June 25, 2009


*This lesson comes to you free of charge.

Spar, the "hypermarket" on Bannerghatta Road, just redid their entire store layout. The claim to have created "Worlds" in the store: one for home, one for groceries and whatnot. They've mainly shooed out all the underperforming brand stores from their premises, and spread out their wares so that there is no 3-hour trolley traffic jam in the aisles. For which I am very grateful, especially since I was always an innocent victim of the trolley jam.

The supermarket trolley is the most devious marketing ploy ever dreamt up by retailers. It's chugging along on wheels with minimal effort from your side, if you have an infant you can plonk the bugger little darling into the baby holder and let it rip colourful packets off the shelves or dupattas off the shoppers as it passes them by, and if you like those breadcrumbs that might be useful for making those cutlets that you haven't made in four and a half years, you can just throw the packet into the trolley and carry on. You could end up collecting raw materials (incomplete, of course) for half a dozen cookery and hobby projects to counter your premature midlife crisis, all in one hour's shopping, and never realize it, because the trolley is doing the damned lifting! The trolleys will make sure you use EVERY ONE OF THOSE SODEXO COUPONS in your booklet, even the 50 paisa ones that you count fifteen times when you're ahead of me in the queue (may your cutlets fall to pieces in the kadhai). Between the trolley and the Sodexo, you can be sure that Spar is going to expand into the apartment complex next to it before the year is out!

The husband has devised a wonderful strategy to beat the retailers at their own game. We always pick up a basket. When the basket becomes too heavy, it means it is time to stop shopping. If it becomes too heavy before you've picked up the essential stuff you came to buy, well, you just put those 2 litre bottles of mild detergent back into the shelves! If that doesn't work, you just hand the damned basket to the husband and get another one (basket, not husband).

Today I saw how Spar has deviously shifted the billing counter to the ground floor, and lined the space where the queues form on weekends with chocolate, chips and other junk food that we all eat but scold kids for demanding. Mummies will not even be able to see what junior is adding to the pile on the trolley because she's busy playing "The Price Is Right" in her head and counting off Sodexo coupons. Devious, devious store. To take revenge, I did not even pick up a basket today. I must have looked like a crazy fat woman with flying hair clutching groceries in my arms, but that's how I walked to the billing counter. Bwahahahaha! You cannot make me buy more than I need!

And yes, I DID need that mango, ok???

In other news, The Times Of India has made an amazing breakthrough in the study of the human body.

"Low birth weight due to toxic chemical in toys"

Apparently, the 100% conscience free retail chains are now targetting gullible foetuses. Expecting Ladies who just saw an ultrasound that nearly killed them: It's not a three headed baby! The kid has a playpen in there!

June 09, 2009


Remember the scene from The Father Of The Bride where the girlie comes home in tears and threatens to call off the wedding when the guy gets her a blender as a gift, because he thought someday she might want to blend something? Well, I came quite close to threatening to call off my already-happened wedding when the guy just refused to get me a blender, even though I so clearly needed to blend something every now and then! But he's a darling cutie pie and I have been working damned hard in my can't-put-on-the-resume animal husbandry role, and we're now the proud owners of a mixer-grinder.

Of course I have gone bonkers with the new gadget, and given the husband's inexplicable need to watch every single T-20 World Cup match down to its end despite not having a TV, we're having two dinners daily. One at about 9 and another at 11:30. (Mothers, please turn your attention to your other kids at this time. Thanks for having those cute little girlies.)

Here's what we've managed to make so far:

Pesarattu: For the first time in my life I measured the ingredients. It's not my style.

Mango Milkshake: Sad that the mangoes are all but gone from 'looru

Aamras: See above

Mattar Paneer with actual gravy instead of floating onion cubes and tomato skins

So just writing in to say hooray, and if you're looking at buying a mixie in the near future: Jo biwi se karey pyaar, woh Mophy Richards Icon DLX se kaise karey inkaar??

Singing off with a lovely ad I found online. Can't be abusive on a "family" blog (Hi Papa!) so I'll just say the guy is wearing the last set of clothes that the mixie hasn't washed for him….

June 02, 2009

Yellow Dal

At the supermarket yesterday, a newly married chooda-dhaari girlie and her friend were trying to buy dal for what was clearly the first time in their lives. "This one? This is the yellow dal? The one for sambhar? The one for dal chawal? Are they the same?" Since they were standing facing the right one, I did not offer to help, and just walked past with a smile. They were speaking in Hindi, and if their accent had been dyed Punjabi, I'd have had to push them a fair bit to the left.

Yellow Dal. That mysterious, all-encompassing name of the food of those who do not enter the kitchen! My favorite question, and one which I regularly ask random people is: "How man kinds of yellow dal are there and what are their names?" Most people stop at two, which are the two their Mummy makes. Anyone who goes beyond three is generally a cook (for better or worse). 

