Wednesday, December 20, 2006


There's been a frenzy of activity in my kitchen over the past few there usually is this time of year. Our mix of Christmas sweets includes the best of the west & east. From cookies and toffees to laddoos and burfis, we've been making them all. But it's the desi ones that really fascinated me this time.

As I stood, relentlessly stirring one mix after another (and giving my right arm a helluva workout!), I started thinking about how these sweets evolved. The same basic ingredients in varying proportions, heated to different temperatures, stirred or beaten for different durations with varying strength, produce results so distinct in taste, texture and firmness. These aren't quick-fix, all-in-one-go recipes, but time-consuming and painstaking labours of love that call for a great deal of precision: heat it too fast or too long, beat it too less or too much and you have a disaster on your hands (as we learnt the hard way!!).

I've always been a sweet addict. I'd savour every bite, but I'd never thought about the process that creates these luscious sweets. Having expended considerable energy in that process this past week, I have a newfound respect for all sweet-makers. Hats off to all those countless people down the centuries who've experimented with the....chemistry, I suppose, of these sweets and helped further these delectable traditions.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Great Greats

On a lark, Dad googled our "family name" today....and it turned up one very surprising result - a genealogy of my family dating back to the 18th century, made by some distant, distant, relative I've never even heard of. It also contains references to my great-great grandfather and my great-grandfather. Apparently, my great-great grandfather was a philanthropist....he set up a school for children from all walks of life to study in. A school that was later managed by my great-grandfather.

I had never before paid any thought to my ancestors....they were after all, dead and gone a very long time, and I'm a child of this "here and now" generation. But as I read about their incredible achievements, I was struck by a profound sense of awe and....words can't describe the emotion that welled up. These men stood for equality at a time when it was unheard of....championing the cause in their little corner of the world. I won't say anything more, I'm still too overwhelmed. Just wanted to record this.

Sunday, November 19, 2006


As brand "me" enters the online matrimony market, my darling sis has given me a label - LSD - short for 'light social drinker'. One of the matrimony sites inquires about drinking preferences, so the folks and I checked the LSD option without giving it much thought, although mum had a feeling eyebrows would be raised among the extended family.

Raised eyebrows were the least of it. There were looonng debates across the continents. Tears were shed too. "Why should you mention such a thing when you're looking to get married???" Why not, we countered. I'm no party animal or a binge drinker, I said.....I indulge in one drink on a handful of occasions and I like trying out new cocktails. I appreciate a well-crafted drink and always stay within my limits. I see no shame in it whatsoever, and definitely, not something to hide from a prospective mate.

All our arguments don't seem to have achieved anything - they still believe that "such things" are unmentionable topics, especially for a girl. But the inbox flooded with mails expressing interest in me suggest otherwise. It's really mum who handles this, but I'd seen a few 'profiles'.....and then I started noticing something, which made me go through all the profiles. Only a handful had ticked the LSD option; all the 30-40 others were apparently 'non-drinkers'.

This shocked the hell out of me. One or two men may be teetotalers, but for so many to state that they don't drink just reeks of bullshit. And if they're all such puritans, why would they then contact a girl who 'drinks'? The hypocrisy in this just leaves me shaking my head. Why, in this day and age, is it so shameful to state that you drink? I'm not talking about bingeing or anything like that, but an occasional drink in the company of friends & family. If you behave responsibly, why can't you frankly acknowledge it? Do you think that saying you don't drink puts you on a higher moral plane? Why the pretense, especially on a forum where you're looking for a life partner? Isn't honesty in a relationship more important than keeping up so-called appearances?

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Responsible Decisions

This is something I'll try and do regularly: post a brief about spectacular sermons. This evening the priest spoke about the decision to love and follow God. He said that many people follow God based on "feelings" - they're powerfully moved by something or the other and "feel" very strongly for God and so, they decide to follow Him. But what of tomorrow, or the next day, when that "feeling" may not be as strong? Therefore, the decision to follow God must be based in our very beliefs and convictions, and not in something as transient as a feeling. The decision to follow God calls for responsibility, which doesn't change according to our feelings.

He drew a wonderful, and apt, comparison with a parent or a spouse: you may feel great love towards your children or your partner today....but in the course of life, there are times when we get angry with the ones we love; our feelings are not necessarily affectionate all the time. Does that mean we leave them, or stop caring? No. We maintain these relationships, because at the heart of it, there's a conviction that this person belongs to us and that we're responsible for them all the time regardless of how we feel.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Oh Diya!

Today I spent my first Diwali in this country. Tried to recreate the festive spirit at home...lit plenty of diyas and candles. But though they totally make a place come alive with their glowing warmth, can't say it was really the same as what I've been used to all these years.

It isn't about the firecrackers, or how festive everything looks, or about the awesome sweets, or that you get a couple of days holiday. It's about the people. Now that I'm here in this strange new country, I realise how completely festivals are about the people in our lives. Family and friends meeting, sharing, laughing together. Even strangers acknowledging each other with a passing "Happy Diwali".
Took all of it for granted when I had it. But no more.

So as I light still more diyas, I'll say a prayer for all the special people in my life and hope this season ushers in light and warmth in all our lives.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

I penned these words years ago at a time when I was really low. In support of my new-found optimism, I'm posting them a reminder to me.

"Trapped, enslaved, I want to break free.
There’s so much to do, so much to see.
But these shackles deny. Till I realise,
The only thing stopping me, is me."