Friday, December 31, 2010

And it's a wrap...

In the past two years, I have tried hard not to make any resolutions...I feel intense remorse when those resolutions are broken...Let me give you an example - one of my constant resolutions was - lose weight and of course despite fad diets, complicated yoga poses and beating myself over eating caramel popcorns - the stubborn weighing machine refused to budge an inch...yet the year I stopped making resolutions I saw 15 pounds magically slip away and I fit into my skinny jeans from 14 years back. The important lesson I learnt was letting go...the maxim that a lot of people apply to love actually applies to real life...if you really love/want something, let go; if it was meant to happen for you/or love you back it will definitely come back, if it doesn't...move on with life buddy :-)
Yet with 2010 hours away from vanishing into oblivion, I am taking a couple minutes to reflect on the highlights and low lights -
  • Ill health of loved ones was a constant this it Bapa, Baba, Ma or K2...even K1 has had one too many a viral fevers...he is the strong one in this house and it is very disorienting for me when he falls sick
  • Anomie came and went...a state of inertia that I constantly had to jerk myself out of...questioning the purpose of life and the role I played in it...honestly who has the time for such deep introspection anymore...
  • Lack of patience with K2 - but honestly that kid with his high pitched voice ( say like mother like son...just say it to my face and watch my reaction...don't say I didn't warn you); his utter disregard of authority;his refusal to sleep; his impeccable sense of logic, his trying to wheedle his way thro' hugs and kisses...just gets me every time. I tell myself it is a phase...but patience is a scanty commodity around here
  • A loving family, an understanding husband, an adorable kiddo, Quality Time spent with Family, an interesting career and how can I forget GOOD FOOD...the list of good things go on and on...
Yet, the biggest learning from 2010 is that life is transitional, what is reality one day, no longer exists the next...BUT without hope there is no life. Planning is good but it is important to Let Go where it makes sense ( I am an OBC when it comes to cleanliness...I pride myself on a clean house but that clean house comes at a price, my peace of mind...nope I don't think I can let go of  keeping a clean house...however I do believe that I can (and should let go a little bit).
My game plan for 2011 is -
  1. Work Hard but play harder
  2. Eat Healthy
  3. Spend quality time with K1 and K2 without losing my patience with K2
I don't see these as resolutions rather as a reminder to myself that Life Happens. On the food front, keeping with the healthy theme, I made a killer vegetarian wrap yesterday.

Stuff Needed
Spinach Whole Wheat Wraps (Trader Joes)
Refried Beans ( Canned, Fat Free & Organic Whole Foods)
Organic Spinach
Cabot (Habenaro Cheese Spread)
Tabasco (Habenaro Hot Sauce)
1/2 Red Onion - Finely Chopped
Fresh Chopped Cilantro
Newman's Organic Cilantro Salsa

Warm the  Wrap. Spread the Cheese Spread on the Wrap ( it is not the low fat kind but unimagineably spicy & delicious). One (or two)layers of Spinach Leaves. Spoon on the warmed refried beans (squeeze on some fresh lemon juice if you have it). Layer on the Red Onions and Fresh Cilantro. Spoon the salsa on the Wrap...totally put as much or as little of it as you want.  I lay the salsa on thick...We added a dash of the hot sauce and wrapped it up. We enjoyed these wraps with Terra Chips (Original). Each wrap was roughly 300 calories with 10+grams of dietary fiber.  Took me and K1 about 5 minutes to assemble these wraps....

So guys...I guess this year is a wrap. Here's wishing you and your loved ones a very Happy New Year - lots of good health,  love, laughter and of course good food. Keep visiting me in 2011

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Break of Dawn…

A couple days of sleepless nights due to a sick toddler…cinematic dreams (did I tell you I dream in vivid technicolor)…almost like watching a reel life movie and then suddenly I wake up…duty calls – cough syrup for the little guy, a glass of water...; and I am left wondering how that dream would have ended. This week is whizzing past at breakneck speed.

I had an amazing lunch from “Curry up Now”…Goat Curry over Rice. It was totally rocking & satisfied the carnivore in me.
I shopped at the Semi-Annual sale of Bath and Body Works today – I am stocked up on my home fragrances, lotions and hand soaps

I baked a chocolate cake filled with Almonds, Raisins, Cranberries and Blueberries. The 2 K’s are still enjoying the cake.
A lot of introspection happening this week about the year that’s gone and the year that is to come…however there is a hope that tonight is a different one and there will be a deep restful sleep with no getting up at the Break of Dawn.

Friday, December 24, 2010

New Offices, A Baking Extravaganza & A Christmas Tree…

Is there anything more satisfying than a hot cup of cardamom tea (brewed extra strong) with a toasted English Muffin stuffed with an Omelette made from Egg whites, Red Onions, Jalapeno and Peppercorn Parmesan on a cold, blustery rainy day…I think not. My calls yesterday were scanty and it looks like the entire office is getting into the holiday spirit. We moved into our new offices last week. They are in the heart of Sunnyvale, very swanky and well put together. There was a welcome reception on Tuesday…and it was a good chance to meet old friends and re-acquaint with colleagues while we were stuffing our faces with catered goodies – Mushroom Ragu over silky mashed potatoes, pot stickers, shrimp salad, crostinis, different cuts of cheese and some red meat stuff I didn’t venture near…overall an extremely pleasant experience.

We also got a Christmas Tree (fake kind) for K2. He was so excited; that he kept singing all the Christmas songs – Jingle Bells, Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer etc…his Christmas list to Santa includes a Rocket Ship, an elephant with a remote control and a giraffe with a remote control (too many animal toys with remote controls I say…).

K2 and I baked sugar cookies using the TJ’s DIY packet…my arms still ache from all the dough kneading and cookie cutting. We ate a couple of the cookies and honestly they weren’t that great (did I just admit to messing up the DIY sugar cookies :) )…
I was reading the book the “The Giving Tree” to K2…he is at an age where he is not too much into sharing. His BF A was visiting him this week and K2 had to play with any and every toy that A wanted to play with…A’s frustration was palpable and understandable.

