soniaraowrites

about writing and other such passionate matters

Archive for the category “Humour”

OF RECIPES … AND CULINARY DISASTERS

When I was fourteen I once felt the sudden urge to cook Batata Poha (I am now cured of such dangerous urges). It was as unexpected as it was unnatural because I didn’t know how to cook. My mother’s specialty lay in cooking chicken and chhole (chickpeas) – both dishes beloved of Punjabis – and she had no clue how Poha was cooked so I could not expect any help from that quarter.

The other expert, my bench-mate in school, was an awesome cook or so I was made to believe by her words. Who wouldn’t want to learn at the feet of a master? Having adopted her as my Culinary Guru I begged her for the recipe. She agreed to give it to me, but on one strange condition. She would dictate the recipe to me but I was not allowed to write it down. I would have to memorise it. I was desperate and could not disagree. I did wonder about the reason behind it. Was she deliberately trying to make things tough for me? Why would she? Hadn’t I always given her my books to copy notes from?

The only option I had then was to rush home after school and jot down whatever I remembered from the dictated recipe. Thankfully, it was not all given at one go. The first few days was about memorizing the ingredients. It was a slow process because the only time one could talk was during the twenty minute recess. And half of that went in deciding what to buy from the canteen and then buying and eating it before the bell rang.

There were one or two lucky days when the teacher was absent and then one had the whole of half hour to discuss the ingredients and the merits of a well-cooked Poha.

The day dawned, two weeks later, when the recipe was jotted down, in full, in my diary. It was time to put the plan into action.

A Culinary Disaster

A Culinary Disaster?

Onions, potatoes and green chillies were already available at home. Even the oil. As well as the sugar and the lemon for the lime juice. My bench-mate insisted that coriander garnish was a must, both for the looks and the taste and so I went to the corner vendor of vegetables and bought a bunch.

Onions were sliced thin, potatoes were diced and green chillies were chopped fine. My mother hovered nearby but I wanted to do this my own way so I shooed her away.

Once the pan was heated, I poured in the oil which sizzled as it hit the hot surface. The notes did not mention how much (did I forget to jot down the quantity) but I had seen Mother pour oil in the vegetables while cooking so a huge serving spoon size of oil seemed quite right. I dropped into the pan next the onions, potatoes and chillies and stirred. I waited for the onions to turn pink as my friend had mentioned. And they did look pink, swimming in the oil. The oily steam that floated out of the pan made me want to throw up.  I added the turmeric powder and the salt followed by the sugar and the lemon juice. The food cooked faster than I expected and Mother whose dog-nose smelled something burning shouted “Stir, Stir” from inside the living room. I stirred with vigour.

The book said, “Add Poha when the onions are cooked and stir gently. Garnish with chopped coriander leaves and serve.”

I was excited to discover how easy cooking was and so much fun. I could almost see my mother’s face light up with pride when I, her dear daughter, served her Batata Poha.

And as I took the bowl holding the Poha and upturned it into the pan, a mini third world war broke out in the pan. Particles of Poha sprung up and flew out of the pan in all directions. Some burned in the pool of oil that now bubbled inside the pan. Thick plumes of steam wafted out with the smell of burning food. The sizzling and sloshing continued even as I quickly put off the gas and picked up the pan and kept it gently on the platform.

As the noise abated I dipped the serving spoon inside the pan and hauled out some of the Batata Poha. A multi-coloured blend of black, yellow and dark brown stared at me, daring me to eat it. I took a bite and immediately spat out the mess of tiny grains of hard, stony Poha and crunchy bits of uncooked potatoes. Clearly, it was a recipe for disaster that I had received from my Guru.

I re-visited the whole process over and over again with my bench-mate but I could never figure out where I had gone wrong. It was my first culinary disaster and put quite a dampener on my future efforts at cooking. That one day I would become an excellent cook is a story for another day.

And it was many, many years later that I discovered the cause of the Poha disaster. The puffed rice needs to be washed and soaked in water to soften it before it can be cooked and which step I had overlooked. Either I had forgotten or it was missed out in the dictation.

