Events, life lessons, madras, Marriage, Travel

Questions & Answers

I’ve been away from my blog for a month because I’ve been traveling, moving and recovering from jet lag. Towards the end of 2014 I was in Madras for my brothers wedding. I was there to provide my brother with moral support and a steady stream of fart jokes. The wedding and reception were on the 30th and 31st which meant everyone was on a year end holiday so were free to attend the wedding.

My grandmother arrived a week before in order to spend some time with us. Now my grandma is a rockstar. She only ever travels with her entourage. Its like she is the honey and the entourage are the bees around it. Wherever she goes, they go. One of the ladies from her entourage, lets call her Jan, is considered to be her hand maiden. Jan is a character. Her voice has a particular pitch which is indescribable. She is loud, demanding and always wants to be the centre of attention. She is also extremely helpful and makes the best ginger tea. Jan is from Tirunelveli, just like my family. She isn’t educated, so her only mode of “learning” is the television.

Ever since both, my grandma and Jan laid their eyes on me, the only question they asked me was “Are you pregnant?”. Not “When do you intend to have a child?”, but straight up “Are you pregnant?”. I think, I THINK, I might have put on some weight since my wedding two years ago.

I am used to evading this question. I’ve had two years of experience tackling it. So this time around it didn’t bother me much. I just smiled and said “God willing”. I didn’t even bat an eyelid when on the eve of her return back to Tirunelveli Jan said, “The next time you come you should have a boy baby!”. I just attributed her need to stress on the sex of the child to her education which was nil and to her exposure to the outside world which again, is through the idiot box. I also ignored my grandma nodding in agreement to her. My grandma is over 90 years old, has ten children and so many grandchildren and great grandchildren that she can’t be bothered to count. I am just next on her list to procreate.

Once the wedding was over we had a stream of relatives come by our house to see the new bride and groom. This gave me a chance to meet all of them again before I left and also gave me the practice to hit the “When are you going to have a baby” questions outside the park. One of the women who came to visit us was a lady who I liked a lot. She is in the education field and I held her in high regard. After chit chatting and drinking adequate cups of tea it was time for her to leave. She hugged me and said in my ear, “God willing, the next time you come, you should come with a baby boy.”

Now this lady is educated. Her profession was in the field of education. She is smart, enterprising and SO BACKWARD. I do not understand her need to stress on the gender of the child. And what is this obsession with having a boy?! Did people not understand the biology they taught in school? There is a 50-50 chance of the fetus turning out any which way. No matter what we say or do isn’t going to control the sex of the fetus! We can hope, wish and pray for a boy but whoopsie when there’s a girl at the end of nine months nobody can be held responsible.

It honestly amazes me that this lady with all her education could say something like that. I didn’t bother when Jan said it, because Jan and her world are very small. But if both minds work this way then what use is education when people fail to grasp the basic concepts of life? And when is this pride of having a son going to fade? People should be thrilled at the prospects of having a girl. They should concentrate on bringing up an educated and strong woman, instead of “When you were born, we thought you would be a boy.”

The most worrying part of having a girl, at least from my observation, is what the parents will “give” her at the time of the wedding. This problem can be solved if everyone “gives” their a child, boy or girl, education and sound moral character. In this utopia both the sexes are strong enough that they don’t posses the need to compensate for their gender by bringing in money and material things into the relationship.

Clearly this utopia can only be a dream because for some people, no amount of education can rectify their basic thinking.

Also, no, I’m no pregnant.

Standard
America, life, life lessons, Travel

I’m a nice person, I swear!

Yesterday I was on a  long haul flight (15 hours) from San Francisco to Dubai. I booked the tickets a month before and made sure to select my seat on the plane – aisle – because I have a bladder the size of a lemon and while I don’t mind getting up a million times for people on the inside, I do not want to be the one to shake the sleeping person next to me.

had this experience before where I selected the aisle seat and was asked to switch for the window seat because the obese lady said she wanted to be able to move freely. I had to prod awake her and the lady traveling with her every couple of hours and lets just say it was the LONGEST FLIGHT OF MY LIFE.