The story is about a tree and a little boy who loves to climb onto the tree and rest in its shade. As the boy gets older, the tree gives him anything he wants – apples to sell, branches to build his house, even its own trunk to carve out a boat to sail away to seek his fortunes. After many years, the “boy” comes back, now an old man and the tree despairs that he has nothing left to give him…I do not need much now, just a quiet place to sit and rest,” the man replies. And so the tree, now a mere stump, asks him to sit,” and the tree was happy. The idea that one could give so selflessly and expect nothing in return is baffling and thought provoking.

Sending this over to Priyanka's Blog Asan Khana for the event "It's time to jingle" visit her.

K2 has been sick the past 2 days…so Christmas time for us is a quiet time at home.How are you spending Christmas Eve?

Friday, December 10, 2010

About a Lauki Tari and a Hysterectomy

I am in a pensive mood today…Ma had an operation less than 24 hours back. I am more than a little bummed that I wasn’t with Ma during this time yet she was adamant that she do the operation only after we left for the US. Her logic was – let me enjoy this one month with K2 vs. lay in the bed and wish I could be playing with him. Good News is that the operation went smoothly, my MIL (she is an anesthesiologist) was in the operation theater and there is no one else I would rather have with my Ma than my MIL. Bad News is recovery will take time…at least 4 weeks. It is ironical; that the very organ that expands to fit an 8 pound child, once you get older is deemed vestigial and atrophied and 50% of the time needs to be removed for different reasons...ain’t being a woman grand?

When, I was a teenager, I had many a likes and dislikes when it came to food – one such vegetable I did not like much was Lauki better known here as Opo Squash. Ma used to cook it in creative ways just to get me to eat Lauki a little bit more. Little did I know what a wonder vegetable Lauki was and how much I would grow to like it. Some of the health benefits of Lauki from an Ayurveda Book I am reading are listed here –
  • Cooked Lauki is cooling, calming, diuretic and anti-bilious. It makes you relax after eating.
  • Lauki plays a very important role in treating urinary disorders as it acts as an alkaline diuretic.
  • Lauki juice is an excellent remedy for excessive thirst caused by diarrhea, over consumption of fatty or fried foods, and diabetes.
  • A glass of Lauki juice with a little salt added to it prevents excessive loss of sodium, satiating thirst and keeping you refreshed in summer.
  • Massage a mixture of Lauki juice and sesame oil on the scalp each night to treat insomnia.
  • If you are on a low calorie diet, suffering from digestive problems, are diabetic or convalescing, and then Lauki is must for you as it is easily digestible and low in calories.
Now I can safely say that Lauki is by far one of my favorite vegetables…and one of my very favorite things to do with Lauki Is a simple Tari (thin curry). This will be our dinner today with some brown rice and yogurt on the side… (A Thank You to my Ma for making me love my veggies especially Lauki…)
Lauki Tari
1 Medium Opo Squash (peeled and cubed)
½ Onion (chopped), 1 Large Jalapeno (chopped) 1 Tomato (chopped), Grated Fresh Ginger
In a medium pressure pan – heat a teaspoon of oil, add a pinch of Hing, turmeric powder, chilly powder and let the spices foam and perfume the kitchen. Now add in the Chopped Onion, Ginger and Jalapeno. Saute till the Onions are translucent. Now add the Tomato. Cook for about 2-3 minutes till everything is well mixed and there is a wonderful Masala smell in the air. Now add ¼ spoon of roasted Jeera Powder (Jeera = Cumin). Add in the Lauki, Salt to taste and ½ a cup of water. Mix well. Set the pressure cooker to one whistle. When you remove the pressure, check the salt and add in some Dalchini (Cinnamon) Powder from the top …this is a special touch from my Ma. I usually forget to do this, but not today. Add some fresh chopped Coriander (Cilantro) and Enjoy!!!
Ma, hope you feel better soon and I wish I was in Pune with you.
P.S: In the picture above, the beautiful woman is Ma and the dorky kid with the thick glasses is Your's Truely

Thursday, December 9, 2010

She is losing it...

When she gets up at 3 AM…

For five days in a row.

To a cup of tea that tastes like dirt,

And a wooly taste in her mouth…

A feeling that the entire world is out to get her…

She is losing it…yeah she knows she is losing it

Quick get me the mood improvers – Oatmeal, Chocolate, Walnuts…Too late, I just lost it and blew up. This is how it went. K2 got up at 4.00 AM, we dragged on till 5.00 AM and I realized he probably wasn’t going to go back to sleep. I took him downstairs got him his Pediasure and we started playing with his Lego…maybe it was jetlag, or lack of sleep but K2 got frustrated with a Lego piece that he couldn’t complete and dumped it in the garbage. What followed was a major explosion, a sobbing kid and a long time-out. Maybe I overreacted…and then again maybe not? But now there is a cranky toddler in school and a semi-guilty mom trying to focus on work…

How has your week been thus far?

Monday, December 6, 2010

East meets West...

I am bone tired...weary... like a marathon runner who knew that she had to make it just till I had fed and put K2 in bed. I have been up since 3 AM today , not because I had to but because K2 couldn't sleep due to jetlag- started my day making old fashioned Oat Meal and Eggs for the little tyke, packing lunch boxes for the 2K's, cutting fruit and catching up on after vacation work. I spent half the time in the office, packing and preparing for the move. I also met up with H&P and we enjoyed a wonderful Japanese meal in a small place - the food was simple and good. Yet, there was this craving for something sweet...and it had to be something quick and simple -and the winner was Chenna Poda

Oriya food is not very well known, yet it is a food were there is attention to detail, superb execution and pure singular flavors...most of the sweets are made from Chenna (  Chenna means Child of Milk) and Poda is Burnt...simply put Chenna Poda is  India's answer to America's Cheese Cake and I absolutely adore it. I grabbed some Ricotta Cheese from Trader Joe's and was ready for some kitchen action.

  1. Ricotta Cheese (1 Lb)
  2. Sugar (1/2 Lb)
  3. 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  4. Sooji/Semolina ( 3 tablespoons)
  5. Cardamom Powder ( 1/2 teaspoon)
  6. Optional - Raisins
Add the sugar, baking powder and the sooji  and blend in the blender
The dough with have the consistency of a smooth cake batter
Mix in the dry fruits if you want them at this point.
Pour into a oven safe dish and bake at 350 °F for about an hour.
The baking times will vary based on the dish. So start checking around 40 minutes into the baking time.
To check poke a fork into the middle and see if you come up with syrupy batter or comes out clean.If it comes out clean,take it out of the baking dish and allow it to cool before serving. I get experimental sometimes and add different flavors -- like once I added in 4-5 table spoons of Rooh Afza was a refreshing change but most times I want to stick to the simple classic taste of Chenna Poda.

