Friday, October 30, 2009

The way to a man’s heart is through Amritsar…

Friday afternoon. Working from home. Yawn after yawn. Bored. A noisy insect buzzing in the living room and singing me a lullaby.

But I can’t afford to fall asleep. Have work to finish. And a hungry, tired husband to feed dinner.

Crawl to the freezer. A packet of frozen chillies, quarter packet of frozen corn, half a tub of cookie cream ice-cream, some frozen grated coconut, and half a packet of frozen Basa fillets. Great! Unless the husband eats some ice-cream with corn, chillies and grated coconut…there is nothing for the non-fisheaterian man.

Or is there?

Remember reading somewhere that even the fish-haters can’t say no to “Fish Amritsari”. Crawl back to the laptop. Go to the agony aunt called Google. Browse though a few recipes. And woo-hoo….I am back in business!

I have all the ingredients I need to make Fish Amritsari (how very strange!).

So I marinate the fish:

And fry them:

And this is what the happy husband looks like:

P.S. Considering how much I dislike cooking, I never thought I would ever have a kitchen post on my blog. But I underestimated the power of boredom.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Once upon a bus ride...

If you have ever taken a public transport on a week day, around afternoon or late morning, am sure you were struck by a lightening of some sort. Here is the story of my (en)lightening.

I had a doctor’s appointment today and had to head straight back to office after that. I was to take a bus to the bus port…from where I had to take another bus to my office (not the best use of my time…but can’t complain…it was ME who had been putting off driving lessons for so long).
By the way, those of you have been asking me how my driving is going:
• I have taken 8 classes as of today and I haven’t killed anyone…injured a car or two, including ours.
• I have decided that I will keep taking classes till I successfully pay off my instructor’s mortgage.
• I have also realised that when I finally get a licence, am not going to need it that much. Retirement homes usually have their own transport.

Anyway, coming back to my public transport story, I must say that the simple exercise of taking a bus filled me with the strangest thoughts. At that time of the day on a week day, the busses are filled with people who are either too old to work….or too young. I happened to sit beside an old lady wearing a hearing aid, clutching her walking stick and her shopping bags, casting furtive and even suspicious glances at me, as if I would snatch her bags or her hearing aid and run away. She looked scared, insecure, and uncomfortable to say the least. Does old age do that to every one?

Her life floated in front of my eyes…
Living alone in an old house, with a little dog perhaps, a little garden, a refrigerator full of easy to chew and easy to digest food, a variety of medicines on the bedside table, a reading glass on her coffee table, a glass jar in the window sill that holds her dentures at night. Grocery shopping is a weekly affair, mainly vegetables and soup, as the doctor had prescribed. The young boy at the pharmacy is friendly and helpful…delivers her weekly medicines for diabetes and blood pressure, and enjoys a nice cup of tea and two biscuits in return. The children don’t visit that often now. The elder son is a truck driver and drives to faraway lands…the younger son visits only when he needs to borrow a little money…who else will a son go to? The daughter visits once in three months and brings the grandchildren too. Jeez! How fast they are growing up. If their grandfather was around, he would have taken them for picnics and fishing…but it’s better that he left. The kidney failure was too much to bear.

The driver braked suddenly, and my thoughts jumped back into the bus. The old lady was as uncomfortable as before. I wanted to hold her hand and say “It’s alright…I have seen your house, your dog, your children…even met the pharmacy boy. I know you. Relax, don’t be scared.” But that would scare her even more. So I pressed mute on my vocal cords.

Opposite to me was a young girl with her nails painted fluorescent pink. From the speed at which her fingers moved on the cell phone to type out a text message or perhaps play a game, I guessed she was in her teens (that would explain the nail colour as well). Her hair was a mess and I am sure she would have taken it as a compliment if I told her so. It was probably the reaction she expected and wanted from a fat, old-fashioned, on-the-wrong-side-of-her-twenties woman like me. It would be pretty uncool for her to have a hairstyle that I found cool. She chewed a gum with the aggression of an Australian fast-bowler. Her fluorescent pink iPod played some noise that was loud enough for me to hear, despite the earphones. Again, she would be happy to know that what was music for her, was noise for me.

What was life like for her?
She must have hated school, and hated homework even more. The only saving grace was that she hung out with the hippest girl gang in school…the group that every girl aspired to be in…the group that was mean and smart and ruthless and sexy and adventurous and not afraid of the teachers or the parents. The group that was chased by the coolest boys…the group that always knew what to do, say, wear, eat, chew, paint, colour, pierce, listen to, in order to keep the rest of the school gawking. Mom and Dad were too busy to notice the secret stash of vodka and cigarettes in her room. When the girl gang had one of the wild pajama parties at her place, she would make them the most intoxicating drink…the one that her ex-boyfriend who was a bartender at a night club for backpackers, had taught her. Presently, she is single…though Rob and Dennis both text her 45 times a day, so it’s almost like being with two boys at the same time. Studying wouldn’t do her any good she decided…she was to become a rock star some day and the old guitar in her room believed in her, if no one else did. Life was kinda fun…school camps were great, and the weekends were great too, when Mom and Dad were away. The little sister is a pain in the butt…knocking her room every minute and totally destroying her privacy. She doesn’t read much, though she really did enjoy the Twilight series a lot. Edward Cullen was just the right guy for her, she thought.

