‘Guests ? Then what should be the menu?’
This is the first question me and my better half ask each other whenever we plan a get together in our humble abode. The menu often gets more attention than the guest list. Don’t believe me?
Last week, we decided to invite few friends over dinner. It had been a long time since we had some fun together. So Sunday dinner looked like a perfect excuse to catch up. But there was this ultimate confusion.
‘What should be the menu?’
I have seen people who invite guests at Sunday lunch and start thinking about the menu only on the Saturday night. But the Paul household is a bit different from the rest. For two very poles apart people live there. A typical insane Virgo wife who likes to plan everything to the T days ahead even if the house agent is coming merely for a signature on the agreement papers. And then there is the Taurus man who prefers to get into action only at the 11th hour. So you can very well imagine the turbulence inside such a family expecting some guests.
In my opinion, a well arranged dinner invite demands a week’s planning. And I fully commit myself to nag the husband and remind about the grocery shopping list now and then based on the menu decided.
And what’s the menu?
After arguing for days and suggesting each other new new dishes from the internet, we end up having the same chhole (chickpeas curry tasting like I don’t know what), paneer (cottage cheese whose only variation is the colour of the gravy), chicken (husband’s signature dish), fried rice and chapatis(Indian flatbreads).
The last week was no different either.
Husband realised we were going to serve our guests the same age old menu. He tried to play safe and expressed his wish to order food from restaurant this time. But I didn’t see any logic to make guests eat hotel food at home. Naturally, the wife in me had to protest. It is then when I decided to twist the menu a little here and there.
There will be no chickpeas curry rather the small white peas cooked in true Bengali style will grace the dining table. Palak paneer (cheese made in spinach gravy) will replace the usual boring curry. Husband decided not to use potatoes in chicken this time. He also insisted to prepare custard in dessert. Fried rice and chapatis were the only constants.
If one gives a little thought, then they will easily realise we are selling old wine in a new bottle. But who cares as long as the recipes look different?
Now, apart from the turmoil in the kitchen, there are some pros of having guests at home :
1 Any impending invitation demands the house to have cleanliness of the highest order. It creates a good impression upon guests. Hence the house gets a special facial and spa massage (read : mopping the toughest corners) apart from it’s usual dusting and cleaning beauty regime.
2 Bathrooms. They say if you want to know the true nature of any family, visit their bathroom first. And Paul family prefers to have a clean bathroom in a usable state in front of guests.
3 Dining table is a piece of furniture that serves manifold purposes in the Paul household. Apart from providing a place to have food, it is a habitat for various non-living helpless immigrants.
6 big and small water bottles, 2 salt & pepper containers (1 chaat masala container is the latest addition to this family), 1 plastic bottle containing toothpicks (which finds more use in scratching ears by husband than cleaning teeth, much to my annoyance), 1 basket with a rabbit face(contains misc items starting from medicines to room keys), 1 bottle of Hajmola (spicy and tangy digestive tablets), 1 green coloured casserole, 1 jar containing dry fruits and 1 glass flower vase standing like a cherry on the cake above all of them.
If the description of the dining table requires the use of so many sentences compared to 1 & 2 points, then you can imagine how much effort one needs to put for making the table ready for guests.
4 Finest crockeries come out of the wardrobes and see the light of the day. They give us a good chance of arguing which ones should be used to serve guests. Wife insists to use all of them so that guests can have food in a civilised manner. Whereas the husband favours the minimal use of utensils (so that he has to wash less dishes later on).
In India, we have this philosophy Atithi Devo Bhava meaning the guest is equivalent to God. And when you have invited God over dinner, then the responsibility of serving God with utmost devotion multiplies by ten times. Although the huge pile of dishes and leftovers develop some creases on the forehead, but smile and satisfaction on the guests’ faces makes the effort a worthy one. Moreover, you get a good sleep at night too ( there is no other option with a strained back either).
Republic Day and Wedding Anniversary – both these days hold extra special place in my life. For they come on the same date for me. 26th January. Yes, on this date, two important things happened :
1. India became a Republic nation, and
2. Mr. Paul decided to tie himself with me for the rest of his life.
When the wedding day was finalised, my friends started teasing me asking, ‘Are both of you going to hoist the tricolour first and then walk down the aisle?’
No, we didn’t hoist the tricolour though.
But from that day, Republic Day celebrations undoubtedly jumped into a new level for us. However, there are pros and cons of having your anniversary on a red-letter day. Ask me what ? You will be at very low risk of forgetting your wedding date (even if you want to). It will get etched in your memory forever.
This year’s Republic Day aka Wedding Anniversary was even more special as we completed 5 years of marital bliss. I know 5 years are nothing compared to those who celebrate silver and even golden jubilees. But, there is always something magical about the numbers 5,10,15,20. For us, 5 years went in a blink of an eye. As apart from the numbers, nothing much have changed between us. We were fighting in Rajasthan on our 1st anniversary then and we are fighting in Singapore on our 5th one now.
But this year was slightly different. Do you remember me telling about a prize husband won in my post Am I ready for Christmas or just want to continue feeling blue? We availed that prize and enjoyed one day stay on our wedding anniversary in Sofitel Singapore located at Tanjong Pagar. The hotel was a new one in the city(opened in 2017).
