(S)wags the word…This is a world where anyone can put in a word (more would be welcome, funny would be appreciated).

I have genuinely neglected my blog. But I have been busy. Also not my fault that January simply decided to whiz by. The month began with a bang with some good friends, food and fun and party every night. And that’s the way the month went out. With a bang and a fantastic party.

I spent the new years’ holed up at a hotel in Nashville. While the hubbies were working (poor guys), we women and children got together every evening with a new dish each and had a whale of a time trying to defeat the men (who just dragged themselves home for dinner) at Dumb Charades and a popular Indian game Antakshari. Needless to say, we still lost! Everyday!

Perhaps for the first time I didn’t¬†mind losing but it broke our hearts to know the men had been cheating all the time. And we women innocently conceded defeat at tough words. Men!!!!! Urgh!

Meanwhile, my stint at Milford Piecemakers is keeping me busy. I finished my first quilt and its going to be showcased in the public library. ūüôā Along with the beautiful quilts made by the veterans. They are also keeping me real busy trying to catch up with their one-quilt-a-week act. So less time to blog, lesser time to watch movies, and no time to read. I am still loving it!

Finally the month had a bang to its end. My daughter had a Zumba¬†party to celebrate her 7th birthday. Oh boy! Was it fun? I must thank Corazone¬†Family Fitness, for the fantastic choreography. They even included Bollywood songs and that was enough to get the moms and dads going. Soon the whole party (maa-baap, bacchaa¬†sahit) was Zumbaing¬†away! After all that vigorous routines, we simply had to attack the pizzas. The pizzas were supplied by Aditi’s friends mom who runs her own Italian restaurant and they were so yum, we actually ran out of pizzas. We were forced to use cakes to fill every yearning mouth.

So there’s January in a¬†nutshell. Hopefully February brings more fun with it (and the winter stays mild).

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Lost in action…

For those of you wondering where I have disappeared to all this time, the words weren’t lost in translation…I have been lost in action..

Running to and fro with daughter in tow, to various classes takes the wind out of the sails. Its fun to see her shake a leg and then kick ass. All in a day’s work! Hopefully she also learns a few things in the bargain.

I am also enjoying volunteering at my daughter’s school. A privilege exclusively American I think. The education system is plagued with cut-backs and the first thing expendable is for some reason the teaching jobs. Often short-handed¬†but bravely trying to soldier on, in the face of strengthening rivals and determined third-world countries. US has its job cut out for the next few decades. The decisions it makes now, will impact much more than just¬†its economy.

Oh but I was talking about volunteerism. The single most awesome characteristic of the American society. A lot in US gets done voluntarily by its citizens. They don’t always depend on the government to take action or for something drastic before they hustle. Case in point: Occupy wall street. Although the economy seems to be slightly corrected, people are rightly protesting against corporate greed.

We Indians are familiar with it, Greed I mean. The average person’s greed. Be it a peon in a hospital or the Telecom Minister. Here the greed is almost exclusively corporate. It’s amazing how global giants have changed the face of nature to put money in the hands of a few. What waste there is! Ugh!

But people are shouting back. My sympathy and empathy for all those who are sleeping on the streets in this biting cold for a better tomorrow. You are braver than what the world will ever acknowledge.

People volunteer at schools, hospitals, at senior citizen homes, animal shelters. There are websites that match your skills and interest to required assistance locum. (or is that loci). Earlier I used to be such a career worm. And now after witnessing scores of scourges, afflicting us the people, I realise my path forward is giving back to the society.

Through all my emergency situations (and numerous they were too), strangers went out of their way to help me, console me, even comfort me. Be at the cruel Kelwa Beach or in electric London. The only way I can give thanks is to take their legacy forward.

Onward then…and May God aid me in my efforts!

Long lost friends…

I know I have spoken about friends a few times here. I even went so far as to list some of my best friends. But on this crisp autumn morning after having spoken to my dad’s best friend’s son, my heart is warm again.

The fire of friendship kept even the second generation warm together. I suppose I owe this to my dad. He by example taught me to choose friends wisely. Not for convenience sake, nor for status. But a simple connection. Of hearts. His friendship has endured even 6 years after his death. Quite a legacy!

I have learnt well. Not everyone is a friend. Not everyone is welcome to my house. But those who are, reign my heart. Knowing and understanding the true nature of my parents and brother (all of whom now reside in the heavens), I have always considered my house my temple.

I have stayed in an extremely small apartment measuring 180 sq ft to a large bungalow. Yet the atmosphere not the size determined its sanctity.

In such hallowed circumstances, God has blessed me with some of the highest examples of humanity as my friends. I may not call them often or keep in touch with most. But please know that you are always in my thoughts. And am always thanking God for the privilege of knowing you. This time there is no list. For those who are special don’t need to be told.

