Progress Takes a Step Back

As a child I was taught to recite out aloud the fundamental rights offered to me as an Indian citizen in school. I sat alongside my classmates; children from different faiths, different castes, different upbringing, but united in the common grounds of belonging to a country that taught us that we were all equal in the eyes the laws of our country. That we shared the same rights. After all, it was to achieve this freedom of choice and dignity of life that our people fought and paid for so dearly during our struggle for independence.

Fundamental Right #1

Right to equality, including equality before law, prohibition of discrimination on grounds of religion, race, caste, sex or place of birth, and equality of opportunity in matters of employment, abolition of untouchability and abolition of titles.

 

But this week, this sentence became mere words. This sentence that has been taught to us so that we could understand and appreciate the beauty of the law that offered us the freedom to live the life of our own choice has become a farce.

India was hailed as having made a landmark step forward in 2009 when the Delhi High Court ruled in favor of decriminalizing homosexual acts. I celebrated alongside all the people of my country who believed that prosecuting people on the basis of sexual choice that are consensual was a sin and that it went against every law of equality and freedom. But it seems that my country isn’t willing to take a stand of righteousness. Instead it has allowed itself to sink into backwardness, cowardice, discrimination and a blatant disregard for equality and freedom.

I grew up without having to worry about my orientation. I could fall in love, get married, have a family, and no one would bat an eye lid. I had the freedom of choice which everyone celebrated. Was it because I was an extraordinary citizen who brought laurels to her society and country? No. It was simply based on the fact that I was heterosexual. I had the right to be happy, a very basic right of every human being. Or so you would think. And now, there will be many like me, growing up with the same desires of wanting love, family, happiness and celebration, all being denied of this basic right just because they have a different sexual orientation. Are they robbers stealing other people’s belongings? Are they murderers claiming lives? Are they rapists violating human dignity? Are they pedophiles committing vile acts of horror? No, they are human beings like me, trying to live a life of their own choice, hurting no one, coercing no one. But being attacked, cornered and stolen from based on the fact that they have a different choice.  They might have had a better chance at a free life were they robbers, murderers, rapists or pedophiles because our society seem to prefer these groups of human beings over honest, happy, socially conscious, but gay, human beings.

Is this the heritage I pass to my children? Is this the heritage passed to me? Is this what my people fought and sacrificed lives for? For acts that deny courtesy and respect to other human beings?

Today I am ashamed to be a citizen that is part of a system of such inhuman laws.

I hope tomorrow brings changes.

Beauty Pageant or Racism Platform?

A new Miss America for 2013. Should have been another headline to skim through. But the abolutely ludicrous reaction of some people stopped me in my track. I learnt a few new things today according to a few Americans’ perspective;

1. All American citizens aren’t considered Americans even if you are born and raised there, pay taxes, contribute to society etc etc. There is apparently a clause not mentioned in the Constitution, in any of their laws etc about how you must have tatoos, love to hunt and have a drawl to be considered a true American.

2. All brown people are Arabs or Egyptian and are responsible for the 9/11.

3. It is because Obama is African American that such attrocities, like a woman of Indian origin winning Miss America, could dare happen.

I am not even sure how to respond to the stupidity of some of the comments of some people that I have come across. In an age where global unity seems to be the need of the hour, it astounds me how some people go out of their way to create divide and think that it is completely justified. Black, white, brown….why is the colour of our skins the deciding factor of where we belong? Why is religion a deciding factor? Is that all I am? An Indian and a Hindu? What about the rest of me that truly make me the person I am? Is that all unimportant?

You know you are a Mom when…

At 7 months

At 7 months

1. Its been a year since you last blogged.

2. You feel like you have faced your biggest fear and overcome it when you managed to clip your baby’s nails without cutting him

3. You are obsessed with topics of baby poo; the colour, the texture, the smell and every other gross detail of it.

4. Your new look includes drool and spit on your hair and food caked in all weird parts of your body.

5. You find yourself obsessively checking for fever, rashes, spots on your baby every 2 minutes.

6. When you are convinced every sneeze is the onset of a flu.

7.  When you realise how your baby’s cry is so very different from other babies who still sound all the same.

8. When you are bone tired and wishing that your baby would just sleep, but as soon as he does, you miss his gummy smile and so you prod him awake.

9. When you realise that you have spent the last 2 hours staring at him sleep

10. When you find yourself humming the ridiculous Gigglebellies songs in the shower.

11. When bath time includes rubber ducks.

12. When you find yourself whispering at dinner though your baby is fast asleep upstairs.

13. When the best part of your day includes kissing chubby, petal soft cheeks and feet.

14. When you think farts and burps are the cutest sounds ever.

15. When you feel gummy smiles should be included in the wonders of the world.

16. When you don’t really mind clumps of your hair being pulled from their roots at play time.

17. When every outing includes, bottles, flask, treats, toys, sunscreen, diapers….basically a bag that would have all the essentials to survive a nuclear war.