Like any other day, yesterdays flight was filled with babies and I was bang in the centre of it all. There was a kid behind me, twin baby boys in front of me and the couple next to me had a toddler. Half hour into flying the lady beside me asked me if I could switch seat with her because her son liked to walk “up and down”. I thought for a minute and politely declined. I said I don’t mind getting up for you any number of times because I am alight sleeper but no, I do not want to switch seats. She was nice enough to understand and the gentleman on the other side gave up his aisle seat. That is when my conscious hit me hard and I FELT SO GUILTY.

I spent the remainder of the flight wondering if I had invited karma to come bite me in the rear years later when I travel with a child. But I also do not understand some passengers. If your really do prefer a particular seat then its super easy to select it while you book tickets (at least in most flights). And especially if you are traveling with a child wouldn’t you make sure of that as much as you can, rather than leaving it up to chance and God forbid if you sit next to a meanie like me?!

I honestly hope karma is kind to me and doesn’t return the favor.

Pros of traveling with me:

1) I bring snacks.

2) Will engage you in good conversation.

3) I don’t snore.

Cons of traveling with me:

1) I won’t switch seats.

 

 

Standard
America, Eating Out, Food, Travel

Cappuccino Tales

A few days back I was running late in the morning and decided to forego my customary cup of tea. BIG MISTAKE. I suffered a killer headache the entire day. I couldn’t wait to get to my bed and lay there forever.

This headache got me craving the smooth cappuccinos I used to drink on the daily when we visited Rome. We stayed in a tiny, charming hotel near Piazza Navona. The area was surrounded by Italian coffee shops, situated away from the touristy areas. There was this one small shop that was part grocery/part cafe where the barista made the most perfect cups of cappuccino for 1.25 euros. Most places in Europe charge extra for a “sit-down” cup of coffee. But if you stand at the bar, its considerably lesser. Every morning we’d walk down to this cafe to get our shot for the morning and bask in that caffeine glory.

IMG_8666

 

 

This coffee was on my mind throughout the week. I HAD to get a similar cup in to my system. So I dragged Jay to Chromatic Coffee in . And I finally had my luscious cappuccino, Although it wasn’t close to the Italian counterpart,  it did the job it was meant for.

Standard
books, Eating Out, Food, life, madras, Travel, TV times

Why I’ve been MIA..

It has been over a month since I signed in to WordPress. Things have been hectic and I’ve been traveliing quite a bit. When I did manage to find the time I watched a lot of Downton Abbey. And by a lot I mean A LOT. Also, I though it was Downtown Abbey. Jay was like wow Downtown Abbey like Downtown New York ah? And I was like yeah, thats how they roll. Turns out, that wasn’t how they roll.

I also read and watched Gone Girl. OHMYGOD what a mental story that was! But I loved it.

I took a short trip back to Madras and I got to witness Madras rains after two years. It was blissful. I love rain. It makes me feel so snuggly and so serene and so.. happy. There is nothing like a powercut due to heavy rains, and no food in the house – yeah, I’ve experienced that too. We are facing an extreme drought here in California. It has rained only about six, seven times in the two years I’ve been here.

Whilst in Madras I frequented Saravana Bhavan as much as I could. I have some sad news to report back my fellow Saravana Bhavan lovers, THEY HAVE REDUCED THE SIZE OF THE VADAI!!! Pre this horror when you order one plate vadai you will get : one nice big fluffy, crispy, oil drenched vadai+ chutney + sambar. Now, in the hellish present if you order one plate vadai you will get : four tiny lemon sized vadais + chutney + sambar. Safe to say, I was adequately baffled too. When I first saw the plate I was equal parts surprised and angry, (and a little scared thinking about the future). The waiter said, “Customers ellam complain pannurange madam, aanna management kekemaatikraange.