As the staffs knew about our anniversary, they put some extra effort for us in arranging a few romantic add-ons in our 12th floor room. Two ducks (made from towel), looking totally inseparable from each other were sitting on the bed forming a heart. Their romantic mood put us into shame. We decided to leave them alone and rather plunge on the fruits placed specially for us on the table.
I felt pleased with the arrangements and also thanked them in my mind for not making me cringe inside by decorating the room with hearts and roses. The kind of stuffs hotels decorate in their honeymoon suites for couples.
The part of the hotel that I liked the most was the 6th floor. That’s because it had a terrace garden and a swimming pool. And plenty of fresh air so much so that it was hard to stand still at one place with neatly arranged hair and pose for photos. An hour near the poolside in the refreshing breeze went away like in a minute. Don’t remember when I had sat in peace last time before that evening.
The food, however, was mostly on the non-Indian side (excluding the complementary breakfast that we binged on the very next morning ). Moreover, we were not new in Singapore. Hence there was no need for us to experience the Singaporean cuisine. The deep fried snacks and Dum Biriyani of the Indian restaurants in Little India allured us more for dinner. After all, why go for a Chinese menu on the Republic Day ?
In short, this year’s wedding anniversary got sponsored by husband’s office……accidentally. But it surely made our special day extraordinary.
We all know how 9/11 attack shocked the entire world. Those horrible scenes of the blazing twin towers and people jumping out of them hoping to save their lives are still fresh in our memories. 9/11 became a permanent black mark on the face of humanity. But the atrocities didn’t end with the dead bodies and the rubbles of the towers. With time, this day had a rippling effect on those innocent lives who had nothing to do with the shameful attack. Reason? They belonged to a particular community. 9/11 was born from an evil mastermind. But what followed after that in the name of justice wasn’t fair either.
As a child I once saw an advertisement in TV whose main aim was to teach us some basic human etiquette. The commercial ended by saying :
To become an evil is very easy. But is it too difficult to remain humane?
Jagraj Singh Wasan’s video reminds me of this important lesson one more time. The below video of Jagraj is a small tribute to those who suffered unnecessarily (and are still suffering) because of meaningless Social Ostracism and Acts of Terrorism in every corner of the world.TT
Please do watch his video and share it to your friends and family.
More about Jagraj Singh Wasan :
Jagraj Singh Wasan is a songwriter/filmmaker. He grew up in Singapore, spent about 5 years in the States, and now is back to pursue music and film. He wrote a song and created a music video based on two issues he was deeply affected by in America. One being the multiple school and mass shootings on a regular basis, and the other being how Sikhs are bullied and harassed for looking like terrorists in the eyes of the ignorant. The project explores what it takes to push someone over the edge of no return. Social Ostracism, and Acts of Terrorism: Are they linked? Are they preventable? And is there something we as a people can do to help?
After all, we must always remember :
An eye for an eye leaves the whole world blind.
Which were your golden days? What would you answer if someone asks you this question? To me, they were my childhood days. And I am sure, many out there reading this post would say in their minds – mine too, mine too. Having said that, I am not someone who often looks back at her childhood and starts feeling nostalgic now and then. Who has so much time these days? Everyone is busy in living the present and making plans for the future. We open the old suitcase named past only when we need to find something that would make our today better. Yes, you are correct. Right now, I am also sitting and brushing the decade old box full of memories. As a matter of fact, I am occupied with this job since last two days. Makar Sankranti is the excuse this time.
Makar Sankranti once again invoked the child in me and took me back to those golden days where any festival meant relishing on sweet dishes. We also call it as Poush Sankranti (the last day of the Poush month in Bengali calendar). A wide variety of pitha (prepared mainly with rice flour, jaggery and coconut stuffings) and payesh (kheer or rice pudding) forms the base of the feast. Needless to say, women in the house used to remain busy in kitchen on that day.
I remember my father used to tell stories about the way he and his siblings used to celebrate Makar Sankranti in their childhood. Just a day before the Sankranti, they would build a small hut (they called it Buri Ghor, don’t know why) with the help of hay and bamboo in the courtyard in our village home. At night, all the siblings and their friends cooked non-vegetarian dinner and dined under the open sky. The very next day, ignoring the teeth rattling cold January weather, they used to wake up very early in the morning, take bath and burn the Buri Ghor.
My father’s eyes brimmed with joy every time he mentioned this story. I guess, he felt nostalgic thinking about the golden days from his childhood. However, building a hut on one day and burning it later looked like an impossible wild adventure to me. After all, it was not a wise idea for me and my younger brother to continue this same tradition on terrace, the only open space we had in our city lives. Moreover, building something needs a lot of planning and hard work, a job quite unsuitable for a lazy bum like me. I was more than happy and content with my oral exercise of pitha and payesh.
But alas! Gone are those golden days.
Fast forward fifteen years, things have changed drastically. Now I am the one who is supposed to prepare those pithas and payesh for the family. And, I am still the same person who prefers gulping pithas rather than making them in the kitchen. And, on top of that, there are other things like blood sugar and calories to take care of too. My last stint with sweet dishes on the Poush Sankranti was the one after my marriage three years back. Only the Almighty knows how an inexperienced sole ended up preparing rice kheer and not-so-soft Malpuas in the kitchen. Feedback from husband helped me to understand that preparing pithas can never be my forte.