18. When nights are all about baby smells, cuddles and hugs and less about sleep.

19. When you have accute tendonitis but still want to carry your baby with your painful arms.

20. When you eat awful ‘healthy’ food so that you can make better milk for your baby.

21. When you keep bringing down last week’s clothes which are already too small and find yourself sobbing over them.

22. When every new phase makes you deliriously happy and sad at the same time.

23. When you miss your baby even if you are with him the whole day.

24. When talking in funny voices is the new norm.

25. When you find yourself praying everyday only for him.

26. When you love the thought of having grandkids simply because they belong to your baby.

27. When staying at home all day is suddenly a good thing.

28. When you have a million pictures of him sleeping, playing, smiling; infact doing normal things which you think are special.

29. When you can do housework with just one hand you are carrying him with the other.

30. When the first blog you write after a year is all about him.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Bumpy Ride So Far

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I can’t remember how old I was when I first held up a doll and pretended it was my baby and cradled it. Every little girl does it. Just as most girl grow up with thoughts of the children they would have in the future kept as a treasured fantasy in their minds, brought out to be mulled over and weaved on whenever they found the time to, I too had my dreams. What will I name them? What will they look like? What games will I play with them? Then comes a time someone you know has a baby. For me, it was my cousin sister Malvika who was 16 years younger to me. Ill never forget her sweet milky smell, her soft as butter cheeks, the way she curled her fists around my fingers when she slept, her gurgles of laughter. Oh i loved her desperately; the warmth of cuddling the baby and listening to her little heartbeat. I enjoyed every aspect of looking after a baby, even cleaning up after her, changing her soiled diapers, walking around with her weight aching down on my arms till she fell asleep. Every experience created a memory that I still hold close even after 14 years.

This year, was my turn to finally see my dreams materialize. No one could have been happier to see those 2 pink lines than I. I was going to have a baby! I was going to be a mom. And what a marvelous time I intented to have with the pregnancy since it would be the only time I would be pregnant coz Bart and I had already decided that we would adopt our second child. I was ready to make an eating chart, an exercise plan, buy cool pregnancy clothes and basically strut around feeling like I was on top of the world. I had already tested positive at 3 weeks, even before I missed my period. I took the test coz I had stomach flu like symptoms. But I thought to myself, how bad can it be. Ofcourse women feel nauseous in their first 3 months. But thats no problem, I have a high tolerance to discomfort and pain.

Never could I have been proven more wrong.

Morning sickness and first trimester nausea is one thing. Hyperemesis Gravidarum, is a completely different ball game. 1% pregnant women get it. And anmongst this 1 % , .02% have it in extreme severe form. And what do you know, those odds chose not to skip me in its mathematical improbability.
So what does HG mean to me? It means
– throwing up more than 50 times a day
– slowly being unable to keep food
– being unable to keep liquids
– being unable finally to even swallow your own saliva without puking
– having nausea from morning to night without a moment of break
– being able to take no medication coz im pregnant
– lying down next to the toilet coz im so tired of walking to it every time i need to throw up
– losing 10 kilos of weight
– your body developing acetones because there is no carbohydrates in your body to produce glucose so it starts digesting reserve fats and muscles
– having constant migraines
– reacting severly to ALL smells
– becoming depressed
– developing a caseine intolerence
– having my skin dry up and crack with dehydration
– being hospitalised
– having to keep an IV on for months
– funally having to insert a nasal feed coz the body was getting depleted of nutrition.

This was my first trimester. I kept the IV on for 2 months and the nasal feed for 2 weeks. The nasal feed finally brought in the much needed change, but at a cost. Having a tube going down your throat through your nose let me tell you is no party. Every movement, every time you talk creates distress and discomfort. Your throat already blistered with the never ending puking bleeds all the time. Your nose bleeds all the time coz the tube chaffs it. But finally, I thought the nightmare was ending. True, i still puked. But 10 times a day wasn’t so bad was it? I still threw up after most meals. But i was able to swallow so that was all right wasn’t it? I still had nausea all day inspite of taking my nausea pill 3 times a day, but that can be put up with right? It was normal to choose food that you thought would be tolerable on its way out more than on its way in right? walking around with vomit bags was not so unusual right? I had one and a half month of my ‘imaginary’ better time. Its strange how human mind works, that even a horrible situation becomes ‘normal’ to you just because you have been in it long enough.

