge of the bed, with my right leg over my left, most probably with its centre of gravity resting sharply on my left knee or something. All night. And that was probably why I was waking up to that pain every morning.

So two nights ago, I told her what I thought was happening, and I asked her to sleep on my side of the bed while I slept on Viv's side. My hope was that she'd continue her moving patterns, leaving me the humongous space that Viv gets when all of us are in the same bed. Sure enough, that happened (though a part of me was apprehensive that she'd reverse her movement and push me off anyway). I remember changing my sleeping posture several times that night. Because there actually was space to change posture!

For the first time that morning, my knee didn't hurt.

I took the stairs up in the bus when dropping her to school, and the pain was only a fraction of what I'd been experiencing all these days. We followed the same sleeping arrangement last night too. Today I went to the gym and did 20 minutes on the cross-trainer and 20 minutes on the exercise bike. I did stretches that involved the knee. Minimal pain.

What a breakthrough.

I'd like to end this post with this public service message: Please be careful. Having children may be great for your heart, but it's terrible for your posture.



Sunday, April 30, 2017

Z is for zoom

Zoom!

And it's gone. April, that is.

I can only imagine how slowly it would crawl without the A-Z blogging marathon, with Viv being away (for three weeks this time!), and me having to take over his half of Xena-related stuff too. I would literally be counting days and wondering why time was passing so slowly. However, the blogathon ensured that instead of me groaning, "When will it be tomorrow???" I say, "WHAAAT?! It's tomorrow already?? Whyyy so fast, whyyy whyyy whyyy??"

However, I have to say that the panic attacks I used to have in previous years of the challenge did not happen this year. At least, the intensity wasn't so high. Perhaps it's because this is my fourth year of doing this. In fact, this year I have felt the most relaxed about it. In previous years, I'd decide on what I'd be posting at least the night before, or occasionally even have a typed-out draft ready, but this year was very different. There were actual days when I sat down in the evening at the computer and said, "Hmmm... so what's the letter for today? What shall I post?" My Google search history also shows fewer instances of 'Words that start with...' But of course, I have to admit that I miss some of the hilarious mass panicking that used to happen with the challenge.

By posting today, I've broken the rule that says no posting on Sundays. But tomorrow is a part of May, and this is supposed to be an April challenge! It would be super-weird to have 25 posts in April and 1 post in May. I'd also feel like I missed a deadline or something. Oh, the horror.

It's day 2 of a 4-day long weekend for us, and I'm glad to be wrapping things up today. I want to take some time over the next two days to respond to the comments on my posts, and also go and read and comment on other people's A-Z posts.

As always, the blogathon has left me rejuvenated about blogging, and I hope I will continue to blog as regularly as I possibly can.

Thank you for hanging out!

Cheers,
Sayesha





Saturday, April 29, 2017

Y is for yearbook

I was searching for some documents in our underbed storage compartment when I came across very old photos of Viv and me from our university days, when he had legendary pimples and I had legendary hair. (A classmate once remarked, "What's up with your hair? You look like Einstein." A compliment that is not.)

I also found our yearbooks! The yearbook issued by the university just had photos and course names, but the other one, the one that our immediate juniors had designed for our farewell had elaborate write-ups! Check out what our juniors thought of Viv and me back in 2002.

Viv's write-up

Legend:
GIGs - The name given to our batch by our Indian seniors. Every batch got a name, which followed this format: [first letter of choice of expletive] + IG (Indian Gang). I'll let you imagination run wild on what the G stood for.

CHIGs - Our immediate juniors

VP - Vice President

OC - Orientation Committee (lame attempt to give a formal and official name to what was essentially organised ragging)

The Baatman - Viv's computer's name on the shared network because Batman is (was?) his favourite superhero


 My write-up

Legend:
Official IG snap rigger - One of my hobbies was to take candid photos of people in the IG and 'rig' them by using MS Paint and Powerpoint to create 'stories' and comic strips, complete with speech and thought bubbles. I then used to share them on the network (my computer was called Sayesha!) for everyone. People used to actually message me asking for more! Ah, glorious days. Wonder where all those files are now.

