Friday, November 27, 2009

When "Justice" Itself Is Injustice

In the initial weeks after the 26/11 attacks, when Ajmal Kasab became the face of the worst terror strike our country has seen, a debate raged as to whether or not he deserved a fair trial.

I remember commenting on one blogger's furious tirade for him to undergo every physical torture possible, that, no matter how heinous the crime, the system had to be allowed to function; if we set a precedent of executing even one criminal without trial, slowly but steadily the system would lose meaning. So even though my gut reaction demanded that he be mercilessly crushed right away, my sanity reasoned that the justice system had to function.

In the year since, the justice system has "functioned", it has "functioned" to the extent of 31 crores, and is still "functioning".

31 frikkin CRORES!!!!

Thoughts of 26/11 haven't been far from any Indian's mind over the past few days, and one of the things I wondered about was how much it was costing to keep Kasab alive. But never did I imagine it would work out to 31 crores! And counting!!!

Yes, he absolutely deserved a fair trial, but come on, when the whole damn world knows he's guilty, how can it possibly take so long to sentence him??? How much more evidence, how many more witnesses does the court need??? The mind reels when it thinks of all the good uses that much money could've been put to.

Is our coastline better protected than it was last year?

Are our policemen better equipped than they were last year?

Are we more secure than we were last year?


But yes, Ajmal Kasab is better protected and more secure and probably more well-looked-after than he's ever been in his whole life, courtesy the Indian government. The system that should've dealt with this in a matter of months, if not weeks, has churned on for nearly a year, until the whole thing is nothing but a farce. This prolonged pursuit of justice itself is the greatest injustice being done.

No one is going to feel any better the day Kasab dies, because killing him doesn't bring back those lost that day. No one is going to heave a sigh of relief, because we know there are many more Kasabs out there. But Kasab must be killed, and must be killed soon, for no other reason than to stop this ridiculous drain of resources, resources which could be diverted elsewhere to actually accomplish something positive.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Keen on Clean: Thanks Mom & Dad!!!

So this is one of those times when I've read something that just compels me to post immediately (or as 'immediately' as my lil baby will allow :D) I was casually bloghopping this morning, when I saw on someone's blogroll, a post with the intriguing title "No one ever thanked their mom in an acceptance speech for keeping the house clean".

I was ridiculously happy on reading it; I mean, there I was battling an oncoming headache, trying to think positive and keep it at bay and then I read this post, was grinning from ear to ear, all potential aches & pains vanquished!!! That's how great it feels to know that there are other people who take cleanliness very seriously, because as I have resignedly observed, most of the people I know, don't.

And I guess that's due to the fact that as Sraboney Ghose titled her post, no one ever thanked their mom in an acceptance speech for keeping the house clean. As my mother noted several times over the years, housework is a thankless job; there's no reward in it other than your own satisfaction of living in a clean home and the occassional recognition from those rare souls who think like you.

Growing up, both my parents raised us to be particular about cleanliness. We pitched into help and did whatever mom asked us to do (sometimes a bit later than when she wanted it done :D). We enjoyed living in our clean & beautiful home, but I have to admit that most of the time, especially in my younger years, I took it for granted. It was only towards the end of my teens and later that I really started observing other houses, seeing the very noticeable difference between others' and my home, and realizing the worth of my mother's tireless daily efforts.

But this post is not so much about her's or my dad's hard work, as it is about my response to it. Sraboney's post drove home a point: it struck me that, in comparison to how much sweat & blood they've given to the maintenance of our home, I haven't thanked them nearly enough. Sure, I've mentally thanked God countless times for parents like them, but I haven't said it to them as often as I should have.

I have been a homemaker for almost two years now and try daily to live up to the same values my parents instilled in me. I have an additional responsibility now of fostering the same in my little girl, and its easier said than done. Looking back at my own life, I know how many years it took me to realize what my parents had done (and are still doing!), let alone acknowledge & appreciate it.

My mother once said that its thanks enough when she comes to my home and sees that I'm living the way I was raised, that I run my home the way I was taught. But a verbal (or written!) expression of gratitude never hurt anyone, right?

I might never have a chance to deliver an acceptance speech in front of the world, so I guess my blog is as public as it gets for now. Nonetheless, Mom & Dad, from the bottom of my heart, THANK YOU FOR RAISING ME TO KEEP THE HOUSE CLEAN!!!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

The Life Behind the Fiction

It was through the magical writing of Enid Blyton that I first realised and appreciated the power of a book in transporting the mind to a different time & place. I have many happy memories of being curled up with one of her books, reading with delight, secretly longing to solve those mysteries, go on those rambling walks, attend those wonderful schools and of course, sneak away for a midnight feast or be a part of those amazing tea parties!!!!

