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!

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.

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My experience of an excellent urban design project in my hometown, Bangalore. This theater, called Ranga Shankara, was created by one dedicated person, and it serves whole communities at large, that is the charm of a well-intended and well-designed project! Read on!

Day:  November 8th

Time: 19:25

Location: Ranga Shankara, 36/2, 8th Cross, J P Nagar, 2nd Phase, Bangalore-560078

Act 1: KA-01 7227 is on its way to Ranga Shankara.

Scene 1: I parked in haste, grabbed a ticket, said hai to someone! Bang [A really LOUD one] Anxious…. Rushed up the flight of stair, entered the arena at 19:29, grabbed my phone and switched it off! [Yes! no silent mode, no vibrator mode, no mode, finally stripped naked of my outside world] Glasses propped up my nose, plonked into the nearest seat, heaved a big sigh and stared into that quiet black emptiness around me.

19:30: Bang!  This time I smiled, It was the first time I was going to watch a play all by myself at Ranga Shankara! My smile grew wider!, I was so happy about this new and upcoming theater space that only Bangalore theater is truly so proud of.

All of the City’s well known, unknown, heck, the barely known folks were there. I hadn’t thought that the Karnataka [Kannada] Association for Cinema could handle Bengali, Urdu! Italian, Marathi, Hindustani, Chattisgarhi, Manipuri and English theater in the same month after all, but that festival gave me goosebumps thinking about it even today. 

Scene 2: Wondering if this auditorium is really the worth it [wondering, only because there is no phone to meddle with!] After seeing those posters showcasing the thirty one plays in thirty days, it was a packed itinerary for the  festival month, I was curious to see some of them was just happy that we had a real theater for drama, so close to home!

This place was created in the memory of late Kannada actor Shankara Nag by his wife, Arundathi Nag. A small-time but mighty 300-seater theater it was, because its been seating all of Bangalore’s theater lovers for the past month or so to witness one of the most enterprising theater festival. It was cherished by a community that has helped make this auditorium come true to life. It stands tall and proud  for its community, and this accolade falls shy for a place of such character. 

A phased out public Jaya Prakash Nagar Post Office found its landmark just next door to Shankara. The restaurants that sprang nearby drew all the local crowds into this area. The design of the theater was by well-known architects in the City, but the most important thing is that this theater and its open welcoming spaces, combined with the artistic connection has drawn the locals like bees to honey! It may not have designed parking place but sure does bring a lot of the community folks to talk and hang around its cafe and auditoriums. Spill out or spill in; there’s coffee and a something else [a movie, short plays, snapshots of famous people, gossip, books, questionnaires, idli, bonda, sandwich, etc.] with it, just the right kind of space for an urbanite to belong to in his/her city! 

Urban design needs to serve its community, its primary job is to bring community together, and what better an example than Ranga Sankara.

Scene 3:  A well spent evening out is the only way to describe an evening at Ranga Sankara.  Backed up by those true aficionados; Ranga Sankara was being true to the essence and true to the spirit of purpose it was created. So what if a cell phone network company sponsors a theater show, phones are still switched off inside the auditorium. 

Scene 4:  I sat cross-legged just few feet away from the main stage, allowing myself to be intoxicated, stupefied, torn apart and drained by true art…..now this my friends, is what ‘being alive’ felt like. 

Act 2: Timber stage, centripetal focus.

Scene 1: Doors shut, no latecomers please! Look at those steep stairs leading up to seats! they look dangerous…..and that’s why you stay out, latecomer! Hush!

Scene 2: Raking of seating held up by the props of the plays below, literally.

No embellishment to the quality of performance and performers.

Simple and straight-out for entertainment, the right way.

Scene 3: Goose bumps, well set air-conditioning head-on’s, expectancy levels of a clean space rises. 

Act 3: act 3

Act 4: This theater, in the very age of flat screen TV and home theater system, allures a drone of bees to its hex. A chance to spend quality time and money in passing is very likely to occur. The ease with which anybody can handle such an experience is proof of the comfort level there. Cheers to more of Ranga Sankara.