Sangam - The annual inter-hostel culturals, which often became a matter of life and death. One of the most fulfilling parts of my university life actually.

'Scores of people think she is the most creative person in their batch' - The CHIGs got all the GIGs to vote and determine who was the funniest, who was the most creative, who was the craziest, who was the one most likely to end up in prison, etc. Apparently I was the winner in the 'Funniest female' category, which they announced at our farewell party (but they didn't mention it here, hmmph!) and came second in the 'Most creative' category, losing out to a Photoshop genius.

NTU - Nanyang Technological University, our alma mater

Tarang - The annual tooth-and-nail culturals between arch rivals NTU and NUS (National University of Singapore)

RIGs - Our immediate seniors

spine - This needs clarification. Contrary to how it appears, I didn't whack his spinal cord! The spine (there were two actually - north spine and south spine) was a part of the university building where we had our classes.

My warning message to all IGs - No, really. Our batch was NOTORIOUS. If there was an award for the worst batch ever (in terms of not studying, rule-breaking and the likes), we would win it hands down.



Friday, April 28, 2017

X is for Xena's gyaan

For a long time now, I've harboured the idea of doing a blog post series where each year I ask Xena some 'serious' adult-level questions and record her answers and over the years I see how her answers change, showing the evolution of her thought process. And I thought I'd label the series 'Xena isi ka naam hai' -- a joke my dad has been cracking since forever! (Since 2011, to be precise.)

Obviously, to embark on a project like this, you need your child to be of a certain age. First, I thought I'd start when she turned five, but she didn't seem too keen so I dropped the idea. The last thing I wanted was it to become a tedious chore for her. Now that she's turned six, I thought of trying it out and hey, this time, she really seemed to like this 'fun game'!

I was in the kitchen and she was at the dining table playing with her toys and chatting with me. As we talked, like a court stenographer, I was furiously typing on my iPad, every word she was uttering. (I realised it was too much for me to remember and type later, and I wanted to capture every 'hmm...', and 'oh' and 'hee hee'.)

We had the coolest Q and A session ever. Here it is, all the gyaan, straight from the 6-year-old horse's mouth.

Q: Why are some people in the world sad?
A: Because their daddy is away.

Q: Why are some people in the world happy?
A: Because their daddy has come back.

Q: How much money should a person have?
A: Oh, that's an easy question. (thinks) No, I mean it's a tricky question. Ok let me think. I know, I know! 200 dollars. Mama, I will also tell you how many notes and coins, ok? (thinks) Each person should have ten note monies (sic) and... 48 coins.

Q: At what age should a person get a mobile phone?
A: 28 or 29 or 30.

Q: At what age should a person get married?
A: 30 or 29.

Q: Is it ok if someone doesn't want to get married?
A: Yup.

Q: Is it ok if a man wants to marry a man, or a woman wants to marry a woman?
A: That's a funny question. Hee hee!

Q: But they love each other and want to get married... can they?
A: Hmmm.... Yup.

Q: How many friends does a person need?
A: 11 to 13.

Q: Why do we need so many friends?
A: To have swim class with, play dates with and to go out with.

Q: Why do some people have cars and others don't?
A: Because I think some people like cars. And others think that it is too difficult to drive a car or they don't know how to drive a car.

Q: What should you do when you feel lonely?
A: Hug your mommy or your daddy if they are there. If only mommy is there, then you hug her. Then roll around the bed.

Q: What if no one is there?
A: Be sad and start crying?

Q: What does a person need to be happy?
A: Hugs, cuddles and squashes.

Q: What are squashes?
A: I'll tell you all three, ok? Hug is like a BIG hug... like this (demonstrates), cuddle is like a small one, and a squash is when you're sleeping next to me and I snuggle up to you and squash you.

