Tamil Nadu has a bustling “snack scene”. While most Tamil households practice the “tiffin” culture, (a small meal between lunch and dinner at around 4 o’clock) that consists of idli, dosa, adai or such, my family partakes in the “evening tea”. And no, we’re not British. I have fond memories of my extend, boisterous family spending our evenings talking about politics, religion and sharing anecdotes (some even for the millionth time) over bottomless cups of tea and golden brown masala/paruppu(dal) vadais.
The combination of tea and vadai was the most popular item in my house. My mother would fry batch over batch of crispy vadais, enough to satisfy the endless stream of guests that waltzed in to my home (many of whom I think came just for the tea).
I remember hovering impatiently over the hot kadai pestering my mother to “make it soon”. ‘Cause Lord knows, I was always hungry. Considering the amount of time I spent talking to my mother in the kitchen, I never actually managed to cook anything. So when it came to the vadai I took care of the consumption while she did the manufacturing.
Cut to last week when I decided to make these vadais because what’s Ramadan without some oily goodness clogging up your blood stream . I scanned the Interwebz high and low for a recipe that fit. Nothing managed to click. Finally I gave up and decided to just wing it. I soaked the dal and chopped the onions, green chillies and ginger. Few hours later I was frying up slightly misshapen, but delicious vadais. Turns out the time I spent in the kitchen was of use. While I didn’t pay attention to what or rather, how my mother made the food, my brain was passively recording everything for future use.
And that, my friends, is why you should never take yourself for granted.
Also, y’all are welcome to my house anytime for tea and vadai.
“My dramas don’t help me sleep, they simply allow me to pretend that I’m somebody else, someone who’s not lying saucer-eyed on a sweat-drenched mattress, watching minutes flap forward and awaiting the dawn of another dry day.”
.. not the movie. I’ve been doing a lot of self reflecting this Ramadan (don’t laugh) in order to become a better person on the whole. I was thinking about grudges and how some of them consume us like a fire. I have decided to not hold grudges against anyone and not feel so strongly when someone else holds a grudge against me. I realize that everyone is dealing with their own issues and holding on to one hurtful thing that someone said eons ago is not going to make my life any easier. Holding a grudge is like adding on an excess weight to my shoulder that I do not want. I don’t want to waste precious time in my life from wondering why so and so was mean, rude, etc.
I’ve decided to be carefree about these things and not let them gnaw at my brain. ‘Cause really, no good can come from these resentful thoughts.
P.S : How horrible was that movie The Grudge? I despise the entire horror genre.
The white screen with a blinking cursor is very daunting. This was one of the reasons why I was away from this space for a long time. I felt like I didn’t have anything to say and my little pot of “inspiration” was shrinking, smaller and smaller until it stopped existing. Although the empty screen did call out to me, coming back to it was like an elastic pull – forced but meant to be.
The past few weeks I have been in denial that I don’t have a procrastination problem. I’ve also been fasting for long hours. While it was hard for the first couple of days I have now got in to the groove of it. Eating bajjis and pakodas might cancel out the process of fasting, but this year I told myself I will not waste food. So we’ve been having leftovers every alternate day. And its been good so far.
I have also written so many amazing blog posts IN MY HEAD. My creative juices only start to flow when I reach the stage before REM. So right after I nod off to sleep I come up with these amazing ideas and story lines and tell myself to “remember this Zarine, you’re going to type it out in the morning”, and then I fall asleep. I wake up and all that amazingness is gone. Its a terrible, terrible thing.
Last week I sprained my neck sleeping on a flat pillow. Not just one, but both sides. I couldn’t turn left or right. Straight was the only direction. Not only were my movements hindered, it was also painful. I slathered myself with Tiger Balm (tiger not included) and wrapped my neck in a heat pack. Last night I was desperate for some relief so I Googled ‘neck pain cure’ and found an interesting acupuncture remedy. You guys, trust me when I say that it WORKED LIKE A CHARM. All you need to do is press the area between your forefinger and middle finger at the back of your hand. Press hard and make small circles while you turn your head from side to side. Do it on the hand that is in the opposite side of the sprain. I know it sounds like some voodoo, mumbo jumbo but it honestly works. The pain begins to subside and you get a greater range of motion. I woke up this morning with the pain reduced by 50 %. The next time I sprain my neck (it happens quite often) I know that I have a handy cure.
You ask, in order to entirely eliminate this neck sprain situation, Zarine, why don’t you get a harder pillow? Believe me, I’ve tried. This is my third pillow. Ikea has a terrible collection of pillows when it comes to the firmness. They have various pillows for side and back sleepers. I’ve tried both. They suck equally. In Madras I used a decent, solid pillow that didn’t sink to the floor when I placed my head on it.
I am venting over a pillow and a sprained neck for half this post. Either I’m really angry or my inspiration comes from bedroom textiles.
I had a terrible Sunday, you guys. I woke up (with great difficulty) to a breakfast of Turkish sausage and eggs. And that’s where the nice part ends. Since I wanted to eat a steak for lunch I thought it would make sense if I exercised a bit before. So I decided very enthusiastically, to go swimming. On the way to the pool my stupid allergies flared up but I pushed it aside and swam anyway. Once my arms were the perfect shade of grey I decided it was time to get out. Note: Was still very excited about the prospect of steak.
We drove to the store to get my Kosher certified Angus beef steak only to find that it was the ONLY MEAT ITEM ON THE SHELF THAT WAS COMPLETELY SOLD OUT. How is that even possible? Did the Universe decide that it wants to mess with my cravings? ‘Cause I’ve been wanting this steak for over a week. I even bought organic Yukon Gold potatoes to roast AND I AM NOT AN ORGANIC PERSON.