The house smells amazing and I am on my 3rd slice of this Indian Version of Western Cheesecake. Try it and I am sure it will get you hooked...

Passing this along for the blog event  Celebrate Sweets  hosted by PJ @ This event was incidentally started by Nivedita @

Let me know how this recipe turns out for you...

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Jetlagged and Going Overboard...

A 18 hr flight that was actually more like a 22 hr flight - our first flight from Pune to Frankfurt taking an unscheduled stop in Armenia for refueling giving us a nail biting 6 hrs debate as to whether we would make our connection...K2 pretty much slept through 80% of the flight...yes that is a good thing. We got back dazed and a little nostalgic about our India trip.K2 has been sleeping days and waking up nights and I am hoping his body clock resets soon otherwise I am in big trouble, K1 goes on an offsite in a couple days and I don't relish being the sole warrior in this "keeping awake" quest.

Seeing an empty fridge had me go overboard on a food shopping binge -
From Whole Foods - Brussel Sprouts, Apples, Fresh Pack Soups ( Creamy Tomato, Chicken & Veggies), Sour Dough Baguette, Organic Brown Eggs, Kefir, Fat Free Milk, Terra Chips, Bossa Nova Acai Juice, Genesis Today Acai Juice, Hillshire Smoked Turkey Breast Slices
From Trader Joes - Organic Spinach, Organic Carrots, Bag of Lemons, Navel Oranges, Bananas, Truffle Mousse Pate ( Chicken Liver), Sweet Stick Swizzlers, Dark Chocolate Marshmallows, Almonds, Walnuts
From the Farmer's Market - Potatoes, Onions, Tomatoes, Garlic, Sun Chokes, Cucumbers, Opo Squash, Grapes, Plums, Satsuma Mandarin, Asian Pears, Apples, 2 Bags of Raisins, Honey Sticks, Sinbad Market (Chicken Kabab Wrap, Babaganoush, Chickpea Salad)

I am watching the final episode of "Dancing with the Stars" that I had DVRed...super excited that the star that won was my very favorite "Baby" Grey. Her struggles with health and her insecurities and her sheer grit to keep going on were inspiring -- my caveat, I have never watched this show before. I watched  this season for the sole reason of watching Grey dance.

Missing India. Missing Ma's Dal and Badi Chura. Miss the hugs from Ma and Bapa...miss the squabbles and discussions and warmth. K1 and K2 are in the same place and we are slowly settling back into our old routine. How is your weekend?
Picture was taken on a trip with the parents (mine and K1's) to Lavasa. There were some picture perfect moments though the trip to Lavasa was bumpy :)

Monday, November 29, 2010

India Calling - Part 2

About 200 cups of chai heavily laced with sugar and full-fat milk, 3 pedicures, 2 courses of Antibiotics, about a dozen Hindi Movies and one thoroughly pampered child getting the attention of 2 sets of grand parents later...I realize that it is almost time to leave for the rainy winters in California . Wait a minute...time just passed me by so fast that I just want to hold on to the next 3 days and savor them...however shuttling between Kothrud and Kondwa just about has me worn down...whoever said it's easy to have parents and in-laws in the same city needs their heads checked :-)

I mostly ate at home...yes this foodie with dreams of checking out the Dorabjees and Oh!Calcutta mostly ended up eating Varan Bhaat and Dalma and Chorchori most days and LOVED IT. I had Desi Chinese about 4 times this trip and it filled a void that no food anywhere else can fill - my American Chopsuey I will miss you when I am back in the US. The highlight of my foodie adventure - eating the pumpkin flower bhaji made from the pumpkin flowers picked from my parent's garden (mind you - they moved into their new house a month back and planted the pumpkin plants with the sole idea of having me eat the pumpkin flower bhaji)

I climbed up Tirupati with a severe case of cough and cold and the weather was cold and rainy and I got drenched about half way through the journey...with my chest feeling like it would burst I completed the scenic albeit very hard climb...only to find out that the couple climbing after us had sighted 2 leopards...I did feel a tinge of regret at not being the one seeing the leopards...however the wonderful darshan and the hot prasad (the  pepper ghee rice) made all of that quickly forgotten. Next stop was Bangalore and one thing that I did get from my stopover there was that this was definitely not the City of my Dreams...2 hours to get from the airport to the office...another 1 hour to commute to another site about a kilometer away due to construction and traffic...the weather was beautiful yet the traffic and the lack of infrastructure aggravating. I am unused to the hustle and bustle of India after the quiet of the area I live in and just as I am getting used to the hustle & bustle its time to leave.

The highlights of my shopping - a handi pressure cooker, a dosa tawa and a cute little tadka pan. I  have almost a suitcase filled with Natural Remedies for cough, cold, indigestion, building up immunity...(Bhimsen Kapur, Amla Murabba, Herbal Soaps, Chyavan get the drift). I also have stocked up on the latest Hindi movies and songs...not much else and yet it feels like so much. I spent a lot of time wondering on where the time passed by and when we will get to see the parents again. K2 was a rock star, adjusting to all the love and adoration like it was his birthright...entertaining people with his conversations, eating his puran poli and varan bhaat and in general adjusting to the changed pace a lot better than his parents -- shows how inflexible age makes you ;-)

Reality is India is still calling yet I am ready to pack my bags and go back to the routine that I call life...and I will take back memories of  deep love, aggravating traffic, incessant noise, vibrant colors, unavoidable pollution and the warmth of family....

Monday, November 8, 2010

Ignorance is Bliss...

It was 5.00 AM in Pune, still too early for even the birds to be awake. Suddenly K2 starts patting my face - Mommy, wake up it's day time. I try to put him back to sleep and don't do a great job of dragging myself out of bed, I walk downstairs and make him his milk...while gazing around the room , watching the Obamas dancing the Indian dance on TV -- getting bored all too quickly, I see a calendar from Ramakrishna Math and the saying for November 9th sets me thinking -

Who makes us ignorant? We ourselves. We put our hands over our eyes and weep that it is dark
Life has been so hectic the past decade that we have very comfortably put our hands over our eyes...not noticing the rapidity of time passing by, people changing, affections lost and emotional baggage gained...not noticing our parents aging in front of our eyes...moving from invincible forces to be reckoned with to mere mortals who really need our support more than before...with that knowledge comes the awareness that this month will pass by in a flash...then what? We will leave for that same hectic routine and leave our parents grasping for memories of a loving daughter or son, smiling grand children and stolen moments shared. Why do we put our hands over our eyes and claim darkness...

