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Thursday, July 31, 2014

Ahista chal zindagi.....

I read these lines and was totally taken aback by the truth of the beautiful lines. It seemed to me as if the poet had tip toed inside my mind and read what was there. These lines say  exactly what I have been wanting to  tell Life for sometime.

                                                 Ahista chal zindagi, abhi
                                               kai karz chukana baki   hai......
                                                Kuchh dard mitana baaki
                                                   hai, kuchh farz
                                                   nibhana baki hai.

                                                   Raftaar mein tere chalne
                                                     se kuchh Ruooth gaye,
                                                        kuchh chhut gaye.
                                                      Roothon ko manana
                                                       baaki hai, Roton ko
                                                        hasana baki hai.

                                                Kuch hasraten abhi adhuri hain,
                                                 kuchh kaam bhi aur zaruri hai.
                                                     Khwahishen jo ghut gayi
                                             is dil mein unko dafnana baki hai.
                                                     Kuch rishte ban kar toot
                                                      gaye, kuchh judte-judte
                                              chhut gaye.  Un tootte-chhutte
                                                       rishton ke zakhmon ko
                                                             mitana baki hai.

                                                 Tu Aage chal main Aata hun,
                                               kya chhor tujhe ji paunga?
                                                   In saanso par haq hai
                                                     Unko samjhana
                                                             baaki hai.
                                                 Ahista chal zindagi abhi
                                                   kai karz chukana baki

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Idiom of the day: Skeletons in the Cupboard


A secret source of shame, potentially ruinous if exposed, which a person or family makes efforts to conceal.


The  original phrase 'a skeleton in the closet' was coined in England in the 19th century. The usage now is : 'a skeleton in the cupboard'. If someone has a skeleton in the cupboard (or closet in US English), it means that they have a dark or embarrassing secret about their past that they would prefer to remain undisclosed.

'A skeleton in the closet' undoubtedly originated as an allusion to an apparently irreproachable person or family having a guilty secret waiting to be uncovered. . The expression has in origins in the medical profession. Doctors in Britain were not permitted to work on dead bodies until an Act of Parliament permitting them to do so was passed in 1832. Prior to this date the only bodies they could dissect for medical purposes were those of executed criminals. It was therefore common practice for a doctor who had the good fortune to dissect the corpse of an executed criminal to keep the skeleton for research purposes. Public opinion would not permit doctors to keep skeletons on open view in their surgeries so they had to hide them. Even if they couldn’t actually see them, most people suspected that doctors kept skeletons somewhere and the most logical place was the cupboard.

 The expression has now moved on from its literal sense.

Usage:  Natwar Singh's interview , ahead of the release of his 'tell all' autobiography, has Gandhi family  skeletons tumbling out of the cupboard. So, on the one hand we now know ( what we always in any case knew) that it was not Madame Gandhi's inner voice that held her back from becoming the Prime Minister but her son's entreaties and on the other Sanjay Baru's claim- that the Congress President checked out government files- stands substantiated .

Friday, July 25, 2014

Happy days are here again....

                     ...Nahin koi gam mujhe nahin hai gila 
                      Zindagi ki raah mein mila hai jabse tu mere humdum...

Oops !  So happily  engrossed was I in humming this delightful song that I not only bumped into the husband but also managed to, literally,  step on his toes. Expecting to hear  an  'ouch' and a 'watch your step' I was surprised to see a moonish look on his face. Well, let me preempt your what's a moonish look question by confessing that the answer to that completely eludes me.However, inconsequential matters, like not knowing the meaning of a word , have never stopped me from using the said word /s.  So, coming back to the saga, the husband was looking pretty moonish,  as in romantic. That was enough to stop me in my tracks- but only after I had managed to step on his toes- and look askance at him. The husband replied by singing ... .  Zindagi ki raah mein mila hai jabse tu mere humdum...

 OMG! The poor thing was under the impression that I was singing it for him !" No, no. That humdum is not you -it's Modi". To give the devil his due he took it pretty manfully ,infact he even guffawed. But the final nail in the coffin was when he said," why him?"  " Because he is the King of good times", I said. The husband sniggered and told me that Vijay Mallya was the king of good times and that he was bankrupt-of  finance  and  of ideas. I roundly ticked the husband off for nitpicking about  acche din and good times and also for taking Modi's name in the same breath as , well, anybody else.

