Category Archives: Global Issues

Not My Cup of Tea

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In India, a cup of tea is the most common beverage to kick-start your day.

Extensive promotions of Western-style coffee bars that have sprouted across the country luring the ‘cool’ generation with lattes and other caffeinated beverages are yet to rob a country of its love affair with a hot glass of ‘chai’.

In my family, tea is more than a ritual that you begin your day with.

It is the elixir of life itself.

The deliciously warm magic potion became a joyful addition in times of happiness, an aromatic balm that can soothe your sorrow, a faithful companion on a bored day, a welcome addition to the warmth and flavor to a plate of crispy ‘pakoras’ on a rainy day, a soulful mate fueling your thoughts in times of quiet intellect or simply because you crave for yet another cup.

It has been the essential and integral part of the rhythm of life for every member of my family – except me.

I was the Horlicks baby who had the audacity to throw up at the mere sight or aroma of my family’s favorite beverage.

I gradually got used to relatives stop midsentence an intense session of gossip and stare with their open mouths unceremoniously showcasing their tea- stained dental makeup when they heard me refuse a hot cup and chose to sip on water instead. Mother was bombarded with questions as a few handy tips were thrown in along with plotting ways to introduce me the beverage before I turned into a complete anti-tea outcast.

A few had gone a step ahead and declared that my I-don’t-drink-tea ways might even come in the way of my happy marriage, an area of research that even the acclaimed Stanford University is yet to prove – the correlation between a happy marriage and passionate drinking tea.

Luckily, my in-laws or the husband are blatantly unaware of this prophecy as they are more than happy to lend me a cup of coffee during tea times at home.

To this day, I have friends and family who don’t waste a moment to comment on my antisocial untea-friendly ways as I politely refuse a cup and stick to my choices.

Over the years, I have fine-tuned my tea making skills with variations as per what the occasion demands. I have even come to enjoy ‘the Sulaimani’ or the spiced black tea.

So if you happen to visit us at home, be sure to enjoy a steaming cup of cardamom or spiced ginger or mint tea but with a traditional filter-‘kaapi’ lover for company.

But I love You Daddy

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What had been a mild cold and discomfort soon turned into a full-blown migraine headache. If I knew that the rest of the afternoon would be spent nursing it in the confines of a dark bedroom, the husband and Sid were well aware that they free to do all they wish without the bickering lady of the house to remind them (some 200 times) that books, newspapers, pens and pencils were yet to develop legs to walk back into their places or that post a school day no miracle would get homework magically completed or that passion for your nation does not essentially include multitasking your son’s homework with cheering for eleven Indian men who were set on leaving no stone unturned to bring back the ICC Champions Trophy home.

So, when I made a comeback into the world that I had temporarily left for a good two hours, the vision that greeted me threatened to bring back the migraine in full force.

Father and son were dressed in their favorite ‘Men in Blue’ jersey as were the eleven men on the television. Father multi tasked between his e-mails on the laptop before him, watching and cheering the cricket match, helping Sid with his homework while his eyes occasionally strayed in the direction of a busy toddler in an undeterred creative spree.

Sid completed his Math problems between cheering and throwing in his views on the ongoing game.

To my annoyance, a single instruction from the husband got them cleaning and clearing up with the living room back to its former glory. Sid had not only acquired a few cricketing tips that he begged to enlighten me on but had surprisingly completed all of his studying and home work for the day. Little Princess, who had missed her afternoon nap, was surprisingly fresh after an extra dose of shredding the day’s newspaper.

I spent the rest of the evening pretending to deal with post-migraine blues while nursing my guilty conscience as I questioned my ‘no fun’ parenting skills as much as I was left in a dilemma if I must risk thanking the husband or be offended for showing Sid better means of spending an afternoon post school.

I think I will wish him instead.

With Father’s day just around the corner, here is wishing every little girl’s first hero, every boy’s friend, foe, boon, bane, banker, coach, adviser –  all rolled into one, my children’s father, my father and all the wonderful fathers of the world – Happy Father’s Day!

Recycling Slogans for a Greener Planet

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Little Princess took a cutout of the Honorable Indian Prime Minister, Mr. Narendra Modi, embracing the French President in a bear hug at their meeting in Paris where they together put a common front on the need to fight for climate change, for her ‘news clip of the day’ at school.

The rest of the evening was spent repeating the words, “Prime Minister Narendra Modi says, we need to save our Earth.”

What was left unsaid was that as Mr. Modi vowed to protect the environment just as Mr. Trump dumped the Paris Climate Pact while the self-assured new diplomat from France – Macron – had gone a step ahead and recycled Mr. Trump’s slogan –  ‘Make our planet great again’.