Ah, well!

Have you ever had such culinary accidents?

 

 

 

M is about ‘ME’

Inspired by the Leibster Blog Award Challenge and others of its ilk.

 

1)      I always want to know ‘why’.

2)      I hate going for parties and events but once I am dragged there, screaming and shouting, I tend to relax and enjoy myself.

 

3)      I was in depression for three days when Homeland Season 2 ended.

 

4)      When I was young, my parents harboured ambitions of me becoming a doctor, but I secretly wanted to be an airhostess.  Now, I’m neither, because I was short of marks to get admission into MBBS and I was too short to be an airhostess. Two inches short, precisely.

 

5)      Robert Pattinson, as Edward Cullen, is my fave-most character and Twilight is the only film I liked better than the book.

 

6)      Someone asked me what I would be if I was not a writer. I have been a fashion designer and a jewellery designer. I have even been a multi-level marketer. So, now it really is time for me to be a writer. (I’ve been writing non-fiction since a while; it is only in 2008 that I got down to serious fiction-writing).

7)      I am a trained Silva Mind Controller (isn’t that what the graduates are called?)

 

8)      Have you ever slept next to the window when it rained and the raindrops fell on your face like cold pin-pricks and it was an awesome feeling? When I was a kid, my bed was next to the window. When I grew up, rooms changed, homes changed and never had a bed next to a window.

 

9)      An important aspect of my role as the NaNoWriMo ML (Municipal Liaison) for India is motivating people and I love doing it.

 

10)  I‘ve been a vegetarian since many years but when I tell that to people they give me unbelieving looks.  I’ve to still figure out why.

L is for Likes – yes, the ones on Facebook

'LIKE'

Siblings, cousins, nieces and nephews sat around the living room, some on the sofas, some sprawled on the floor. Banter was on, we were meeting after a long time and there was so much catching up to do.  In the midst of it all my niece made a seriously funny remark and I immediately said, “Like”. The room erupted in hoots of laughter and raucous leg-pulling. I had become recently active on Facebook and apparently it had had an impact on me. I was red-faced but my niece had a delightful smile on her face.

And therein lay the secret of Facebook. Now, fifteen months after that episode I am a veteran ‘liker’.  Quirky status updates, or cute kitten pics, I am ready with my likes. What are my friends thinking? Or even friends’ friends? Interesting thoughts get a like.  The more thought-provoking, the better.

I like the updates by my fave authors and poets. I like my friends’ profile pictures and cover pictures. I like my favorite books, movies, songs, bands, motivational speakers, stores, and more. And if you have a page, send me a request. I will like it.

I am guilty, too, of using a like as a substitute for a comment. But what was Mark Z thinking when he added the like button? Did he not think it would be strange for people to like an update which said ‘XYZ is no more’ or ‘There’s been an earthquake in ABC city’?

It then becomes quite apparent that a like can show solidarity with an update or even empathy.

And have you noticed how many times your likes make you an arm-chair activist? Isn’t it so easy to click like for activities that distance does not allow you to physically participate in but the like assuages your guilt for not being more pro-active?  And some even boast about how many likes they got.

What about the secret of Facebook that I mentioned in the second paragraph, you ask? All the things that we like on Facebook are harvested by it in order to profile us.

Do you then wonder what your image is, in the eyes of Facebook? And what has been your experience with Facebook likes?

(Proud to still continue blogging in the A to Z Blog Challenge and Ultimate Blogging Challenge).

KITTENS AND CATS

There exists on Facebook a covert rivalry between Cat lovers and Dog lovers. War is declared and in the manner of all things Facebook, kittens and cats emerge the winner with maximum number of ‘likes’. And the pictures are the ones to either drool over or then have a hilarious laugh over. Maybe, I’m biased. Maybe, in reality, dogs are getting more ‘likes’. They are after all, man’s best friend (this statement deserves its own blogpost, ha ha ha).