 I love this painting by David Zolan, the little boy is fishing but his awareness of his environment is we grow older we lose this sensitivity to people and situations and we claim "Ignorance is Bliss" will you be putting your hands over your eyes?

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Clearing Cobwebs

A couple of days back I was cleaning up my clothes closet. I realized that I was a pack rat…I still had clothes lying around from my XIM (B) days…the good news is I still fit but the bad news was I did realize that I held on to things from the past with an unhealthy gusto be it people, memories or even grudges…there were too many cobwebs in my mind. I threw out 4 trash bags of clothes ( I didn’t leave them at the Salvation Army because I couldn’t imagine someone wanting to wear a bright red sambalpuri salwar kameez…yes the very  same one I had gone to the market and got with Ruchi with my first credit card in 1996…a standard chartered…wait there begins the memory journey).  Throwing out the trash bags was a huge mental relief…it felt like the mind was cleaner, clearer and refreshed.

Yet there  are some memories that you hang on to tight. For the first time yesterday I left K2 with K1 and his grandparents ( K1’s parents) and spent a quiet evening with my parents…my mind was very disturbed as I have been away (feeling guilty) from K2 on work but never just because…but after a visit to the local temple, lighting Diyas ( it is done for the ancestors) and a wonderful Oriya meal, Ma, Bapa and me sat down with some of our old B&W pictures and the memories that we shared was priceless…

Bapa from his college days...his friends lovingly called him the laughing goblin

Ma and Abinash

Bapa and Me

Bapa, Abinash and Me

 Abinash & Me

Blossoming Butterflies ;-)...Mama and Me

How are you dealing with the cobwebs in your mind?

Sunday, October 31, 2010

India Calling

It is with a strong sense of fear and anticipation that I look forward to my upcoming trip to India. My last trip had been 25 months back for 3 days and all I remember of that trip is jet lag, food poisoning, a product launch ( we launched Ovi Mail in Delhi), hot october days and places overfilled with people, sweat and smells...
Things I am looking forward to - my first real vacation in 3 years, first Diwali in India in 15 years, spending time with family, food cooked by Ma, showing K2 some of India, trying some authentic Indian current list of  restaurants to visit include - Dorabjee (Parsi), Main Land China ( Desi Chinese), BBQ Nation (the name says it all), Sanskruti ( an Indian Cultural Experience), Oh Calcutta (Bengali Food) and some others...Pune is the land of Yoga and the intent is to get in some Downward Dogs and some ayurvedic massages...and top it off with some good old fashioned times with Ma and Bapa.

It is my 100 th post and a milestone of sorts... thanks for just being there.

So are you going Trick or Treating tonight?

Friday, October 29, 2010

These are a few of my favorite things…

My biggest learning for 2010 is that- All things in life are transitional…be it happiness or sorrow, success or failure, likes or dislikes…and while some of the oldies forever are ingrained on your senses…you do develop a few more favorites…food and TV kinds are the ones I am talking about here...

A hot bowl of pho on a fall night…I had a bowl of Pho Ga yesterday at a hole in the wall Vietnamese spot that warmed me to the core…chicken soup for the soul.

An episode of Mentalist…I have booked the Season 1 from my public library and intend to have a TV marathon run this weekend complete with a hot cup of tea and pop corn…

A dollop of  frozen yogurt with a lot of boba (what is boba you ask - a translucent  pearl filled with juice -my favorite flavor passion fruit)…my favorite is a small place called Orange Tree in the Great Mall, Milpitas

A big plate of greens (weird right!)…my favorite Chinese spinach seasoned with Oyster Sauce

A hot cup of Zhena’s Gypsy Tea  which is also organic and fair trade…favorite flavor…Red Lavender with a small piece of the chocolate I am raving about below…

A piece of Organic Meltdown Dark Chocolate...not only is it fair trade but buying one bar of chocolate saves one when you feel like a glutton for eating an entire bar of chocolate you can ALSO feel virtuous that you did it for a tree...

What are some of your favorite things?

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Can I poke you?

Or better still can I add you as a friend? Like your Status…or comment on it? Social Networking is addictive and very contrary to a lot of things I believe in…gone are the days of sitting down in the living room with a hot cup of chai and small eats for some wholesome gupshup with friends…it is too tiresome to actually get my behind up and into the kitchen to do something creative/productive. Instead I sit in my office space working and in my spare time, I become the voyeur…taking journeys into other people’s lives …watching relationship status change from Single to Married to It’s too Complicated; clicking through vacation pictures wondering why my vacation is so long overdue; seeing party pictures and wondering – why I don’t have such fun parties; my gag reflex working overtime on the overly philosophical and chweet status updates….and seriously dude I don’t need to know if you ate in your favorite sushi place for the nth time…my life does seem woefully mundane in comparison…early morning calls, lunch boxes for the 2 K’s, mindless staring at spreadsheets and contracts…oatmeal for brunch and the wildest thing I did today was dressing my little pumpkin up as a penguin and danced with him to an ABBA song…

Incidentally I watched the movie “Social Network” and living in the Silicon Valley, the implied net worth of a person in his tweenties (yes that is a play on twenty and teen :-) ) is suitably impressive. Yet, I do wonder if in the end the net worth covers and makes right the self doubt, self image issues and self centric decisions taken along the way…would I have done similar things for 1 Billion…don’t know…seriously I won’t even take the high road saying – that my ethic system is so strong that the money won’t make a difference…the real answer is I don’t know. So, do I have a right to judge…not really…am I going to judge…absolutely…
Here is something I read on a young blogger's website which I found chilling -

Sarah Jones murder mystery took a new turn today. Today, FBI submitted Facebook logs as proof against Mike in the court. Mike Johnson, a friend of victim Sarah, is now arrested with a charge of murder. FBI had him on his radar, but didn't have any proof against the guy.
But today, when FBI checked the Facebook logs they found the motive behind murder.
Following logs are submitted to the court -
Oct 1: "Mike and Sarah are now friends"
Oct 2: "Mike poked Sarah"
Oct 3: "Sarah poked Mike"
Oct 4: "Mike poked Sarah"
Oct 5: "Sarah poked Mike"
Oct 6: "Mike poked Sarah"
And then Sarah never poked back. And that, according to officials, is the motive behind the murder. Mike is currently arrested under first degree homicide.
So what were your thoughts on the movie “The Social Network”?

