Friday, August 27, 2010

From The Diary Of An Imperfect, Inexperienced and Newly Born Cook...

I was one of those girls who never bothered to venture into the kitchen not because she was never interested in cooking but mainly because my mom used to scare me with dialogues like ‘Don’t touch anything. The vessels are hot!’ or a ‘Get out of my kitchen. You’re slowing things down!’ or even worse ‘Eeee! Don’t use the knife like that! You will cut your fingers!!!!!’. Yes, here is a girl who was very VERY pampered.

I wouldn’t really blame my mom for freaking out whenever I enter the kitchen. After all, it was yours truly along with her lab partner who created a mini bomb in midst of mixing and matching chemicals during her school chemistry lab days. Cooking is sort of like a chem lab experiment, you got to agree; you either screw up things completely or you get it just right. The chemical solution that I made then was supposed to turn a bloody red color but instead turned into a light grey which then broke the test tube after bursting out with a mild fizz. I remember a student next to us remarking ‘You guys should never enter a kitchen’.

How long can a girl continue to be like that? I had to learn cooking for the better half, if not for me. I mean, I can literally survive on take out (read junk food) without ever getting tired of it but the husband (like any other guy living abroad) prefers home cooked naadan food. I had no choice really! Highly enthusiastic about finally getting a chance to experiment in this restricted (or even sometimes avoided ;)) area of the house called 'the kitchen', I searched for simple recipes to try out on the net.

Me – “Amma, this recipe requires tomatoes

Mom – “Tomatoes finished. I used them up yesterday.”

Me – “Ok, I will try this recipe then. Will use potatoes.”

Mom (giving me a smug look) – “No potatoes either. I made potato upperi today remember?”

I don’t know if she finished off all the veggies in the house on purpose so that I won’t enter the kitchen. But then I kept bugging her to teach me something, and she had no choice. She knew I couldn’t be kept away from a kitchen for long and shared all her naadan (kerala) recipes with me. I browse the net and try out some new recipes too nowadays. Some are a success whereas some others don’t turn out so good. I am still in the process of learning, and I guess cooking is something which you can never completely learn. There’s always something new to try out or some new info to be absorbed!

I have spent so much time eating up my mom’s delicacies that even if I end up some place other than home and start missing her food, I can always feel better by thinking that I have eaten maa ka khaana more than the average female who has learnt cooking early. You see, moms usually dump all their work on their daughters once they come to know everything -- like how it is in my case nowadays (ahem!).

'Dhanya's theory of Early Cooking' states that 'The Early Learner Makes Her Mother Lazy Faster by Taking Over The Kitchen In A Shorter Span of Time As Opposed To The Late Learner' (applicable if and only if you are a girl). To explain this theory in detail -

Cooking at an early age -> you helping mom more in kitchen as you get more experienced -> Slowly, mom starts avoiding kitchen complaining of body pain (mostly) or other such excuses -> You taking over the kitchen and hence eating more of YOUR food -> Altering mom's recipes -> Mom's priceless recipes getting lost/forgotten.

So if you're at home and your mom is all healthy and well, let her do the cooking I tell you! Pretend like as if you dunno anything or pretend you have a backache or a headache all the time (like my sister.. kidding! :D). Remember, you're doing this only to help your mom not to lose her magic touch. Plus, you get to taste more of amma's original recipes and not your kachda altered ones.

If you are in your teens or early 20s and worried about not knowing anything in cooking, let me assure you that it’s no big deal! You can always learn it later. Right now, just enjoy life – and yes, your mom’s cooking while you still can!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Online Friends - Are They Worth It ?

I first tried online chatting when I was in the 11th grade. I got access to an Internet connection fairly late as compared to others and I was browsing around when I stumbled across the website of my favorite magazine at that time (Young Times). They had a chat room and I wanted to see what the fuss of getting into a chatroom was all about. Young Times chat is now closed because of some issues with Khaleej times. I dunno the reason for its shutdown exactly but by far it is the most decent chat room that I have ever known. The guys were decent, the girls were funny.. it was a nice online hangout. It wasn't a place where everyone just talked to each other privately leaving the public 'room' a dull place. A group conversation always happened -- something which I loved being a part of. That was almost 10 years ago and I still chat regularly with 4 people I have met there.

I have confided in these people, they have seen (or rather heard) me talking about my ups and downs and have even stuck onto me like a leech inspite of all the major changes in behaviour or otherwise. Are online friends worth the friendship? A big YES! You tend to bond more with online friends on an emotional level. You can type some things out more openly than utter them in real life. Some might even swear that their Internet friends are better than their offline friends. Does everyone think the same way about friendship online? Not really...

A friend told me recently -

"In India, elders still think Internet as a very bad thing! If you are found chatting late night with just about anyone you are sure to be suspected of having some online affair."

This was the story of my life some time back before getting hitched! I have friends in Bahrain who I chat with but back then, it was assumed that I was having an affair with some U.S bloke. Why a guy from U.S you might ask? Coz according to them, no normal human being stays online so late at night -- it just had to be someone from the United States of America or some other place in a similar time zone! Blergh.

So if you ask the elderly people (the conservative kind) if online friends are worth it -- the answer would just be a big fat 'NO!'. My mom used to tell me - 'Why waste so much time chatting with these people... complete waste of time n money I tell you'. As far as I know many parents think the same way too. You can't really blame them for thinking that way. According to them, anything that cannot be seen or heard upfront is not to be trusted. Seeing is believing as in only a physical evidence of your existence can be termed convincing -- and in a way that's right too.