Q: Are you a happy person?
A: I am medium.

Q: What does that mean?
A: That means both sad and happy.

Q: Why sad?
A: Because my daddy is not here.

Q: And why happy?
A: Because my daddy is coming back.



Thursday, April 27, 2017

W is for WhatsApp groups

A few months ago, Mom and Dad got on WhatsApp.

I had both the "YAYY!" and "OMG!" reactions at the same time.

"YAYY!" because now they didn't have to wait for any weekly Skype sessions. They could message me anytime.

"OMG!" because now they didn't have to wait for any weekly Skype sessions. They could message me anytime.

This meant that once we were past the daily "What else is happening?" and "Nothing much." messages, the forwards would start.

Last year, I quit my school friends' WhatsApp group because I just couldn't take the forwards -- the 236492365024 jokes a day, the shayari, the "inspirational" quotes, and the daily good morning messages attached to random photos of random babies and random flowers. I was also deeply disturbed to learn from one of my trusted sources that some of the boys apparently had a separate WhatsApp group where any photos sent to the main group were scrutinised in a way that would be considered, erm, unsavoury, by the girls. Ewww. Some of the girls regularly sent selfies to the group, probably in an attempt to show everyone how much hotter they had gotten since our school days (they had, indeed) and knowing about this other boys-only group and their agenda creeped me out so much I made a hasty exit from the group. However, something good did come out of it. It made me put more effort into individually keeping in touch with the school friends that I do want to keep in touch with.

Another kind of WhatsApp message I absolutely detest is from desis in my neighbourhood WhatsApp group who are completely oblivious to the fact that this is a neighbourhood WhatsApp group in Singapore, and even though the majority are desi, there are plenty of non-desis who don't understand or care for your jokes in devnagri, or Happy Saraswati Puja messages or the fact that "UNESCO has crowned the wonderful Modiji with the title of 'best PM ever'". And also the Indian National Anthem as the best anthem ever. And also the Indian flag as the best flag ever. It's all true. After all, UNESCO has said so. UNESCO has nothing better to do in life.

Recently, someone had sent a message alerting parents about "some kind of red candy that kidnappers were using around schools". One of my Caucasian neighbours decided enough was enough and asked point blank, "Is this in Singapore?" The reply came, "No, India."

The group was silent for two days.

Karwa chauth last year was the pits. A group of about 10 women in the group started an animated discussion concerning the moon's whereabouts. They went on and on, and my full sympathies were with my hapless non-Indian neighbours who must have been deeply traumatised to see such sudden and psychotic levels of astronomy in the group. And wondering why these very hungry, very angry women were so hungry and so angry.

Extended family WhatsApp groups have also caused me much grief. I discovered to my horror that some people actually keep track of who complimented the photos sent by them and who didn't, and who congratulated when their kid won some prize in school and who didn't. Gosh, with some 30 people in the group and 389578975943 messages flying across in a day, I don't think I compliment and congratulate every single person! That means I am probably on some people's blacklist already.

So when Mom and Dad got on WhatsApp, I briefed them to the best of my knowledge on how to use it responsibly, causing minimal damage to others' brain cells. When we were in Mauritius, I realised the insane number of forwards, especially videos, both of them were receiving from people. Dad was still okay, but Mom was very keen to "share this wealth of knowledge" with all her sisters, neighbours and friends. I sat down with her and googled to show her how 99.9999999999% of WhatsApp claims are nothing but rubbish. So now she forwards me EVERYTHING she gets and only if I give the green light, she forwards them on. It's painful for me, but at least she spares the world.

I created a family group for my parents, sister and me, and it was hilarious how my parents would send messages to the group and then send the very same messages individually to us. Another briefing was needed to fix this little glitch, and we were all set. They have also realised and gracefully accepted the fact that there is nothing much to say on WhatsApp on a daily basis. And that is perfectly fine and you DO NOT need to fill the silent days with forwards.