" Acche din ? Where are they ? You made  shahi paneer without tomatoes and served some desolate looking  cucumbers as   salad  because veggies are expensive; the bijli ka bill is an all time high of fourteen thousand ; milk prices have gone up twice in the last two months..." I expertly cut in with, ' Well, that's not his fault. This is a bad time of the year every year-prices always shoot up in these months; and then you need to factor in the  El Nino effect on the monsoon...Plus, goverments are  not all about prices- they are also about other things like accountability, transparency,  communication with the people, the human touch....."

This time it wasn't even a guffaw- it was derisive laughter. " Yes, ministers in the Goa government going off on foreign junkets costing crores is transparency and accountability; MP's from  alliance parties shoving food into unwilling throats is human touch, deafening silence since the victory speech is communicating with the people ."  There is silence  for a minute. I am thinking furiously for a good defence line. Then I get it.  "Nobody can beat him in sartorial elegance. He has the best collection of kurtas and jackets this side of the Sabarmati. And now he is going in for slim fits for his trip to the United States."

You know what the husband says? He says-"Stop mooning over Modi".

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Shopping for books in 2014

Last Sunday , on our way  back from Gurgaon, we spotted a quaint shop on M.G road. The quaintness came from the fact that  it had oodles of wooden furniture juxtaposed with an equal number of  glass almirahs groaning under the weight of books. For once the husband didn't have to be nudged, prodded and coaxed into doing some  'shopping' .

An hour later we were done. The shop owner and his assistant staggered out with the pile of books we had settled on. Let me tell you about the treasures I picked up.

 The Young Wives by Olivia Goldsmith
The Greek Villa by Judith Gould
Double Jeopardy by Catherine Coulter
The Judgement of Paris by Ross King
Rising Tide by John M Barry
  Killer Weekend by Ridley Pearson
Maps for a Mortal Moon by Adil Jussawalla
Life after life by Kate Atkinson
The Last Summer by Ann Brashares
The Wonderspot by Melissa Bank
Gandhi and Churchill by Arthur Herman
River of Smoke by Amitav Ghosh
Slap Happy by Thomas Hackett 
Sea of Glory by Nathaniel Philbrick
Foster Child- A biography of Jodie Foster
The Red Hat Club Rides Again by Haywood Smith

And 10 more....    Including the whole set of Game of  Thrones  ....

And which one am I reading these days ?  Gandhi and Churchill by Arthur Herman

Cheers !

Monday, July 21, 2014

Our politicians are so right,it's the six year old who is to be blamed for getting raped...

  I write this today with a sense of pride in our ruling class, a pride that I am sure you all ,my countrymen, would also be experiencing. Our politicians have vindicated our faith in them, and of course, their faith in themselves.  Please join me in  applauding  the stand that they individually and collectively took on rape, wherein they apportioned the blame on the victim, the one getting raped. 

 Since the hypotheses of the politicians is based on the theory that men are blameless and women are shameless let’s examine their praiseworthy statements in   the context of the rape of the six year old, school going Bangalore girl.

 So, when Asha Mirje, NCP leader said in January 2014, and I quote: "Girls should be very careful about what they wear and at what time they move out in the city. Their body language should not invite the attention of the potential rapists lurking around in the streets" , unquote, I applaud her sagacity. The six year old was obviously inappropriately dressed in her school uniform. Her body language was, equally obviously, such that it invited attention. Yes, Ms Mirje, you are right. The girl should have been given body language coaching before being send to Kindergarten. Did I hear someone say when? Well , the earlier the better, so maybe the coaching could start when the child is being breast fed. Lesser  danger of these little  nymphets  enticing innocent men.

And can we forget the January 2013 statement of Babulal Gaur, BJP leader that  "Western culture is not good for India. Women in foreign countries wear jeans and T-shirts, dance with other men and even drink liquor, but that is their culture. It's good for them, but not for India, where only our traditions and culture are OK.”  Yes,  Mr Gaur. We hear you that our culture is O.K. It is definitely par for the course for six year old’s to begin their life by being raped. Let’s put our hands together for the great Indian culture .