If you ask my opinion, then sweet dishes tastes even more sweeter when prepared by your mother and grandmother. What do you say?
How did you celebrate Makar Sankranti this year? Or should I say Pongal ? Enjoyed a feast? Let me know in the comments 🙂
Liked reading this post? Click here to read few more posts like this !
You must be wondering why I have started the post with ॐ (OM) instead of saying Happy New Year. I remember, in school many students wrote ॐ(a spiritual and auspicious symbol in India) at the top of their new class copies or exam papers. Then why can’t I start the very first post of the year with ॐ? Just another silly idea out of those thousand ones I get now and then.
By the way, Happy 2019 my friends. How did you welcome the new year? Partying to your heart’s content or spending a quiet evening in front of the TV with family? And the most important question which everyone is curious to know in the first week of every year – what are your new year resolutions? Mine had already been decided, tried & tested and then dumped in the dustbin. I understood very early that new year resolutions are only made so that they can be broken. For procrastinating the blogging and making a comeback has become an usual routine for me now. Even new year resolutions can’t help me in this department. See. I have another good reason to write ॐ at the beginning.
Resolutions or no resolutions, I somehow know 2019 is going to treat me the same way 2018 did. 2018 threw me odd surprises whenever I expected something good to happen. But I would be lying if I say the last year was out and out harsh to me either. It also gave me respite when I lost all hope from life. In short, I am neither too buoyant nor apathetic about 2019. Even though you work hard , life will always continue testing your patience and take it’s own sweet time to give you the desired results.
When the Almighty bought tickets for me to have a crazy roller coaster ride in 2018, there was only one…sorry…two things that helped me to keep sane. Blogging and reading. A Special Mention prize for #Mobiistar A Selfie a day keeps forgetfulness away contest in Indiblogger and my self-published book THE LEAP OF FAITH in Juggernaut are the highlights that taught me to never lose faith in what I love to do and boosted my confidence to write more. 2018 also helped me to conceive my second baby Snoopy M which is in it’s nascent stage at present.
But there were those moments too when my head refused to come out of it’s laziness even though I had noted rough notes for short stories and other posts in my diary. Books acted as a saviour then.
2018 saw me being a big fan of author Alexandra Potter. Her humorously romantic novels wrapped in suspense – The Love Detective and Love From Paris made me split my sides with laughter. I can’t suppress my smile till date whenever I think of Ruby Miller’s camel ride experience in the dessert of Rajasthan. Really looking forward to read Ms Potter’s rest of the gems.View this post on Instagram
Not a fan of love stories? No problem.Even then ‘The Love Detective’ can keep you engaged because of it’s engrossing story, fun and adventure elements. Visit the link to know more. http://perceptionsunplugged.in/posts/love-detective-alexandra-potter/ #bookstagram #booklover #alexandrapotter #thelovedetective #novel #adventure #humour
Jeffrey Archer with his prison days’ stories in Collected Short Stories too brought a change to my reading taste buds after the dark romance in Fifty Shades. The names of these books make me realise that I have read so little last year. I hope this new year gives me strength to stay away from social media and finish the good stories that are still lying unread in my book shelf.View this post on Instagram
Jeffrey Archer heard this story from one of his fellow prisoners. Karl suggested getting away with a murder has better chance in Russia than in England 😊😉 Check the LINK in BIO to find out why Jeffery Archer is telling : DON’T DRINK THE WATER #shortstories #jefferyarcher #perceptions #unplugged #indiblogger #blogging #bloglife #writers_den_ #writings
Talking about good stories, movies somehow quenched my thirst in this matter. A Star is Born, Black Panther, Raazi, Sanju, Andhadhun and Badhai Ho are few of the really good movies with interesting stories that won many hearts in 2018.Hope to be surrounded with such amazing stories throughout 2019. Read more, write more and connect more – more is my motto this new year.
Wishing you a very Happy New Year again. May the Almighty shower good health and wisdom on all of us !!
What do you expect from 2019 ? Let me know in comments 🙂
If Olympic had a procrastinating category, then I would have bagged gold medals for India each time.
That’s because my performance in blogging has been exceptionally procrastinating so far. Whenever I make plans to improve my blogging and slowly but steadily crawl towards the first bench, my demons (read: laziness) drag me behind.
Either I will blog for only a day and interact with my fellow bloggers rest of the week in the name of socialising or blog daily and ignore the socialising part all together. Until a fortnight ago, I decided that enough is enough which made me take an early New Year resolution for 2019. Before proceeding further, I feel it’s my duty to let you know that I don’t believe in making New Year Resolutions(like many of us here).
However, the resolution I took was a sane and practical one. To keep a fine balance between blogging and networking. In fact, this even inspired my post Writing and networking: How do we keep a balance between them? But there is a thing about making New Year resolutions and breaking them.And I can bring more gold medals in the later.
Things were doing fine for some days. I wrote my weekly journals Am I ready for Christmas or just want to continue feeling blue? Wrong numbers, politics and weddings ! The short story Coffee and Dreams and an article Smart Products : They Can Make You Smart If You Use Them Smartly for IndiBlogger contest. Not only this, I was also visiting and making new friends in the blogosphere, exercised daily and played badminton. I updated the blog to WordPress 5.0.2 and was planning to share my experience with it soon on Snoopy M. A sense of satisfaction and rhythm weakened my procrastinating powers. I was unaware of the speed-breakers ahead though.