I do send lots of our photos on the group though, so that keeps them happy. My sister rarely sends photos. She's just not the kind, and we all know it. One day, I was so thrilled to see a family photo from her. I thought my parents would go over the moon. And just then, my mom replied with a "Only one photo????" GRRRRRR... I was OUTRAGED on behalf of my sister. She lives in the US and must have been sleeping then, but I wasn't ready to let go. I started yelling on WhatsApp itself. "She finally sends a photo and THIS IS ALL YOU HAVE TO SAY????"

When my sister woke up, she still didn't react, but she went a little ballistic around Easter and sent 48 photos of their neighbourhood Easter egg hunt, with only one photo featuring her kids. Mom was livid. "Why are you sending so many photos???" She asked. "Photo bhejo toh problem, na bhejo toh problem." I did a little narad muni act. What drama. Gosh.

Mom still sends me jokes and shayari from time to time. I am hopeful that my stoic silence will one day signal to her to stop it. I once made the mistake of sending a laughing emoji to a joke an acquaintance sent me. Out of nothing but sheer politeness. Now she sends me an average of six jokes a day. She's a really sweet person, and I don't know her well enough to yell at her like I do with others, so I don't know what to do.

And don't even get me started on the health-related forwards. I'm certain I'm considered public enemy #1 in all the groups I'm in, because I immediately challenge any nonsensical health-related forward anyone sends.

Vigorously cough your way out of a serious heart attack. Homeopathy your way out of cancer. Achieve painless and successful suicide by consuming mango along with Coke. Apply raw egg whites to serious burns. Government has issued red alert for three days. Mean temperature will be between 45.1 to 48.5 degrees Celsius. Please drink 6-7 litres of water a day. 

Thanks to me publicly calling them out, now everyone has become a little more cautious when it comes to sending random pieces of health advice on WhatsApp. But it still happens from time to time.

Now I have found my brahmastra. The next time I get anything like that, I'll reply with this photo, which is pretty much the only 100% Science-backed, 100% accurate, 100% reliable health advice I've ever received on WhatsApp.



Wednesday, April 26, 2017

V is for visitors

Every April for the A-Z challenge, I like to do a post sharing some stats about my blog's visitors. Frankly, it's the easiest post to do as all I need are some screenshots, but I still have fun doing it and analysing the different aspects. Now it has kind of become an annual tradition.

The sis-in-law tells me that whenever I include a link to her blog, her stats shoot up. I feel happy and amused at the same time. It amazes me that people are still reading blogs in the age of quick fixes. That too, my blog, which features mostly personal anecdotes and Xena stories. In the instant gratification era, the fact that people go through the tedium of reading someone's blog, is both surprising and touching.

I started blogging more than 12 years ago, and I always thought that one day personal blogs would die out and no one would read or write them anymore. However, my love for blogging kept me going and I was determined to keep blogging instead of switching to something like Twitter. I always tell myself that I am my own motivation, whether it's blogging or fitness or any of the things that I want to do in my life. But I can't deny the fact that when the blog stats show that people out there are reading it, it does give me a boost.

I feel really grateful to have you guys read my blog and I do apologise for the hazaar typos and grammatical errors my posts often have. (I type way faster than I think, and I'm guilty of not proofreading my posts once I type them out. When you edit and proofread stuff for a living, you don't feel like editing and proofreading your own blog posts. Strange, but true. Or maybe it holds true only for me. Not a valid excuse still. But lately, I've been trying a little harder to get a little better.)

Thank you, my dear visitors (or bewdas of the bar, as I like to call you), for all the love, support, comments and emails all these years!

Where do you live? (All-time stats)


Where do you live? (This month's stats)


How did you get here? (All-time stats)


How did you get here? (This month's stats)




 Which posts did you read the most? (All-time stats)


 Which posts did you read the most? (This month's stats)


What were you searching for when you landed on my blog? (All-time stats only, as this month's stats have nothing)



Tuesday, April 25, 2017

U is for unusual

I can be quite the purist when it comes to masala chai.