Talking of culture vultures, brings to mind  NCW chairperson, Mamta Sharma’s "Women should be careful about the way they dress because such incidents are a result of blindly aping the West. This is eroding our culture and causing such crimes (rapes) to happen." 
We are so proud that the National Commission for Women has Chairpersons who have the ability to put matters in the correct perspective. The school girl was  inappropriately dressed in her school uniform and  therefore she was raped.

 Samajwadi  Party’s  Abu Azmi leaves one speechless with his  :"Girls complain when someone touches them, and even when someone doesn't touch them. It becomes a problem then, and the man's honour is ruined in this. The solution (to rape) is this: any woman if, whether married or unmarried, goes along with a man, with or without her consent, should be hanged….”

The  Samajwadi Party obviously indoctrinates its members well and Azmi seems to have being only  toeing  the official line made clear by  chief Mulayam Singh Yadav's remark  that "mistakes by boys happens sometimes. Rape accused should not be hanged".
Naturally, whoever raped the child in Bangalore was just being a boy and since boys will be boys we should not be spoilsports and meddle with their harmless games, the favorite being ‘how about a rape today’?

The Trinamool Congress also seems to be  having  a clear policy of the Shishya following the Guru. So, when Guru  Mamata Banerjee ,West Bengal Chief Minister, said  "Earlier, if men and women would hold hands, they would get caught by parents and reprimanded, but now everything is so open. It's like an open market with open options. Rapes happen because men and women interact freely" , Shishya Chiranjeet Chakraborty ,Trinamool Congress leader  had to come up with , "One of the reasons behind the increase in incidents of eve-teasing is short dresses and short skirts worn by women. This in turn instigates young men."  Pray, Ms Banerjee, could you please throw some light, even if it is blue,  on your free interaction theory viz a viz  the six year old raped in a school in Bangalore?

I cannot end without remembering Sheila Dikshit’s ,former Delhi chief minister ,quote: "One should not be adventurous being a woman." 

So, hear you , all parents of small girls, you are being unnecessarily adventurous by sending your daughters to school. The fault is not ever of the boys/men. It is always of the girl/women. Says who? Say our politicians.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

The devil comes in many guises...

waiting at the traffic signal...

The countdown to the traffic light turning red had started - 9 8 7 6 ....The car raced to beat the countdown but a mother and child crossing the road thwarted its attempt .We screeched to a halt . The driver looked straight ahead.  I idly turned my gaze left and then wished I hadn,t . A ( here I grope for the right word- so used am  I  to using 'it' for them) eunuch had just swayed towards us ."Please, please don't let her/him come to me". It didn't.

 A red santro had drawn alongside and proved the adage right that red cannot be ignored
 ( o.k - I admit I just made up that one !). Just then my cell beeped a message and with  reflex reaction I reached for it and looked down to read it ( last chance to avail of a discount on a treatment for balding). In the meantime a conversation had started between the driver of the red and the  eunuch .   I was really not paying much attention to the conversation but just then the car occupant said something so lewd that my ears started burning . I kept looking at my phone, pretending to message, just wanting to be out of that place. The eunuch  said something in reply .This was met with derisive laughter and an even more indecent something  than the first.

Thankfully, the pressing of horns indicated that the light was green. The driver put the car into first gear . Just as we were pulling away  I looked at the red car .I had to see  the scumbag . What I saw was even more shattering than what I had heard. The driver of the car was a very young , good looking ,educated ( looking) man. Just the type any parent would approve of for their daughter!!

The feeling of unease stayed with me for very long - as also two convictions. First, that something has to be very wrong with a society in which the unfortunate are treated so very unfortunately by the 'haves'.