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Rainy Days and Mondays...

It has been a gloomy Saturday - overcast skies, growling thunder and wet outside...and I don't know why but the rainy days usually brings out the maudlin in me...K2 attended a B'day party and nothing seems to faze him and his cheerfulness is gratingly annoying. Here's a picture I just took while at a traffic signal in my car with my Nokia E72...

And the song playing on my stereo  is - Rainy Days and Mondays by Karen Carpenter...

Rainy Days & Mondays

Talking to myself and feeling old
Sometimes I'd like to quit
Nothing ever seems to fit
Hangin around, nothing to do but frown
Rainy days and Mondays always get me down

What Ive got they used to call the blues
Nothing is really wrong
Feeling like I don't belong
Walking around some kind of lonely clown
Rainy days and Mondays always get me down

How is your Saturday holding up?

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Waiting for Godot...

This working mother has been in a state of introspection this week - wondering about life and organizations. She believes that Organizations in various stages of evolution can be very simplistically categorized as -
  1. The organization going through the growing pains of getting created
  2. The organization going through the excitement of growth
  3. The organization going through the chaos of change
  4. The organization going through the turmoil of obliteration
  5. And the not so rare Organization that is in limbo or waiting for change to happen
For an Organization to get from the state of limbo to a state of dynamism what is required is strong powerful leadership, crisp directives (see I don’t use touchy feely words such as vision and mission here)…and action…then will the elephant dance.

It is very easy for an Organization or a person to get into a state of “Anomie”…a mindless state of just being …reminds me of a play I had read ages back in a literature class. The play was titled “Waiting for Godot” by Samuel Beckett. It was about two sad men – Estragon and Vladimir and it follows two days in their lives while they wait expectantly and unsuccessfully for someone named Godot to arrive. They claim him as an acquaintance but in fact hardly know him, admitting that they would not recognize him were they to see him. To occupy themselves, they eat, sleep, converse, argue, sing, play games, exercise, swap hats, and contemplate suicide — yet they are afraid to even take that final step of suicide…what if the belt or the rope broke…they were plain afraid…still waiting for Godot. It was a simple play which our English teacher had us enact and dissect and yet what remained twenty years later were memories of those two sad men…waiting, afraid and in limbo…

Monday, October 18, 2010

Pause…Rewind…Did you let life pass you by?

I took a lot of pride in being single-minded in my focus in the task on hand – I took terms such as persistent, tenacious, blinkered as compliments…heck I spent  three long years in sunny Santa Barbara being a “mushroom” in my office – only remembering to eat and sleep and the reason it worked was because I had an equally work-obsessed sibling and hubby in the same small town and (unfortunately!) in the same company…picture this…the three of us spending Valentine’s Day at a French restaurant Pacific Crepes arguing about some obscure technology (now I understand why they say three is a crowd)…the reality is that today's Work Culture encourages, rewards and motivates these kinds of perception and behavior and people move ahead thinking they are “success stories”.

Anyway with K2 making his entry, this Product Manager mother had to rethink her priorities…work smart and better time management and rigid adherence to time spent with K2…did not mean work did not get done…products still got shipped on time, within scope and budget and blowing every product aspiration and expectations…however I did not obsess about responding to every email or every so called critical in the next minute…this worked in my favor because some stuff figured itself out in due time and the other stuff I figured out in good time. Now I walk the trails, smell the fresh air and look at the tranquil bay with K1 and K2…not taking the next day for granted…grateful for being given a chance to actually pause and enjoy…
What brought about this entry….a forgotten email forward from a year ago which was read for the first time today and which resonated and hence the share -

A man stood at a metro station in Washington DC and started to play the violin; it was a cold January morning. He played six Bach pieces for about 45 minutes. During that time, since it was rush hour, it was calculated that thousand seven hundred people went through the station, most of them on their way to work.
Three minutes went by and a middle aged man noticed there was musician playing. He slowed his pace and stopped for a few seconds and then hurried up to meet his schedule. A minute later, the violinist received his first dollar tip: a woman threw the money in the till and without stopping continued to walk. A few minutes later, someone leaned against the wall to listen to him, but the man looked at his watch and started to walk again. Clearly he was late for work.
The one who paid the most attention was a 3 year old boy. His mother tagged him along, hurried but the kid stopped to look at the violinist. Finally the mother pushed hard and the child continued to walk turning his head all the time. This action was repeated by several other children. All the parents, without exception, forced them to move on.
In the 45 minutes the musician played, only 6 people stopped and stayed for a while. About 20 gave him money but continued to walk their normal pace.. He collected $32. When he finished playing and silence took over, no one noticed it. No one applauded, nor was there recognition.
No one knew this but the violinist was Joshua Bell, one of the best musicians in the world. He played one of the most intricate pieces ever written with a violin worth 3.5 million dollars. Two days before his playing in the subway, Joshua Bell sold out at a theatre in Boston and the seats averaged $100.

This was a real story posted by Washington Post…we have socialized ourselves out of enjoying the fresh balmy breeze, the fluttering birds, the little frisky chipmunk, the smiling neighbor next door…the concerned friends and of course the famous musician…very preoccupied with career and life choices and before we know it life passes us by…pause…rewind…what is your next move?

Monday, October 11, 2010

For the love of a child : Bread Rolls

Some mothers are kissing mothers and some are scolding mothers, but it is love just the same, and most mothers kiss and scold together. ~Pearl S. Buck

Circa 1983
The little girl rushed home in the heat…a sense of anticipation in her every step. Evenings were the time when Ma kept Tiffin ready for her. It was always a taste adventure – Piping Hot Tomato Cheese Pizza, Spongy Cake with Pink Icing, Spiced Beetroot Cutlets and Samosas. On the days that Ma was busy and could not make Tiffin she got the sponge cake from Iyengar Bakery, Tapioca chips from Hot Chips or Hot Puffs and Ginger Snaps from Adyar Bakery. The little girl never remembered a day when she came back to an empty home…there was a smiling welcome, a hug and a kiss and a hot plate of food…to her that Tiffin from Ma signified love…transcending any other emotion.