Once, I met this lady who told me she loves masala chai tea (grrr....) so much that she went to Mustafa and bought the masala tea mix (GRRRR....) so she could make authentic (GRRRRRRRR...) masala chai tea (STOP CALLING IT CHAI TEA ALREADY, YOU FEMALE WOMAN!).

Already offended on multiple levels, I still got myself to tell her how to make authentic masala tea the proper way, by boiling the actual spices in the milk+water mixture and using tea leaves, not tea bags. I'm not very sure she was listening though, because very soon after, she was subtly trying to check if I'd accept Jesus as my saviour.

Lady, I have masala chai in my life. You really think I need a saviour?

There are very few things in life that I revere as much as a well-made cup of masala chai. Which is why I found it very uncharacteristic of me that when I came across the concept of masala chai cupcakes, instead of going 'What the...?!", I went, "Why not?"

"Omg there is such a thing as masala chai cupcakes!!!" I messaged the family WhatsApp group, followed by a "Omg where are you ALL when I wanna try making them????"  😭😭😭

The sister-in-law, who is sweet enough to always indulge me when I say really weird things reacted with a "Oh!!" followed by "But also ew?"

(She's a chai-lover, but not a dessert-lover, so the idea of masala chai cupcakes must have short-circuited her brain. Kind of what happened to me when I found out about vodka pani puri.)

I was a little sceptical at first, but strangely, I was feeling quite open to the idea of masala chai cupcakes. Compared to the weird teas I'd been offered in different points in my life (tea with pepper powder, tea boiled with green chillis, and of course, Starbucks chai tea), this seemed like a safe bet. I figured I'd make a small batch so that if it was as disgusting as I'm sure it sounds to many people, I could just toss it without feeling bad. But here's the thing with baking stuff that needs eggs. You can only go down to one egg when reducing your batch size. And that still makes quite a big number of cupcakes.

Anyway, last weekend, I threw caution and cynicism to the wind and made them! Xena sat at the dining table, reading her book (and silently judging me). She looked quite disturbed at the sight of the tea cooling on the table and more disturbed when I told her I was going to add it to the cupcake batter, but at the same time, she was filled with relief because she knew that the presence of tea meant that she wouldn't have to sample the cupcakes at all.

With Viv in the US, and the in-laws back in Bangalore and with no guinea pig sister-in-law, I knew it would come down to me to finish off the batch. And I was willing to take the risk.

What a relief that the cupcakes turned out to be totally... edible! I wouldn't call them fantastic (yet) because I still want to tweak the recipe (use a bit of baking soda to counter the tea's acidity, and use more tea leaves so that their flavour comes through more strongly).

The masala chai flavour was quite subtle, but it was there all right and it didn't seem to disagree with the idea of being in a cupcake. Phew!


***


Bonus:
Okay, I absolutely have to share this punversation the sis-in-law and I had over WhatsApp last night as we tried to find her a suitable topic for her U post. She had recently posted about how much she missed the pun wars we punstars and pundits used to have on her Facebook wall (gosh, I miss them too!) and so it was so fun to get back to punning, even though it was just the two of us! We need a gigantic group pun war soon!   

***



Monday, April 24, 2017

T is for tenacious

We were shopping for groceries at the nearby Fairprice, when we realised that the volume of our loot far exceeded that of the shopping trolley we'd taken along to lug the stuff back in.

So Viv and I started splitting up some of the bags between ourselves to carry in our hands.

Never the one to be left behind, Xena immediately offered the power of her tiny muscles.

Xena - Mama, can I carry one of the bags? This one?

Me - Oh, that's so kind of you. Thanks, baby. But I think it might be too heavy for you to carry all the way home. The straps of the bags might cut your hands.

Xena - Hmmm... Mama, I have a great idea.