But in real life, cats do what they have to; and that is to live their life without much caring what we humans really think about them, whether we like them or not. Maybe we humans would  be much  happier if we emulated their way of life? (Another blogpost??)

So, some pics here, of real-life cats, unedited and with no funny, sarky comments. We do have Facebook for that, don’t we?

KITTY SLEEP

WHERE ART THOU? (Calling out to a rat, a cat or a kitten?)

WHERE ART THOU? (Calling out to a rat, a cat or a kitten?)

TWO CATS
TWO CATS
TWO CATS AND A CAR

TWO CATS AND A CAR  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
So, are you a Cat-lover? Or a Dog-lover?

(Loving to blog everyday, thanks to A to Z Blog Challenge and Ultimate Blog Challenge. If this was a poem (yeah, poetry in pics is stretching it a bit much, no?) I would have added NaPoWriMo, too).

HAVE YOU HEARD OF ‘HABROMANIA’?

Haiku, hope, hailstone, hard-hearted, happiness, heartbreak, haemoglobin, hedonism – words which we’ve been using again and again and which are beginning to get too familiar. How about some new, unexpected ‘H’words?  Select the correct meaning of the word from the options given.  And, no peeking at the answers given below, before taking the test.

1)      Habromania
a)      A fetish for wearing hats
b)      An insanity featuring  cheerful delusions

2)      Hesychastic
a)      Keeping silence; soothing or quieting
b)      Singing German songs

3)      Hirudinean
a)      Of, like, pertaining to leeches
b)      Of, like, pertaining to shaggy hair

4)      Heriot
a)      A veterinarian
b)      Payment to feudal lord on death of tenant farmer

5)      Hypotyposis
a)      Vivid description of a scene
b)      A typhoid patient suffering from high fever

6)      Hwyl
a)      Absorbent cotton or linen used for towels
b)      Emotional state capable of arousing intense eloquence

7)      Horripilation
a)      An ugly carpet
b)      Process causing goose-bumps

8)      Hadeharia
a)      Constant use of the word ‘hell’
b)      Loss of bone strength in the body

 

CORRECT ANSWERS:

1-b; 2-a; 3-a; 4-b; 5-a; 6-b; 7-b; 8-a

WHAT WAS YOUR SCORE?

ARE YOU AN ECO-DARLING OR AN ECO-DEMON?

I need not explain what eco-friendly means and if you think I do, then you’ve been living under a rock for too long. So, go get yourself scrubbed and washed (use organic soap and less water) and come back here for this eco-test. And check out your score at the bottom of this questionnaire.

 
Q1) Do you switch off the lights, fans, air conditioners and other electronic items, when you leave the room and are not planning to return in a while?

Aa) Of course I do. In fact, very often I sit in the dimming light of twilight so that I can save a couple of hours of daylight.

Ab) Waat? Of course not. Too much effort.

 

Q2) Do you segregate the garbage into wet and dry?

Aa) Of course I do. Not just segregate but I recycle the dry waste.  The wet waste goes into the compost bin which gives me fertilizer for my garden.

Ab) Wet and dry????

 

Q3) Do you carry cloth bags for grocery shopping?

Aa) Of course I do. I even gift them to friends on birthdays and festivals.

Ab) Why? Have the stores stopped giving those plastic bags? They had even begun to charge for them, those cheats.

 

Q4) Do you have a plan for water conservation?

Aa) Yes, the impending water shortage has made us wary. We ensure that the taps and pipes are not leaking. Also, we make sure the watchmen use water from buckets and not pipes when they wash the cars. In our society, we’ve even got a bore-well dug so we can use that water for non-drinking purposes.

Ab) Con- ser- vation? What does that mean? Is it a type of hill-station or something?

 

Q5) How do you make a city ‘green’?

Aa) You plant more trees

Ab) You paint the buildings green

 

HOW DID YOU SCORE:

More Aa’s: No one can contest that you are an ECO-DARLING. The Earth is safe in your hands.