Caught sleeping…

The title works well for me personally and India’s government. I have been derelict of my blogging duties. The entire August went by without nary a word from me. Can I be excused? I was on vacation for the whole month ūüôā

I¬†ate, slept, swam, ate, slept. Not in my good ol’ town but near Grand Ole Opry. Nashville, Tennessee: Music City, Athens of the West, Home of the Parthenon, Publishing City. A city with many names and many facets. Loved standing on a stage with¬†nearly 100 years’ of country music history. The Grand Ole Opry is the mecca for all country singers and has been since 1925. You can not buy a membership to the Opry. You have to be invited to oldest music hall of fame. Photographs will follow, I promise.

Nashville is cool. Wide streets and even wider highways. A lot of history there. The best building was the Bat building. ūüôā Not Bruce Wayne’s home, though it would have been a fitting abode for the superhero. It is the AT&T building. It is surrounded by all the bigwigs of the music industry. The studios are awe-inspiring. To know that international stardom is created within those walls was overwhelming and kept thinking of Blake Shelton, Carrie Underwood walking up those steps.

I loved the spaciousness of the city and beyond. Every little establishment had huge grounds, something of a luxury here in Connecticut. Not even the government buildings can boast of vast grounds. And there a man’s personal home had been surrounded by 30000 acres of manicured gardens. It took us half a day to see the various segments within the Botanical Garden. Humidity and Heat took its toll and we beat a hasty retreat.

Perhaps that was the only downer. The heat was oppressive. I didn’t dare to even open the door during day time. But that only gave me a good reason to sleep in. ūüôā

Aah and the other entity caught sleeping. Not that I am one. But the Indian government surely is. Or should I call it a joke. Even with one of the best and honorable man at its helm, India can’t get its act together. We are becoming something of a laughing matter with bombs blowing up in every bazaar, office or train. Is Indian security so poor that anyone can attack it with impunity and walk away without the slightest fear of getting caught?

Are our chosen leaders and hired officials that impotent? Does not one official realise that he needs to take his job seriously? Not a source of income and security but with responsibilities and duties? These terrorist attacks are so regular that even the Indian public, the biggest victim of such acts, are getting anesthetized to them. Not caring for anyone except sending up a huge prayer of thanks to God that it wasn’t them. This time!

The social media denizens have led a hue and cry, baying for blood. Anyone’s blood! As the perps have long vanished, the face of governance Mr Manmohan Singh is the target. Poor man! He is a good man caught in a bad position. One man cannot change this country or its state of affairs. We all need to change. How?

No good movie around :(

Have watched all the movies that have been recent hits at the box office in India, i.e. all of the Hindi ones.

Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara (ZNMD), Delhi Belly and Ready. I hope I didn’t miss any worth the salt on my table.

They were all hits: some breaking-through, some roaring hits. Yet none of them really held my interest. Except perhaps Ready. ūüôā Can’t help it. It was such a masala movie and without any abuse of senitivities or culture, that I positively enjoyed the movie.

Salman was the same old, same old. The story was also same old. A little tweaked for the current age. But atleast a positive message for familial bonds. And funny to boot. It made me laugh and that made it worth the money I spent on it. All the other characters were simply there, interchangeable and loud.

Asin who was so good and lively in Ghajini was simply part of the crowd. She didn’t stand out in the movie which was all about Sallu Bhai. He acts the same, talks the same, walks the same and dresses the same. Yet his movies are working. Must be his “good karma” ūüôā

¬†As¬†for ZNMD, heaven knows why people liked it. Half the time, the camera kept panning on Hrithik‘s handsome face as if it was the only way to hold the audience’s attention. The problem is it is too close to Dil Chahta Hai, which was a better movie in every way: story, direction and acting.

Farhan Akhtar was perhaps the star of the movie, being the most natural and at ease in front of the camera. Maybe it was easier for him to work for his sister. Hrithik Roshan is the best looking actor in Bollywood. However his acting has much to desire. He wasn’t comfortable acting the snob, nor was he any good at romancing Katrina. His idea of acting a man who finally begins to live is to laze¬†around dreamily with a loopy smile in the backseat of ¬†a car. But the biggest disappointment was Abhay Deol. The endearing Deol came across so effeminate in his voice and pitch, I thought him initially to be a gay in the movie.

None of the songs were much to write home about except the “Senorita” one sung by the lead male actors. Even here Abhay was the worst offender in terms of pitch and lift. And yet again Farhan was the best. He should definitely make a rock band. India needs it pretty bad.

And lastly Delhi Belly. What was all the brouhaha about? It had way too many cuss words and the story was too old and cliched. Haven’t we seen a similar tale of turning wheel of fortune and presence of mind in Ek Chaalis ki last local or Johnny Gaddar? The only difference is that this movie was unabashedly vulgar. And people seemed to love it. I am fine with cuss words but this was too much too often. Of course it showed how truly dirty we are. Physically, verbally and even emotionally. DB being a hit says a lot about us, or doesn’t it?