There was one other person who suffered as much as me, but in a different way. My husband Bart who stood by me like a rock. He managed to set up a new business, take care of the household, look after me and much more all on his own. He carried me back and forth to the loo EVERY SINGLE time i puked, gave me endless massages, stayed up whole nights comforting me and never once showing me what a toll the situation took on him. He let me vent all my frustration, anger and sadness at him and never once uttered a harsh word.

The worst part of HG is what it steals from you; the joy of being pregnant, the glow, the excitement, the planning of the baby. The baby was the last thing on my mind and I constantly felt guilty about that. But when your battling with HG, its humanly impossible to think of a baby. I was SICK of being told to think if the baby to help me through this. Really? Try being sick for 8 and a half months with no respite and then try to walk the talk.

Im now 36 weeks pregnant. Tomorrow, my 37 th week starts. The last 2 months have been the toughest part of the pregnancy. 2 hairline fractures with my baby boy having kicked my ribs making it difficult to move since the fracture cant heal since the ribcage expands with pregnancy, being on the nasal feed again now for a month and a half coz my stomach finally collapsed with 8 months of puking, stomach being constantly empty coz the tube bypasses the stomach and goes right into the duodenum so as to give the stomach rest but which causes acidity to build up and makes me vomit bile every day, having been admitted in the hospital multiple times, hundreds of tests, injections , ultrasounds and IV, horrible RLS that allows me no sleep at night, painful hemorrhoids, severe heartburn, having not eaten a bite for 2 months which leads to its own kind of mental depression, being bed ridden and trying to get everything organized for Eashaan, losing energy every week, miserably nauseous all the time, angry, sad, depressed, frustrated and just waiting for it all to end.

A far cry from the perfect pregnancy that I dreamt of since I held that doll. But the miracle in all this remains that Eashaan has been healthy and has been growing wonderfully. Its my silver lining for which I am very very grateful.

My darling Eashaan. I am waiting to hold you and kiss you and remind myself of how much I wanted a baby when I wished for you.
But im also waiting to find myself again coz I lost myself in these last 8 months. I am waiting to feel joy again, to enjoy waking up after a happy nap, to be able to eat a meal and savor it and not throw up after, to not feel nauseous any more, to sleep on my stomach, to be able to walk around without puking, to spend time with Bart, to be able to look after him again, to have a social life, to not feel so fed up and defeated all the time…..to just be me again so that I can really enjoy you. And I know thats what your papa wants the most too. Its not too far now. We are waiting to see you. You are our light at the end of this bumpy tunnel.

PS: HG is a serious issue that deserves more attention. Many pregnant women die from negligent care or choose to terminate the pregnancy because they don’t get the help they need to deal with it. The following link explains in detail about HG and its complications

http://www.helpher.org/

The Art of the East- Memories of China

Think of one of the most popular cuisines; Chinese cuisine is sure to pop into most people’s minds. You see them almost everywhere and that is a fact. They are given changes according to where they are found to suit people’s palate; Indian-ized, Western-ized. So much that at the end of the day you really have to ask yourself, “What does real Chinese food taste like? Have I ever had any?” Well let me assure you that in most cases the answer would be ‘No’! It was such with me till I walked into ‘Memories of China’ at Vivanta by Taj at MG Road.

 

We were greeted in by Murali Babu, the senior Restaurant Manager and he made our whole evening one of absolute pampering. I had to just think of something and it was served. The staff made you want to lounge, relax and they help you enjoy every nuance of the food and drinks served to you. The ambience was quietly elegant and had a chic charm. The gold leafed roofs, the shimmering white walls, the exquisitely engraved window panels; the clichéd idea that all Chinese restaurants were done in red and gold with elaborate fan decorating the wall was completely done away with. Wooden structures warmed the white and gold deco and the delicately designed modish deco did justice to the restaurant that saw influences of ‘The Paris of the East’; Shanghai.

 

We sat down and the mysteries of the East unfolded in front of our eyes. It was a true Odyssey into the best Chinese that I have ever savoured. Paired with some delicious Chardonnay which I was surprised to experience suited my dishes, every bite was sheer pleasure.

We started with the Amuse Bouche, an ensemble of honey chilly lotus stem, asparagus and black fungus, pan fried silken tofu with black bean dressing. Each section was so beautifully arranged that I almost felt sad to dig in; but dig in I did. This was followed by a Crab Meat soup that I saw my husband tasting with his eyes completely closed in delight and a hot and sour vegetable soup for me; properly thick, with the right tempering of the two flavours. The vegetables used really worked its magic on my taste-buds; the highest quality of ingredients that were so fresh that you could hear them crackle in freshness with each bite.

