Of wishful thinking

My head feels heavy

But I pep talk myself out of bed.

It’s only the first day.

It’s only for a month, I tell myself.

I can live without you.

But the just the thought of it

makes me want to curl up under the quilt

and not face the day without you.

I think of you and how you make me feel.

How you being here fills my days with possibilities.

Your warmth

Your strength

heck, even your bitterness.

They say you are bad news. Not good for me.

I sit here, my head filled with with thoughts of you

Your essence,

and I wonder how I will face the day without you.

And I find my will power waning.

Screw it! I don’t want to go a month without you.

the very fact that I thought I could was just wishful thinking on my part.

I slowly get out of bed and head to the kitchen

and make myself a cup of my felix felicis.

 A cup of what I consider black gold.

my hug in a mug

And as I sip my cup of coffee

I let go all those stupid ideas of doing a cleanse.

Not giving up coffee for anything.

Thank you very much!

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Writing as a part of team Blue Lagoon on the prompt ” Wishful Thinking.”

 

 

 

Of a life well lived

She went away one morning

to a place we couldn’t reach

Leaving each of us to grapple

with indescribable grief

We never realized the depth of love

and the effect one person could have

how much we took for granted

our history

our ties

and the people in our lives

the way she brought us all together

the strength of those relationships

bound by love

fragmented because of a lack of trust

Her going made us realize

how fragile our lives are

without the ones we cherish.

that strength and fragility of relationships

were two sides of a coin called love

In death, she bound us stronger

a shared love that brought us closer,

one that made us call and talk to each other more

one that still saw us sharing memories two years since

one that made our circle a little stronger

even though we were so different,

even though we were more prone to disagree than agree on anything.

even though we had hurt each other in the past.

She lives on

through stories.

through the values she passed on.

through the memories that pop up on a random day.

And most of all because she lived a life,

one that will be remembered for her grace

her strength.

and a love that has bound four generations

with something a lot more than just shared bloodlines.

 

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Writing as a part of team Blue Lagoon.

What you don’t know

You know how when Sheeba told you about her new job, you felt a little envious?

What you don’t know is that all she wanted was to stay at home with her 3 month old, but  because money is tight she has to work.

You know how you thought some people have all the luck when you saw Prisha- confident, put together, wealthy,  has it all?

What you don’t know is that she deals with crippling anxiety issues.

You know how you looked at Dilip and thought,” How irresponsible can a guy get? ”  because he always went riding every weekend rather than stay home with his family or study.

What you don’t know is that riding was his escape. He just couldn’t take his parents fighting anymore.

You know how you looked at Shanaya and her husband’s holidays pictures and thought,

” Well, it’s so easy to just pack up and take off when you don’t have kids”

What you don’t know if that her husband and she took this holiday after yet another IVF attempt failed.

You know how you looked at Manisha’s smiling pictures on FB and thought her constant cheery face could be a little annoying?

What you don’t know is behind that cheery facade is someone struggling with depression.

You know how you judged  Dimple’s capability as a mom did have it all when she told you about that promotion at work?

What you don’t know is that she’s dealing with an unsupportive husband and handling it all while trying to keep her dreams alive.

You know how you saw Tanay’s Audi and thought,” Well, the man sure does get paid.”?

What you don’t know is how that stressful job has screwed his health over.

You know how you looked at a fellow mom at school and felt thought that she was so strong and confident and popular?

What you don’t know if that she’s struggling with a bad marriage working doubly hard to make sure her child is alright and making sure her unhappiness is not fodder for gossip.

Sometimes, there may not be any back story behind the happiness. They may be supremely confident, it may just be another holiday, they may be in high paying jobs, and some may just have it all.

BUT

You don’t know. And what you don’t know can fill a million pages. Because everyone has their own struggles. Their own version of heaven and hell and just because it all seems together- doesn’t mean it is.

Sure while it’s human to feel a little envy- be kind. Quit the judgments.

And know that your kindness may or may not make a world of difference to the other person.

But I can tell you, it will definitely make a world of difference to your life.

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Writing as a part of team Blue Lagoon.

Stranger than fiction

Vishu is the Malayalee new year  and the first thing you see on this day  are signs of prosperity- food grains, fruits, money, gold, new clothes and of course Lord Krishna.

