Friday, January 29, 2010

Bonjour Froideur…

The past two weeks have been marvelously swift in passing by with a Whoosh…the non-stop rains, the thunders and hail storms very atypical California seem to be heralding an atypical year. With the incessant rain is this constant cold that permeates me to the very bones…I long for the Sun while holding on to a hot mug of miso soup and sniffling back an imminent sneeze (with my house heated up to 70 degrees). The weather here has been wet and gloomy and yet thrown into that mix is a trip out across the pond – to a place far away and the question I get from my son is – Mama, are you going to visit Santa (yeah! K1 put him up to it) and I say – No Sweetie - But maybe I will see a reindeer or two (at least on someone’s plate)…I definitely will stop complaining about 50 degrees when I am getting on a plane to go tomorrow to a place which is about 40 degrees colder…yikes!
Two important milestones happened this week – my Dad’s B’day and K1 and my 9th wedding anniversary. We spent some quiet time with my dad on Friday with a trip to the temple and dinner out at a wonderful Indian restaurant “Turmeric”. Saturday was a quiet day spent with the family and a few close friends. K1 was traveling Sunday which pretty much meant K1 and me were in different states for our wedding anniversary. Given his travel schedule and mine and K2’s sniffles, we have promised ourselves a night out in a week (touché)…he did UPS me a wonderful SLR camera, that I am sure I will take a lot of pictures with…

On a flight this week, I had the chance to read a book “Alone in the kitchen with an Eggplant”. A book with essays by people on their favorite foods when they are eating alone….I instantly remembered my favorite meal alone…so I will let you on to my secret – Maggie Noodles and Egg Bhurji…I can see some people go huh!

Maggie Noodles is the queen of noodles in India (all things this good have to be feminine)…just put in water and they are ready in 2 minutes (not very different from Ramen Noodles…but in my mind the best) -my flavor of choice Masala.
Egg Bhurji – a simple egg dish… also known as Indian scrambled eggs …I call it a work of art. Mine have Onions, Chillies, and Tomatoes and are garnished with Cilantro and Maggie Hot & Sweet…and the secret was the order of adding in the ingredients and letting your nose tell you when the dish was done…

The combination…a match made in heaven…my go to meal when I am alone in the house (which is seldom now)…even now as I sneak in some time alone listening to my son’s gentle snores…I think about the four packets of Maggie Noodles lying in the pantry and the brown eggs in the fridge…they are calling to me…yes! Miso Soup does leave you longing for something a little bit more substantial…any way what is your special go to meal when you are single…alone…?
P.S : Thanks to my friend D who confirmed that Froideur indeed means Coldness…and I can sound so frou frou…So I say it again – Hello Coldness! Here I come…

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Its raining cats and dogs...

The past couple days have been dreary – unusual storm warnings, hailstorms, pouring rain…that feeling that everything will stay forever wet…yeah yeah! I can see you folks in Europe or even East Coast snigger at me ( a person in Sunny California complaining about the weather).
K2 has caught the much dreaded Strep Throat and obligingly passed it on to me. So both me and K2 are on antibiotics…what’s new – K2 has always been the carrier and me on the receiving end.

On the work side of things, I don’t have it all together yet …but the learnings are amazing and I am gaining a broader perspective on things and stretching myself which is wonderful.

To keep my cold at bay, my mother concocted this wonderful tomato pepper rasam which has dispelled some of the sniffles and sneezes…heres a quick recipe for a wonderful cold soother –

  • Lentils water - 1 cupCook (Lentils in pressure cooker reserve the water for this recipe)

  • Tomato - 1 big Ripe one

  • Garlic - 1 pod

  • Jeera - 1 tsp

  • Red chilli - 1

  • Pepper corns - 1 tsp

  • Curry leaves - few

  • Cilantro for garnishing and the added zing


  • Fenu greek seeds - 1 tsp (methi)

  • Red chilli -1

  • Ghee - 1/2 tsp (clarified butter, you can substitute with Vegetable Oil)


  • Grind the tomato, jeera, peppercorns, curry leaves, garlic to fine paste (preferably with a mortar and pestle)

  • Dilute it in the Lentils water and adjust the consistency. Simmer

  • Heat the Ghee, add the seasoning (separately), then the simmering liquid

  • Add Salt to taste & Garnish with coriander leaves.

Heaven in a cup!How has your week been?

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Once Upon a Wandering Mind…

As, I was trying to get my mind to focus on a 100+ page document that I had to finish reading by end of this week, my mind wandered away…far away to the rain drenched soil outside, the incessant beat of the winds against the trees, the jewel like brightness of the waters…I finally gave up the battle with a flighty mind and took a much needed break with a cuppa ginger laced chai and a little voice calling me downstairs “ Mama…Boxing “…K2 wanted to play Boxing on Wii Sports (and of course Mama always ends up winning)…I glanced at the watch…7.30 PM, I decided to give myself a break and boxed a couple rounds with K2.
My mother had already cooked dinner and just the familiarity of eating a meal from my childhood brought a warm sense of peace and quiet to my wandering mind. Here’s to my wandering mind settling down and focusing on the task at hand. A beautiful poem written by Robert Frost, “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening” comes to mind …

Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house
is in the village, though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.
My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.
He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound's the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.
The woods are lovely, dark, and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.
P.S: A picture outside my place…peaceful and quiet, taken with my E71.

