I Baked A Mango Cake & Guess What Happened

Mango cake. Delicious, isn’t it? In this scotching heat, devouring a lovely slice of mango cake is nothing short of heavenly. And that’s why I thought I should whip one up for my sister’s lockdown birthday.

I had seen the recipe well in advance and bought the ingredients (arranged for the mangoes as well!). I’d even bought the cream for the icing to make it extra special. It looked like a simple, doable recipe so I said, ‘How hard could it be? Let’s do this!’

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The Hospital

Musings and snippets about a rather unexpectedly long hospital visit. They’re short but not always sweet. And they’re published like a Sunday daily – once a week, except for a few special editions in between.

1

I remember listening to a line in a movie that said that the airport is one place where a person can see different emotions at the same time. For some reason, that line stuck on. And it came back to me when I stood in a hospital corridor, outside the Operation Theatre. The OT was on the same floor as the labour ward. In that moment, the hospital mirrored the airport to me. Grief, fear, joy, anxiety and relief seemed to exist all in one place. It’s sometimes hard to believe that all these emotions could change in a split second when the doors of the OT opened. Hopefully, for the better.

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2

I had just got off the ambulance and was waiting for some of the bags to be shifted to the ward from the Emergency Room (ER) waiting area. There were three rows of seats and not one of them was empty. I decided to stand in a corner. I wondered how many people could be facing an emergency at the same time and end up in the same place. I saw a young man give up his seat for an elderly couple limping towards him. There was another couple that was just coming out of the ER. The man had a white bandage on the side of his neck. His wife insisted he get a haircut. It would make him look and feel better, she said. He didn’t seem too impressed by the thought and was more eager to get back home. I couldn’t agree more. A few minutes there and anybody would want to. Every person there was doing only one of three things – waiting to hear an update, talking to another loved one on the phone or discussing the gravity of the situation with the person next to them. It was fascinating to see how quickly one picks up medical terms when one’s own is affected by a condition. It was a strange place with a vibe that was unsettling.

Until that moment, I knew I wasn’t particularly fond of hospitals, ambulances or emergency rooms. But after that moment, I was sure that the ER is most definitely not a place I’d visit if I was looking for a ray of hope.

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What I learnt from 2017

It’s the last day of the year and I am filled with bittersweet emotions. It was a year of many ups and downs. I don’t know if the latter outnumbered the former or the other way round but then again, that’s what this year left me feeling. It left me with this lingering feeling of ‘I don’t know’, a certain uneasiness about the uncertainty but also a bit of excitement about the future.

The year gave me way too many lessons. Its not like I’ve figured out everything yet. But guess what, it’s alright. You don’t need to have everything figured out. You don’t need to know if you stand on the blacks or the whites; you can just squat on the greys for a while more. The world will give you nothing but advice – some well meaning, some not very. Some that you want to hear, some that you don’t but need to. You’ll feel like shutting yourself up and at the same time, pouring your heart out. It’s alright. Breathe. It’s going to be okay. No one knows how but everyone knows it will.

Dilemmas will play havoc inside your head. Suddenly, everyone around you is keeping it together but you’re falling apart. You can’t figure out right from wrong and even your instincts give you the ditch. You want to let go and you fear the future regret of not holding on. It’s alright. It’s still going to be okay. There will be a time in life when you just stare blank not knowing where you’re heading and who’s going to hold your hand tomorrow to keep you from falling, or even worse, while you’re falling. And that’s  also alright. At the right moment, everything will make sense.

If there’s anything I’ve learnt this year, it’s this: nothing is constant. Not the people, not the misery and definitely not the bonds you share. But what can be constant, are faith and patience. Somewhere, somehow, at the right time, the faith in the higher force, in your inner self, in your God, in your teacher, will guide you through. It may not instantly put the pieces of the puzzle back together but it will give you the strength to get through the chaos.

We need to be trusting in the workings of this universe. Nod your head when people tell you that everything happens for a reason. But take your time for you to accept that knowing the reason will take a while. People often tell you that if things don’t happen the way you want them to, it’s good. There’s a better plan in store for you. It is hard to swallow this bittersweet truth but drink all the water you need, to make it go down. It will be a lot like the pungent medicinal cure to your ailment called sadness.

In the end, what you do, is your choice. It may not always be what you were advised to do. Choose what makes you happy as long as you aren’t unethical and hurting others. Listen to your conscience and your voice of reason. Act and speak when you’re calm.  Hope for the best and it will all work out.

As we embark on another journey this new year, let’s remember that the goodness in us will always shine brighter than the darkness that envelops us. Let’s remind ourselves that people change, sometimes even for the better, and we need to embrace that. But most importantly, we need to know that miracles happen everyday and you’re not an exception to being blessed with one!

Granny Tales 101: Chapter 4

So the reason I said I knew what was coming up in this chapter was because I knew there was going to be an article of mine coming out in the newspaper soon. It was a piece I wrote on Tamil poetry for The Times of India, Chennai. I mention this because a lot of my interest in writing developed because of dadi.

Dadi was an English teacher and she would sit for hours teaching me poems, grammar and narrating granny tales when I was in school. Before exams, she would sit with me and listen as I read out lessons loudly and interjected only if she wanted to add a point. Even at 90, she knew what gerunds and clauses were better than anyone else. I owe a lot of my knowledge in the language to her. She loved reading my English answer papers to see if the teaching sessions paid off. But my humble sweetheart that she was, she never took credit for it, simply praised me for being talented.  Continue reading

Time – a timeless mystery

My best friend recently asked me to give her a quote or proverb on time. I proudly doled out a series of them, “Time heals”, “Time and tide wait for no man”, “A stitch in time saves nine”. And she retorted, “Can you give me something positive?” And that left me speechless. Every other proverb that crossed my mind from then on was largely negative. I found it strange. I googled a bit and didn’t find anything wholly satisfying. It didn’t bother me much then but it definitely lingered on in my head. When you’re having a rough patch, such things quickly seep back into focus and tend to eat into your thoughts more than you’d want them to.