Second , never trust  a baby faced man . The devil comes in many guises.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

The best of times, the worst of times : The highs and lows of classroom teaching

Standing there, in the middle of a smoldering June afternoon, facing a window which had been shut to keep out Delhi’s heat and dust, cynosure of thirty odd pairs of eyes-the only words going through my mind were Charles Dickens lines from A tale of Two Cities: ' It was the best of times, It was the worst of times'. I looked abstractedly at the class .My head felt as if it was full of nothingness- all woolly headed. I knew there were a barrage of questions to be answered -the expectancy on those faces showed that they were waiting for me to say something. The patter of voices seemed to mix with the rhythm of the lines ,'...the worst of times, the worst of times, the..' A voice from somewhere  inside the nothingness of my head mockingly whispered-"serves you right for being so chuffed up about yesterday's session. Pride always comes before a fall, dear Anju". Yesterday! it seemed to belong to another age , to another person .

Yesterday was a morning session. I just about made it in time and rushed inside the classroom , convinced that there would be only a handful of students braving the blistering heat to attend an introductory session for their newly launched  batch. I scampered to the front of the classroom and turned to face the class. Surprise, surprise! the room was packed. And then the door opened and some more came in. They kept coming and suddenly it dawned that this was going to be the largest group I had ever taught-about sixty bright eyed, confident youngsters. I said something and it drew appreciative laughter. Encouraged, I carried on , ad libbing, involving them - telling them what needed to be told  and, miraculously ,making sense to all of them .After sometime it sank in that they were eagerly hanging on to my words, hugely enjoying the process of induction. And  I? -I was shamelessly playing to the gallery, speech full of witticisms, fielding queries effortlessly. Did I notice a touch of hero worship on a few faces? Maybe .Anything seemed possible that morning. My face flushed with the exaltation that comes with success, I ended the session and left.

A titter from the group sitting at the back brought me back to the heat soaked  noon. I opened my mouth and said something. It seemed to open a floodgate of more questions-" how?  Why not option a?  And why not option c?" And with the questions came the realization that somewhere, like Arvind Kejriwal, I was losing the plot .That I was , again like Arvind, allowing myself to drift. Was I going to let it happen?
Nah, certainly not.Not I.

I looked at the tittering group at the back and asked them to repeat their question. One of them did so .Making the question a take off point I launched into a lengthy , elaborate and technical explanation of the concept behind it. Twenty minutes later I stopped and said ,' ask me". Most of them by now had a glazed and glassy look in their eyes. The group at the back was quiet. A couple of queries were raised and  duly answered.
And then I announced- o.k, since all the concepts have been revised and queries answered let us get into test mould. There were no titters to be heard after that.

I had managed to salvage the situation. Will Kejriwal be able to do so?

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

The Paper Damaadji

The daughter rings up to say that she is getting a friend for lunch. Nothing new and I say "o.k" unenthusiastically while conjuring up an image of the already cooked lunch-  black dal and masala bhindi . I wonder if the ladyfinger veg will stretch to feed  one more mouth and then decide that it will just have to. The daughter is still saying something and somewhere I catch a "he". So, I ask her to repeat whatever it was that she was saying. " Mom, if you have spinach at home then just make some. He likes his greens". My back straightens and my voice quivers as I gasp out an astonished "he"? An irritated ,"I just told you I am getting S for lunch", floats back .

 The news  is music to my ears.Finally the daughter is getting a boy home !I ring up the husband and tell him the news. The excitement is palpable in his voice-" what ? she is getting a boy home? what are you going to make for him?I am coming home stat- you want anything from Haldiram or Bikanervala or Kaleva or..."? We  confabulate and settle for  Rasmalai and boondi laddoos from Bikanervala; dahi bhalla and papdi chaat from Haldiram and some chocolate pastries from Wengers. I rush to summon the maid and tell her to set the table . She moves towards the steel plates and katoris and steel tumblers. " No, no Phoolmani. No steel today. Take out  the white plates which have a blue border pattern on them. The ones we use for Very Important People".  

I look at the clock. They should be here anytime soon. I throw a glance around- flowers: check; table: check; palak paneer : check; pulao : check; husband : check. Just then the door opens and the daughter rushes in. She dumps her bag full of a week's worth of laundry and hugs me. I have eyes only for the boy who has followed her in. Pleasant, definitely pleasant. My chest begins to swell with pride. What a fine damaad the daughter has got for us. I look at her approvingly and lovingly. Used to my critical 'once overs' she is nonplussed and looks towards her father for an answer. The husband in the meantime has taken 'him' to the formal living room- the one we use just about four times a year. I am all aflutter- should I first serve him my special ginger ale or should it be raw mango panna?