Here’s a scene from Vishu at home this year.

wp-1470031672589.jpg  My grandmother was full of stories. My cousins and I were the avid audience. Sometimes , I wish I had recorded all those stories. A few years ago, we were  all sitting around post lunch, talking of our plans for Vishu and my cousin said that as long as he didn’t have to see any blue bums on Vishu, he figured it would go well. He was of course talking about a scene from the movie Meesha Madhavan where the villain is pranked by a bunch of guys who paint their bums blue and bend over  so that it is the first sight that he would see on Vishu.  😀

My grandmother laughed  and said that that was nothing new.  She proceeded to tell us about the random crazy pranks that she’d  seen or heard of over the years from her aunts and Achama(my great grandmom and her mom in law). We belong to the malayalee brahmin community and in the olden days  we would offer shelter for the night to other brahmins who were travelling. This was way back in the 1920-30s. Some were distant relatives, some were friends and some were strangers. There was this one guy who was some distant relative of Achama’s and someone whom she considered the visitor from hell. He was constantly on her case, pranking and annoying her and every time she got mad, it would just encourage him to figure something that would annoy her more. The night before Vishu, she prepared the kani ( all these signs of prosperity) . The next morning she was supposed to wake up first, light the lamp and then wake up all the other members of the family.

At this point in the story , my grandmom would double up with laughter while her grinning audience would wait for her to carry on with her telling.

So Achama  woke up the next morning, kept her eyes closed and walked to where the kani was kept. She opened her eyes and instead of seeing all these auspicious signs of prosperity, she saw this idiot relative of hers,  bent over, with a bright red hibiscus flower in his butt hole!!!

Half the house was woken up that  Vishu hearing Achama giving this guy hell and it became public knowledge that the gentle brahmin lady had a vocabulary that would put a sailor to shame.

And way before Dilip & Hari Sree Ashokan ruined Jagathy Sreekumar’s Vishu in Meeshan Madhavan in 2002 , sometime in the 1930’s some idiot relative got to hear every bad word my Achama knew . And every Vishu after I see the Kani, I think of my grandmom  and this story and start my year with a big smile. It’s strange how an incident that happened over 80 years ago still brings so much of laughter and has become a part of the family folklore.

True stories from another time are sometimes real hard to believe. And sometimes, stranger than fiction.

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Writing as a part of team Blue Lagoon.

E- Eye of the storm

She stood in the balcony of her 20th floor apartment,
Facing the sea.
Grey skies, strong winds and wild waves.
“A typhoon”, they said.
The eye of the storm was heading toward her city.
What the sea showed on the outside , she felt on the inside.
A sense of restlessness that seemed to grow with every passing second.
A wildness that threatened to disrupt everything.
A feeling that something within her was about to burst.
She didn’t understand why.
She lived a good life.
She had a wonderful job.
She was financially secure.
She was married to a good man whom she loved.
She had friends.

And as she stood there trying to ignore the enormity of what she was feeling , it hit her.

There it was. Her problem. The eye of her storm.
The mind numbing everday-ness of her life.
Was that even a word?
This little feeling of wanting just that little more.
That feeling of having settled for what was comfortable.
Most people did that, didn’t they?

So why did her wonderful life make her want to cry?

Why did everything feel so ordinary?

Why did she feel like she was just about existing?

But it was time to stop the justifications.

Accept what she felt.
Without the guilt preferably.
Walk out of that comfort zone.
Do something.
Anything.
And as she sat in her balcony, the wind in her hair, she realised that the storm was never about things or the people in your life.  It was about you.

The eye of the storm was always about evolving.

D- Darkness & Depression- Reach out

 

 

The news in the last few days has been about the actress Pratyusha Banerjee’s suicide. Last year a 15 year old girl threw herself off the 10th floor of my apartment building because she was reprimanded severely in school. I saw the body and saw the mother breakdown completely. I was so disturbed that I had written about it. The number of suicides are rising. Is it just a growing hopelessness given the apathetic world we are living in or is it a refusal to talk about mental illness and its devastating effects when not treated?

To all those people feeling hopeless

here’s my wish for you

I wish you realise that we all have our light and our darkness and at various points we’ve all been in that place where the darkness overrides the light. So you’re really not alone. REACH OUT.

I wish you realise that problems are temporary and solutions can be found. If it feels too overwhelming. REACH OUT.

I wish you realise that you are special. You may not see it now, but there was, is and will always be something greater in you than your current circumstances. Relationships can break, people & money will come and go, life in general can seem very  hard. But there are people who love you, who’ll do anything to see you smile and be happy. The darkness will obscure this. So when you forget it, REACH OUT. They’ll remind you.

I wish you realise that  it truly is the darkest before dawn. But when the sun comes shining through, things won’t seem that bad anymore. But you don’t need to go through that darkest part alone. REACH OUT.

I wish you realise that there will be days when the shit hits the fan, when everything bad seems to happen together. All you might truly need at that time is a friend to tell you that they are there no matter what. REACH OUT.

I wish you realise that it’s okay to be tired. Okay to want a break from it all. Okay to feel lost and unwanted or taken for granted especially when the darkness is closing in. But the situation is not you. You are more than that.  REACH OUT.

I wish you realise that everything might be going really well and you might still be sad and cut off and not understand why. It’s okay. All you need to do is REACH OUT.