More Ab’s): Err, umm, no one likes to be called an ECO-DEVIL but there seems to be no other option here. Btw, what is the size of your carbon footprint? Oh, well, okay, never-mind.

(This post is for the fifth day of AtoZ Blogging Challenge and the letter of the day  is ‘E’. This also serves for the Ultimate Blogging Challenge, too. And if it were a poem, it would also fit into NaPoWriMo. Heck, how many birds can you kill with one stone?)

BREAKING NEWS: India Bans Stephen King’s ‘On Writing’

On 1st April, 2013, the Indian Government announced the banning of Stephen King’s ‘On Writing’ under section 11 of the Indian Customs Act.

The book was banned after representations were made to the Prime Minister of the country by five members of WAR (Writers against Reading) including the founder- duo of WAR, Robindro Singh and Nrittika Singhal.

The official statement said that Stephen King’s book has been banned as a preventive measure.  WAR representatives said this book contains such advice for writers and specially, aspiring authors which could be detrimental to the attainment of their authorial goals.

One advice is, “If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot. There’s no way around these two things that I’m aware of, no shortcut.”

According to Robindro Singh, writer of the bestseller, “I have two love stories” said WAR members are proud proof of the fallacy of this advice. If they waste time reading when will they get the time to write? This is a question to which any answer will be redundant. WAR representatives are also angry because they see an excessive propaganda of this advice on Facebook and this could, according to them, corrupt young minds that are keen to make a mark in writing.

Another advice WAR is against is “to kill your darlings.” The members find this advice strange because they write love stories and just can’t imagine killing any darlings. According to Rahul Tank, author of “If it is the fifth time, is it still love?” and “Heyyyy, did I just fall in love?” both bestsellers, says that the protagonist in his stories is always the decent Indian boy-man who would not dream of killing her even if she broke his heart for the fifth time.

WAR proponents are also ‘loosing’ their patience when they are finding that Stephen King says, “Amateurs sit and wait for inspiration, the rest of us just get up and go to work.” They say a true writer has to wait for inspiration, and it comes only when they have spent three hours promoting their work on Twitter and in the different groups on Facebook.

Stephen King could not be contacted in spite of repeated attempts. Mrs. King was of the opinion that Mr.King was going to be spending a lot of time, that day, in the basement.

(A is for Happy April Fools Day :D)

They say April is the ‘cruel’ month and I think I’ve been cruel to myself by signing up for multiple blogging challenges, writing assignments and whathaveyou.

But behind the cruelty is love – love for the written word and love for the writing.  Love always sustains. Or does it?

So, welcome to the A to Z Blogging Challenge with a loud shout-out to Arlee Bird and his team of helpers. Go, them.

BIRTHDAY BUMPS

(Today is my dear friend, Laxmi Chichra’s birthday. This reminded me of a piece I wrote, three years ago. A morsel from the archives, then. The content rating is 13+, I think. Nowadays, one can’t be so sure. Your comments, as always, are most welcome. And Laxmi, I hope you are having more fun that the narrator in this piece, LOL).

I had been restless and uptight the whole week. Every small incident at work and at home was being bloated into a full-fledged showdown.

“PMS,” sniggered some of the interns, behind my back.  I know because I heard it when I was in the loo, in the staff common room. Juvenile thoughts such as these were easily brushed aside.

The ones that hurt were the ones that in an indirect way suggested I needed to get laid and this is the tamest way of saying what they were whispering behind my back.

“Who needs a man? I have everything: a great job, a great pay packet, membership of the Elite club and most of all the freedom to do what I want whenever I want. Who wants to always be at the beck and call of a man?” These thoughts swirled around in my mind and made me even more restless and uptight.

The maid gave me a quizzical look when I castigated her for coming late; I had hitherto never raised an objection to that.

I imagined I saw the same ‘not getting laid enough by a guy’ thoughts running through her mind as she gave me a thoughtful look.

It was my birthday on the 10th and I had no plans for celebrating.

