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.

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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).

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madras

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I don’t need to say I love you in those exact words.

I don’t need to prove my loyalty.

No grand gestures or writings in the sky.

You are in me as I am in you, and nothing can separate us.

I don’t need to say I love you, but I want to.

I love you, with every fiber of my life, from the bottom of my heart, I love you.

Happy birthday, Madras. You beautiful thing, you.

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America, Bhaarath Mahaan, Food, life lessons, my crazy days

V for Vadai

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.

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America, Food, Random Things of Interest

I’m in The Hindu!

So not many of you know but I’ve been trying my hand at Instagram cooking videos for the past couple of months. I’m no fabulous cook but I get a kick out of trying. My wonderful friend who works for The Hindu decided to feature me and a few other Instagram cooks as her first story for the MetroPlus. I am such a huge fan of The Hindu and it has always been my dream to be in it. So check me out in todays MetroPlus and here’s the link to the online version. You can also follow me on Instagram @zarinem.

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life, life lessons, madras, my crazy days

To a Love Like No Other

One perfect misty evening two girls took turns on a swing. They were best friends, soul sisters and lovers like no other. Fate brought them together. They stuck with each other through many bumps and finally made it to what they then thought was the cusp of their life. That balmy evening they talked about their dreams, hopes and fears. They were starting a new chapter in their life, taking different paths to reach one final destination.

But what did those two eighteen year olds know then about the places life would take them, about the twists that would come, the successes and the heartbreaks. Life was a rollercoaster. They went through all the twists intended for them, clutching on to each other for dear life.

From that day onwards every December 31st the girls reminisce that day. They discuss their achievements and fears, and start the new year leaning on each other. Because the space on the swing has already been reserved, it doesn’t matter if we bring in the year in style or by ordering in pizza, we’ll never start the year without each other. ‘Cause this kind of love is a once in lifetime kind of love. Its a love like no other.

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America, faith, life, life lessons, madras, my crazy days, Travel

Home Is Where I Am

Growing up, all I ever wanted was a room of my own. We lived in a  two bedroom apartment for the longest time. I never had a room of my own. The general area of the house was my refuge. I kept myself busy during drowsy afternoons but I wanted a room I could escape to. I watched a lot of teenage dramas and I was itching to ‘bang the door shut in anger’. But my wish never came true until I was sixteen.

Once we moved house and I got a room of my own, I never wanted to come out. My room was my solace. It was my protection from the big bad world outside. I filled that room with my dreams and my pains. The walls speak of my heartaches. The floor absorbed my tears and the high ceilings accommodated my dreams. My room watched me grow from a naive sixteen year old to a… well, what I am now. The crazy thing is I always thought that my room would never change, it would remain the same, always my protection from the outside world. But when I went back this time I felt disoriented. It felt like my room had changed. My once comfortable bed that held my body shape now hit me like a rock. I felt weird and uncomfortable like I was living another life.

Every night when I went to bed I couldn’t help but think about the room I left back in California. I missed my bed and my fluffy comforter. When my mind started associating that with home was when I realized, much to my dismay, my solace was where I had stayed for the past year. This realization hurt my heart like crazy. For days I kept thinking my mother had moved my things and my room had changed whereas in reality it was I who had changed. I had been living away from my previous life and walking back in to it sent my senses in to disarray.

Today, as much as I miss my room I know that the girl who lived there was a slightly different one. She was confused and naive, among other things but she always had hope. I wouldn’t change a thing about that girl, or the room for that matter (trust me, there were quite a few things that needed to be changed). That girl and that room helped me appreciate the person I am now.

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