This Week’s Smiles

IMG_3005Things that made me smile this week:

  • Lighting up our little Christmas tree every evening. We have had this tree since we moved to our house 13 years ago – when little N was 2, and little A was not on our radar yet. 😉  Our tree is tiny (about 4 feet high), and brimming with ornaments that we have collected over the years (and a few that the kids made in pre-school). Just glancing in the tree’s direction fills me with joy!
  • Visiting the Holiday Market in Philadelphia today. Little N has a weekly orchestra rehearsal in Philly. We are combining her business with pleasure for the rest of us. 😉 We buy four ornaments for our little tree every year (five, if Amma happens to be here with us). We found our ornaments for last year at a little Russian booth at the Holiday Market.  Will likely pick up this year’s ornament there as well. Super excited for what we might find today!
  • Celebrated Kaarthigai Deepam this week. Lighting up the pretty little lamps and candles is such a delight! (although, note to self: Really need to get more velakkus organized before Kaarthigai and not try to wing it on the day off)
  • Made moong daal chilas for N’s breakfast (all protein, super yum – win win!)
  • Got on the Amazon website and actually bought a few things (this is HUGE for a shopaphobic and under-spender like me)
  • Bit the bullet (after much prodding by N), splurged and bought myself a treadmill desk (woooooohooooo!!!!). It’s being delivered next week. Cannot wait to become svelte and fabulous exercise chick. 🙂

What made you smile this week?


These are the Good Old Days

Yen vaazhvil sarkkarai nimidam…

Worked from home today. Called N at 5:30 pm, at the end of a super busy work day. He was still knee-deep in work, and said that he would maybe start for home in another half hour or so.  As I stood in my kitchen stirring the venn pongal I was making for dinner (super yum!), I looked out my window at the pitch dark evening. “How can people possibly bear to still be at work when it looks like midnight”, I wondered.  I, personally, have been incredibly fortunate to be home when the kids come back from school for more than 10 years now (while working full-time, thank you very much).

Little N was at an event this evening, and little A was working on something in her room. The house seemed strangely quiet and empty for that early evening hour. That’s when it hit me – this weird sense of pre-emptive nostalgia. I wondered if this is how it would be when the chickis leave home for college. “Would I continue to come home from work at 3 pm?”, I wondered idly. To answer that – I first thought “yes” (after all, have completely lost touch with sitting full day at work). But how crazy and aimless would that be? Suddenly had a clear vision of future self – Standing in the same kitchen watching two school buses whizzing by at 3 pm; Pining for the munchkins to waltz in through the front door, fling their backpacks carelessly on the nearest chair, and hungrily demand Maggi noodles, candy, and other such nutritional horrors; and Missing the evenings spent on never-ending homework, and rushing to one activity or another all the time. Sigh!

Earlier this week, I was in NYC for work. Crammed all my meetings into the morning, skipped lunch, worked and took calls on the ride back, and made it back home by 2:45 pm before little A’s school closed for the day. It’s all self-inflicted, of course. The munchkins are old enough, and do quite well on their own. Plus, my neighbor S was home and had offered to keep an eye out for little A if she came home before little N did. But that wasn’t enough for me. I have somehow always felt an intense need to be home when the girls are home. All this huffing, puffing, juggling, and scrambling make for some super busy days sometimes. But to me, it’s the only way that I want to do it.

November is supposed to be the month of gratitude (who came up with that?!). Honestly, haven’t had a single thankful thought so far this month (v. bad). But, as I stood alone in my kitchen, sipping my hot masala chai (dude, needed my chai to deal with all these feelings), I felt a rush of gratitude. And realized that it is true – these are indeed the good old days. Precious times – in the guise of the mundane and the routine – to be savored and cherished.

For this season of sweetness in my life, I am truly thankful.

Touche 4

It’s been a while since I wrote my last post in the “Touche” series. So, if you are wondering why I am randomly starting with Touche 4 (like Star Wars), please go back and check out my Touche, Touche 2 and Touche 3 posts for context.