I work for a multi-national that believes in giving a holiday and a monetary allowance to employees on their birthdays to make them more productive. How this could help the employees escape from the addictive clutches of the myriad social networking sites and help in raising the productivity levels was beyond my ken. But who was I to crib? The gift coupon to the spa at the best luxury hotel in town was handed over to me by Sushila, the HR Head with a smile and birthday wishes. She had just had her birthday the previous week and the visit to the spa was at her recommendation.  It was a separate issue that our firm got a 70% discount on the regular tariff.

I woke up very early, at 6 am, to be precise. This was a treat, as I loved to walk bare-feet in the dewy wet grass at the same time as the sun woke up and illuminated the world slowly, at first, and then steadily with his golden rays.

A quick cup of green tea later I was handing over my voucher to the receptionist who wished me a very happy birthday with her bright eyes and equally bright voice.

“Their CRM is good,” my mind kept up its cynical talks.

I firmly believed that the spas were overrated and had agreed to enjoy their hospitality only because it was being paid for by someone else.

A tall slim girl with oriental eyes shyly welcomed me with a towel wrap. Thank God I had worn my St. Michael’s innerwear. I had treated myself to two sets for Diwali. So what if I was the only one to see them? The nude-coloured set was suitable to be worn under semi-transparent tops especially white ones. But it could stand alone, perfectly, in all its glory, if the need ever arose. Let’s just say I had a pleasurable 90 minutes of massage, scrubs, steams and some more massage, and add to it another half an hour of the nap I got pulled into by the ministrations of Angelique, the oriental masseuse.

My face shining anew after a quick hot shower, dressed in the new dress from Ravisshé, the latest designer on the block (a birthday gift to myself, the dress, not the designer), I walked towards the buffet for lunch. The emerald green crêpe-de-chîne dress fitted like a dream and felt as smooth as a shift of rose petals against my skin.

The spa treatment and the perfect fit of the dress made me feel self-confident and indulgent as I tucked into the pasta made by the chef on my instructions with just the right amount of vegetables and cheese.

I then attacked the dessert counter, keeping all thoughts about the calories at bay by promising to work out for half an hour more the next day.

As a solitary luncher, I attracted a few glances but it felt so good to just concentrate on the flavored textures and fragrances of the food without the distractions of an unsuitable partner.

Chocolate truffle pastries with mixed fruits, the mango soufflé that melted in my mouth as it transported me to paradise and the tiramisu with its medley of tastes were just the tip of the iceberg.

The bookshop beckoned and the weekday tryst ensured that I was the only browser. A cappuccino and the latest best-seller on how to manage my time better; could there be a better way to spend my time on this day that was turning out to be much different from what I thought it would be.

Half an hour elapsed before I started getting restless. What’s the matter, I wondered? I wanted to write. The sales assistant provided the paper and pen, they were used to people being visited by their muse in the inspiring environs and were used to this demand which they fulfilled without much delay.

Two hours later I was still at it before I realized that I had started writing the novel which had been at the back of my mind since the last two years.

“It has been a day full of pleasure as I have pampered my body and my soul,” I thought, at dinner, as I bit into the garlic breadstick dipped in mushroom soup.

DAL MAKHANI AND THE SOAK-NO-MORE CONUNDRUM

“I want to eat Dal Makni and Rice,” the young son demanded, one day.

“Tomorrow,” I replied, patiently.

“Not tomorrow, now.”

“You can’t have it today. Dal needs to be soaked for atleast 8 hrs,” I informed him.

“I want to eat Chhole and Bhhature,” the same young son demanded the next day.

“Tomorrow,” I replied patiently, yet again.

“Not tomorrow, now.”

“You can’t have it today. Chhole needs to be soaked for atleast 8 hrs,” I informed him, once again.

“I want to eat Rajma and Chawal.” Young son demanded, but with an underlying tone of belligerence.

“Tomorrow,” I replied, in a patient tone.

“Not tomorrow, now.”