As we leave the future of dear Earth in the hands of our political leaders hoping it gets a much-deserved new lease of life and a breath of fresh air –  are we doing our tiny bit to sustain our home – for us, our future and our children?

Little Princess and her class decided to celebrate Environment Day with puppets made from recycled material. I wondered what could be ‘effectively’ recycled – the cozy couch that was the husband’s favorite seat, the television or could it be Sid’s cricket bat?

We settled for Sid’s old socks, old newspaper, lots of old buttons and yarn. Even my cousin (God bless her) did her bit and recycled her daughter’s doll’s dress (without her daughter’s knowledge of course) for me.

The puppet which was carried to school with much zeal has not yet returned and the news clip continues to make its trip to school and back untouched.

But when I left an empty can of milk by the kitchen counter, Little Princess picked it up and dumped it in the little bin that holds old plastic and cans that will soon be dropped at the nearest recycling center and she jumped up and down saying, “Prime Minister Modi says we need to save our Earth.”

Okay, I have done my bit!

 

References : http://gulfnews.com/opinion/thinkers/macron-finds-his-feet-in-a-world-of-strongmen-1.2038431

App-ily Procrastinating

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If gravity is the force that keeps your feet firm on the ground, then procrastination is the force that keeps you from doing anything and everything other than the task at hand.

At the beginning of every week, I would decide to do at least three blog posts (one for the blog and two just to be ahead of time) along with a list of other tasks.

The beginning of the week is spent on research – extensive research about everything under the sun except the topics in question.

The middle half finds me locked in tasks like attempting complex postures under the guidance of a yoga instructor on YouTube, whose hands and feet are extraordinarily elastic, leaving mine as mere unmovable extensions of my body; an hour of breathing exercises to clear my mind as I reminisce on my many plans to make the world a better place, that in turn drives me into watching loops of inspirational videos that begin with real ‘inspirational gurus’ and end up with stand-up comedians .

The end of the week finds me looking at everything in a new light – one that I hope can magically twist itself into an interesting topic to blog about.

I look at fussy Little Princess chew on every morsel of food 78 times and wonder if it is my cooking abilities I must work on or improving my pathetic time management abilities.

Ah! that is when I turn to the modern miracle – an app – the instant life saver, your aspirin, Neosporin, doctor, weight watcher, tracker and so much more rolled into one.

And Google (as always) has just more than one that will rescue me out of my procrastination ways.

The Yelling Mom ‘yells’ a tune of your choice from an array of obnoxious alerts reminding you of scheduled tasks.

Finish combats procrastination by sorting scheduled tasks into short-term, mid-term and long-term due dates.

Procraster app uses prompts and short-term rewards to help tackle tasks one at a time.

So, now I have not one, but three ‘anti-procrastination’ apps on my phone waiting for me to update the list of tasks to be accomplished.

I know I need do that NOW.  Or at least today. Okay, may be tomorrow.

Wait, a detailed in-depth research on how to go about doing it would be a great start or perhaps another app, that will kick a start to my anti-procrastination one.

Dear friends, wishing you all a wonderful Sunday and a happy week ahead. For all you procrastinators out there, I hope these apps will help make your life more productive ( I don’t get paid for advertising those) but just in case you are already using it, I hope you feel better that there is one more addition to the ever-growing procrastination club.

Spinning Trouble

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When I caught Sid playing a game of desk cricket (a solo form of the game that required neither audience, fellow players nor rules – just a pencil doubled as a bat that struck the worn eraser that became the ball) between math problems, I, like the zealous parents of the screen-addicted generation of kids who hoped to improve their children’s attention span and even spin out the genius that hibernate in deep crevices of their busy minds, bought him the most popular toy that is all the rage.

Now, he is seen spinning that little piece of plastic between solving his math problems.

If you are blatantly unaware of the ‘fidget spinners’, you must pinch yourself awake for the world is spinning back to basics having progressed from the age of 8K televisions, quantum computers and 6D video games to little ball-bearing plastic devices that can be rotated around your fingers enticing your busy mind into its futuristic magical spell.

My early mornings were, for a short while, a culmination of physical exercises that involve crawling, crouching with arms stretched out sweeping the darkness enveloping my son’s bedroom and my entire being telescoped into the single sensation of touch trying to locate his spinner, that I feverishly hoped, will exercise my creativity after the puppets I made for Little Princess’s literary week at school became aliens instead of cats.

I went back to listening to Tibetan monks when I heard that the toy claimed by its manufacturers to boost concentration (without tests on rats and guinea pigs) has been banned from classrooms after it became a raging distraction among students.

Physics achieved its purpose when a physicist from Denver warned the spinning generation that a harmonized cascade of at least 10 million fidget spinners (lined with thin circular magnets), aligned in the direction of their spin is enough to throw the Earth’s center of gravity out of alignment causing widespread effects on the climate.