Lunch is over. S has polished off everything I ladled on his plate, confessed to having never eaten such good palak paneer and regaled us with campus anecdotes involving  the daughter. All  very well but I feel that it is now time to squeeze in some business and so ask him, ever so innocently, what work papa does and who all are at home. Turns out that papa has import export ka business and S has only one sibling. I roll my eyes meaningfully at my husband and he rolls his meaningfully in reply. The daughter , happily munching her second laddoo, catches all this rolling of eyes and looks askance at us. I pull her away from her laddoo by declaring that she just has to see what I have bought for her and take her to her room.

" Mom, what's wrong with you and papa? why are you both behaving so strangely? and why did you go so over the top- there were atleast a dozen things on the table. "?  I look at her tenderly. What an intelligent girl she had turned out to be- belaying all my fears about being woolly headed and fuzzy notioned and...
" Because, S has come to our house for the first time. When papa had come home for the very first time naani had made about 2 dozen dishes."

" Mom, you are truly crazy. S and I are just friends. Besides, S is engaged to someone in Mumbai. He wanted some ghar ka khaana and so I got him over".

Saturday, July 12, 2014

In love with Iron Man

Last evening ended on a magical note because of Iron Man , the 2008 American superhero film . It was one movie I had simply never got round to watching, in spite of hearing a lot of positive talk about it. And am I glad  I finally got to see it !!!

 The story is simple enough- Tony Stark ( Robert Downey Jr)  inheritor of   defense contractor, Stark Industries, is in war ravaged Afghanistan with his entourage to demonstrate the new missile "Jericho" from the stable of Stark Industries. The convoy is ambushed and Stark is critically wounded by one of his own missiles; he is captured and imprisoned in a cave by a terrorist group the . An electromagnet, grafted into Stark's chest by fellow captive Yinsen keeps the shrapnel  shell shards that wounded him from reaching his heart and killing him. Ten Rings leader offers Stark freedom in exchange for building a Jericho missile for the group, but Tony and Yinsen agree Raza will not keep his word.

They secretly build a powerful  arc reactor powered by an electric generator , to power Stark's electromagnet, and then begin to secretly build a suit of armor powered by the reactor, to escape. Yinsen dies in the escape attempt- but not before speaking one of the most memorable lines of the movie, “Don’t waste your life".  It's good advice, but there's no worry about wasting our precious time  on this movie.

 After being later rescued by Rhodes, Stark returns home and announces that his company will no longer manufacture weapons. Downey is a delight as the playboy in the early scenes. This Tony Stark is so much fun to be around we're almost sorry to see his transformation take place. His business partner, Obadiah Stane (a splendidly bald, bearded Jeff Bridges), is also unhappy about the change.

The movie has a brilliant  scene in which Tony invites his assistant, Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow in a perfect fit), to reach into the hole in his chest and fix his battery is a cheeky cocktail of trust, disgust, love, sex, fear and courage (it also plays  a key role  in  subsequent developments), but above all it plays funny. When a movie is firing on all those cylinders, you know it's a winner.

 "Iron Man" is a supremely confident, well-tooled entertainment. The action  is absolutely dazzling, the dialogues  are  exhilarating, the comedy is scintillating and the whole enormous movie  throbs with dramatic energy.
On my agenda- the sequels to Iron Man!!

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Meandering and Random thoughts on Indra Nooyi's " Women can't have it all "

By now, unless we live in the fictitious and magical world of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, we would be well aware that Indra Nooyi  has confessed to not having it all, inspite of , or maybe because of, being CEO PepsiCo. The candid moment came during the course of  an interview Nooyi gave to David Bradley of The Atlantic. Nooyi's remark(s) has sparked off intense debates and  discussions ,and also 'me too' confessions from other working women . Barkha Dutt's signature programme ,We the People, devoted an hour, an engrossing hour,  to the  question which has no answer- can women have it all?