“You can’t have it today. Rajma needs to be soaked for atleast 8 hrs,” I informed him, feeling like a stuck record.

Instant gratification? An impossibility in the case of these absolutely-must-be-soaked-before-cooking beans.

If this was twittersphere, this situation would have been #damnthesoak.

I was beginning to get worried. The tradition of boy extolling the virtues of his mother’s haath ka khaana in front of his foot-stamping wife was in danger of getting extinct.

“Mom, where are my cricket-whites? I have practice today.”

Oh, heck! “They are getting soaked.”

“Soaked! Soaked! All these soaking excuses are just not SO –OK.” He was almost screaming.  The angry pain in his eyes was scary.

My supermom tiara was in danger of becoming as muddy as the cricket whites after a day’s enthusiastic play.

I was feeling mighty aggrieved myself. I had forgotten to soak the green gram for my sprout bhel. Lunch was going to be unsatisfactory. I was beginning to feel empathy for the son’s woes.

A solution had to be found.

“Soak no more” seemed the only solution to these challenges that beset the peaceful tempo of a tempestuous urban life. Friends, relatives, neighbours and even the know-it-all Googlebhai were consulted.

Most relatives seemed to go into cardiac arrests even at the thought of cooking without soaking.  Was this going to be an unsurmountable challenge?

“No, absolutely not,” said Rachna, wiz-cook and best friend. “Wash well the beans and pressure cook plain for a whistle. Let it sit for an hour, then discard the water. Once you do that, cook normally the soft-like-soaked-overnight beans, dal or what have you.”

Hema, Rekha, Jaya and Sushama’s pasand was all-soak for clothes, so they were no-help in that department. Sona, Mona and Tina (thank God for kitty parties) swore by Surf-Excel.

“Did you know that the new Surf Excel Matic has the power of “Vibrating Molecules” to penetrate deeply embedded stains & remove them effectively, so no soaking before washing with the new Surf Excel Matic!”  Mona said.

I did not know that but Surf Excel Matic seemed to be the new love in Mona’s life. And she seemed happy.

After following Rachna’s advice I am able to keep son’s foodie desires satisfied, so I am happy.

And using New Surf-ExcelMatic has made soaking clothes a thing of the past. I am much happy.

My house is now a 75 percent “Soak-No-More” zone.

Why not 100 percent, you say? That’s because no-one yet has an answer to how to obtain sprouts without soaking the gram. Not even Googlebhai.

Do you?

Tomorrow is Thursday/Tuesday

Routines make life move smoothly. And routines also make life feel like a mundane grind.

This morning, as I stepped off the bed, my right foot first (one has a good day, this way, fengshui says) a feeling of utter dread gripped me as I saw the dusting, cooking and myriad other chores looming in front of me.

What could I do to make the day different?

The most obvious way is to not do the chores (which invariably leads to a bigger mess to take care of, later).

Yes, I know.

I am going to make tomorrow different by pretending that tomorrow is actually yesterday, that is it is the day that occurred two days ago. I know I am going to have a lot of fun. Tomorrow is Thursday which means that I shall be treating this day as a Tuesday.

The most interesting thing to do on Tuesday?  Of course it is Vodafone Tuesday, buy one ticket and get one free. I shall go to the theatre tomorrow and demand a free ticket for the one I buy. I know it is going to be very embarrassing so I will not go alone. I will take Sherry along with me. This is a girl who lives in my society and she mistakenly believes that I am her friend though I have never been guilty of conveying this impression to her. Anyway I will invite her for the movie tomorrow and I am sure she will be cured of any friendly feeling for me henceforth.

I shall also prevent my family members from eating non-vegetarian food tomorrow. Thursday is the day they gorge on seafood, our family is infested with foodies. Imagine their consternation when I insist that it is Tuesday, the day we neither cook nor eat non-vegetarian food at home.

It promises to be an interesting day.

Have you ever felt the suffocating grips of a monotonous schedule? What did you do different?

Post Navigation