So it was with an increasing sense of disillusionment that I read this article this morning, about a forthcoming biopic which describes the popular author as she really was.

First thought: how could the woman who created such wonderfully warm worlds be the complete opposite in person??? She is said to have been quite the adulteress, but what truly shocked me was her own daughter's description of her as "arrogant, insecure and without a trace of maternal instinct".

However, the article also states that the author's father left her mother & her when she was 12, and that emotionally, she remained a child. Writing was therefore her way of escaping that pain.

Every Enid Blyton work that I've read, I've loved. There is an innocence and purity in those stories, and nearly all the characters she developed have real integrity, so as a child, I guess I naively transferred those qualities to the woman behind them and that's the impression that remained till date.

Its difficult to reconcile the sweet, motherly person I'd imagined her to be with the reality revealed by that article. I feel sorry for the child she was and sorrier for the woman she made of herself. Its saddening to know that the stories I've treasured all these years stemmed from a desire to avoid a painful reality.

Someday, my daughter's bookshelf will definitely hold a collection of Blyton's best because I would love for her to experience the same wonder, the same sense of revelation and excitement those stories gave me. Will I relive them the same way though? Sadly, perhaps not.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

A Tagful of Tasty Memories :)

I've seen this tag on a few blogs and have elected to go ahead and do it, because complete and total foodie that I am, how could I pass up an opportunity to write about:

"Five memorable meals ever eaten: It could be anything that makes the meal memorable - the food, the place, the place you were in your life when you ate, the company, the weather, the ambiance - heck, the guy who served the food!"

In doing this tag, I face a problem of plenty. I come from a majorly foodie family and consider it one of my greatest blessings that I was born to the couple who're the best cooks in not only my family, but among all the families I know. So food has always been an integral part of my life, or rather, amazing food has always been an integral part of my life.

Understandably then, it becomes difficult to pick just five out of a lifetime of memorable meals, but it was a process I thoroughly savoured :D

1. Festive Meals - As long as we were based in Bombay (a timeframe which spans the first 22 years of my life), our routine for Christmas, New Year's & Easter was almost always the same. Breakfast was at home, a meal which in the later years was mom's homemade bread and roast chicken. Our mouths would start watering the day before with the house fragrant with the aromas of baking bread and roasting chicken! Lunch would be at my maternal grandparents' home where my grandmom would lay out a spread of Indian delicacies. I say "Indian" because she travelled all over India with my granddad and her cooking reflects that diversity in addition to the flavours of our native Kerala. The Christmas sweets post-lunch also were just as versatile. Dinner was at my paternal grandparents' home where my grandmom favoured Western flavours more. So we'd have a roast again, and she'd make a yummy stuffing to go with it. Surprisingly, what my sister & I both looked forward to were granny's salads, because the dressings would be 100% rich mayonnaise (not the healthy yoghurt like our mom usually made us eat!), and aside from the veggies, there'd be crunchy croutons (again, not on our mom's usual menu as its deep-fried bread), and of course, extremely generous chunks of cheese!!!

2. Murg Shifta at Ivy Restaurant - This is a place close to home in Bombay. We checked it out some years ago, and have been hooked since our first meal. My favourite is this heavenly, melt-in-your-mouth chicken kebab - the Murg Shifta. The first time I bit into one was the first time I was moved to tears by the sheer exquisiteness of food. Whenever we've visited Bombay after settling in the UAE, no matter what else needs to be done in the short time we're there, we ALWAYS eat from this restaurant. If we can't go there, then dad orders in advance and then picks up the food. This restaurant was also the setting where I had a meal with this dude who'd come to see me; food came second to the conversation that day as we each evaluated whether or not we could spend the rest of our lives together, though I made it a point to mention the Shifta and how it was a favourite :D I later married that dude, and when we visited Bombay post-marriage, we all went to Ivy again (or as he puts it, we returned to "the scene of the crime"!!!)

3. Stamp of Approval - My mom & grandmom came to visit us a few months after my marriage. As soon as she freshened up after reaching home, mom came straight to my kitchen to check out what I had prepared for dinner, and on seeing the dishes, she couldn't resist sampling one of them. As I had learnt how to cook only after marriage, this would be the first time she would taste a dish by yours truly. Though baking had become a passion some years before and she liked the cakes & desserts I made, I think its somehow different when it comes to the food you eat on a daily basis. So there I stood, making tea and watching with some nervousness as she took a bite of a chicken preparation - one of her recipes itself :). To my dying day, I will never forget that look of surprised admiration & pleasure that lit her face!!!

