Monday, August 20, 2012

She Soaks No More...

The day began and so did her chores. It was the same routine everyday, wake up, cook breakfast, feed the children, dress them, feed hubby, dress him partly too (she wondered how he managed not to see things that were right in front of his eyes!), and once all left home, the ritual of washing and cleaning began. The dusting and sweeping the house would take the rest of the morning and then it was time for the dirty laundry.

And when I say dirty, I mean totally, terribly dirty. How did her kids managed to get so many stains on their clothes was beyond her, and she always dreaded cleaning them afterwards. Today again was no different. As she carried the hamper of dirty clothing towards the washing machine, she sighed. She sorted the laundry into "the dirty" and "the very dirty", she sighed even more when she saw that most of her laundry fell under the very dirty category. She'd have to soak again.

She never had free time for herself, she was always busy doing something for someone. As she mixed her washing powder in the bucket full of water, she mixed her thoughts with despair, as her arm went into the bucket and ran in circles, she brooded over her decision to quit the job on the arrival of their second child. She did not mind being a stay-at-home mom, but she deeply craved some time for herself. One by one she soaked the clothes into the detergent solution, and as each of the clothing was drowned in the bucket, she was drowning herself in self pity and frustration. Finally when she had added the last of the clothes, she waited for them to be soaked for half an hour, while she soak herself in sorrow. She was losing herself in the lost days of happiness, and soon her face was tear stained.

It was the same routine everyday. Soaking daily, the clothes in the detergent that didn't seem to help much, and herself into misery which didn't help much either.

Three months later...

She couldn't believe she would ever find happiness again, and in such amount. For months she had been soaking in hopelessness, but now she was free from it! It had been a mere accident that had made this drastic change in her life.

As she mindlessly added stuff to her cart while shopping for home supplies, she just happened to add Surf Excel Matic  to her cart. She didn't have anything particular in mind at that time, she just wanted to try out this new detergent. Once home, while she was arranging the bags of goods she had brought, her eyes fell on the Surf pack, the word 'vibrating molecules' had caught her eye!
She shrugged it off! No more soaking because of some vibrating molecules thingy sounded too far fetched! But later she decided to try it. And voila, did it work! Her clothes could not have been more cleaner. Now she was saving almost 45mins that she usually wasted in soaking and scrubbing before turning the clothes in the washing machine.

What was more, with no time to spend in self pity, her spirits actually lifted up. She now found time to do things she actually wanted to. Try out new hobbies, experiment with a new recipe or just catch up with a new song on radio, days went by and from a stay-at-home gloomy mom, she turned into a stay-at-home happy mom.

This post is for the Indiblogger contest " Soak No More" powered by Surf Excel.

Monday, August 13, 2012

I know what I like, and I don't like change

Adam Garratt of The British Menu has been kind enough to offer me a guest post. He is an excellent blogger and an even better cook, his culinary blog has all the best cuisines of British origin and adaptation. Do check the blog out for delicious as well as easy to make recipes.

I know what I like, and I don't like change

That phrase used to be synonymous with British people, other countries used to look at us and thought we just ate fish and chips and drank far too much tea, despite this being un true I can see why they would think it. For those that know me and my blog will understand my love for British food, we have some of the best food in the world, with traditional dishes and of course food we have inherited from other countries, such as India.

Britain is a great absorber of other food cultures and that's a good thing, it got really going with the Romans, they gave us the parsnip, peas, pasta and all sorts of other delights. India has given us a spice explosion over the past 30-40 years, but it hasn't been plain sailing I can tell you. I remember as a child being forced to eat left over Christmas turkey that was mixed with cheap curry powder and raisins, this somehow passed as a curry in many British households, and for me at least it took a number of years to realise that actually this is not a curry, it's an abomination.

I live in a city with a vast Indian culture, with a vibrant community all sharing their food knowledge and recipes handed down from generation to generation. Don't get me wrong I have tasted some awful Indian food just as much as I have tasted some awful British food, I once had a lamb biryani that was so tough and chewy you could of made a handbag out of it.

I have had some heated debates with some people about me featuring Pizza on the site, saying it's not British, well no it isn't a traditional dish but it has become part of our food culture, I grew up with it and so did millions of others. The same goes for curry, our palates have become attuned to the subtle and complex spices of Indian cuisine. You know it is said that Tikka masala was created in Britain in the 70's, when a waiter served up a traditional chicken tikka and the customer asked where the gravy was, needless to say the chef had to think on his feet and made a sauce from a tin of tomato soup! Of course this could be un true but it's an amazing story none the less.