Five days back, I woke up and surprisingly didn’t feel like rushing to the kitchen for preparing breakfast and lunch. The bed, the sofa or anything that assured to give me some physical rest attracted the most. It’s only when my favourite oatmeal tasted bitter and tastebuds craved for a spicier breakfast, I realised that my body is feeling feverish. Anyone who touched me at that time would have said that I am lying. But I swear on the glittering Christmas tree standing in one corner of my room, every cell in my body screamed that it had to be a fever.
Me and fever shared a very good relationship in this year. I caught a viral fever in April. Antibiotics and a couple of days’ bed rest solves the matter for normal human beings. But I, the Almighty’s special observation case, always stay one step ahead.
I caught a bad cold along with fever which turned to a stubborn dry cough. The mercury level rose further inside me blood started coming through my phlegm. Doctor suspected Tuberculosis and I saw my days soon coming to an end. But much to the disappointment of Mother Earth, CT scan reports said that I only had a sinus problem that blocked my nose and letting the phlegm come out with some blood from my throat instead.
Since then, even a slight increase in my body temperature gives me goosebumps. Some rest and spicier food matter more for me in these times. Moreover, I was having a back pain too. Paracetamol was the only solace, but I decided to give myself some more time before swallowing any medicine. No points for guessing that husband leaded the kitchen for the next few days while me and my blogging bumped on the speed-breaker of procrastinating.
I will lie, if I say that I didn’t enjoy this break (or was I looking for a chance to take one?) After all, it’s always amazing to lie on the sofa, tuck a hot water bag under the back, enjoy some Chinese noodles (made in strict Indian style) and watch episode after episode of Keeping Up With The Kardashians.
My head was blank and framing even a sentence looked like a daunting idea. You cannot do justice to blogging or as a matter of fact to any work unless you enjoy it. I know what you are thinking. That I got a very valid reason of procrastinating from blogging this time. Trust me….I was feeling guilty too.
To erase that negative feeling of procrastinating, I got hold of Erich Segal. No, I am not talking of Love Story but The Class which talks about Harvard University’s class of 1958. The story, even though decades old, will captivate you through it’s witty and fluent style of writing. It was in my long pending reading-list and I am halfway through the novel at the moment.
Anyway, it’s not easy to simply lie on the sofa and spend the Christmas eve in Singapore. Orchard Road was decorated with Disney theme on the occasion of Mickey Mouse’s 90th birthday celebrations. But the main attraction there is always the street-side live performances. You can see a group dancing, a man singing the Christmas songs, a magician performing tricks and many more.
This year, however, saw a different range of talents emerging on the Orchard road. There was this man whom everyone was calling a live statue. No, not from the Madame Tussaud , but in flesh and blood and immobile. It needs tremendous patience to stand like this in the Singaporean humidity. Check for yourself here :
Then, this super flexible guy to whom twisting and bending his body didn’t seem like a big deal. He could even accommodate himself inside a badminton racket. Hats off to his dedication, diet, lifestyle and exercise regime :
And last but not the least, this guy’s handmade 3D paintings are my personal favourite. With the stroke of two fingers, he was creating masterpieces on the glass one after the another. He used paint brushes rarely and only when he needed to highlight something very delicate. Enjoy an excerpt of the magic his fingers can create here :
The last week has been a demanding one for me physically. But Christmas mood and I-am-done-with-procrastinating has made me again open my laptop with the same enthusiasm. Hope the spirit of Christmas touches everyone’s lives and inspire us to make lives better for us and others.
Merry Christmas everyone 🙂
Smart products or smart devices, the way we like to call them, are now a need in our lives as they help us work more efficiently in less time, make quick decisions and even take care of our health and security. But they didn’t play much important role in my life until I went for an annual health check up two years back.
The nutritionist asked about my lifestyle, food habits and suggested a few changes here and there. She also mentioned about an app – HealthifyMe and insisted me to download this on my phone. The app, as the name suggests, has been developed to help people in leading a healthy lifestyle.
To be honest, I never took such apps seriously. Open Google play store and you will come across many such apps.
I was pretty confident of myself never using the app even if I install it. Then what’s the point in wasting space in my smart phone? Hence, the chapter of installing that app ended as soon as I came out of the nutritionist’s cabin.
But one should never say no. My annual health check up reports came as a shocker when I discovered stones in my gall bladder. Having gall stones is not a big deal these days. But it shook me to my core. It is then when I decided to stop taking diet and exercise callously. Not that my galls stones would have disappeared with a healthy lifestyle. But surely I could work more on my body and keep it away from further damage as much as possible.
The thought of giving a try to the app crossed my mind. From whatever I ate in the morning till night to the quantity of water I drank – I recorded everything in that app. And each time, I entered the details of my last meal, the calorie consumption count would flash on the smart device and make me conscious of what I am eating.
Two months later, I got a surprise. The weigh scale showed that I had lost 6 kilos ! Another good thing happened. My brain now automatically works in that app’s mode. Even when I am not using the app, I can still make a fair idea from the invisible display screen in my head on what, how much and when I should eat throughout the day.