Reach out.

Because life is precious.

Because you are meant to be happy.

Because life is meant to be lived. Fully.

There will be ups and downs. There will be darkness.

BUT THERE IS ALSO LIGHT. So much of it!

REACH OUT !

Ask for help, if required.

Talk.

Bawl.

Yell.

Beat up a pillow.

Break a few plates if you must.

But reach out.

Don’t stay in that dark place.

Don’t let the darkness convince you that hope is lost.

Don’t let the darkness convince you that you don’t matter.

Because you do.

Sometimes more than you realise.

And most times- more than you will ever know.

Reach out. Please.

 

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C- Cranberry Tea from Colombo

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In January this year, a bunch of us took a girl’s trip to Colombo, Sri Lanka. It was a much needed break – filled with everything a break should- great company, a lot of fun, good food and shopping.

We went to this lovely place- a shop and cafe called Barefoot. The place was a riot of colors. We weren’t allowed any photography inside but the cafe outside was gorgeous as well.

 

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Barefoot’s got a whole bunch of interesting stuff- fabrics, linen , clothes , bags, books, and some super cute cloth stuffed toys like dinos and owls and it smells awesome.  But one of the things I loved was their collection of teas. A coffee addict , I’m game to trying anything once. So when I saw their range of flavoured teas,  I decided to get adventurous and check it out… In fact I picked up one particular box of tea bags just because I liked the brand name. It was called THE MORNING AFTER.

I’d tried mint and ginger, chamomile and basil flavoured teas before but not berry flavoured ones. So I picked up strawberry, apple and cinnamon,forest berries, raspberry and cranberry.

When I got back home, I opened up my tea loot and started trying them one by one. The apple and cinnamon smelled like I was baking an apple pie. Every evening, an hour after the kids are in bed, I stand in the balcony, enjoying my last cup of beverage for the day. it’s peaceful and my me time.  In the last month, it’s been the cranberry tea. I LOVED THE CRANBERRY TEA!!! It was tart and beautifully flavoured.

And here’s my last cup…  I just had it before writing this post this evening. 🙂

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So if you ever go to Sri Lanka, check out a little store called Barefoot. Do resist the temptation to buy the store out. And check out their flavoured teas. This recommendation comes from a coffee addict.

But I will say this.

For me, tea is good. Coffee is better. It is after all , my felix felicis. 🙂

 

 

B- Blueberries

 

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New favourite discovery in the last two years: BLUEBERRIES.

While I’d had it in a cheesecake before, I truly discovered how much I love them only in the last couple of years. It’s not something you get in India locally and fresh blueberries are ridiculously priced.

Image : Sourceblueberry_background_186064

I found frozen blueberries on Big basket and ordered them on a lark. And then scoured the internet for recipes.

The man loves blueberries too. So for his 40th birthday last year, I baked the Pioneer Woman’s Blueberry crumb cake. If you love baking and haven’t tried this, I’d highly recommend it.

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Doesn’t this look satisfyingly crumbly?!! 🙂

Aside from the fact that they taste superb, Blueberries are highly nutritious.

So I just figured a way to go ahead and include it in our daily diet- Blueberry Chia Pudding

I love Chia Pudding. So I just included the blueberries in my chia pudding. I experimented and then found the version I liked best. I preferred to make a blueberry compote and add that to the pudding and garnished it with slivered toasted almonds.

Healthy  and fabulously tasty.

RECIPE:

Ingredients:

For the pudding:

1 cup of almond milk ( use regular milk if you want)

1 tsp of honey

2 tbsp of chia seeds. 

For the Compote:

1 cup of Frozen berries

4 tbsp water

2 tbsp or substitute sugar with two tbsp of honey

2 tsp of lemon juice. 

For Garnish:

1 tbsp of toasted slivered almonds

Method:

Pudding:  Mix all the ingredients and pour into a glass container and keep it overnight in the fridge to gel. 

Compote: Mix 1/2 cup of blueberries, lemon, sugar and water in a saucepan and cook over medium heat for 8-10 minutes. Add the remaining blueberries and cook for another 5 mins. Stir frequently. 

If you are using honey instead of sugar, do not add it while cooking. Add it to the compote when warm. 

Add the compote to the chia pudding. Garnish with the almonds. 

and voilà!!

 

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Enjoy!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

A- April

A-Z of random thoughts and stories from my life, loves, food , family and books.

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She sat in her balcony surrounded by her plants,

listening to the wind chimes, on a cool summer evening.

Tomorrow would be different. Tomorrow, would be a new start.

Tomorrow would be the first of April.

April for her was all about new beginnings. It always was. Right from childhood.

It was the end of the school year and the beginning of a two month holiday.

It was the New year according to the lunar Calendar which was celebrated with gusto in her family.