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Granny Tales: Chapter 3

Sundays with Dadi were a bliss. She didn’t just love food, she loved making it. Food was on her mind all the time. In fact, most of our family friends remember how she’d welcome them when they came home, “Coffee kudikaringla?” [Will you have some coffee?]. Soon after, she’d busy herself making a hot cup of filter coffee, that remains unmatched in taste till this date.

Sundays, in particular, were different because it meant eating Dadi’s special Bisibella bath with a dollop of ghee, garnished with fried groundnuts and crispy appalam to go with it. The waft of piping hot flavours in the rice would fill the house and soon see each of us tip-toe into the kitchen to see if lunch was ready. The menu for lunch was almost always the same every Sunday, with Vaanghi Bath [brinjal rice] being its only serious competitor. Once in a while, variety rice like lemon rice, puliogare [tamarind rice], coconut rice and tomato rice would make an appearance.

Dadi was always the head cook for these lunches. Her mind would start working from the previous night. Everything would be mentally organised – from ingredients to quantities. And while everyone relished her food, she’d have a standard line after preparing each meal – “Innike seriyaave varle!” [Today, the taste isn’t upto the mark]. Eventually, this line became an inside joke as all of us waited for her to say it. We’d tell her that if she doesn’t say it, then something was definitely wrong with the food. This conversation would leave us all giggling.

Fortunately, these happy memories linger on and sometimes give you the strength to cope. They’re a reminder that the end isn’t the only thing to remember. What is important, is the journey. The moments, the times spent together, the love, the laughter – they can never be erased and one can only be grateful that it all happened instead of cry that it’s over.

I think I have an inkling on what’s coming in chapter 4. Stay tuned, guys!

Granny Tales 101: Chapter 1

I thought a lot about what could go up as the first anecdote. The problem is, you can never pick just one incident that is close to your heart. So I’m just going ahead with the first one that popped up when I began writing this.

When I was a little child, I was always excited about excursions. My school used to plan day-long picnics to amusement parks in the city. I wasn’t, and I’m still not, a huge fan of these parks because I get dizzy on rides. The only thing I enjoyed about the outing was munching on snacks and being with my small group of friends, who fortunately never made fun of my fears and still chose me as their ‘excursion partner’. Continue reading

A HAPPY NEW YEAR NOTE FROM ME!

Hello everyone!

Happy New Year! 🙂

2016 has been a busy year. I rarely got time to post content only for my blog except in the last few months. But this year, I promise to be more regular. Many of you have written to me saying that my content is thought-provoking and worth a read. There is no greater joy than having my readers write to me with positive feedback.

So to ensure that all of you have a little something from me more often, I have downloaded the WordPress app. I can now upload snippets and short travel encounters. It makes traveloguing a lot easier too.

I’ll be beginning with some tit-bits from my 2.5 week-long Euro-trip in 2016. What I did, where I went, who I met, what I ate (or rather managed to) and my experiences. If you’re planning a trip there, I hope my travel journeys will be of help to you to avoid the mistakes I made and at the same time, relish the pleasures like I did.

Hope you have an amazing year ahead! Keep reading 🙂 A big thank you for your support 🙂

PS: All the photographs on my blog are my own. They are protected by copyright. Please do not download them for any purpose. It is strictly prohibited.

 

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“Inside the classroom, there is love and acceptance like there is in few other places”

Teaching is one profession where it isn’t merely the student that’s learning something new. Children are often a mirror of those values that adults seem to lose in their quest for a better life or simply because they wear the mask of adulthood. Whether it’s an undying curiosity or the thirst for learning, young minds can teach us more than we can imagine.

In our second part of this series, we see what chirpy, intelligent and creative adolescents from the 6th to 10th grade learn from 23-year-old Yashasvini Rajeshwar. A Humanities graduate from the prestigious Indian Institute of Technology, Madras (IIT-M), Yashasvini teaches English as a second language at a private school on the Tamil Nadu-Kerala border. The school caters to children (largely first-generation learners) of the local tribes in and around the area. From learning adjectives and prepositions to having their pieces published in national dailies, the beaming faces of these children coupled with their undying spirit is what keeps her going. As she opens their eyes to the world of Marquez and Wordsworth, she learns a lot more about life and being grateful.  Continue reading

UNCERTAINTY

Uncertainty.

They say that change is constant. But who’re we fooling? Uncertainty is.

It hits you like a cloud burst on a summer morning,

Leaving you numb, shaken and motionless,

Plunging you in blinding darkness.

A parched tongue,

A lump in your throat,

A stomach churn,

A sinking boat.

When the rosy pink turns to a pale white,

You wonder, if it finally was,

Worth the fight.

 

Uncertainty.

The unwanted visitor

Who knocks at your door,

To tell you blatantly,

Family is one less than four.

You pause, you stagger, you scream, you fall,

What’s that you said about standing tall?

 

Uncertainty.

Its destiny playing an unfair game,

Forcing you down memory lane.

Taking the road back to home,

Asking you why you live alone?

Urging you to cut the distance,

Trying hard to knock some sense.

Bringing you back to family and friends,

Making you wonder if it had to end?