Many, nay most,  questions have no clear answers. Even the simple questions throw one into paroxysms of doubt and uncertainty.  The black dress or the red one? love marriage or arranged? your place or mine? And then later, when  the die has been  cast and you have gone in for that boy you were dating since your sophomore year you realize that he is so not it.

Homo sapiens, most of us,  are by default good  observers- of  people , families, relationships. Our collective  voyeurism has  taught us a bit and  then some  more about human psychology .  One lesson which we, the voyeurs, would  have learnt by now,  relevant in the present context, is that no one, almost no one has it all. We can't have it all because there is no all- as in this much and no more - for us. As Holmes would have succinctly put it," its elementary ,my dear Watson".At no stage can any of us declare-"I have it all".

 And so, when one comes back to Nooyi's  headlines making statement, one is ever so slightly surprised. Why is it making headlines? Yes, Nooyi is obviously saying something she believes is true and  yes, the interview is an interesting read . But does it make me sympathize with her? No, it doesn't. On the contrary , and specially when one looks at the many women who are trying to make it somewhere in life- without any support system in place, it makes me want to say - " Ms Nooyi, you may not have it all ( remember: no one does)but you do have a lot". The lot I am referring to is the support  any working woman looks for." You have your mother( ahem!), your husband and your office staff. Plus, you have yourself".

Believe me,  it's a whole lot more than what your sorority of sisters have.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

"We All Fall In Love Sometimes"

Love this one by Elton John
Wise men say
It looks like rain today
It crackled on the speakers
And trickled down the sleepy subway trains
For heavy eyes could hardly hold us
Aching legs that often told us
It's all worth it
We all fall in love sometimes

The full moon's bright
And starlight filled the evening
We wrote it and I played it
Something happened it's so strange this feeling
Naive notions that were childish
Simple tunes that tried to hide it
But when it comes
We all fall in love sometimes

Did we, didn't we, should we couldn't we
I'm not sure `cause sometimes we're so blind
Struggling through the day
When even your best friend says
Don't you find
We all fall in love sometimes

And only passing time
Could kill the boredom we acquired
Running with the losers for a while
But our Empty Sky was filled with laughter
Just before the flood
Painting worried faces with a smile

My Beautiful Food


There are some meals that one can never forget- just as one never forgets the farmer’s market where one tasted fresh strawberries for the first time.. I can  still remember the colors of the ripe strawberries, feel their freshness, smell the ripeness, hear the tearing crunch with every bite, and taste the  tangy flesh

The meal which is described here is not the product of an overactive imagination but one which was cooked in actuality in my own kitchen.   Take a look at the menu!

The Entrée:
  •  Strawberry and red currant sorbet with a squeeze of lemon juice.
  •       Calamari served with sweet chili dip and salad garnish
  •       Breaded Mushrooms served with garlic mayonnaise and salad garnish
  •       Jacket Potatoes and Baguettes 
  • Soup: Cream Of mushroom soup. This cream of mushroom soup hasn’t lost one jot of its butter-laden, mixed herbs kissed suavity. “Soup” is too prosaic a term for the pungent, earthy silkiness in every bowlful.  

    Main Meal

  •  Spaghetti and cheese balls...the spaghetti cooked to a perfect al dente so that it is still firm yet soft when you bite into it. The sauce is a perfect blend of spices that marry so well you feel an explosion of flavors in your mouth. Topped by a  sprinkling of parmesan cheese that adds that extra little kick that makes you want to keep eating.
  •  The pork tenderloin with pears and shallots I proudly concocted at my stovetop the previous evening.
  • Plump shrimp, sauteed with chili flakes and served with a salad of oyster mushrooms, cucumber and corn, turned out to be everything I wanted it to be: fresh, vibrant and crunchy, with just enough spicy zing to perk everyone up.
  •  Zucchini pancakes: mint and zucchini are such a lovely pair, such a springy pair of lovebirds that I substituted the one for the other with spectacular results. Piping hot, they were savory and sweet, full of yielding pockets of salty-soft feta and bright with mint and scallions, while the cool yogurt sauce balanced each mouthful. Very, very good. The flavors were richer yet lighter, too; the pancake firmer and easier to eat. Totally transcendent, really.