So. With that out of the way – do you remember that I come up with a “word for the year”?  Well. The word for 2018 suddenly came to me a couple of days back, totally out of the blue.  I shared my word with N and the munchkins (will share with you later), and asked them to come up with their words for the year.  N (surprisingly) cooperated immediately, and came up with “optimistic” for his word.  “I am going to be more positive and optimistic in the coming year”, N remarked.

Before I could congratulate him on a well-chosen word, little A (who always just happens, in such instances, to be sitting nearby) said (pointing to N’s cup of green tea), “so, Daddy, is the cup half-full or half-empty?” N laughed and said “It doesn’t work like that, babes.”  But before he could go any further, little A continued nonchalantly, “Actually, whether the cup is half-full or half-empty depends on what is in the cup.”

Step aside, Jack Handey. Your Deep Thoughts successor has arrived!! 🙂


My gentle readers (if you are still out there),

Here are some earth-shattering questions for you to consider.

First of all, do you keep a to-do list? If not, you are done here. You can go home now.

If you are still here – when you have 20 things on your to-do list, which ones do you tackle first?

Do you hunker down and get through the most important task first (like all the good books say you should)?

Or do you start with the easiest possible tasks and cross them off your list happily, until you get to a point when only the most ugh! tasks remain?

At which point, do you then start polling your gentle readers on how they manage their priorities? 😉

Che, done with all my yummy tasks for the day. Afternoon tasks are looking mildly bleak. Tea time is at least 3 hours away. Best get on with it, I guess.

Hope you did better than me with your priorities this morning! 🙂

This Week’s Smiles

Things that made me smile this week:

  • Totally rocking the kids’ lunchbox scene. Well. Not exactly. But I was super organized and didn’t stand around at 5:30 am wondering what the heck I was going to pack. Came up with (not exactly innovative, but yummy nevertheless) masala idlies, molagapodi idlies, poori and alu bhaji, pasta salad with veggies, and lemon rice and vendakkai roast. Not too shabby, if I say so myself! 🙂
  • Cuddling up on the recliner with little A after dinner (and more importantly, after homework) to watch “Shark Tank”. Love how super rude and outspoken the sharks are (and how they get away with it too!)
  • Working from home multiple days this week (huge smile right there), and indulging in tea and snacks every couple of hours (confirmed foodie, no doubt about it)
  • Walking with my neighbor, J, twice this week, logging thousands of steps on my Pacer app, and more importantly, catching up on local vambu
  • Sitting up with little N late at night doing vetti reading, while she worked (and worked some more)
  • Watching little N spout wisdom to little A on school, homework, friends, life, and everything in between (and watching little A listen with rapt attention).  These two constantly remind me and N of Rodrick and Greg from Wimpy Kid, I say!
  • N returning home this evening after a week at a business meeting in North Carolina. Cannot wait! 🙂

So, what made you smile this week?


Can you tell that I am in a hash tag mood? 😉

Well. I am soooo super thrilled this morning!!

You know that I am a foodie.  However, my love of food only sometimes translates to cooking, especially if it involves cooking well. I don’t have a sweet tooth (and N and little N don’t have a strong preference for sweets either), so I have very little inclination to make sugary stuff (sorry, little A). People are very surprised to hear this (likely because my age is that multiple of 11 between 40 and 50), but I have never ventured into sweet territory beyond making payasam, kheer, or chakkarai pongal. No simple baking even (hmmm… maybe that’s why my munchkins started baking for themselves when they were not quite eight yet).

Still. With Deepavali looming, decided to bite the bullet and make something sweet for the family. Wanted to make something savory too (but that was too much mental overload), so picked up some (Grand Sweets) masala peanuts and kara sev instead (you get everything in desi stores these days, don’t you?).