The Internet can be really deceiving at times. The weak appear strong and the smart ones appear docile and subdued. People might appear serious to you online while in actual reality they are just having a very good time on your behalf. Vice versa happens too -- you are the one who's joking but the receiving end takes it badly. You can't really pinpoint one's true personality on chat or through a blog for that matter. Emotional bonding happens fast, but silly misunderstandings happen faster. I have many of my offline friends asking me why I add fellow bloggers to my facebook and gtalk list when I haven't even met them. Bloggers dunno the real me, I dunno the real them. I am told that my online personality is a bit hard to take, and I wonder what the hell are these people talking about coz I have a pleasing personality in real life.

The very same friend told me - 'Once you meet these people offline, all the fun goes out of chats. You have a different version of them before you get in contact with them (how they talk and react to things for example) but afterwards you see that whatever you were thinking abt the person had been the exact opposite of what he/she actually is. If they react differently offline then accordingly later on you react differently in chats keeping that in mind. Those once interesting online relationships just become boring afterwards coz of these very minute changes in reactions.'

I contradicted this by saying that it doesn't have to be true with everyone! I have seen many people gel well after meeting and who continue to have a fun interaction online. But I am not really sure about those who fall in love with people online -- aren't they falling for a personality that's actually or entirely virtual?

What's your take on online friendship?

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

My Big Fat Indian Wedding

As expected, I wasn't sleepy at all the night before the big day. It wasn't really because of anxiety but more so to do with the big fuss around. The excitement was contagious and the worst part was that I wasn't allowed to be a part of all the late night chats and discussions coz apparently I needed my 'beauty sleep'. Damn it! At that time, I really wished it wasn't MY wedding!

I tied the knot at around 5 30 in the morning and I don't really remember much what happened on the temple podium then. I think getting married this early in the morning is a good thing coz you are not really in the mood to freak out or get those pre-wedding pangs. Why so? Coz you're just too damn sleepy! The only thing that you're most likely to think about is how sleep deprived you are. We were given a set of fast instructions which were carried out even faster. In most of my pictures taken at the temple you will see me looking at the priest with a smirk on my face -- an indication that I couldn't still believe that my wedding was taking place and this being only a part of a very funny reality show.

Next on, I had to change my saree and put on the numerous ornaments. Numerous ornaments you ask? Haven't you ever seen a South Indian wedding? Geez! Shame on you! =P Anyway, I had strictly told my mom to bring on just a few necklaces but the sly fox that she is, ended up bringing her entire set and then made everyone in my vicinity cajole me into wearing them.

"Dhannu, your wedding no? You SHOULD wear all these ornaments. You will never get this chance again!" (What if I NEVER wanted a chance to wear them in the first place?)

In midst of all this, someone said 'Soooo much gold on suchhhh a little body' and I almost had a 'Eureka' feeling. At least someone felt the way I did. That person was hushed out of the room and was never to be seen again....

As if all the gold wasn't enough, the wedding photographers came running behind me with 'Pics, madam!'. I don't mind a pic of mine being taken now and then, but if you end up taking 5-10 pics in a row, I am sure to thrash the camera on your head! I feel sorry for the photographers now that I think of them. No, I didn't do anything so barbaric. I just glared with an occasional 'enough is enough!'. R was very sweet and cooperative though. Then again, he wasn't wearing gold that weighed a ton along with a flower garland that seemed to weigh another ton! All that weight can affect any 'little girl's' mood. Being a South Indian pennu can be so damn tough at times....

Attending your own wedding is not much fun coz -

1. You cannot enjoy the food as much coz the photographers 'click' your every move. Irritating!

2. You cannot cry in peace. I saw my crying face for the first time in the wedding video while I was leaving to R's place... and now I know why people howl with laughter whenever I cry. Blergh.

3. You cannot join your family members and chit chat with them. Instead you meet strangers you have never met in your life asking you 'Do you know me?'.

4. 'More pics, madam?'

I am so relieved that I don't have to go through all this again! ;)

Some Moments -

Friday, August 06, 2010

Married and Loving It! I Mean That, Really!

Before marriage, people were scaring the shit out of me (pardon the language) by saying things like 'after marriage, all love goes out of the window'. Now with a proper 1 month experience, I would like to say it's all BS (again, please pardon the language). I know it's still very early to say such things but I know for sure that the affection and love for each other is surely growing. If you are a married guy and you think that R would have a different opinion about this, go ask him -- I was very much a bitch before marriage :D Not that I am any less notorious now, but yeah I am trying to be better....

I was more than surprised to see that my in-laws were a far cry from those shown in the movies. I expected a mother in law who would order me around to clean the entire house, cook breakfast/lunch/dinner, massage her legs, and crack dialogues like 'you are not taking care of my boy' from time to time. I expected a serious father in law who would hardly talk to me, sit reading the newspaper all day long and at times request for a cup of chai or coffee. Instead I get a ma in law who pampers me to the core and who sheds a few tears whenever I leave. I get a pa in law who gets me Dairy Milk every other day knowing it's my favorite chocolate, who strokes my hair whenever he passes by and who listens to everything I say with ardent interest. On top of that, my sister in law did everything she possibly could to make me feel at ease when I landed at the place. Blessed, really !

I cried the first time I left for my new home. A lot! This was a bad thing to do coz it just left everyone else sad including my otherwise very jovial bro in law. I was a bit teary eyed when I reached the place too but R comforted me immediately with a hug and a 'If you want, we can go back home tomorrow'. It's not something I would say yes to, but I felt much better after hearing that. The next couple of days were spent adjusting to the new place and I slowly started to gel in. The next time I left my place, I wasn't sad coz I was leaving but by thinking how lonely my parents would be. Like my dad keeps saying 'this is what life is all about...'. I somehow always get petrified thinking that I won't be able to spend much time with them from now on.

But then again, 'this is what life is all about'.