Circa 2010
The little boy sits in his car seat…it is 6.30 pm and there is a sense of anticipation in his face, His Ma is fighting her way home in the heavy highway traffic mentally preparing a viable dinner plan for him. The options were limited as the above said little boy is still not used to the Indian spices that Ma uses in her cooking. She decides to make a quick couscous pilaf and a broccoli stir-fry for the little guy. However, when Ma reaches home, she sees the loaf of fresh whole wheat bread lying on the counter and is reminded of the wonderful Bread Roll that Ma used to make for her. Piping hot and fried…oodles of taste and love…washing her hands and face she quickly starts preparing Bread Rolls for her little boy. When the little boy enters the house 15 minutes later and shouts – Mama, where are you? She beckons him to the kitchen, makes him sit down and gives him a plate with 2 piping hot bread rolls. He asks her – who made this? And she smiles and says –Bunny Rabbit asked Mama to make Bunny Rabbit Ears for you.His wolfing down the food gives her an immense sense of satisfaction.

She realizes that she is just  continuing that cycle of love…

Bread Rolls aka Bunny Rabbit Ears


4 Slices of Whole Wheat Bread
1 Large Boiled Potato (crushed)
½ Cup of Frozen Peas
½ Cup of Grated Carrots
1 Shallot (finely chopped)
A handful of fresh chopped Cilantro if you have it
Oil to Pan Fry
Masala: Dry Roasted Cumin and Coriander Powder, Amchur Powder, Turmeric Powder


Soak the Bread Slices in Water, Squeeze out all the water and keep the bread slices on a napkin sheet

For the filling – Take 1 spoon of Vegetable oil in a cooking pan. Add the Shallot (or onion) and then the turmeric and cumin and coriander powder. Add the boiled potatoes, peas and carrots, Cook the mixture till the carrots are done (about 3-5 minutes). Add Salt to taste and Amchur for a tangy bit. Cool the filling

Now take one slice of bread. Add the filling to the center. Roll the slice of bread. Roll it and with your hands seal press all sides (see the finished bread roll for a better idea).

Pan Fry in a shallow frying pan with vegetable oil. Serve hot with ketchup and love.

I am sending out this recipe to a couple events happening in the blog world –

(a) A dish starting with B :Akila’s Kitchen

(b) Kids Delight - Finger Foods : Spice your life

(c) Of Chalks and Chopsticks : Seduce your taste buds

For more information on these events please do go ahead and check out the soulful food blogs maintained by these lovely ladies, that this working mom faithfully browses through at the wee hours of morning…Insomnia you say…well that is the topic for yet another blog :)

P.S: If you do try this dish, do let me know how it turned out for you. I have been blogging almost 2 years now and the comments are few and far in between…almost makes me want to stand on a soap box and shout out – Anybody out there? Anybody in the www space who actually cares about my blogs?

P.P.S : For the photo connoisseur this picture was hastily taken with my trusty Nokia E72 and mailed to self via Mail for Exchange. And yes, it tastes way better than it looks :)

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Blue Whale Sighting...

Blue Whale:  (Balaenoptera musculus) is a marine mammal and at over 33 metres and 180 metric tons it is the largest animal ever known to have existed.

HALF MOON BAY, California, October 6th -- Researchers are trying to determine how a pregnant blue whale that washed up on a beach in San Mateo County died.

The 80-foot whale came ashore on Saturday in a rocky area at Bean Hollow State Beach in the unincorporated community of Pescadero. Her fetus was about 50 feet from her body.


Getting there wasn’t easy,

Once we got there we wondered why we even embarked on the journey.

She lay there…

Dead, Unmoving...

I turned away my face…

The smell and look of death overwhelming

Yet you realize that life went on,

Even when right next to you it had been snatched away,
From one who hadn’t even been given the chance to live…

(The dead whale had a 6 month foetus calf which was 17 foot long and lay not too far from the mother)

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Moral Dilemma: A Heart to Heart

I pack K2’s lunch box with a heavy heart. He still does not look 100% recovered from the flu and my mind is wracked with guilt. He comes up to me with a smiling face and says – Mama, I feel much better now. I stand at the door and wave him Good Bye! I quickly wrap up things at home and get on with work. When I get to work, my mind is consumed for the next 4 hours with spreadsheets and business proposals. I think about my son briefly at lunch time, hoping that he has finished the lunch box I packed for him today (K1 commented that he would eat it if it was his lunch box: Tuna Sandwich, a handful of nuts & prunes, Sweet Potato and Beets Chips, fresh grapes (purple, green and flame) and half an organic cookie).

I skip lunch and keep working till about 2.00 PM which is when the rumblings in the tummy make this Winnie search for a pot of honey…hunger assuaged it is back to spreadsheets and calls for the rest of the day. You ask me where is the Moral Dilemma: Well here it is…there are times when I am at work when I wish I were with my Young Un’ and there are times when I am with my Young Un’ when I would rather be at work staring at my computer or problem solving…does that make me a negligent employee or mom…I guess this is a question thousands of working mothers beat themselves up with…the thought that they are not 100% present and frankly overcompensate...

The past 2 weeks just whizzed by…a travelling husband (along with other parameters) made the first week whiz by followed by a Birthday party on Saturday of my close friend’s daughter and then yet another B’day party on Sunday…last Monday saw K1 sporting a 102 fever, rushing between dropping K2 off to pre-school, getting to work, getting off work, preparing some dinner for K1 and K2, and picking K2 up from pre-school saw a tired me make my way to the airport for a flight. I got back home on Wednesday night and took Thursday off …Friday saw the little tyke fight the same flu his father had…thus began the tiring weekend…I love my K2 and spending time with him, but there are times when my mind wants to shut down and rest and not answer incessant questions – why did you give me brown rice? Why is the sky blue? Why is Jinx (our cocker spaniel) black? Are you getting angry now? ; as much as I love spending the 45 minutes every meal time to make sure my son has a balanced meal (of sorts); or giving him a bath and wiping his rear, listening to his whines and pouts and occasional tantrums; his trying to wriggle out of nap time and the constant repeats of “Green Eggs and Ham” both on TV and book reads to him in the night…sometimes this “working mom” needs a break (and she really feels guilty for feeling this way). However, if I had to buckle down and choose between – working full time OR stay home with K2 I would pick the latter any time…I am glad that I don’t have to make that choice. I am even more glad that despite insane work hours, changes &commutes, travel & tendonitis and a growing baby the balance has been kept (albeit sometimes by the skin of the teeth)…and this sense of guilt, this dilemma of enjoying my work when K2 is sick will pass…I am reminded of my mother's choice to give us 100% of her time...I applaud it and then wonder if there are times when she regrets it...I share with you a picture from two and a half decades ago of a mother and a daughter where I am sure the mother went through the same thought process that her daughter is going through now...