  • Baked Stuffed Fresh Tomatoes Here's a perfectly delicious way to enjoy your biggest, juiciest, sun-kissed garden beauties as a main course; just toss a simple green salad to join them . Also scrumptious for lunch the next day, heated up in the microwave.


  • Chocolate molasses muffins These diabetic-friendly gluten-free molasses muffins satisfy your sweet cravings without the fat and sugar that gluten-free muffins typical contain. I used stevia and molasses instead of sugar and egg whites and unsweetened applesauce instead of whole eggs, to maintain flavor and texture. Topped them with saucy and silky sugar-free icing to add additional sweetness.

  • Homemade ice cream with burnt toffee a la   Roald Dahl   at his grandmother's house .

  • Lemon Souffle: It is a bit soft when I pull it from the oven. I love the tenderness of soft souffle, it collapses quickly but it melts in your mouth.  

Just one lingering  regret. Ah!  If only I could have served the meal in the beautiful Borosil dishes temptingly displayed  in glossy advertisements – it would have been the perfect icing on the proverbial cake.

This post is my entry for the 'Beautiful Food' contest held by Indiblogger and BOROSIL.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

In the Times of Harshvardhan ji some talk of Birds and Bees

I am a confused mother today - though if truth be told the husband thinks I suffer from two disorders- ACS and OCD . The former is an acronym for A Confused Soul and the latter is , of course, for Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. Anyways , to come to matters of greater import, namely , the aforesaid confusion.
We all know that  Harshvardhan ji has said that sex education should be banned in schools. We can  assume, from  newspaper reports, that the minister feels that school children are not prepared for it and  that it is a vehicle for vulgarity. Now, Harshvardhan ji   is an honorable man . Further, he is the health minister of the country. He obviously knows what he is talking about. If that be the case where does it leave my son in his drive to educate himself about the birds and the bees?
I turn to you, dear readers, to clear my confusion. Do read what transpired today and give your verdict...

"The mouth of...? that is easy,it's the vulva.Oh, and could you tell me  the male reproductive organ ? testes ? thanks". I immediately busied myself in looking busy as my 13 year son put the phone down (  the jury is still out on whether children today study from class notes during exam times or teach each other on the phone). The boy sauntered off to his room ,but within no time  sauntered back to again pick up the phone." hey, is it scrotum or scrotal?"

 Of course, I could not fight anymore with the curiosity that was almost killing me by now and so ,ever so casually( of course), I said "so, how's it going?" "fine,Ma".  He almost sauntered off again, but then looked at me and said ," do you remember any Biology ?" The tone suggested that since I was born in an India about which they were now studying in history I may have not been taught about  anything  except ,maybe,  the Neanderthals. I rose magnificently to the occasion and said," ask me anything".

So, the boy comes with a sheaf of papers, which turn out  to be  revision sheets posted  on the school site by the teachers and said, " I need some help with the labeling of the diagrams". An hour later we were done .I now knew  that the menstrual cycle had phases ( four, to be precise) and also knew more about reproduction ( listen, if I  had even an inkling that it was such a long,convoluted process I definitely would have done a rethink on reproducing! ) than ever before. I also knew that all the talk by our Education/ HRD  ministers( past and present) about reducing the burden of studies was  hot air. As the husband put it( between coming up for air because he was chortling so much ) the elaborate manner in which reproduction was covered in class 8 could put any med school syllabi to shame.

 But more than all this, I  now knew how mature the young of today are. The matter of fact tone and no change in expression, whether talking about breasts enlargement or when correcting me (" mom, it is not testes.  Here it has to be testis since it is in the singular") was an eye opener. And the best part? when  the son picked up the phone ( at a certain point we were stuck for the answer) and said " I will call my classmate.Her parents are doctors and will know the correct term"! The camaraderie and bonding , maybe eating into a lot of time, is nevertheless something that is heartwarming.

The boy gets up to go to his room .I cannot resist ruffling his hair.He grins at me and says, "thanks mom, you didn't do too badly". Praise from a teenager, sorry,adolescent ! I grinned too.

Well, at that point- at the grinning stage-  I had not read the views of the minister. But now that I have I am no longer grinning. 
Instead I am confused!!!