It is no child’s play that 5 million have been sold already.

Just in case the prophecy of the concerned physicist is true, we need not lose sleep over the effects of global warming or a nuclear attack to claim us.

A few million kids fidgeting in unison with little pieces of plastic will do.

No kidding that!

 

The Health Bait

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As a child, hospitals meant dreary places with stark white walls that reeked of disinfectants, ruled by doctors who reminded me of villains in movies brandishing big syringes instead of shiny black guns. The unsmiling nurse who wielded his stinging powers with cotton balls soaked in disinfectant rubbed unceremoniously on a fresh wound, became the formidable doctor’s trusted accomplice.

Other than the sugar-coated diagnosis that has a chance of spelling doom to our happy existence or life altogether (bank account wiped out squeaky clean) and the battery of tests that usually accompanies anything more than a common cold – my fear for doctors and hospitals has dissipated over the years.

With exuberant doctors zealously throwing themselves on building patient relations and multi-specialty hospitals competing with five-star hotels in luxury, gourmet food and exorbitant bills paid with a flick of the insurance card, it is not surprising that the easy-going, busy, fast-food-addicted humans of the techie generation find every reason to visit these ‘health resorts’ to relax, recover and rejuvenate from their life-style acquired illnesses.

If you are the boring few who drag yourself out of cozy beds for a morning walk or fall into the old-fashioned fussy minority insisting on boring, healthy home-cooked meals with a belief that it is not fad-diets or vitamin supplements but mental well-being and happiness that is the secret to glowing health – then you have a high chance of being penalized for not paying your dues to the hospital industry with a battery of tests the next time you visit your physician with a common cold.

Just in case you are a pretty face thirsting for fame, then it is recommended that you shout from rooftops about your pathetic story of a battle with clinical depression, for this can rise you to overnight fame (and an overflowing bank account) with the prestigious job of being the fresh face and brand ambassador of the trending ‘#Depression Movement’!

 

 

 

The Curse of the Indian Pancake

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My family and I are under the dangerous spiral of an enticing, aromatic spell.

Do I blame it on the deep-rooted gastronomic tendencies of my ancestors or simply my South Indian roots?

A spell that has been cast by the golden brown, wafer-thin, crispy, rightly-sour concentric spirals merged into a single perfect circle sizzled on a hot griddle, drizzled with ghee and rolled to perfection; delicious by its lonesome self or dunked in thick coconut chutney or a spicy tangy lentil-based gravy called sambar.

No, I am not referring to the French crepe or Gordon Ramsay’s glamorous spicy potato breakfast pancake but under the charm of the delicious spell, I have tasted wisdom that the most amazing things in life are simple – like the humble Indian Dosa.

For those foodie fashionistas who fuss over dairy-free, gluten-free meal – this pancake that finds its first reference in the Tamil Sangam Literature in 6th century AD, that applies the science of soaking rice and legumes overnight and then fermenting the ground batter lending to its sourness as well as breaking down the starch so that it can be readily metabolized into the body, becomes the cool and tasty answer to your hunger pangs.

For diabetics, diet-freaks and my fussy children – this good-carbohydrate-rich, lightly salted, sugar-and saturated fat-free (discount the ghee) variations of the crispy dosa is a life saver.

For the lot of you who are just too posh to cook – just accidentally pour a ladle of dosa batter (readily available at all supermarkets) onto a hot griddle, lo and behold, a meal that is high on your taste-o-meter is ready.

Could I blame my children (who have trained their taste buds to cat and flower-shaped dosas in their school snack box, appeased their hungry tummies with crispy ghee drizzled variations for breakfast, dinner, a healthy snack and occasionally for lunch too) for placing an order of a Chinese variation of the dosa at a popular Chinese restaurant, leaving the confused Asian waiter in his clumsy Chinese attire to forget to sauce his English with the usual hint of Chinese.

So, up until the Chinese come up with a duplicate of the humble Indian pancake, that has found its way out of Indian kitchens into the Oxford dictionary and elevated to the status of a star street food in Europe and Americas, my family and I (and three-quarters of Indians) will continue to stay bewitched under its mouth-watering spell and proudly call it Indian!

 

 

References : Dosa Days, The Khaleej Times 

 

 

Digital Dilemma

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When Mr. Narendra Modi, the honorable Prime Minister of India, encouraged a switch from e-governance to mobile governance, a few government officials worked feverishly on updating their Facebook status and uploading pictures that threw light on their political influences and milestones in order to impress him, especially during important meetings chaired by the Prime Minister himself.

Mr. Modi was quick to banish these hand-held pieces of technology into his meetings, the likes of which worked a few hundred seconds faster than light and kept busy government servant’s eyes and mind captive under its enticing digital spell, while the matters of the nation took a backseat.