Now you're surely thinking how many kinds there are. My answer is five. Maybe there's one or two I missed. Mind you: not all of these look yellow in the shop! Give them 10 minutes of introspection in  a pressure cooker and they'll rang themselves basanti for sure!

Aside: The Husband has left a strange song playing on the comp: "hey hey hey lady! don't treat me like a baby! hey hey hey mister, don't treat me like a sister..." iTunes tells me it's from Ussele Ussele...Abey kiss-se kya lena hai? 

June 01, 2009

Grandpa's Century!

That's me cutting my first birthday cake in Daddy's lap. Today is his hundredth birthday, so it's only fitting that we cut a cake together again. Happy Birthday Daddy!

"Ek dafaa..." is how all his stories used to begin, and I still remember many of them.

My favorite is a drama in real life from his own childhood:
When Daddy was a little boy, he once got into a fight with a classmate, who, incidentally, had a dislocated elbow tied up in a plaster. When they came to blows, Daddy hit the boy's broken arm rather forcefully with his slate. The boy cried all the way home. Soon enough, he arrived back in school with his father. Daddy knew he was in big trouble and hid immediately. "Kahan hai (daddy's name)?" the father yelled. Eventually, Daddy had to emerge and face the fire. But hey! the father had brought along a box of sweets for the naughty kid who had hit his son!!!
Turns out that the doslocated arm, which the doctor had been trying for many days to slip back into place, got perfectly aligned with one master stroke of Daddy's slate. With 7 doctors in his extended family, it would be tempting to say that his kids inherited his gift for healing.... but no..... nobody else practises his unique hit-and-trial style!

A dedication from my younger sister, his youngest grandchild and, according to him, a reincarnation of his mother (she bossed him around like that for sure):
My memories of my relationship with Daddy are in part those which I remember from my childhood and those that have been told and retold by my family. His room was a territory it seems I had free access to and many of the elders feared to tread in (specially when he was sleeping). The office, the black ledgers, the book in urdu with the stamps, the glue, the letterheads, the walking stick, his white hair: they all fascinated me and I can still see them when I shut my eyes. Posting letters in the red letterbox with him. The fights to make sure he didn't get more kharbuja than I did. Stories of how I was completely indulged by him, how rules were changed for me, and how I let out secrets I was told to keep by my parents. He was my grandmother and my grandfather. I called him "angootha-chaap" because he couldn't write his name in hindi! But being the youngest, you get away with a lot. Daddy, this comes in late but Happy Birthday and thank you for all your love.

And now for a guest post from my father. "Ek dafaa...

a boy was born in an agricultural family on the 1st of June 1909 in a small village in Laiyah (now in Pakistan)… he lost his mother at a very young age… worked in farms for a few turnips for lunch and his school expense. He was the first in the family to try his hand at education. Through his inclination, dedication and above all the blessings of his teachers, he passed matric and went to Lahore for his graduation. He got married and had a loving wife and five daughters He worked very hard to make ends meet .When the youngest daughter was 13 days old India got independence and the Partition happened. He went deep into Pakistan and after few months came to India with the help of his Muslim friends in Pakistan. By the grace of God he, his wife and five daughters, their sewing machine and a few valuable reached India safely. The Partition had the sorrows for him too: he lost his sister and her husband.
His office re-established in Delhi and he was instrumental in getting it reorganized. He lived in a shared accommodation in Mehrauli above the Arya Samaj Mandir, and used to commute by buses everyday all the way to Delhi University North Campus. In 1951, when he was 42, he had a son. This is where I come into the picture. I am the son and the person I am talking about is my father, who would have completed his century on 1st Jun 2009 if he had not got out at 83 on 18th Jan 1992.

I was the full stop of my parents' children. The earliest remembrance I have of him was when I was five or six years old. I remember him as a hard-working, disciplined and a strict but affectionate father. He had his priorities: clean clothes, health food, good education, simplicity and punctuality. Six children, a wife and a moderate salary: still he made sure that none of us feel deprived of the basic essentials of life. On top of it all, he helped his brother-in-law, and a few nephews to study and make their lives. Before he retired, all my five sisters had completed their education and four of them had been married.

When I went to college, he had retired and was fully involved in a career of Life Insurance business. On his insistence, after my graduation I joined him .Throughout his life I held it against him that he made me do something that I did not want to do. If I had my way, I would have become a nature photographer or travel guide living somewhere in the Himalayas, where he himself had taken me many times, as he loved nature and traveling.

In 1983, three events happened: First I lost my mother, second India won the Cricket World cup and the third was arrival of my younger daughter. All the three happened in quick succession. Instead of losing himself in grief over the death of my mother, who had been with him through thick and thin of life, he enjoyed the Indian victory of World Cup and played the role of grandmother and grandfather for the new arrival.

On Jan 17, 1992 he went to the office. I was working late, so he met every body he knew in the office. That Friday night he had set his bag for Monday as the next day there was a one day match between India and Australia, and he loved cricket passionately. The next day when we opened the door of his room, he was lying on the floor. We picked him up and called a doctor but it was too late. He was no more.