Over the past few years I have lived through many changes – getting married, moving away from home, living with a boy, seeing little cousins grow up, but this disaster revolving around the vadai is the most painful. I don’t know how I’m going to get through this. And what if I go back to Saravaan Bhavan after a year? I don’t even want to imagine the state of future vadais, its the stuff of nightmares.

So for now I leave you with this – the one decent item left in Saravana Bhavan : sambar vadai (which also has two tiny vadais).

DSC01184 copy

Standard
Book Mark, books, Random Things of Interest, Travel

Shakespeare & Company, Paris

Shakespeare & Company was one of the places in my bucket list that I’d been wanting to visit. While planning our itinerary for Paris I immediately charted out a decent block of time for this book store. On our second day after a visit to Notre Dame, which by the way is stunning, we walked across the bridge to Shakespeare & Co.

The bookstore was originally established in 1919 by Sylvia Beach and is now housed in a gorgeous 17th century building. The ground floor is packed with books from the floor to the ceiling. The musty smell of old books and the warmth makes the place feel like home. The upstairs area is basically a huge library with old, worn out chairs and beds where the hopeful writers and artists are welcome to live. This book store was at one point of time home to the greats – Hemingway and Fitzgerald. There are smatterings of writings on the walls and pictures of Orhan Pamuk, Truman Capote, etc pinned on to doors.

I cannot describe the bohemian nature, but I can show you in pictures :

DSC01061

 

 

DSC01051

 

 

DSC01048

 

DSC01057

 

DSC01056

 

DSC01050

 

DSC01049

 

DSC01058

 

DSC01055

 

IMG_8444I wanted to purchase a book here as a souvenir. And what better book to choose than Madame Bovary, one of my all time favorites, written by Gustave Flaubert. A Parisian book in Paris, it was apt.

Standard
Eating Out, Food, Travel

Becoming Parisian 101 : Embrace the carbs

When we started discussing about our trip to Europe, the first thing I was super excited for was – breakfast. To rephrase, breakfast in Paris. I am a sucker for all things loaded with carbs, and bread, is my weakness. I’m the person who loads up on free bread and butter in restaurants although a good main course is next. There is this Italian restaurant near my house that serves mediocre food but their whipped butter and fresh bread is killer. I LOVE that place. So obviously I was very psyched to try all the different croissants and baguettes.

I’ve had my share of decent croissants but guys, believe the hype when I say that the French take croissants to a whole new level! The first day we decided to have breakfast at one of the many cafés that were strewn around our hotel. All cafés in Paris follow the same theme – red, they all have outside seating and EVERYONE smokes. The tables outside these cafés are placed so close together you could totally join in the conversations and pick food off each others tables without even stretching. One day we decided to have lunch in the outside seating area and this guy was blowing smoke in my face throughout the whole meal. It was unpleasant to say the least.

While visiting most cafés we realized that the ‘locals’ had their coffee standing at the bar. We were the noob tourists “sitting down” for coffee. We later realized that coffee served at the bar is infinitely more cheaper than if you “sat down”. Its one of those “European” things that I don’t get.

Most cafés have a set breakfast menu offering one of each treat – croissant, baguette, pain au chocolat. We tried the breakfast set for a couple of days and switched things up with the Nutella crepes (chewy, chocolatey goodness) and Norwegian smoked salmon with the fluffiest, creamiest, most decadent scrambled eggs I’ve ever had the pleasure of eating. Coffee in Paris is good enough, but the coffee in Rome was the best. If you are visiting Paris first I’d recommend holding off a little on the food until you visit Rome, because that is where the magic lies.

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

DSC01004

Standard
life, Travel

That Parisian Life

If you were wondering where I’ve been these past couple of weeks well, I was prancing around Europe, seeing beautiful things and eating scrumptious food. We visited Paris and Rome for a week. While we did not manage to see EVERYTHING in Paris and Rome this trip was by no means a vacation. I was exhausted from walking on the first day so we took it easy for the rest of the trip.