My weight loss experience was an eye-opener for me. Feeding the daily calorie intake and activities in the smart phone made me realise that I had lot of areas for improvement. You can have various smart products. But their proper utilisation can be done only when you use them smartly. In my case, I had a pretty good smart phone and it was used in playing online games mostly.
In this 21st century, almost every smart phone has a health monitoring app built in it by default. Like in my case, I have Samsung Health embedded in my OnePlus 6T phone. It is equipped to record the count of calories I intake, quantity of water I drink, number of hours I sleep and even the number of steps I have walked. This is in turn also keeps an eye on how much essential nutrients I have supplied my system throughout the day and recommends the adjustments I should be doing in my diet and workouts. It’s like living with your dietician and physical trainer under the same roof without paying any charges. Thanks to technology !
However, technology took one more welcoming step inside our lives when husband got a fitness band as a gift from office. The employer’s aim was to encourage it’s employees to move around a bit apart from sitting in front of the computers throughout the day. The employees were divided into teams. Each team member has to involve in some sort of exercise and needed to sync the data recorded in his fitness band to an app at the end of the day. The team with the highest count of steps will get a prize. I liked the idea.
Husband usually did physical workouts hardly once or twice a week. The concept of winning-a-prize motivated him to engage into long walks, cycling and badminton at the end of office hours. Reading the step counts from the fitness band slowly became his regular practice. Prize or no prize, the presence of one of the smart products in my home in the form of a fitness band cultivated the habit of regular physical exercise in husband and helped him to drop a few kilos. Needless to say, this also brought peace in my home. I didn’t need to argue with him anymore regarding his daily exercise needs. Fitness band, the latest innovation in technology has now replaced the regular watch on husband’s wrist. Even I don’t accompany him as much as this smart wearable does.
Talking of innovations in technology reminds me of my friend, Google Assistant. That sight-seeing on a bike in Bali would have been impossible for us if Google Assistant wasn’t there to show us the right direction. It even advised us to avoid the areas that had the highest traffic in Bali.
I would have gone to bed without eating a meal as it was ‘that’ time of the month for me and I was not at all in the mood to cook dinner. Google Assistant helped me to find out some restaurants nearby.
Google Assistant pampers me to an extent of even making a phone call on my behalf or playing my favourite Shape of You. With just a voice command, I can listen to news while I am busy doing some other job. It even entertains me with it’s silly jokes. What more do I need from technology?
I have not installed a smart speaker or a smart camera yet. Still smart products have found a way inside my living room and helped me in making my humble abode a smart home. Smart phones and the fitness band helps me and my family to track the daily calorie intake and workouts whereas Google Assistant is ever-ready to help us in distress. Evolution of technology has proved to be a boon in my life.
In today’s date, staying fit is the biggest challenge. And we can face this challenge by adapting a healthy lifestyle. Eating healthy, exercising daily and sleeping well. That’s all what we need to do. And smart products can help us in this matter. Health monitoring apps in smart phones and fitness bands have proved to be beneficial for my family. It has made us aware of what we should or shouldn’t do.
I would recommend the combined usage of smart phones and fitness bands for the Indian population to whom diabetes, high blood pressure and heart problems have become very common diseases. We can easily avoid these health issues by changing few bad habits and hugging the smart products available in the market.
Start the Fit India Movement and #GetFitWithFlipkart by bringing home a #SmartHomeRevolution.
Last week started with a call from a wrong number.
Have you ever picked up your phone and looked at the unknown number flashing on the screen? You say Hello anticipating it to be an important call from a job agency or a prospective client or a family member in distress? And then you realise the caller is asking for someone whom you never knew existed in your life before this call. You say wrong number politely and put your phone down. Does this situation sound familiar to you? Of course, it does. Each one of us have said wrong number at least once in our life. But I can bet you don’t say these words as often as me.
I changed my sim card with a different number an year back. Few days later, I got a call :
Me : Hello.
Caller : I am calling from the Police Station in the north east line.
Me: Yes? (with a heart throbbing like a jumping jack)
Caller : Can you please switch on the air con ?
Me : Switch on what? (relived for not charged of any crime but equally surprised by his request)
Caller : The air con.
Me : I think you have called the wrong number.
Caller : Is this XXXX XXXX number?
Me : Yes, it is.
Caller : You are the ABC air con service provider, right?
Me : I am afraid, I am not. You have dialled the wrong number.
Caller : Oh I am so sorry (his voice did sound more confused than apologetic)
Me : It’s okay.
Only if I knew, it was not okay at all. Throughout the year, I received many such polite requests to switch on the air conditioners. The dialogues were almost same as above, only the locations changed.
Situation is such that I don’t get goosebumps now if someone says, ‘I am calling from so and so police station.’ For I know the poor guy just wants to switch on the air conditioner. You must be thinking why I didn’t block the numbers. But, I get calls from different numbers every time. How many times can I block them? Or was I enjoying attention?
Talking of attention, it reminds me of the badminton session (yes, one more round) with husband.