As if it was the intermission of an interesting movie, my mind floated back to the present. I was perplexed and even annoyed at myself…that I had done what I always championed against…that is, I had stereo typed people from their appearances. But this was not the time for self-criticism. I was struck by a lightening…one that was a strange mix of gratitude and haste. I realized that I may be living the best years of my life. I wouldn’t swap places with either of the two ladies I had observed in the bus. I ought to be grateful for the life I had NOW…for my present…which may be boring, and often lonely and unadventurous…maybe slightly typical even…and definitely a lot overweight. But this was indeed the best years of my life! I wouldn’t rewind to teenage (can’t bear the thought of acne and the confusion over my body “growing up” all over again)…and would definitely not look forward to a life with my dog and dentures.

That was it! That was such a great feeling…almost like a rebirth. I had suddenly arrived in life and couldn’t help smiling my broadest smile (I noticed the old lady held her bags even more tightly…the obese smiling-to-herself lunatic must be up to something, she must have thought).

Thanking both the ladies profusely for enlightening me such (in my mind of course), I got down at the bus port. Life couldn’t get better, I realized (touch wood) and I hurried up to make the most of it.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Peyaj Koli

My first post in Bengali. Those of you thought that nothing could get worse than my English, time for a rain-check.

Inspired by the only vegetable that a carnivore like me doesn't mind eating...once in a while.

Peyaj koli ami tarei boli,
Khete jare lage na mondo.
Halka shobuj boron jar,
Ar peyaj peyaj gondho.

Shobji rajjey “tuchcho” jey,
Alu raja…ar proja shey.
Phoolkopir moto roop oshi shey noy,
Gooney begun-o koreche tar joy.

Peyaj tar pishtuto bhai,
Jodio tader khub meel nai.
Kheyeche shobai, tobu gaye ni keu tar goon,
Jodio radhte lage shudhu kalo jeera ar noon.

Peyaj koli ami tarei boli,
Amar fridge e ekaki shobuj jey.
Radhte shohoj, khete khasha,
Amar priyo shobji shey.

Thursday, October 1, 2009


Many many kilos ago, there lived a little girl, in the little land of Bongs.
It was Me.

[Though, for those who have had the misfortune of seeing me lately, I understand that it’s difficult to think of me as ever being “little”. My heartfelt apologies for anybody who went back home and dieted/exercised on my behalf. I sincerely hope you have overcome the trauma.]

Anyway, going back many many years when I hadn't taken up the challenge of outdoing the weighing scale, I don’t really see a different “Me”. I mean, I am essentially the same person…just hiding behind layers of adipose…and smiling above the third chin I am blessed with (Oh! What generosity from the God of Adipose).

Though I “see” myself as the same, it’s interesting to note how people’s comments to/on me have changed with the years (kilos).
Sample this:
People – Why are you decked up so much? Who are you trying to impress?
Me – Umm…haven’t made the list yet.
People – You look so sweet and cuddly.
Me – Thanks, you said the same thing when you saw my neighbour’s overfed dog.
People – You look taller. Are you wearing heels?
Me – Yes I am. It’s quite warm today, so I thought it would be cooler up here.
People – Why are you hugging your saree pallu in every snap? Are you pregnant?
Me – No, just my tummy. Thanks for asking.

When I hear about my friends being on diets (friends who are half my weight) or my fit-and-frisky colleagues going for a run at lunch time, I wonder:
Is there more wrong with me than my weight?

Why don’t my hands fumble when I generously butter my toasts in the morning?
Why don’t I ever stop at the salad or fresh fruits section at the supermarket?
Why do I confidently ask for two sugars in my cappuccino, where all my friends go for a skinny flat white?
Why do I wait for Amit to pick me up when the shopping centre is just a km away from home? (I even complain if he doesn't manage to get the nearest parking)
Why don’t I ever read the calorie information of the food (junk )I buy ?
Why can’t I ever think of a salad as a proper meal? Or a tasty option?
Why don’t I feel ashamed to ask for a size XL when I am out shopping for Tees?
Why do I change the TV channel when they say “1 out of every 2 Australian is obese. Obesity increases your risk of many heart diseases ” ?
Why do I eat the fourth scoop of ice cream without a jitter?
Why does the mirror never make me think of suicide? Or at least a gym?
Why do I love telling my sister that my picture files are too “heavy” to be sent to her?
Why don't the pictures of my slim-and-sexy friends on orkut/facebook intimidate/inspire me?

Is this "I-know-exercise-is-not-for-me" excuse good enough?
Is this “I-don’t-care-how-I-look” attitude normal?
Is this “I-know-diets-don’t-help” perspective a kind of escapism?

There is more wrong with me than my weight.
I think I need therapy.

But for now, a brownie would do.