 

We tried a few different appetizers, but I will mention the Crackling spinach. Now this was a recipe I have tried unsuccessfully to master in the past and I was envious at the perfection with which it was cooked here. Chef Thomas personally came out to chat and explained the secret behind the recipe. This was an aspect of service I really enjoyed at Memories of China; personal attention which made all the difference to our evening. I saw the chef having a quick chat at every table and asking people for personal preferences in taste. How many times have I gone for a meal and struggled to order only to be left disappointed. I felt here that each dish was customized to my taste, and it was.

 

The main course was food made in heaven. I had the burnt garlic fried rice, mapo tofu, wok tossed string beans and spicy Schezwan noodles. The tofu was buttery and perfectly cooked. Juicy and full of the most amazing flavour while the beans were fresh and tender. But the Peking duck stole the show. I am vegetarian, but seeing the wonder on my husband’s face, I have to give points to it. The chef, Amar Daimari, prepared it in front of us and it was quite the spectacular moment of the evening. Having specialized in Cantonese and Schezwan cuisine, the deft artistic way he put the dish together was quite the sight. The duck, imported from Singapore, had been tempered and seasoned for a whole day. It was cut into tender slices and rolled in soft rice pancakes and served with fresh veggies and a sweet red bean sauce. Each slice of the duck had a crispy golden skin, but what amazed me was the sight of the inside, soft and tender and almost like butter. The other highlight on my husband’s plate was the stir fried king prawns and scallops in ginger oyster sauce.

 

And all this royal food was rounded off with chocolate mousse, baked cheese cake and Madeline’s. Perfectly crumbly pastry with soft, rich filling inside. The evening couldn’t have been any better. Great food can be an art that comes with perfection. But what makes Memories of China stand out is the magic they create with the ingredients at hand that is customized to suit their guests. A twist here and there and it is the most perfect morsel to have ever graced your mouth. The care to details and attention to guests was remarkable. I saw a lot of people sitting around and treating the place like their home. The repeat guests are here for one reason; to experience the truly remarkable evening that memories of China offers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

An Evening at Graze

There are many people who share my story; a life that is brimming with activities, travelling around, being busy behind the laptop all day, taking care of your home, taking care of your family and the list goes on. In between all this you find yourself craving for little time to relax, to sit back and enjoy the finer things in life and to be able to share this with someone you love. Like lot of other couples, Bart and I love to have an evening out every now and then. But we walked into Graze in Vivanta by Taj at M.G Road last night and we realized that we have been missing out on true dining experience all this while. All we have been doing is eating, not experiencing.

Graze has a very charming feel to it as you walk in. The warm colours of wood, the soft lights and the spectacular display of wine and fine scotches plead with you to sit down, unwind and enjoy an evening that is all about being pampered. You have a choice between cosy seating around the restaurant or of being the privileged audience to impressive live cooking at the interactive counter. We chose to sit here so that we could try and discover the secrets behind Graze’s amazing dishes.

And under the watchful eyes of the Restaurant Manager Ashvin Singh and the gifted chef Uday Nath our dining experience began. Rated amongst the Michelin star restaurants in the world, Graze is the only European restaurant in India. They promote real European cuisine and do not call themselves a Multi-cuisine restaurant. With a tagline that says, ‘The lighter side of European Cuisine’, we soon discovered why it was so.

When asked what people think of real European cuisine, it is astounding how many people have the idea that it is heavy; and without a question it cannot be argued that the ingredients going in are rich. Think of a creamy pasta sprinkled with parmesan or a rich truffle pastry dressed in its buttery glory; it isn’t an out of whack perception that you will find walking back to your vehicle difficult. But this is what Graze completely proves wrong. European food can be cooked in such a way that you feel light and sated after a multi-course meal. The quality of the ingredients served is so high, that they do not need to mask it with heavy sauces. Graze is one of the few restaurants I have eaten at where the sauce enhances the food and not drown it.

We were educated on the sous-vide technique of cooking by Chef Uday who talked about how the food is cooked in air-sealed plastic bags that are immersed in a water bath and cooked at low temperature for a long time. This ensures that each ingredient retains its fragrance and texture without shrinking and when served is juicy and a delight on the palate. Another tip I learnt yesterday is not too have too much going on in one plate. Two to three strong ingredients and all the necessary accompaniment to enhance flavour; this is where Graze differs from other restaurants. That they know how to create magic with the ingredients at hand. True artists in my opinion.

With the restaurant manager helping us pair our wine with food, I had an amazing glass of Chardonnay that was smooth without the acidic bite and Bart had a Pinot Gris which we were told would go well with our main courses.