BTW, isn’t Wednesday wonderful…still two days of work and lots to accomplish but the growing sense of anticipation for the weekend to come? We ordered K2’s B’day cake…my little guy is turning 4 and he requested a Kung Fu Panda cake (a change from the Madagascar request a month back). We are hoping this weekend is a quiet time with long walks, more animal sightings, some good food and lots of close time with family and friends.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

A Lazy Sunday...

Dinner last night  was at P.F. Changs where I gorged myself on faux chinese food in an extremely relaxing environment ( I guess some of my relaxation was due to not having to plan dinner). Morning saw us taking a walk down the bay and there we saw a  humming bird sit in the trees waiting for something...

We had a relaxed breakfast with some cardamom chai and muesli and then we went to the Farmer's market. We get our bread, cookies, banana bread ,scones and pies from this vendor

The best ever babaganoush from here

Here are the wonderful vendors who give me my fix of purple broccolli, new potatoes, garlic, brussel sprouts, shallots and beets.

And the wonderful vendor who I have been picking up eggs from for the past 6 years - hen eggs, quail eggs and sometimes duck eggs (never baluts!)

We then went to the Whole Foods for some staples and they were celebrating their 30th B'day.  We saw some leopard sharks, touched some Star Fish who had come out to join the festivities from the Marine Institute

Krish snagged himself a melon sorbet...which he ate about 2 spoons of and then mommy finished the rest. Now back to planning for the week...

How was your Sunday?

Saturday, September 18, 2010

The Story of the Lost Baby Sea Lion & the Enlightened Dal

Why did they ever invent “Back to School Nights” …Yeah! Yeah! I can hear you muttering tracking social, communication and developmental needs but have you thought of all the jugglery this mom has to do to ensure that she is prepared for this above mentioned “back to school night”… finish Friday early morning calls, work on spreadsheet for a couple hours…realize it is time for lunch and grab a little something to eat…wrap up work, plan dinner, prepare snacks for K2. When K1 and K2 got home rush out with hurried instructions on dinner for the boys…pick up A and in peak traffic make it (almost) in time for the first part of BTS Night…hear the school director talk about all the Do’s and Don’ts – Do get in time, Don’t make kids wear flip flops, Don’t over pack lunches (oops!)…after which we got to meet the teachers. K2’s teacher is a DOLL…she keeps him in line teaching him important life lessons , while making sure he eats all his lunch…I am grateful for that.

Saturday Morning saw the 2Ks and me walking the dog down the bay and we spied a lost little baby sea lion…I tried the Marine Institute to see if they would rescue it, it kept ringing to no response…after which I called 911. I waited around for a while after which I needed to take K2 to the library for a late morning show. He got to watch the Red Panda Acrobats in action. It was amazing watching the talented Wayne Huey go through the act and it is at times like this that I am glad that we have access to so many wonderful activities. A quick lunch of Quesadillas and Cheese Cake and K2 is ready for his nap…

This week I tried an Express Meal and it made me feel so happy and full that I wanted to share the recipe (and the love) with you of this warm comforting dish which literally took me 10 minutes to make (of course in my trusty pressure cooker, if made in a Dutch pot it would probably take about 30 minutes)…interested in buying a pressure cooker, check out Amazon (If you have money to throw around then Kuhn Rikon is the way to go). My pressure cookers are all Indian…ones that I picked out myself and carried back from India (cost me between $20-50 and last a while). Anyway coming back to what I made, I call it the Enlightened Dal...K1...the non vocal critique said this was the best Dal he had ever had


  1. 1 Cup Red Lentils (Masoor Dal) – soaked for a couple hours will make it cook faster
  2. 1 Carton Low Sodium Creamy Organic Tomato Soup ( I used the one from Trader Joes)
  3. 8-12 cloves of Garlic (finely chopped)
  4. 1 Habenaro (finely chopped)
  5. 1 Red Onion (finely chopped)
  6. Spices – Sprinkle of Asafetida (hing), ½ teaspoon Turmeric powder, ½ teaspoon roasted cumin powder
  7. 1 Lemon, Chopped Fresh Cilantro
  • Heat one teaspoon of ghee
  • Add Asafetida, Cumin and Turmeric Powder, when it turns fragrant add in the onion, garlic and habenaro and slowly cook till caramelized (not burnt)
  • Add the Red lentils and mix for a minute or two
  • Add the contents of the soup carton.
  • Pressure Cook for 4 whistles or cook in Dutch Pot till the lentils are cooked through and extremely soft.
  • Add salt to taste, Squeeze lemon, Add Chopped Fresh Cilantro.
I ate this with some piping hot brown rice and a side of curried peas and cabbage.

Did you know that Red Lentils are a great source of protein, folate, iron and vitamin B1. Tomatoes are a source of lycopene, one of the most powerful natural antioxidants. Cilantro fights diabetes and is widely used as a carminative much like Cumin and Turmeric is a powerful antiseptic and antibacterial agent while Hing fights flus and is yet another powerful spice…Did you do anything good for your body this week?