I love my country's food, and I wouldn't trade it for all the tea in china, I adore our beef, I love our Jersey royal potatoes and the Jersey cows that produce the best cream, we have cheeses that could beat France into submission and puddings that just make me smile. But one thing is for sure is curry is here to stay as well, and thankfully our nation has welcomed it with open arms along with spaghetti bolognese, pizza, and Chinese food.

So getting back to that old classic saying, I would re phrase it as 'I know what I like, but I also like change'

Thank you for reading, My blog is

Saturday, August 11, 2012


Today I have Sudarshan Rangarajan with me for a guest post. Let's know more about with him in his own words:

I am Sudarshan Rangarajan, recent computer engineer, searching for ‘what-makes-me- happy- so- as- to –pursue- it- as- something- more -than –a- hobby’. 
I vent my frustration, thoughts, ideas (yet to strike me), and views about current issues in a blog . This is the first time I am writing a guest post. So I am pretty excited about it and want to know your thoughts about it.


What is the first thing that strikes you when you hear the word “caste”? Is it reservation? Or is it oppression?
The caste system originally wasn’t supposed to compartmentalize the society on basis of your caste but it started out as a classification based on the type of work a person did. Broadly they were of four types
  • Khsatriyas – the protectors 
  • Brahmins –teaching and performing rites and rituals.
  • Vaishyas – the business community
  • Shudras – the community that did menial jobs

According to historians initially when this system called the ‘varna’ was implemented it wasn’t supposed to be hereditary. But it inadvertently became hereditary as a father would want one or all of his children to carry forward his legacy. So basically a person from a certain Varna could try and pursue any other Varna.

Some thousand years ago the Varna system was manipulated by the upper Varna especially the Brahmins and converted into a jati or caste system. This caste system got manipulated, multiplied, categorised making many sub-castes within the main four caste. With the work they did the shudras were stigmatised. They were declared as untouchables and very few got out of the grasp of the problems associated with being a shudra and educated themselves. 

The problem our country faces is different region wise:

Lower caste in cities/metros:
Now we have many cities that are inhabited by well established people of the all castes including the lower caste. The ones who grabbed the opportunities provided and made it big. But now that they are well established and can sustain or rather prosper without the additional support from the government I think they should give up the privileges associated with the caste and help other downtrodden communities reap the benefit. As they already know about how to avail the support they can inform others about it. For example on a basic level if you have a maid who is from lower caste you can inform her about the various schemes that will help her invest safely in government bonds and about schools that are free for them that even provide the books and stationary.

Lower caste in north India (Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, and others):
The situation of the lower caste here is grim. They aren’t allowed to use the same facilities as the upper caste. Even the temples are supposedly different for the lower caste. They aren’t allowed to go to the same school as the upper caste kids do.  Hospitals have separate waiting rooms, nurses, ward boys and even the preference is given to the upper caste. The lower caste women are the ones who get the worst possible treatment. In a survey of 2006 among 500 dalit women of 4 states, 116 said they had been raped, additional 234 said they were assaulted sexually. Being a woman in this country is tough but being a dalit woman in impoverished states makes it even tougher as being sexually abused by an upper caste is an inescapable part of their lives.

Lower caste in Tamil Nadu:
The case here is very peculiar and is actually completely opposite to the situation in the rest of the country. Till the 60s the caste system did exist but more or less there was peace. Some places did have separate facilities for the people of different castes and opportunities for the lower caste were few but more compared to the ones in other parts of the country. Then in 60s there was rise of D.M.K (Dravida Munnetra Khazagam) which claimed that the Sanskrit speaking Brahmin & Kshatriya society was Aryan and the rest who belonged to lower Dravid. This movement gained momentum as the people thought they had a voice in D.M.K., they opposed Hindi as a language and said Tamil is the language of poor people. In this rage of anti-Hindi, anti- Aryan (Kshatriya and Brahmin) which converted into votes and D.M.K. came into power. As vote bank politics they played the reservation quota card and kept increasing the quota limit. Not only was the quota raised up 69% but also according to the statistics 87% of the Tamil Nadu is backward class (SC, ST, and MBC) which according to individual reports is a bloated figure. Since it is the backward class that is now the majority, the tables have turned. It is noticed that people from upper caste are made fun of and are not allowed into various schools and colleges. It is ‘reverse casteism’. 

The problem is that the previous generation still very much believes in the caste system, and they pass this on to the next generation. The only possible place where we can start eradication of caste is at the school level. As kids we do not care about asking the caste; we just make friends on the first name basis. We just care and share because that is all we are taught. We aren’t told to ask each other’s caste when we get acquainted.

