Why the weekday meals?!

I was talking to my neighbor while our kids were playing, and we spoke about our weekday meals. She asked me why it was so very important for me to cook everyday, particularly when I can relax and use takeaway, instant pot, store frozen food etc. and make my life routine simpler.

I pondered a bit about why I’m working myself into a frenzy in the kitchen when I could get away with taking it easy, by planning big batch meals, freezing them and microwaving them for consumption! Why should I cook? What was behind it all?

Well, I grew up in a home where my mom used to make fresh meals three times of the day. Breakfast, lunch and dinner. I remember eating hot piping fresh food everyday. Our refrigerator was very small first of all, so there was no place to store anything but the basic supply of perishables. All veggies were off a cart from a street vendor every morning.

Most of Amma’s time was spent in the kitchen. She managed to keep herself occupied and happy by being completely at home, with her sewing classes, chit fund kitties, community service besides caring for our family and additional pets, feeding grooming and keeping us mentally and physically healthy. Same was the case with my maternal grandmother!

Like many Indian households, we had a maid to come clean the home and do the dishes everyday. She was given hot piping South Indian filter coffee with breakfast of the day, a reasonable allowance, occasional bonus money for her family needs, festival bonuses, non-taxed income, unlimited holidays, all our hands me down clothes for her adolescent daughters and leftover food. That was the norm. She would pack away all the food in boxes to take home to edit and fix them, to feed her family of five.

Here in the US, if I made a big batch of anything outside of one meal, it goes into an airtight glass box and slowly makes it way to the back of the refrigerator. It goes into a box first only because I do not have the heart to thrash good food and I don’t have a maid who will eat the leftovers. At the end of the week (or month) it will only be forgotten, not to mention rotten, and cringingly thrashed.

It basically comes down to the fact that I do not eat leftovers, and that’s how I grew up. HP also does not eat leftovers. That’s his preference. According to him, a good chef should learn to make the right amount of one meal, not too much, not too little! Yep! I know! So I’m learning, and getting better. My meal proportions are usually 1.5 for one meal, so I now end up carrying it for my lunch the next day. I can’t spend my energy and money thinking about where to go for lunch and what to eat, so I’m happily eating last night’s dinner for lunch the next day.

If you see the food habits and patterns, it arises early in our childhood. Like most of us have read, everything starts from home. If I did not grow up seeing my mom balance her interests and that of the family, I would not be able to do what I do today.

Both HP and I want to make sure that we inculcate this to our son. We want him to see us cook a meal, feed him, provide for him and put together a contented and happy life.

So no matter how tired I am, I am finding ways to keep myself motivated on weekdays to create and spend quality time by cooking at home, to get my son interested and learn about his food. So this Instagram weekday meals is mostly to keep me going, a way to inspire others in the process and enjoy cooking and create memories!

Carpe Diem my friends!

#HPRMgolu

After prototyping an idea, the next thing you hear in a team is “Great, now lets craft a dozen of them!” and immediately you have an opportunity to build a community of people to come together to make it happen.

I could spend all my creative energy to put a product idea together, prototype and showcase it to a bunch of people in a private curated exhibition such as #HPRMgolu, but that is just my creative outlet.

I like the whole curation effort, I take ultimate liberties with it and always have a blast with it. It’s a ton of work, takes a year of research, finding commission partners, weeks of preparation and a host of other things that lies in the realm of religion and Indian culture.

I always find it very hard to explain this to anyone who is new to Golu. For example, it is called “Kolu,” in Tamil. The easiest way I get around that is to extend an invitation to them to come preview the setup and partake in the delicacies. So this year, I’m hoping to host at a gallery nearby and send out open invites to the community.

#HPRMgolu for 2018 is a “Goddess” based theme. Women-empowerment is a classic theme, but my Golu is paying tribute to women all over the world. To embrace diversity like its never old-fashioned, and to enable new friendships using a contemporary version of Indian Golu as a platform for women and connection.

#TheDozenDozen

I want to share about where this particular hashtag comes into my life and why it resonates with me. I thrive only in a relationship of creation and the freedom that it offers is what resonates with me the most!

I’ve been known in the US friend circle as the DIY’er of  groups, but honestly, its more than just doing-it-yourself!  I’ve embodied this skill by growing up in such an environment in my childhood.

Picture this: Our four seater teak wood dining table was the heart of our home. My dad used to be the only one to use it for eating, my mom would convert it into her seamstress and tailoring table, I would sit and make doodles while picking and separating methi leaves from its tiny twigs. Akka would be doing her painting or laces at the other corner, the radio constantly running and our beloved dog chella making trouble once in a while. Paati would be sitting and drawing her latest kolam in her book and rambling away her shlokams. Tatha would be standing outside at the compound wall smoking his single cigarette for the day before he went off on his walk. So now you know, the energy of projects, relationships and home for me is right there in that scene.

Lets zoom back to now. My skills for sketching, crafting, creating, curating, cooking, making, etc. comes from my home, watching paati, amma and akka and me get all excited about the next project to create and complete. It still is the order of the day between us.

So here I am, sitting in California, in the summer of 2018 making hay while the sun shines. My garden projects are in full effect, my home remodel work is on its way, I’ve taken to the water with ease for the first time.

But I still have to create impact. I still need to find meaning to #TheDozenDozen. An so the journey begins.

The red dot

She bonds with the Goddesses Durga, Lakshmi and Saraswathi over the chai table.

Come, lets have an honest conversation about the Lady Gods and all our joys and struggles.

While depicting her red-dot on her forehead to be as alive and vibrant as that red planter, I came to work my way around this installation design to hone my story of being an Indian woman outside my home.

Welcome to my world, lets get a cup of chai before we talk, shall we?

 

Naari
Naari at the chai table

Sharing an excellent article about Yoga and its effects on the Brain! Happy Friday!

We all know that yoga does wonders for the mind. Even novices of asana, pranayama, meditation report feeling increased mental stability and clarity during and after practice. Now, thanks to sophisticated brain imaging technologies, neuroscience is proving what teachers and practitioners have known for ages — that Yoga and meditation can literally change your brain. […]

via How Yoga Change Your Brain Functions — SPOI

{ My front yard }

I stepped outside wearing a thick silk nine yard saree, braving the cold January morning, to prove that life in California for a South Indian woman could be the same as that she experienced in India. I was determined to draw a kolam on Pongal day in 2013 only because that was one of the few elements I wanted to retain among the many other symbols of our culture. Yes, we are at the point of being able to choose the symbols that represent us…..but I was so wrong then.

I did not draw my kolam in the frontyard as the typical Indian household does, this one was in my patio, surrounded by tall wooden fences that did not invite any neighbor in. I did not draw with kolam powder that is ubiquitous in every household in India, but in chalk.

I have a picture of that day’s kolam, because I wanted to send one to amma, and I remember her telling me to draw a pulli kolam (dot grid kolam.) I look back at that picture and it gives me a sad message. The kolam does not look good at all.

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I have done better, I definitely know better, so here I am, many years later, making dotted kolam drawings of many elements that represent our current times. My kolams are here, in this page. This is my front yard. This space is the one outside my threshold, the place I meet my neighbors and keep in touch with family.