It was the beginning of summer.

It was when she got her first job.

It was when she met the love of her life.

It was when she got pregnant.

April has always heralded new changes. Tomorrow would be another one.

A decision to take the reins of her life back .

She’d lost herself.. somewhere between work, marriage and motherhood.

to the point that she didn’t recognize the person in the mirror.

To finally accept that despite her fabulous and blessed life

she wasn’t living it fully.

The restlessness had come calling.

And it insisted on being acknowledged.

and she had to pick up those reins.

to create a destiny that demanded to be based on choice.

Not going along with a flow.

And as usual it was in April

that change came calling and she went along.

Difference was.. She took charge.

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Of a Hero

His mother once told me that he was stubborn (still is!)

That he got that from her.

When he was born, the oldest of 8,

His mother decided that education would be his ticket out of their difficult circumstances.

So his parents educated him. Went hungry sometimes but made sure he ate, his fees were paid and that his education never suffered.

He paid them back by making sure they never went hungry again. He went on to become the most educated person in his family. Moved out of Kerala. Took care of every one of his seven siblings and made sure that each was well settled.Made sure his parents were taken care of. Every wish his parents had, he made sure he fulfilled. Unconditionally and without expecting anything ever in return. Despite all the difficulties he’s had to face.

When it came to me, he played different roles in my life.. at different ages.

He was my elephant between the ages of 0-4

He was the master storyteller of ONE story.-of the hen who made payasam. One that he still insists on telling. It was the most important story ever since it meant I wouldn’t sleep until I’d heard it.

He was the experiment who sat patiently while I applied several coats of powder on his face, put 7-8 ponytails in his hair and three bindis on his forehead.

He was the man on my who believed that I am destined for greatness but I am also too lazy for my own good.

He was the confused relation during my angst ridden teenage years. Because he didn’t get the rebel without a cause concept, and I expected unconditional acceptance. He was the angry man and the opposition in our legendary blow-ups since we never seemed to see eye to eye on anything during this period.

I don’t know when he made the transition from angry confused relation whom I didn’t relate to, to a friend.

He was the person I talked to when I first thought I was in love.

He was the friend who made me a cup of coffee when I was hungover the first time.

He was the friend who held me while I bawled when my heart got all broken.

He once told me that I was raised to think for myself so I should use my god given brains to take decisions. To own my life and my responsibilities. If my decisions screwed me over, at least I’d know they were mine.

He’s always had my back.

Even when he didn’t understand.

Even when he was hurt and I’d hurt him bad.

Even now.

I don’t always understand him. We still argue. Fight.

But it is because of him that I am who I am. He filled the house with books when he didn’t even have a reading habit. He gave me the best education. Exposed me to things that a girl from a super conservative society in Kerala wouldn’t normally be exposed to. Told me that my grey matter and thoughts mattered and that anyone who thought otherwise shouldn’t be given any space in my life. Of course promptly regretted it when all i did was butt heads with him and his thought processes and question every damn thing. I’ve been told he was rather proud of me though thoroughly annoyed by it.

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He’s been there. Always. Counselor. Friend. Man with high standards.

He’s been there. Taking care of everything and everybody. He still does. He never gives up.

I’ve inherited quite a bit from him- my love for cooking, for good food,  and according to my mother- every single annoying habit he has.

He’s been through a lot. Hard times. Happy times. Been betrayed by people he thought were friends. Not been given his due. But through it all- his faith in people never seemed to take a beating. His love never changed.  He doesn’t hold a grudge and tends to forgive pretty damn quick. It’s taken me ( I can hold a grudge and I take a terribly long time to forgive) a long time to realize how special that quality is. That, that kind of love was a strength and not a weakness. And that forgiving meant those people never really occupied mind space. That you could continue to see the nice side to people love them for that. He was nobody’s fool, but he chose to do things he thought was right. Always. His standards were high and he upheld that- irrespective of the behavior of others. Even people who may have disliked or disagreed with him, always respected him. His work defined quality-personal or professional.

He is a person who makes the ordinary- extraordinary- just by doing it so well.

He talks to my kids everyday. They tell him stories and stuff going on with them because he lets them know that every thought they have is important to him.

He is a Hero. One that most of the world won’t meet, see or hear of.  He’s touched the life of so many people just by being the wonderful person he is.

Today he lost his brother in law. So it’s been a rough day. In the midst of death, grief and chaos-He turned 70 today. I thought it was important to celebrate life. One that has been lived beautifully so far.  Happy birthday to the first man who held my heart. My dad. I am incredibly proud to be your daughter. Whenever I meet others and see how differently and awesomely I’ve been raised- I realize I have you and Amma to be so thankful to and for. And I am. Grateful Everyday.

Happy birthday, Achan!