I came to know about my friend's caste only when we were about to pass out from high school and my friend who I had known for 4 years had to submit an OBC certificate. If we reduce the number of times we ask a child his/her caste in any way be it informal or due to formal obligation I guess that will be a step in the right direction. Because the moment we see something different, someone having a different identity, as kids it changes our thinking. As adults (if educated) only an incident or behaviour is something that will trigger an unusual behavior.

There is so much more to write, so much more to do about it.
Thank you for taking time to read this post.
Thanks to Rujuta for this wonderful opportunity.

Disclaimer: The post is a Guest Post wherein the views of the author are expressed.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

About Love, Marriages and Other Arrangements


Roshni was sitting on the bench on the railway station, waiting for the train to arrive. She had covered her face with big sunglasses and a scarf to hide the bruises, and she wore an oversized kurta to hide her pregnant belly. She was sleep deprived and starved. She looked almost on the brink of death. But if you would have seen Roshni six months back, you would have instantly fallen in love with her rosy cheeks and clear complexion.

Roshni fell in love with Prasad, she was 19, he was 22, and they both decided to elope. Prasad's friends had arranged for a priest do their wedding in a nearby temple, and the first few weeks they spent in a rented house. Soon they were out of money and after lots of bickering Prasad finally agreed to take Roshni to his home. Things turned out to be worse than expected. The family not only rejected her, they also abused her verbally and physically, but she stood her ground as she had no where to go. Things became even more worse once Prasad and his family found out that Roshni was pregnant. They fixed Prasad's marriage with the girl of their choice. and when Roshni objected they forced her to down rat poison, she some how managed to break free and run away.

'Your train is here madam!', said the porter. Roshni stood up, adjusted her scarf and boarded the train that would take her away from her 'love' marriage.


'Usha! He's here...!', shouted Jyoti, Usha's younger sister. The groom had arrived. Usha who had so far just fussed about her bridal outfit was now excited and nervous on hearing the arrival of her groom. Arjun and Usha's marriage was fixed a month back, it was the standard Indian arranged marriage. The families first exchanged details of each others wards and then the groom's family came to see the bride. They liked the girl, and the girl's family too found the boy perfectly compatible with their daughter. Usha didn't have much to say or do in the match making process. She was only asked once whether she liked the boy, she had coyly nodded her head. She loved her parents and knew they would find the best match for her.

A year passed happily and Usha knew her parents had made a right choice. She loved Arjun, and Arjun adored her.


'I would like to book a table for two,' said Janet on call, 'And make it a candle-light gourmet dinner!' She made the arrangements and hung up smiling, it was Frank's birthday today, and she had planned out a surprise dinner date for him. They'd been married for the past 5 years. There's was a love marriage, a fairytale love marriage! They met in college, fell in love, decided to get married, and the parents on both the sides agreed. Frank's family had not only accepted her, they loved her as her own. She took some time to adjust to her new surroundings and Frank's mother had been ever so patient. She guided Janet like her very own daughter, once she even helped her to sort out a quarrel with Frank.

The idea of a dinner date was Janet's mother-in-law's as well. Initially Janet was a little skeptical, she did not want to leave her 2 year old son behind.But after repeated assurances of her mother-in-law to take care of their son she'd finally agreed. 

Janet smiled as he opened her wardrobe to decide what to wear for her dinner date with her loving husband.


'I don't want to get married!'

'Then what do you want to do? You are already 27, do you want to remain in your parents house forever?'

'So now your own daughter is a burden to you?'

'No darling. Listen to me, you are a girl and someday you will have to leave this house and go. Is there anybody else in your life?'

'Ofcourse not mom! There is no one!'

'Then why not marry this boy, he's really nice. Give him a try, he might turn out to be better than you think!'

A doorbell rang, and Urmila was brought back from her memories. She remembered the discussion she had had with her mother before reluctantly agreeing to marry Ajay. It had been 3 years since they got married and in these 3 long years they never learnt how to live with each other. There was constant bickering, nagging, taunting about things as small as the number of spoons needed on the dinner table. Then a month ago, finally fed up of having to tolerate each other, they filed for divorce. Urmila got up to open the door, expecting the postman with the some divorce document. Instead it turned out to be her mother-in-law at the doorstep. She never wanted them to take a divorce fearing the society, and she had come here to talk it out with Urmila. Urmila had a feeling that it would turn out very much like the talk she had with her mother...