Paris is a charming city. There are tiny cafes serving overpriced coffee at every turn, tourists as far as the eye can see, freshly baked baguettes and croissants. I consumed an insane amount of carbs in that four day period. While I did try some French food, it was not made for my Indian palate.

I love to people watch, and Parisian women are now my favorite. None of them brush their hair. They’ve all managed to perfect the just-got-out-of-bed look while still looking like a million bucks. They don’t wear a jeans and t shirt with sneakers like how Americans do. They either wear dresses or knee length skirts. Most of them wear practical, yet chic flats, blazers and no make up. How is it physically possible for you to look so perfect?! I think fifteen minutes is all a Parisian woman takes to get ready in the morning.

Note to self: Master the art of looking put together in fifteen minutes.

It took less than a day to feel like Paris owned me. At the end of four days I did not want to go back to my seemingly monotonous life. There were too many places that I hadn’t explored yet. The Parisian life of hanging out in cafes on a Monday morning, smoking and drinking espressos called out to me.

 

IMG_8446

 

IMG_8389

 

IMG_00000414

 

DSC01082

 

DSC01062

 

DSC01039

 

DSC01032

 

DSC01028

 

DSC00982

 

Standard
America, Eating Out, Travel

Welcome To My Life

I was struck with writers block for the past few days. I felt like I hit a mental dead end. I couldn’t think anymore and nothing seemed to inspire me. I’m not claustrophobic but at the time it sure as hell did feel like it. I needed sights, sounds and open spaces. So in the search for some air and much needed inspiration I took myself out to the city. Public transport has finally become my friend so taking a train to San Francisco and back wasn’t that bad.

It started raining the moment I reached the city but I didn’t let that deter me. I walked around Union Square. The main reason I love going to this touristy place is for the tourists – people watching, which is my favorite activity. Another thing I love about Union Square are the luxury stores, not that I can afford anything from there, yet, but the window displays are beautiful. I then walked in to Zara where cheerful yellow is the new Spring color. Feeling a uplifted and a little enthusiastic I took an armload of clothes to the dressing room. I then realized that I under estimated how much weight I had put on and I left feeling depressed.

After a spot of lunch and frolicking in the rain a little more I decided to call it a day. I took the train back and an hour later I was exactly where I had started – uninspired and claustrophobic.

In order to get rid of this awful mental state I was in, I dragged Jay to the beach a few days later.  We drove to Carmel, a tiny seaside village. North California beaches can NOT hold up to Chennai beaches. It was a pleasant day but the sea was grey and dreary with just a tiny bit of sunlight. The vacation homes that dotted the shore were adorable, right out of an Enid Blyton novel. Tiny cafes, Parisian themed bakeries, beautiful spring time flowers but no sundal or roasted corn in sight. Nonsense.

I felt like yelling to these people, “You think this is beach??? Come to Chennai and see the original beach.” Okay you cannot wear a bikini and lay on the sand (why would you when the sad could go places it is not supposed to) in Chennai but you can totally get wet in the warm water without worrying about “Aiyo I will feel cold because the wind, water, sand is all cold.”

Anyways we had coffee, one yummy quiche and okay tasting coffee cake and drove back home. I miss tasting the sea on my lips and carrying back the sand in my slippers. I have so many good memories of rolling in the beach with my friends. Like literally rolling. That is how a trip to the beach is supposed to be.

But I did have a nice time looking at all the perfect little houses and the perfect little white people who lived in them with their perfect golden haired kids and their perfect friendly dogs.

 

DSC00820

 

DSC00831

 

DSC00866

 

DSC00877

 

DSC00895

 

DSC00893

 

 

Claustrophobia – 1

Zarine – 0

 

 

 

 

Standard