Then the food magic began. Watching Chef Uday cook can give any self proclaimed cook a complex; stunningly artistic, maniacally clean and completely entertaining. He talked us through all the courses and explained what went in and what flavours to watch out for. Ashvin took us through how to pair the wine with the food; something we never experienced before where the chef and the wine expert tells you the right way to understand your meal. Two soups that were so creamy and frothy that I had to swoon and consider swapping Bart for the chef, the five spice poached figs with fresh greens and shaved Manchego cheese salad that was fresh, crisp with the best dressing that my palate has ever experienced, a main course of gnocchi that epitomized tender and was full of flavour, the sea bass imported from Chile that Bart claimed melted like butter in his mouth topped up with Crème Brulee Napoleon that had filo pastry floating like air on top of it and almonds stuffed into it. And to make it even better, we were presented with a second dessert of lemon tart with a Sabayon sauce. Tangy, crumbly and perfect.

We normally have evenings where in 45 minutes we eat our food and leave the restaurants. Restaurants these days seem to be waiting to get you off the table and bring the next guest in. But at Graze, they strive to create an experience where you take your time to savour the food, enjoy the wine and actually sit back and listen to the wonderful band live band that is there for your entertainment. Between your salad or appetizer and the main course, you are served a sorbet so that you get a break between the courses to take time and enjoy the company with you and around you. We sat there for two and a half hours; the longest we have sat at any restaurant. And it truly was an experience; from the food to the wine, presentation, ambience to the dedicated attention and care we were given. And all this done in an unobtrusive, friendly manner. One word to describe our evening- SPECTACULAR.

Think about the last time you have had such an evening experience. It isn’t too hard a task. Just make a reservation at Graze. And you can thank me for it later.

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My Experiences with Pick -up Lines

Being a 28 year old girl with fairly decent looks, I have had my share of being harassed by guys. Wolf whistles, being followed by off-keyed Hindi and Tamil song renditions, being stared at are all part of most girls’ days in India. But you do start feeling sorry for the guys when they finally turn to pathetic and insanely stupid pick up lines. Some of them have been so bad, but so funny, that I thought it was about time to share them with the world. So here’s to all those poor blokes who have had the misfortune of coming up to me with hopes and getting chewed up in the process.

The Worst One of’em all: Let us share the sweet milk of friendship.

Me: Blank

  • No Bling? What about if I give you a ring?

Me: What about a fat lip?

  • Your eyes are the colour of shimmering asphalt in the summer.

Me: Well yours look like your doped, which you must be. Shimmering asphalt??

  • Single? Or taken but wants to mingle?

Me:  Kill me. Kill me. Kill me.

  • Tea? Coffee? Juice? Water?

Me: A gun maybe?

  • Can I have your number?  Me: No

Can I have your address? Me: No

Do you want my num? Me: No

Can I buy you a drink? Me: No

Do you want to buy me a drink? Me: No

Can I have 10 bucks change for cigarettes? Me: WTF!

  • If you want to slack off, I can take you for a ride.

Me: To the police station would be nice.

  • Wanna feel my biceps?

Me: Wanna feel my fists?

  • What an ass you have.

Me: What an asshole you are.

  • Babes like you dig me big time.

Me: Yeah, would love to dig you into the earth.

  • A cool girl needs a hot guy like me.

Me: Also an axe to chop your penis off.

  • You know what they say about big feet. (And thrusts his pelvis at me)
    • Me: Pea sized brain??
  • Oh you are so beautiful; you must be an air hostess with Kingfisher.

Me: Oh you must be that escaped lunatic from the asylum.

  • Movie and dinner or shall we skip to after?

Me: How about we skip to before where we haven’t met and keep it that way?

  • You have very pretty toe nails. Can I have them when you cut them?

Me: O….K….Someone call for help.

  • Praise the lord who created you.

Me: Yeah and curse him for creating you.

  • How about you facebook me and we can hook up?

Me: How about you jump off a bridge?

  • Why’s a beautiful girl like you walking alone on the road?

Me: Avoiding creeps like you.

  • Hi, My favourite fruit is jackfruit.

Me: Hmm, must be coz you are a jack ass.

  • I am from a very good family.

Me: Really??Honest? Unbelievable.

  • You have pretty eyebrows. Do you wax them or thread them? Do you use Maybelline charcoal tipped pencil to define them?

Me: Have you considered a sex change?

  • You are my queen.

Me: Off with your head.

The Best of’em all: Hello, My name is Bart. Is this seat taken?

Me: Sigh, I think I’m in love…

And they go on and on and on..But they sure do keep me entertained.