Today’s post is a Guest Post from Karen Blessing who blogs at BakingInATornado. Let’s know more about Karen in her own words:

I’m Karen, a struggling-to-remain-sane stay-at-home Mom of teenaged boys who found, quite by accident a few years ago, that baking not only creates sweets but also relieves stress. Who knew? Draw your own conclusions about my stress level, all I’m admitting to is that we have lots of treats around here…new ones daily. Although I do bake to relieve stress, to relieve stress, and oh yeah, to relieve stress, there are other strategies I’ve been trying as well. Face it, there's only so much butter, flour and sugar available. So I started blogging at It provides me with a delicious (get it?) opportunity to vent. So sit back, have a laugh, try a recipe, then visit my blog…regularly!



Back in 2001, we were lucky enough to view a city-wide art gallery called the J. Doe project. Over 100 six-foot tall fiberglass body forms were decorated by local artists, then displayed throughout the community. It was fun and interesting and interactive and my sons and I totally embraced it. Maps were available, so many mornings that summer we would look at the map together, pick out a few locations and set out on our “Doe-hopping” adventure. Along the way we were treated to an explanation of the process of making the forms when one that we were looking at happened to be inside the lobby of the business that had produced them. More than once we met artists on-site, who spoke to us about the inspiration for their particular design. We spent all summer interpreting others we had seen and picking out our favorites. We saw over 50 of them.


J. Doe & the Magic Carpet

Mary Zicafoose, Artist

At the end of the summer I found out that I could buy 12 inch tall undecorated plaster J.Doe forms. I purchased 2 and we celebrated the end of the “Summer of the Doe” by letting the kids decorate their own. They are still on display in my home:


Colorful Doe & Skateboarder Doe

Decorated by my boys

The most interesting aspect of that whole experience was in seeing the differences in all of our interpretations, our individuality in terms of perspectives. Parents become masters of interpreting what our babies are trying to tell us non-verbally. In later years we try to interpret what they are telling us verbally. Who but me knew that “addle” was water? As someone who bakes a lot, I’ve had first hand experience when it comes to adapting recipes. My Chocolate Raspberry Cheesecake Bars are my interpretation of a few different recipes.

Chocolate/Raspberry Cheesecake Bars


Cheesecake Bars

I have been challenged with explaining interpretation to one son who could not do it instinctively. Having a sarcastic Mom can be misleading for him, and frustrating for me. Conversations would frequently go something like this:

J: “Mom, can I have a pop?”

Me: “No, dinner’s in a half an hour, no soda right now.”

Other son: “Mom, can I have one?”

Me: “Sure, I think you should have two.”

Other son: “Oh, good” as he runs off with a can of soda in each hand… and I go chasing after him.

And then there’s the teenage years. In these years interpretation has a whole new… well… interpretation. Whatever I say is construed to mean whatever they want to hear. Whatever they say could mean anything at all. Like this recent conversation while I was watching the Olympics and trying to talk Jason into watching with me.

Me: “J, come watch the Olympics with me”.

J: “No”.

Me: “I need you to spend some time with me, come watch”.

J: “No”.

Me: “What if I said I would cry if you don’t spend some time with me”.

J: “I’m fine with that”.

I could use some help, but I’m still hoping there’s another way to interpret that.

Chocolate/Raspberry Cheesecake Bars


18.25 oz pkg Devil’s Food Cake Mix

1 stick butter, softened

1 egg


8 oz package of cream cheese, softened

14 0z can of sweetened condensed milk

1 egg

2 tsp raspberry extract

Opt: red food coloring

Opt: 1 cup raspberry chocolate chips


*Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9 X 13 pan.

*Beat the cake mix, butter and egg until combined. Set aside ½ cup of this mix.

*Pat remaining batter into the prepared pan.

*Bake for 10 minutes. Take out of oven and cool for 10 minutes.

*Beat cream cheese until smooth. Beat in sweetened condensed milk, egg, raspberry extract and food coloring. Mix in raspberry chocolate chips. Pour into the crust.

*Crumble the reserved batter mixture over the top. Bake for approx. 19 minutes.

*Cool completely. Store in the refrigerator.

- Karen

Note: For more of such fun home stories and delicious recipes don’t forget to check out BakingInATornado.

Monday, August 6, 2012

She wouldn't let go...

Long ago I had been for an evening at Mother Teresa's Orphanage, I had a fun evening with an orphan girl-child, we played together, laughed together and when it was time to leave...

She was clung to me
With tears in her eyes
They tried to pull her away
But she wouldn't say 'bye'!