Normally, we play around 8 o’ clock in the evening when you get the badminton courts free from toddlers and gossiping aunties. But last week (maybe because it was Saturday), we got some spectators for our game. Three old men sitting on the bench, two kids riding the bicycle (whom we had to strategically keep away from the court), two young women chatting, a granny who had nothing to do – I mean we had a varied flavour of audience.
But the P.V.Sindhu in me was not happy with such attention. I am a person who is comfortable behind the scenes. Attention makes me self-conscious. Same happened here.
My mind became busy in thinking that I shouldn’t disappoint my audience and stressed on not missing any shot. But I missed a couple of good shots. A man, who was watching the game eagerly, finally picked up his toddler and walked away from the scene. I set a wrong impression upon him. Damn! How do these International Players cope up with the pressure?
However, the real pressure reflected on TV (including Singapore channels).
In today’s date, the news channels provide more entertainment and thrill than sitcoms and crime shows. The assembly election results in 5 states – Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Telangana and Mizoram gave ample of reasons to let the TV on throughout the day. The battle between the two political parties – Congress vs. BJP or Rahul Gandhi vs. Shri Narendra Modi to be precise reached it’s peak.
People in Telangana and Mizoram voted on forming government with separate parties. But the limelight was on Congress which defeated BJP in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh.
Rahul Gandhi, who is otherwise the subject matter of jokes and taunts in BJP, had the last laugh in this election. A wining smile was on his face throughout the press conferences. That’s why they say never underestimate your enemy. Your enemy can prove you wrong at any point. A pretty good Christmas gift for Rahul Gandhi !
Oh ! My Christmas tree is now out of the bomb shelter by the way.
However, weddings too attracted a lot of attention last week.
Open the news channels or Instagram and the image of a newly married celebrity couple would emerge. Saina Nehwal & Parupalli Kashyap, Kapil Sharma & Ginni Chatrath, Shweta Basu Prasad & Rohit Mittal, Raghu Ram and Natallie Di Lucio. Phew! As if the whole celebrity circle decided to walk down the aisle in December after Ranveer Singh & Deepika Padukone, Priyanka Chopra & Nick Jonas.
But…but guys…the award for the no. 1 big fat Indian wedding definitely went with the Ambanis. Mukesh Ambani, the Indian business magnate, was giving away his only daughter, Isha Ambani to another billionaire industrialist Ajay Piramal’s son, Anand Piramal.
Almost a week long festivities, with Sangeet ceremony in Udaipur, Rajasthan and a larger-than-life wedding in Antilla kept the tongues wagging and media busy on the streets. Presence of Pranab Mukherjee, Hillary Clinton and Beyonce’s performance are just few of the highlights from the wedding. Some even coined this whole affair as Real-life Crazy Rich Asians wed in Mumbai. But if you ask me, anything less than this from Mukesh Ambani, who is one of the richest man on this planet would have surprised me.
Here are some glimpses from the much talked wedding :View this post on Instagram
Lata Mangeshkar recorded a rendition of the Gayatri Mantra, a Ganesh stuti, and a special message for Isha Ambani and Anand Piramal in her own voice, that was played during their wedding rituals. . . . #IshaAmbani #AnandPiramal #IshaAmbaniWedding #IshaAnandWedding #LataMangeshkar #MukeshAmbani #NitaAmbani #Antilia #AmbaniWedding
The normal middle-class Asians, however, spent their Sunday evening with a friend from United States. Also an ex-colleague of husband, the friend is on his month long tour of the Asian countries. After a short tour of Malaysia, he is now in Singapore and has plans to visit Vietnam and Thailand. We went out for a tour of Gardens by the Bay. The Supertrees looked more vibrant amidst all the Christmas decorations.
The week ended beautifully with a dinner in Little India, an order for Biriyani that was already over in the restaurant’s kitchen, discussions on the differences of lifestyles between Singapore and America, and a gift from the friend in the form of Danish cookies.
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Image Courtesy : Pixabay
Christmas is round the corner. And I don’t need a calendar to realise this. A look at the neighbours’ living room from mine through the window while they are busy decorating the Christmas trees does the job for me. No, I am not a nosy neighbour. Moreover, you need immense talent to be a prying neighbour in Singapore, which believes in respecting privacy. However, privacy goes for a toss when you see pairs of lingeries hanging from your neighbours’ living room window. But I don’t blame them. The lack of enough space to dry clothes gives me too the urge of hanging my wet sneakers from the window.
While my neighbours have already started decorating Christmas trees right in the middle of November, I am still debating when I should bring out mine from the bomb shelter? Yes, a bomb shelter. In almost every Singaporean apartment, you will find a small room with reinforced walls and blast-proof doors (that’s what they say and I like to believe), popularly known as bomb shelter. This is mandatory as per Singapore’s law. The purpose of this dark room is to protect people in case someone decides to bomb the city when a war happens.
When I learnt about the room’s existence, I could not suppress my laugh. What if you are sitting on the commode and a bomb drops on you? There is no point in having such a room then. Gradually, I understood where they are coming from. Japan occupied Singapore during World War II from 1942-45. During that tenure, Singapore lived in terror, poverty, torture and constant threat of bombarding from Japanese army. Singapore has learnt a lesson from those horrible times. So, a bomb shelter is the least of all the security measures this country adopted over the years.