P.S - Pictures of the Baby Seal, Red Lentils Dal and the Red Panda Acrobats

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Revisiting Good and Evil…

I saw a movie this weekend that left me with a lot of disturbing thoughts. The interesting thing is that this was a Telugu Movie, a language I am not familiar with and I mostly understood happenings through subtitles…despite this fact the movie had a deep impact on me  and it was humbling (JL, I won’t ever laugh over your tears for KKHH subtitles…I understand). The movie was Manirathnam’s famous (infamous) Villain which has also been remade in Hindi as Raavan with a famous actor son playing the lead role.
The basic premise of the movie is that ethics is very personal. As Aristotle put it,
When a person acts in accordance with his nature and realizes his full potential, he will do good and be content. At birth, a baby is not a person, but a potential person. To become a "real" person, the child's inherent potential must be realized. Unhappiness and frustration are caused by the unrealized potential of a person, leading to failed goals and a poor life. Aristotle said, "Nature does nothing in vain." Therefore, it is imperative for persons to act in accordance with their nature and develop their latent talents in order to be content and complete. Happiness was held to be the ultimate goal. All other things, such as civic life or wealth, are merely means to the end. Self-realization, the awareness of one's nature and the development of one's talents, is the surest path to happiness.
Our Indian Belief system however has very clear cut definitions of Good and Evil and it was inconceivable that what might be treated Good by one belief system could be bad in another…take for example Ramayana – Rama was absolute good vs. Ravan who was the epitome of bad. In reality, Rama lost a little bit of my respect when he distrusted his wife and asked her to go thru’ Agni Pariksha to prove her virtue…but how can the acts of a God be deemed Evil…yet by doing what he did Rama actually ensured that women were assured a lower place in the already firmly patriarchal society. The movie  strengthened my belief that there is no right answer on ethics – it is very personal and shaped by the way you have been socialized. To toast this discovery I want to share with you a very special recipe that I created this week…
Black & White Chili
Soak Overnight Black Beans (1 cup) and Canelli Beans (1 cup)
1.       In a pressure cooker or Dutch pot – Fry 2 finely chopped  Red Onions, 2-8 pods of crushed garlic (based on your preference), 1-2 Chilies ( Serrano, Jalapeno, Poblano…or Habenaro depending on your spice tolerance level)
2.       When the Onions have browned, add three chopped tomatoes (you can add some veggies like Carrot or Celery but this week I decided not to add any).
3.       Roasted Cumin Powder, 3 crushed All-Spice (optional), Cardamom Powder, Turmeric  Powder (again optional and I use it for health benefits)
4.       At this stage add in ground meat if you are adding any for browning ( I usually skip this stage as I don’t add meats)
5.       I add the beans and Organic Vegetable Stock
6.       If you are simmering in Dutch Pot, let it simmer for 60 minutes to 90 minutes. If you are lucky like me and own a pressure cooker, let it go for 12 whistles on low to medium heat…trust me seems like a lot but it needs it.
7.       Let the Chili rest.  Stir add Salt to taste and squeeze in the juice of a lemon to taste.
8.       Serve with lots of chopped fresh cilantro and a piece of crusty bread
This dish is ALL good for you, with each cup of Chili giving about 15-18 grams of fiber (over 65% of DV) and 7-10 grams of Protein. I usually serve an easy tomato and cucumber salad with this chili. What beans do you have in your pantry? I currently have Dark Red Kidney Beans, Lima Beans, Pinto Beans, Aduzki Beans, Black Beans, Black Eyed Beans, Black and Pale Garbanzo Beans…one of my tenets for simple living – Eat less meat, add more organic lentils and legumes as a good solid source of protein…

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Change...and Ganesh Chaturthi.

I am a creature of habit – I like the same old music (think “Dil Apna Preet Parai" genre”)…I abhor the shuffle and remixes, I love to rewind and replay the originals; I love the smell of lavender, Crime Serials, my hot cup of green tea and dark chocolate pieces in the night, my landline phone and the long chats to India, my Sunday trip to the Farmer’s Market …the only area where I have gotten out of my comfort zone and accepted change is Food and my Son. No two days are the same with K2; it’s almost like living on the seat of my pants wondering what new things I will learn today.
The long weekend was relaxed. Some shopping for K2…actually a lot of it…he had his first turkey hot dog on a stick and relished it…we grilled some Salmon Burgers in the night and K2 enjoyed his burger too. On Sunday after our trip to the Farmers Market where we picked up Tomatoes, Broccoli, Carrots, New Potatoes, Shallots, Spinach, Habenaros, Eggs, Babaganoush and Scones, we went down to the Greek Festival in the afternoon, we admired the old church in the hills…listened to some melodious hymns, had some awful souvlakis and breaded fried calamaris that were being passed on as Greek cooking…came home hot and red (it was 100 degrees outside). In the evening we met R& M and A& his parents for dinner…some spicy south Indian food and animated conversations later, we realized it was midnight and time to head home. On Monday we met up with N square and B for a foodie inspired lunch cooked up by Dahling N…she had made hummus that she zussed up with Habenaro peppers, a corn relish and she grilled up tonnes of veggies along with a Moroccan inspired lamb and Salmon…we trundled home all full and happy and spend the evening getting ready for the week.
This week was a blur of early morning meetings and Friday saw us with some “big news” at work…not sure yet how this will play off but the biggest emotion I feel is – hope. As I said before, I am not big on change but in this case change is necessary for not just surviving but winning…failure is not an option and only existing is not a criterion….so we will see how this change plays out for us. I welcomed the weekend with open arms…a grounding yoga class, a trip to Whole Foods and a relaxed Friday dinner at home with the 2 A’s and 2 R’s was the precursor to a relaxed Saturday.
Saturday is Ganesh Chaturthi…a very famous festival in India. I have seen a lot of people look at the elephant pendant I *always* wear – he is Ganesha, he is the God who removes all obstacles…lore says that if you rub Ganesha’s huge tummy while you mentally ask him for a wish, he will grant it. He is my absolute favorite god. I remember spending time in the Siddhi Vinayak temple in Besant Nagar and the total sense of peace I got…anyway the morning saw K1 and me go serially to the gym…him for his workout, me for Yoga after which we went to the Sunnyvale temple with R& M and S and A and his parents. We went to a new place for lunch called Mayuri…the food was good. We will be going for puja to a friend/colleague’s house in the evening…we are looking forward to introducing K2 to Hindu rituals, pujas and things that we grew up with as kids…Sunday I hope will be relaxed – I am planning on buying this beautiful Kabocha that has been seducing me with it’s green golden beauty…reminding me that Summer is almost over giving way to Fall…hold still time…let me enjoy the last of the sweet corns, the tangy tomatoes and the delicious juicy peaches…Change why do I look forward to you and yet at times resent the very fact that you exist…