So. Polled several friends and whatsapp groups that I am on, and finally decided on a kaju katli recipe suggested by my friend P. What really sold me on this recipe? P offering to demonstrate if I had 15 minutes to spare when I visited her house.  That really gave me courage. I mean, sure, I had 15 minutes (and a bucket of kajus and sugar) to spare.

So, first thing this morning (Happy Deepavali, my dears!!), plunged into kaju-land, and emerged a half hour later with this.


Just unbelievable, how super duper my kaju katlis look and taste (if I say so myself)! Cannot wait for N and the chickis to return from work and school and try my fabulosities. Cannot stop smiling either!!

So sorry to invoke President Obama in vain, but #YesWeCan, #YesWeDid. 🙂


By now, you have surely heard about the #MeToo movement. Two days ago, the actress Alyssa Milano used her Twitter account to encourage women who had been sexually harassed or assaulted to tweet the words #MeToo.  In just two days, hundreds of thousands of women (and the number is still growing) have taken to social media to share their personal #MeToo story.

When I first saw a #MeToo post from a friend on Facebook, I thought cynically, “yes – you, and everybody else that grew up in India.” There. I said it. Hurts, but it is the truth. Growing up in Madras (now Chennai) and taking public transportation to school was literally setting yourself up for some version of sexual harassment or assault.  My sister, V and I did that for several years during our pre-teen and early teen years. Some days we were lucky and unscathed. On other days, not so much. And our situation was nothing unique. Indeed, it was par for the course on PTC buses. Even middle-aged aunties (ahem, that would be me now) didn’t feel safe. I remember a teacher in my (all girls) school advising us to carry tools from our geometry boxes (remember those?) – a sharp compass or a divider – to use against groping hands on crowded buses.  I remember thinking it was a terrific idea, while at the same time being terrified at the thought of inflicting such hurt, even in self-defense. As we got older and into our mid-teens, V and I started biking to school instead of taking the bus (no prizes for guessing why).

So. There were this bunch of faceless, nameless creeps from my childhood, who took advantage of crowds to indulge their baser instincts. But my #MeToo is reserved for one specific creep. An educator, whose picture still adorns the website of the Department of Chemical Engineering at my alma mater.  Dr. V.  He taught multiple classes and a lab, so we spent a lot of time on his radar the last couple of years of college.  Looking back, I can honestly say that I cannot recall one single time that this professor ever spoke to me looking at my face.  That lecherous ogle and leering half-smile. All the time. His ogling eyes always directed somewhere between my neck and belly button. Man, what a f%*king pervert! I never thought to bring this up at home, or with my friends in college. Half the time I wasn’t even sure of what he was doing (surely, a professor wouldn’t, right?!). But I know that his behavior wasn’t entirely unnoticed by others. A (female) classmate of mine, M, who was quite observant (but barely more articulate than me) suddenly made a random statement while we were sitting around after lunch one day. “Dr. V is a very bad man”, she said. “Why?” someone asked idly, not particularly curious about the answer. “Ask K”, was all M said. I looked up at M, startled, but didn’t respond. The person that asked “why” was no longer listening so the matter dropped. But I was stunned to realize that M had noticed too.  It wasn’t all in my head.

Looking back at this time and recalling Dr. V’s behavior has rankled me numerous times over the years. I remember ranting for hours to N when I saw that Dr. V was promoted to Head of the Department. I wish I could go back (and perhaps I should since his a$$ is still firmly planted in my alma mater), and ask him what the f&^k he thought he was doing, staring at girls young enough to be his daughters, in the role of educator no less – in a country where the hierarchy is supposed to be Mata, Pita, Guru, Deivam (Mother, Father, Teacher, God).

So, yes. #MeToo.

To all those creeps in India that perform lecherous acts in crowded buses and cat-call from street corners (or wherever else you perch your sorry behinds these days), to Dr. V in his cushy office (hope you have cleaned up at least a little bit in the 23 years since I graduated), and to every other jerk in every part of the world who doesn’t know what it is to respect women and womanhood, JUST STOP IT.

Enough. Is. Enough.