I always assumed the founder of I-pad, Steve Jobs, had touch screens instead of walls at home. Astonishingly, his children had limited access to technological wonders created by him and went to schools that focused on hands-on learning. Luckily, his creations have been put to good use by leading schools that have switched to e-books and use games like Minecraft as teaching tools leaving Gen-Y parents confused and little children with glasses as thick as soda bottles.

I have nothing against technology but even in the digital era, isn’t moderation the key?

So, before the digital bug bites and later swallows us whole reducing our brains and cognitive functions to the size of a pea and before my children stumble onto games like Blue Whale (that has the blood of 130 Russian teens on its vicious hands), I have decided to put my family on a digital diet.

I plan to start by accidentally switching the WiFi off when I intend to have a conversation with the husband or unintentionally slip the I-pad into the microwave oven when I need to give Sid a piece of my mind.

But may be it is a good idea to make a date with Google in order to find out the best solutions to my new-found predicament!

Driving to Safety!

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It is not in my nature to boast. But safety always comes first to me.

For instance, when I decided to take driving classes, from that very instant when I sat behind the wheel beside the old lady instructor, I knew I would walk out of the driving institute with a driving license and a pledge to ensure a safe driving environment.

You know, reliable.

On my first day on the road, the instructor, who had boasted of her years of experience and expertise, choked, wheezed and mumbled under her breathe with her hands folded through the hour. There was just the incident of driving up onto the pavement, reversing onto dustbins and creating a small line of school buses and cars honking and hooting unnecessarily when I braked in the middle of a busy road. But every one of my actions were intended on saving a human life – strange humans who appeared unexpectedly into my line of vision.

At the end of the class, my instructor took my hands in hers and thanked me profusely with tears in her eyes. She even mentioned having children at home.

The lady must have been depressed.

That was the last I saw of her.

In the classes that ensued, I was assigned a male instructor. All through the first class, he just sat rigid, staring. However, he warmed up in the classes that followed for I often heard him say, between deep breaths, that I was a ‘rare’ sort of student. He even told me that I was talented enough to do things with the car that even the manufacturer had failed to think of.

Nevertheless, after 40 plus classes and having picked up a thing or two, I passed my test.

When I went to thank him with the news, wonder why he seemed shocked.

He must have had some hair-raising experiences, as I reckon that not all students could have been as safe as me, for he said that he was planning on a career change.

Dear Friends, wishing you all a lovely weekend!

It is no news that there is every kind of driver on the road – the over-confident newbies, the adrenaline junkies who view the road as a Formula 1 racing track and test their driving skills with the likes Vettel and Hamilton, the jugglers who believe that driving can be multi tasked with adding the final touches to makeup, texting and taking a peek into social media and then there are the others who take caution and safe driving so seriously that walking the way would be a better option.

So the choice becomes yours on what you value more – saving a life or saving time.

Happy Driving!

Dearest Microwave,

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Happy 50th birthday!

I sincerely apologize that it took me more than a year of your arrival into my kitchen to thaw my paranoid mind to tapping into your efficiency and speed. But ever since I have dared to try my hand at baking, your convectional abilities have empowered me to surprise family and friends with my baking fantasies, but I wonder if the latest wheat, rye and oat cake has something to do with family members and friends doing disappearing acts from their homes when I plan to surprise them.

Last week when my cooking range failed me, I cannot thank you enough for standing by me. That morning I discovered that your radiating warmth is enough to cook up a breakfast of fluffy rice cakes and cups of hot tea under ten minutes. You are forgiven for altering the molecular structure of food in the heating process, as for a generation of humans like us who are thriving on chemically-treated vegetables and fruits, hormone-addled poultry and meat, hyper processed salty snacks – a few changes at the molecular level means nothing at all.

When President Donald Trump’s smartest advisers, Ms. Kellyanne Conway, raised concerns about microwaves spying on us, I made sure that I dressed up (at least gave up faded nightdresses that has seen better days) and sang English songs while I eyed you ( the dishwasher and the food processor) suspiciously. But the husband reassured me that no one would dare spy on our kitchen (through the microwave at least) as they would be risking their lives to ‘yeast’ poisoning and that my efforts in singing will cause them to give up spying altogether.

On your special year, I wish you more power to fill the hungry stomachs of busy women, lazy men and smart children across the world with your radiating warmth. Just in case you also spy, I also hope that your owner has the voice of a golden hen.

Yours Sincerely,

Owner

PS: I sincerely hope that no Greeting Card Giants get to read this post for that could result in ‘Microwaves Day’. This addition to the calendar might cause the companies to unanimously elect Kellyanne Conway as their brand ambassador for the ‘Microwave’ line of greeting cards!