Sadly I have not much to look forward to except Don 2. Fingers crossed Farhan doesn’t mess this one up. Also now that the original jodi of Sanjay- Arshad has been removed from the Munnabhai series, don’t know if I should keep much expectation of the 3rd offering. So a rerun of Transformers, Terminator and Independence¬†Day¬†will have to do for me.

 

Summer is a time for lazing around…on beaches if you will if you stayed where I do! But this summer was excruciatingly hot and so we spent most of the time indoors, venturing to the pool only in the evenings.

A short trip to Newport, Rhode Island took my¬†stress away. Not the town itself..Somehow Cornwall UK and Ganpatipule,¬†India¬†reign supreme in my heart…After that no other beach town has captured my heart. Biased probably..

Apart from the beaches and private islands, Newport has a host of heritage mansions..magnificient properties built for the super rich of 18th century. Visited the Breakers Mansion. The mansion is huge with huge and beautiful grounds. But the view is a killer. Look for yourself.

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Belonging to the Vanderbilt family, the walls of the main room is adorned with gold and platinum. But its the balcony with majestic view of the Atlantic that takes your breath away. I kept thinking of a family living there and enjoying the view every single day. It would be have been a very happy and a relaxed life. I imagine.

Apart from that, having been brought up in the ubiquitous one-room boxes of Mumbai, this mansion seems like a dream house. It even had a small cottage¬†for the children to play in, complete with a little play kitchen. ¬†How the other half lives!!!!¬† They say money doesn’t buy you happiness. But it sure does get you close.¬†¬†That day for the first time I felt that there¬†were somethings I haven’t really enjoyed in life. Luxury! Maybe in my next life! Fingers crossed ūüôā

Eat well…

Our parting wish for our friends is always “stay well”. In Bengali we say bhalo theko.

Very often the older generation says the new generation is a weakling. We fall sick very often and have no stamina. Our eyes, our hair, skin…¬†nothing can stand in comparison to the oldies.

They may be right. However our generation also faces unprecedented stress. An entire generation of Indian women here in the US is wasting away at home. Rotting. Having worked hard at educating ourselves we find ourselves exerting at dishes and laundry or at best carpet stains.

Men don’t¬†know when they might be booted out of their jobs. They have to now work, help at home, look after the baby, and also forge ahead in life. Not easy!

What is easy is to pick up any food that is instant or readily available and gobble it up! In the name of nutrition a lot of companies are becoming fat and unfortunately the consumer is too. We now face a huge obesity problem. And it is huge!

I have seen countless kids greedily gobbling down junk and yet can’t¬†be bothered to even touch a single vegetable. Even I was beginning to think like my dad’s generation: these kids don’t know what’s good for them. I myself have never ever skipped on breakfast. Generally I never ate any ready-made¬†product for breakfast. It was all completely home-made except for milk.¬†Somehow I thought everyone from my generation is very health conscious. I am talking about Indians. Do not know enough about others to comment about them.

I was wrong! I have seen women not eat anything for breakfast at all. Only running on tea or coffee. Eating their lunch at 12.30 pm somehow seems to make it alright for them. Even when they are pregnant! In at least 4 cases, I have seen their babies have a very high reflux problem. Always vomiting. Always. As much as 10 to 12 times a day.

Then the mothers keep trying various things to stop the babies from vomiting¬†and to eat a few morsel. But it doesn’t¬†work. In all of these cases, I closely asked them their diet. Now I am no nutritionist¬†and yet I know drinking tea/coffee on an empty stomach isn’t¬†good. How do I know?

My father was a tea addict. He would start with bed tea. One of my first duties in the morning was to make him tea. He sometimes had a cookie or bread with it. But most times it was on empty stomach. While he was completely healthy during his entire youth, consequences struck when he hit his 50s.

One morning he started vomiting blood and had to be rushed to hospital. The doctors kept asking us if my father was an alcoholic. And we kept trying to convince the docs that he never touched alcohol. After a detailed investigation, the cause turned out to be our humble tea.

While tea itself doesn’t harm much, what is harmful is its acidic effect on an empty stomach. The stomach lining is very soft so¬†tea on an empty stomach¬†is akin to pouring acid on a soft tissue.

All the women have argued that they have never faced acidity problems even though they are drinking tea/coffee since childhood.¬†As an adult one may be able to handle acidity but a newborn has no such ability. All I can say: What is easier? To make a little sandwich for yourself with the tea or to clean up your baby’s vomit.

I know there has been no study on this topic. But then no studies have ever been undertaken specific to Indian habits. Yet it is too much of a coincidence to ignore. Besides any nutritionist worth his/her degree will tell you breakfast is the most important meal of the day. So pleaseeeeee…especially all you pregnant ladies ..stop drinking tea on empty stomachs and start eating a healthy breakfast.

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