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!! 🙂

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#YesWeCan

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.

kaju-katlis

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. 🙂

#MeToo

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.

Grace

I am working from home today. Somehow, these WFH days end up being way busier than you think they would be (they should really be called WTF days, I say!). Spent most of the morning hidden upstairs working away and yammering on the phone. Did pause to congratulate self that our cook, R, was coming over today, so didn’t have to ponder the one question that I find absolutely nerve-wracking – “Mommy, what’s for lunch?”.

Dropped R home at 2:00 pm after she made some delicious lunch (aloo parathas, paneer capsicum sabji, and sabudana kichdi – super yum!!). As I drove her home, we were commiserating with each other on our busy mornings. R mentioned that she had been out cooking since 6:30 am, and that as soon as I dropped her at home she was going to make dinner for her family, since she still had another cooking job this evening which would go on from 4 pm till at least 7 pm.

Man, felt like a total a$$hole for whining to her about my busy morning. And told her that I hoped that the rest of her week is easier, and that I felt like sitting down and having a cup of tea after just hearing about her busy day. Which, come to think of it, was also a dumb thing to say. I mean, if someone is overwhelmed, I don’t know if it’s reassuring to hear “oh no, you are so overwhelmed”. Anyway, that’s what I said.

I was blown away by her response.

“Do you want to come in to my house? I can quickly make you a cup of masala chai”, she offered – 8 hours into a 12 hour, entirely on-her-feet, work day.

That, my friend, is what they call Grace.

Not a Prayer

Amma and I were at the temple to do vadai malai for Anjaneyar today.  Where were the others, you ask?  Well.  The last vadai malai was just a couple of weeks ago.  Decided (correctly) that there will be a minor rebellion from the other three if the temple outings got too frequent, so didn’t even invite them to come along.  For which they were infinitely grateful.

The temple parking lot was quite empty when we got there, which was promising.  I absolutely love having our little local temple to myself – sitting there in that serene environment alone with my thoughts and prayers soothes me like nothing else.

You know where this is going, don’t you?

We entered the temple and it was largely empty, except for a group of about 20 people, deeply engaged in chanting/singing Sundarakandam in front of Anjaneyar.  Which could have been quite fine, really.  Except, they were each singing to their own tune, loudly and confidently.  Which the (dormant) singer in me found mildly amusing and (with the passage of time) a tad annoying.  The priest quickly decorated Anjaneyar with our malai and disappeared off to a remote corner of the temple (no prizes for guessing why).

Amma and I sat for a half hour but there was no sign of Sundarakandam ending.  I looked at the prayer books that the people were singing from, and it seemed like they were not even half way through.  I had spent all my morning making the vadais, so there was still the small matter of getting back home and organizing lunch for our party of 5.  It was noon by then, the clock was a-ticking and my stomach was rumbling.  Plus, the singing was totally starting to get to me.  The accompanying tabla had a beat going that was like the beginning of “inji iduppazhagi”.  Leave alone sitting in serene environment with my prayers, there was no getting through even one little slokam in the middle of all the chaos.  Made an executive decision to leave the vadai malai with Anjaneyar (let the singers enjoy the prasadam), and made a speedy exit.

Oh, one coherent thought did cross my mind while sitting there listening to the singing.

Yennamma, ippdi pannreengale maa” 😉

Travels

I was in Boston earlier this week for a business trip. The last out of town business trip that I went on was in November. Of 2001. Before little N was even on our radar.  Amazes me, given the ambitious career woman image that I put out (and actually have of myself).  But I am happy that it’s worked out well so far for me.  I dislike any time away from the family, and don’t think frequent business trips are my style at all.  Spent my one free evening wandering around Quincy Market (shopping for little gifts for my munchkins).

The upcoming months are full of travels.  N is off to India this week for 10 days to spend some time with his mom.  He will spend part of his birthday there, and part of it here – should be interesting!  I have another business trip to Virginia coming up in May.  The trip to Boston was to prep for the upcoming trip, so I can’t whine about too many business trips coming my way back-to-back (but I sure will if even one more pops up on my radar this year).

N has two other business trips coming up in June.  I have totally lost count of his travels.  Find myself wondering why it’s (relatively) easy for N to up and leave for business trips, while I churn and plan and schedule every tiny bit of detail endlessly.  Perhaps because N’s word is “Work” and mine is “Mom”.  I wrote about this almost five years back (https://momto2cuddlebugs.wordpress.com/2012/06/13/eat-pray-love/).  Deep, no?

Speaking of trips and more trips, we will be off to Indonesia and Singapore later this summer for two and a half weeks of pure sun and fun.  Now, that’s one trip you won’t hear me complaining about! 😉