4. With My Oldest Friends - Most of our socialising in Bombay was with the families of my dad's two oldest friends. Their kids are my oldest friends and we've gotten together countless times at all our homes. The atmosphere is always comfortable & relaxed the way it is when everybody goes back donkey's years and every get-together was loads of fun. But there are two meals that especially stand out in my mind as I do this tag. The first was my 15th birthday party, which was just 11 days before my tenth standard board exams. When everybody else was feverishly cramming, we partied on till 3 a.m.!!! (And yes, I did do pretty well in the exams too :D) The second meal was a get-together when I visited Bombay in January this year. Hubby couldn't get leave, so I had gone alone. I knew I was pregnant, but as I hadn't seen a gynec yet, my parents & I didn't share the news with the others. That night, us "kids" played cards like we've done nearly all our lives, and we laughed and laughed with the same abandonment as when we all really were kids and even as I was laughing, I was filled with this bittersweet feeling that this would be the last time we were together like this. My life, at least, had changed forever, and the next time we would all meet, I'd have a kid of my own.

5. Thankful for the Blessing - The first trimester of my pregnancy brought on nausea so intense that for the first time in my life, the mere thought of food made me sick. The culinary sights & smells I'd savoured all my life suddenly became so unbearable that not only did I keep out of the kitchen, I'd stay shut in my room if somebody else was cooking. My diet was reduced to a chutney sandwich for breakfast and either a simple khichdi* or chapati** & curd for lunch and dinner. With my energy level at an all-time low, I couldn't make even these basic meals; first my parents, then hubby & my ma-in-law took over the kitchen. So the first day I re-entered my kitchen and was able to stand there and cook a decent meal was a huge blessing for me. As I made a proper, tempered dal*** and marinated mackerel for frying, I actually had tears in my eyes! I was that happy and that thankful to have regained my old strength and abilities, and I vowed then that I would never take them for granted.

So these are some of my most delicious memories :) Anyone else wanting to take a tasty trip down memory lane, feel free to pick up the tag!

* khichdi - rice, lentils (and vegetables if you want ..... I didn't!) cooked together.
** chapati - Indian flatbread.
*** dal - lentils cooked to a soup consistency.

Friday, November 06, 2009

Going Ga-Ga Over Gu-Gu!

My baby girl is nearly 10 weeks old now, but even within this short span of time, she's changed (and changing!) so fast!!! Its not only her appearance, but also her personality. The near-silent, frail little child who only uttered the softest mewling cries post-birth is now a sturdier, bigger version who's not shy at all about being heard!

While previously she only tested her vocal range in terms of how loudly she could yell, these days she's started making those typically baby gurgling sounds and its the cutest thing ever!!!

Her word of choice as of now is "uh-gu" with the ocassional variation thrown in, so when she's awake & content, that's what our vocabulary gets reduced to :D We're gu-guing and gurgling and coochie-cooing, and sometimes (when we go a bit overboard, I think :D), she looks at us with this half-curious, half-amused expression almost as if she's thinking: "What the hell???? These guys are supposed to be the adults!!!"

But its not as if we're only indulging in baby talk; I've read about the importance of speaking to babies early on itself and so I keep talking to her just about everything and anything, not at all difficult if you're me ..... I can yammer on and on and relentlessly on ...... all in the hope of hearing one little "uh-gu" :) That's the sound that makes our day these days!

Monday, November 02, 2009

The Best of Us!!!

I'd mentally started off on this post a hundred times, but floundered when it came to taking it forward. It wasn't for a lack of things to write about; rather, just like it happened after marriage, I feel waaaay too much for words to express.

So I'll just simply shout it out from the rooftop (or rather, my laptop :P), that

I have a DAUGHTER!!!!!

God!!!! I remember the first time I used the words "my daughter" in a conversation some weeks ago, I stopped mid-sentence, wondering if it had all really happened or if it was a dream. Well, it did really happen, so here's the when, where & how:

'When' was 31 Aug - she surprised us by arriving a week before the due date :) 'Where' was Bangalore and 'how' was a normal delivery (thank You God again!!!!), following a completely "uneventful" - to use the word from my medical file - pregnancy (more heartfelt thanks to God).

But while the pregnancy itself was uneventful, life in the last trimester and in the two months since certainly has been very eventful, hence the long absence from the blog. I missed this space terribly, missed writing, not to mention the dear friends I made here (thanks to all of you who enquired about us!), and I definitely will catch up with everyone soon. Now that I've put up this initial piece, hopefully the blogging will pick up pace again.

In the meanwhile, here's my darling little Kristyn, born a mini replica of her papa, but now slowly starting to look like me. Either way, she remains the best of us :D