Monday, January 11, 2010

The Wandering Onesie...

As I had a tug of war with my 3 year old, trying to convince him that Onesies were for night time and he needed to wear his thermal Tee to his pre-school...No Onesies (or I got the evil eye from the teacher)...admidst sorrowful wails and loud proclaimations of - Don't love Mommy!...I took a tortured minute to curse the invention of the Onesie...
I can mentally see some of you scratching your head and wondering Onesie...what the heck is she talking about? Onesies® is actually a brand name of the one-piece, t-shirt-like baby garment that has snaps across the diaper and keeps it in place and gives the mom easy access to the diaper at diaper change time...a huge boon when your child is 6 months old and you change the diaper...umm...let's see about a dozen times every day...a huge BANE when you are potty training your lil' guy...Deception is key here. The routine we go through at 8.00 AM in the morning, is --
(A) Let him know he will be wearing a Tee not a Onesie
(B) Watch him pout, tears fill his eyes, wails etc. etc.
(C) Tell him I will take your Onesie to school and let your teacher make you wear it
(D) Actually carry above mentioned Onesie to school
(E) When he sees his teacher he actually forgets mommy holding the onesie and runs to teacher
(F) Mommy beats a hasty retreat with onesie....

Score :1 to Mommy (yeah right!)

I unwound this weekend by re-reading a book on "Situational Leadership" by Ken Blanchard called "Leadership and the One Minute Manager". What I liked about the book was how simple some of the concepts were...
(A) Clear Goal Setting
(B) Goals aligned to Competence and Commitment
(C) One shoe doesn't fit all --- Situational Leadership
(D) Feedback and Follow up Loop
I absolutely love how applicable to real life Ken's approach is...I have benefitted a lot from his books and keep going back and re-reading a number of his concepts and with each new job/role/year, I get a new perspective.
Did I mention that I also unwound this weekend with hot cups of Indian Chai, Vegetable Fritters, Amazing Indian food cooked by my mother...Love it. How was your weekend? Ready for the long week?

Friday, January 8, 2010

Since strangling isn't an option...

The past week has been a mishmash of activities….K1 has been missing in action…you guessed right, travelling and K2 has been angelical in parts and tempestuous in others. K2 has started eating regular food vs. baby food – Cereal, Milk and Bananas for Breakfast, Roti with Curds and Vegetable Cutlets for Lunch and Rice and Dal and Vegetables for dinner…my baby is growing up.
Over the weekend, K1 and I had made a trip out to Borders and picked up a couple books to read over the next month. K1 had given me a sneaky smile and picked up this book titled “Since Strangling isn’t an option”…I have to admit that I was tempted to pick the very same book up 10 minutes before K1 but K1 was not the protagonist in mind…ahem! Lesser said the better. K1 picked up another interesting book – “The Starfish and the Spider – The Unstoppable power of Leaderless Organizations”. I fully intend to read that one too. I picked up two books (the board books that I picked up for K2 don’t count…). One was titled “Alone in the kitchen with an Eggplant”…you guessed it a Food Book which is a tribute not only to food but also to the art of preparing, respecting and savoring it. I also picked up “Good Kids, Bad Habits – The Real Age Guide to raising Healthy Children”. I don’t know what it is about a library or a book store – the smell of books is one of the most comforting smells for me which puts me in a warm and happy place everytime.
Every time I go to a restaurant, I order myself a perfect plate – Grilled Vegetables verdure– a brush of olive oil, fresh crushed pepper and sea salt with 2 squeezes of lemon and extra garlic. Yet everytime, I see K1’s plate of extra spicy Chicken Capellini, I am tempted to sneak a couple bites from it. The other person’s buy or plate is more enticing than your own. Predictably, the book I started my journey with was the fascinating book “Since Strangling isn’t an option”…I was ready for some one to start sermonizing from the word Go…yet what I got was this wonderful plethora of tips and suggestions which were surprisingly easy to comprehend and made sense to follow (almost a sense of why didn’t I think of this?). There was a chapter which likened human beings personality types to animals and I absolutely loved the chapter almost as much as I love the BCG Matrix for performance appraisals and portfolio management. I especially liked the concept of “Verbal Aikido”…defend yourself but don’t injure the attacker (very contrary to my current policy – hit where it hurts the most…I never said I played nice :) ). Verbal Aikido is the technique of redirecting a conversation with a difficult person in the direction you want it to go. Sample verbiage includes "Here are your options...” and "You make the choice."

What I liked about this book was it didn’t really stereotype a “difficult person”…the fact of the matter is – one man’s poison is another man’s wine…I might be in a situation where I want to strangle X but Y might think X is easy to get along with. My perspective of X is at a variance from how Y sees him. However, neither one of us is wrong nor right…I have a couple proactive steps I can take –

(A) Understand the root cause of why I think X is difficult
(B) Gauge whether X’s behavior towards me is the basis of his behavior in general
(C) See whether I can change X’s behavior using some of the techniques explained in the book
(D) Finally if all fails, try to disengage myself from the situation

The reality, at least for me is that there is no silver bullet for all of Life’s issues and there is no secret recipe to being someone everyone would adore and love or get along with. What is critical is that “I try to make it work and get to the root cause of conflict and fix it…if that doesn’t work; I move on…Life is too short

So what's on your reading list for January?