But a room in your home can’t sit idle and wait for some war and bombarding to happen. The world doesn’t have the reputation of showing such leniency. Bomb shelter, in between it’s noble duty of saving the human race, has taken up the secondary role of acting as a store room. Needless to say, I followed the norm too. When in Rome, do as the Romans do.
There was a certain excitement last year during the same time. It was my first Christmas in Singapore. Everything looked beautiful with well-lit decors in front and inside the shopping malls and streets. Our Christmas spirit went so far that husband, who otherwise is cautious about spending money, volunteered the entire Christmas shopping. I decorated the tree to my heart’s content and put it near the window.
However, decorating is one job and putting everything back in their place is another story. I gave my dear husband the responsibility of keeping the Christmas tree back in it’s box. Just like Lord Hanuman, who carried the entire mountain after failing to identify the instructed Sanjeevani herb, my man too carried the entire Christmas tree and placed it inside the bomb shelter. Much to my annoyance, he didn’t even bother to pull off the multi-coloured balls and stars from the tree.
Image Courtesy : Google
But little did I know that he was doing me a great favour by putting back the tree right in it’s decorative attire. For the thought of redecorating the Christmas tree is filling me with lethargy these days. But thanks to husband, now I can only brush the dust off the tree and put it back near the window. Meanwhile, husband also brings home the 3rd prize of a free stay at a five star hotel in Singapore. What did he do to win such a prize? He participated in a game at the party which his office had organised just like the way it does every year end. Although I am acting indifferent about the prize (as if I win prizes everyday), but in my mind I am telling him – kudos to you !
Life in Singapore is peaceful except those rare occasions when you hear a knock at your door and find a stranger.
Me : Yes?
Stranger : Hi Ma’am. I am X working for an Y NGO (displays the certificate that proves the NGO’s authenticity).
Me: What can I do for you?
Stranger: I come from a very humble background and work part time in Y. Your contribution while buying a product will help me earn some money and support my education. Please have a look at this product Ma’am. Then he produces some material out of his bag.
I don’t know what you would have done in my place, but for me, saying NO to somebody (except the husband) is a big problem. And when one is saying that he is trying to sell products door-to-door for supporting his education/family, then things become even more difficult. I bought a big block of ice-cream costing $18 when two boys came at my door step for the first time. I had no clue what I was going to do with it though. We avoid eating desserts as much as possible.
Weeks later, I had to say sorry, I don’t have any money to an old lady who came to sell me bottles of flavoured yoghurts from a never-heard-before brand. Her smirk conveyed that she had understood my white lie. This happened 2 months ago. I felt bad but what could I do? The ice-cream was still resting in the freezer. I had a hunch that it was soon going to find a place in the dustbin.
Dilemma visited me once more this week in the form of a college going boy. Same prologue, same situation. The product this time was a keychain designed with various denominations of Singaporean currency. I had no energy to argue with myself and say NO to that guy. Plus it is Christmas time and everyone needs money. The only option I had was in the choice of the keychains. I chose the keychain that represented $1000.Why settle for less when I am paying $10 (nearly 520 INR) for a keychain which might end up being in one corner of my drawer?
After saying kasa kai Mumbai and spending quality time with family, I was missing home badly, my mother and younger brother to be precise. I was casually scrolling through Facebook when a message from my school teacher caught my attention. He was asking how I was doing. Just moments later replying to his message, I got a voice call on Facebook from him. We talked for a good five minutes and I felt overwhelmed after the call. You know you have done something right in your life when you get a call from your teacher and he talks fondly about you and your family. He was my English teacher, a major source of whatever I have learned about this language till date. That call turned my ordinary Saturday to an extraordinary one.View this post on Instagram
Last week, I made a trip to Mumbai.Sipping coconut water while sitting near the Arabian Sea was not in my agenda.Then what was Mumbai doing in my itinerary? Kasa Kai Mumbai : Turning back at the week with a cup of tea Check out the details from my blog in the link provided in my bio 😊 #week #mumbai #india #travel #mumbaikar #blogging #memories😘 #writinglife
No matter how much extraordinary the Saturday went, Sunday morning started with a clash of conflicts between the man and his wife. Issue was not an issue at all, still I felt heated up in my uppermost department. After a day long of cold war, I asked him out for a session of badminton. My aim was not to patch up but to burn the extra calories that I had gained from Mumbai trip faster. But there is a reason behind when they say sports have the power to connect people.
40 minutes of running behind the shuttle in the court. Appreciating each other’s shots. Figuring out ways on how to improve our game. This was all needed to put aside the hard feelings. Early morning tiff looked like a kindergarten level argument at the end of the day. Really looking forward to many such badminton sessions in future sans the morning tiffs.
Another week passed away and I am turning back at it with mixed emotions. Some days flew in utter confusion and frustration. Whereas there were days when I thanked the Almighty. I have kicked myself one day for only concentrating on writing and not socialising enough with my blogging pals. The other day, I was surprised to see myself nominated for The Sunshine Blogger Award by my friend The Quill. I guess Santa has arrived a bit early for me this Christmas ! It’s upon me to decide – if I should open the door for Santa or continue feeling blue.