An hour ago she was so
Happy and full of cheer,
But now look at her
She won't leave me, oh dear!

I wish we hadn't met
I wish, she hadn't seen my face
One thing is for sure now
I'll never visit that place.

Friday, August 3, 2012

I've Hit the Writer's Block!

That's it. I've hit the Writer's Block! Whoever thought it doesn't exist, its false. There is a writer's block, it very much exists, and you can very well be trapped in there. I just hope I am not trapped in here for long.

How did I know I hit the writer's block you ask? Well it's easy, I have been meaning to write my next post, something magnanimous, something piercing, a masterpiece that shakes up people's intellect, or maybe a touching story, an inspired post, a piece that calls upon a revolution! But try as much as I may, I just end up with empty hands.

Its a vicious cycle I tell you. A brilliant idea strikes, I start building it up in my mind, and when I know the idea has grown up enough to be committed to written word... PUFF! Its gone! And all I am left with is some shady memory of what originally was the most profound thought that ever came to my mind. But that is not the end of the cycle. I still take up the writing with whatever caricature is left with me of the original idea, the more I write upon it, the more it disgusts me till I reach a point where I trash the entire post. And then I wait for another brilliant idea to strike!

I have nothing to write! Words betray me. Ideas abandon me. The 'New Post' button mocks me.

So ladies and gentlemen. It is official! I am suffering from writer's block, anybody there to bail me out?

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

The Electricity-less Superpower

India is a land of diversity and a land of promises. We are a fast growing economy and soon to be world superpowers. India is a force to reckon with and the world better not take us lightly. We will ascend the power ladder and sit on the top soon… or will we?

The recent power grid failure in the north and then the east has really made a mess of the things, people have been caused a lot of inconvenience, and the officials are left wide eyed in surprise unable to deal with it effectively. Amid all the chaos and confusion, we forgot that the world is watching us. A recent story on Time World reads as below:


The new power failure affected people across 13 states — more than the entire population of the European Union. They raised concerns about India’s outdated infrastructure and its insatiable appetite for energy that the government has been unable to meet.


I am not here to trash my country, nor do I seek to preach views and opinions on how this debacle could have been avoided or handled. All I want to do is voice my shame and sadness to have encountered such a post, that mocks my country. I also wish we weren’t making tall claims on being the next superpowers when we don’t even have a system to overcome our own power crisis. The Time World post ends with:


But any connection to the grid remains a luxury for many. One-third of India’s households do not even have electricity to power a light bulb, according to last year’s census.


If you heard a cracking sound, that is just my heart breaking… Do you feel bad too when you come across such news pieces?

Hobbies to Acquire for a Lifetime

A hobby is something you like to pursue in your leisure time. There are certain hobbies (or habits even) that if acquired for a lifetime do us a lot of good. Let us have a look at some of these:

  1. Reading: The single most powerful hobby in the world. And no sir, I do not exaggerate. If you were lucky enough in your childhood to have acquired this hobby I am sure you know what I mean. If you love to read, be it newspapers, comics, novels, non-fiction, heck even a blog, then you are arming your intellect with conversation starters, with the ability to analyze situations faster, with the knowledge on various subjects, you are loading your vocabulary, learning new ways of expressing yourself, and much much more. Reading is one hobby that if acquired for a lifetime will prove to be one of the best lifesavers in many situations.

Bonus: It also makes you look intelligent.

  1. Performing arts: Whether it is singing, dancing, playing an instrument or acting out a role, performing arts of any kind are a worthy hobby for character building. Because all the disciplines of the performing arts require a lot of molding and remolding, you also open yourself up for criticisms and thus it not only strengthens your character but builds a kind of self-esteem instead of ego. Though performing arts may not be directly as rewarding as reading, it definitely is a worthwhile hobby to add to your basket.

Bonus: It boosts your morale and helps relieving stress.

  1. Outdoor Sports: Ah! The one hobby that will take care of your body, mind and soul. Pick up any outdoor sport, cricket, tennis, football, basketball, even golf if you please, learn it, train for it. No one wants you to be a star sportsperson, just learn the game and enjoy playing it. An outdoor sport will not only see that you remain fit by getting some exercise but will even help you build your ethics and your team building power, will teach you what is camaraderie and how to respect your opponent and learn fair play. These lessons will come in handy when you are out their facing the world. Go get your old locked up sports equipment out!

Bonus: It boosts your morale and helps relieving stress, also makes you fit and strong!

These are just the three that I have added here to be in your must-have hobbies. Are there anymore you would want to suggest???