Depressed and defeated I settled for Kosher Angus beef burgers. I put Jay to work on the new cast iron skillet we bought for the steak WHICH WE NEVER GOT TO EAT.
The beef burgers were good and I roasted the potatoes anyway because.. well, just because.
Note: Allergies decided to party IN MY NOSE and I could only breathe through like, half a nostril.
At this point I realized that I didn’t dry out my wet hair and I felt feverish.
SIDE BAR: I told Jay I am feeling “somewhat”, which is Zarine for sick. And he asked “somewhat as in?”. I said I feel hot and cold at the same time AND HE LOOKED AT ME LIKE I WAS MENTAL. Feeling hot and cold is a legit sickness. He just doesn’t know it yet.
Now added to my 99 problems my left heel decided it wanted to join the shindig and started hurting like a little *beep*.
I didn’t feel like eating the dinner I made (methi bhindi masala) so I roasted two corn(s)? Cobs? Slathered it with Amul butter and salt. I was tired from all this drama so decided to go to bed early. I kept tossing and turning throughout the night. I always sleep on my side but now when I do, I can only breathe through one nostril. So now I sleep on my back, this way I have access to half of each nostril. I was out of Zyrtec so Jay offered to buy me a huge pack in the morning. After he left for work and after I treated myself with a mango to cancel out the crappy Sunday I had, I took one pill. I didn’t know antihistamines were this strong because I literally went through the day in a haze. It is a wonder I didn’t fall asleep over my cooker while making lunch.
I just inhaled one third of a watermelon and am now waiting for 8 PM which is a respectable time to go to bed.
I’m not big on Hallmark holidays but once I heard that Friday was National Donut Day (yeah, its a thing) I had to get some donut in to my system. We woke up bright and easily on Saturday, excited to try out a local donut shop called Stan’s Donut and it was such a disappointment. I had to erase that memory of the bad donut so Sunday evening we went to a good ol’ donut corporation – Krispy Kreme and I had my favorite original glazed chocolate donut. To further quell my greed I had two more. Go ahead and judge me. It was worth it.
I have this terrible sickness where if I start watching a tv show or a movie I have to watch it till the end no matter how terrible it is. This past couple of months I painfully sat though Desperate Housewives. It was so exhausting but I HAD to know what happens in the end. Now I am watching the last season of Beverly Hills that I stopped while I was in college with a bit of 30 Rock on the side. I’m itching to watch Orange is The New Black but waiting for my finals to end before I get sucked in to that vortex.
A couple of nights back in order to save the mutton from getting burnt Jay mutilated my tea vessel to place it inside the pressure cooker. I haven’t had my Lipton tea in two days now and I’m going just the tiniest bit insane. Speaking of tea, Oprah came up with a new tea. Starbucks sells it, so if you want one you have to ask for an “Oprah Chai Tea Latte”. Its a mouthful. N is a huge Oprah fan so I tried the tea for her sake. It tasted like sugar water with ground cloves. Americans have such average taste buds. They should taste my mother’s ginger tea. It’s so good that she could mass manufacture it.
Since my daily life is so glamorous I decided to document what I did every weekend. So the weekend came and went, Monday came and went, Tuesday came and went, Wednesday came and went. Now its Thursday. I think we’ve now established that I am the queen of procrastination.
Anyways, I spent the weekend cooking some really terrible tasting lemon and shrimp pasta. Never going to attempt making pasta with shrimp ever again. Never buying frozen shrimp out of laziness ever again.
Also watched X-Men on sunday. I slept halfway in to the movie and I never do that. So now I know I’m getting old.
I also met a lady this week who said I have a great personality. Should have made her tell that to my mom.
If the procrastination bug doesn’t bite me I will be back next week.
Every summer holidays my mother would enroll me in some class or the other. So, I have done a little bit of everything – dancing, painting, drawing, playing tennis and swimming. The only activity I did for a longer period of time was swimming. Apart from the holidays I started going even on weekends and I enjoyed it. The lady who taught me swimming was a character. The pool we swam in was indoors and pretty small. There were around fifteen kids, one female coach and one male coach. The female coach, I never saw her in normal clothes but while inside the pool she would wear her thaali, one thick gold chain and three chunky gold bangles on either hand. She would shout at us every chance she got. But somehow I managed to swim quite decently, and by the time I got better it was 10th standard and all extra curricular activities had to stop because I had to concentrate on Board Exams because OH MY GOD the world will end if I don’t get in to a good college.
Now that my Board Exam days are behind me, I decided for the benefit of my overall health, I should get back in to swimming. But I cringed at the thought of wearing a traditional “swimsuit” in public. Yeah, I love my body and all that jazz but I am not going to risk a swimsuit riding up my butt in public. During my trip to Dubai last year I managed to find a “modest” swimsuit that a) did not cost a million dollars and b) did not make me look like a clown. The suit I got was very similar to a wet suit. It ticked all my boxes and I was thrilled.
My University has a huge Olympic sized pool and I’ve been swimming there for the past few weeks and I love it! It took me a while to get used to the water and I still can’t breathe while I swim and I hang out only in the shallow 4 feet end of the pool BUT I feel amazing! My back pain which was one of the main reasons why I wanted to swim hasn’t bothered me as much, I don’t feel like I am lugging around a few extra pounds and I smell like chlorine. The only disadvantage is that since it is an open pool and the sun is crazy harsh in California I have tanned like crazy. I’m not tan like golden brown tan. For some reason I tan in an awful grey color. So unappealing. I tried using sunscreen but it was a fail. My arms are black and my face always looks dirty no matter how much I exfoliate. I could only think of this one relative who used to say, “You shouldn’t play in the sun too much. You will get tan and your “color” will go off. Then who will marry you?”