Image Courtesy : Pixabay
Last week, I made a trip to Mumbai, the financial and the entertainment capital of India. As I was not on any luxurious vacation, so sipping coconut water while sitting on the shores of Arabian Sea was not in my agenda. Having said that, even if I was on a holiday, I still would not have indulged in any of these two. Why? Firstly, the blood reports say that my potassium content is slightly on the higher side. Therefore, according to my middle aged physician, coconut water is a strict NO for me (I have relished this mother nature’s delight right from my childhood though).
Secondly, my tanned skin reflects the vacations I have taken this year. Kilos of chickpeas flour, yoghurt, lemon juice and anything that has even the slightest reputation in bringing back skin’s original texture is on my good books these days. Long story short, given a choice, I would not prefer to increase my kitchen’s budget by roaming on a beach. I have already exhausted 2018’s quota in this category.
Then what was Mumbai doing in my itinerary? Father-in-law, who is also a heart patient and a diabetic, was due for a gall stone removal operation there. And we flew to Mumbai so that his son could give him the pre and post-operative support he deserved at that moment. Whereas the job description of daughter-in-law was not clear.
The only task I found myself useful in was to enquire him about his health status even though I already had updates from the in-laws. Nonetheless, no daughter-in-law wants to be a good-for-nothing bum who can only read fiction, gulp crime series in TV, give lectures on dos and don’ts for a healthy lifestyle, daydream and blog few words (only if the over-worked mind is left with any energy at the end of the day).
Surgery went well and the head of Paul family was discharged from the hospital two days later. Household was gradually coming back to it’s normal pace. Younger generation decided to utilise the opportunity by doing a little bit of Mumbai darshan. Marine drive to be precise. We drove there with me expecting an empty and silent street. I came out of my false notion as soon as we started searching for a parking zone.
At 12:00 am, Marine drive, lovingly called as the Queen’s Necklace, was giving an impression as if the evening has just begun. Young couples oblivious of the surroundings, old couples giving them what-will-happen-to-this-generation look from the corner of their eyes, groups opening a cake ordered to celebrate that special friend’s birthday, kid riding his tricycle with full enthusiasm followed by his parents, someone reading a book while someone was simply sitting quietly and enjoying the Arabian Sea’s breeze. Balloons, fried lentils and peanuts ! Phew! This was almost a midnight fair. When do they go to sleep?
Few days back, Mumbai observed the 10th anniversary of the infamous 26th November aka 26/11 terror attack. An attack that killed many, crippled the city for a couple of days, however couldn’t dampen the spirit of the nation, let alone Mumbaikars.
Anyway, keeping aside the national problems, there was a small problem at home front too. Mother-in-law, who is barely an year and a half old in handling smartphones, was facing difficulty to keep her phone’s storage capacity in check. Her little but significant knowledge about technology made her realise that she was left with only 670 MB of her precious disk space. She ran to me for rescue. The daughter-in-law who was otherwise sitting idle took this responsibility with elan.
After a minute’s detailed inspection, I suggested to delete those GIFs and videos from her phone. For Gods singing in WhatsApp’s forwarded messages had never done any good to mankind till date apart from eating up the phone’s storage. However, Candy Crush too was also a reason of limited available space. But mother-in-law denied to take such a serious allegation upon her. The blame ultimately went on my 9 years old niece, who was by that time busy in a jungle excursion with a bear in Pogo channel.
To save the smartphones of Paul family from Candy Crush and give a break to the bears, a visit to the Crossword bookstore looked like an apt choice. Tintin’s Explorers On The Moon and The Tales From Ramayana contributed to a tremendous extent in diverting the youngest mind in the family to something new and more exciting than cartoon channels. My only prayer is that her annual exam papers should not reflect Snowy, Captain Haddock or Shri Rama’s adventures. However, Crossword gave this ever hungry and good-for-nothing mind too an excuse to add few more yet-to-read masterpieces in my book shelf, such as Crazy Rich Asians (yes, I haven’t read the book yet which kind of explains why I haven’t seen the movie).
A whole week in Mumbai went well with some shopping(and window shopping) in Malad with my sister-in-law. In weekend, my husband’s very close friend came for a luncheon. If you ask me what are the two questions that I dread to face in life at present? My answer would be two. The first is when will you give the good news? The second is how do you kill time in Singapore?
The friend mentioned above touched one of my sensitive nerves. No, he didn’t ask me when I was giving a good news. That’s because this curiosity doesn’t suit a guy who is single and in search of a bride. That leaves him with the second one. I mentioned everything I do throughout the day except blogging. There have been several instances where I have claimed myself as a blogger to relatives and confronted a snort or another question how much do you earn by blogging? My past experiences advised me to keep mum on this matter.
My enthusiastic husband, on the other hand, revealed about my super secretive occupation. He tagged it as a marketing strategy for my blog. I had a great urge to hold his tongue at that great moment, but obviously couldn’t do it. Still men would sing wives are controlling for ages to come.
However, the friend takes a keen interest in photography apart from his banking job. He even clicked a couple of photos on my wedding day. But he is surprisingly immune to the social media marketing fever and prefers storing the photographs in his local disk. I mean that makes him one of a kind. Who does that in this age of Facebook pages and Instagram? But then I realised, he is so passionate about photography. Appreciation through few mere likes and comments doesn’t matter for him. He clicks just to enjoy the craft. How many amongst us can do that? I can’t at least. Can you?