On Saffron Threads and Semiya Payasam

As the saffron threads swirled around in the semiya payasam filling the air with its aroma and lending the payasam its rich saffron tinge, I felt happiness engulfing me as I realized that I have made the yummiest of semiya payasam yet again.

From generously adding ghee while roasting the semiya to a golden shade to letting it get properly cooked before adding sugar and letting the milk reach its boiling state again and again just so it would reduce to that level where the payasam would be creamy in texture and finally, adding in the right amount of elakkai powder, I have almost perfected each stage just so I could get that delicious payasam. Above all, ah! those saffron threads oozing out their richness to the few spoonfuls of warm milk in which they are floating around waiting to be added to the payasam just so they could share their exotic flavour to it! Heavenly!  

Navaratri Ends

Today being Vijayadasami marks the last day of Navaratri. The day before the start of Navaratri, there I was, busy cleaning and clearing my poojai shelves, washing the brass idols and polishing my silver kunguma chimizh (kumkum holder) and chandana pElA (sandal paste holder) and getting other things ready for Navaratri.
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My Grandfather

I often miss my grandfather the most during the nights when I stay awake late, just like how I am doing right now. It was around the time when I was in my 9th standard that I discovered that late in the night was when I worked at my most efficient and with best concentration and started remaining awake till midnight and studying for exams. My grandfather, then in his eighties, didn’t really have a deep sleep during the nights and used to wake up very frequently, check the time in the clock in the hall and go back to bed. Every time he woke up, he used to ask me to go and sleep soon.
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When you seek inspiration from yourself….

 

Even as I was telling my daughter about how long it took me to master my fear of driving a car and how I feel so happy that I could finally do it and also told her that she too will soon master her swimming which she has just started learning and is extremely scared of, I suddenly realized that I should maybe take a time-out and think about some of those small events/happenings/milestones of my daily life which once made me feel so happy.

  • The time when I could sing ‘kangaL iraNDAl’ very well perfectly in the same high pitch as in the movie. Ah! The beauty of Reetigowlai!
  • How I could almost always sing Oothukkadu Venkatakavi’s ‘Yoga Yoga’ in Anandabhairavi very well.

(Just how did I let myself reach this stage today when I am forced to not sing at all! I really hope that this is only a ‘This too shall pass away’ phase of my life’.)   

  • How I kept debating with myself on whether to start a blog or not and finally did it and felt so good and grateful that several of them were reading it too.
  • How I finally overcame my dislike for cleaning vessels and stopped citing tiredness or lack of time or sheer boredom as reasons and started making sure that I left a clear sink before I went to bed. I can’t tell you how easy cooking in the morning became once I started doing that.
  • How I finally overcame my anger every time I had to clean a clogged bathroom drain and just kept it as a part of my routine. I am so glad that this house has needed clearing the drain only once in the last 9 months, while previous house needed cleaning at least once a month. If you are planning to rent an old HDB apartment in Singapore, please go in for well-renovated ones!  
  • How I overcame my disgust at having to wash the curd vessel! Just like every other TamBrahm household, curd rice has always been a staple diet in our home too. Even though I like curd rice with oodles of pickle or a lot of sambhar, I never really liked the smell of curd, hated touching it and I just couldn’t imagine washing the curd vessel. Though even today I cringe every time I take it in my hand to wash it, I just don’t complain anymore that I have to do it. Did you know that all my relatives still ask me how I am able to do it That’s how famous my hatred of the smell of curd is.  
  • How I finally seemed to be getting a good hang of playing beginner lessons in guitar and my fingers too had finally gotten adjusted to the pain that comes with playing the guitar. But I quit just when I was finally getting ready to learn it properly without complaining of pain in my fingers and having overcome the difficulty to play looking at the notes and not the guitar frets. But even today when I rarely take the guitar and play the basic ‘Sa Ri Ga Ma’ without looking down at the frets, I know that I should start learning it afresh again. But will I?
  • How I learnt Yoga dedicatedly for 6 months and continued to do it on a regular basis too for quite a while. The flexibility that I gained in 2009 has still not left me, even though I am doing any proper workout now.
  • How I could plait my daughter’s hair the first time I tried itself. I just cannot plait my hair properly. It’s another fact that I only have less hair. But despite that I feel so happy today that I am doing a decent job of plaiting my daughter’s hair.
  • How I started feeding curd rice happily to my babies! The first few times I had to feed plain curd or curd rice to my baby, I used to wish she would eat it real soon since I hated plain curd. But as I realized the power of curd rice and how it always results in filling the baby’s tummy well and helps the baby get a deep sleep, that become my go-to dish for dinner times and after outdoor play times.  
  • How I could sing lovely lullabies and rhymes to my once teeny-weeny babies.
  • How I spent night after night alone and awake with my daughter all through her 8th to 11th month! I consider that a big accomplishment since despite being sleep-deprived and a newbie when it came to cooking and all other chores and no soul around to help out all through the day, I made sure that my baby was well-fed and taken good care of. Nothing else mattered back then. The weekends were when my husband and I would carry our baby and visit one place after another in Singapore, which were only even more tiring but a welcome change from the weekdays.   
  • How I am today improving on the not-losing-my-patience front. There are only two main areas which need improvement now – Patience when my daughter takes her own sweet time to finish (and not finish) her food and patience when my daughter launches off in a dance when I comb her hair even as we are getting delayed to leave for school. More than inner patience, I should keep my mouth shut during those times. I have a long way to go on that front.
  • How I am able to run along with my son. I almost stopped playing outdoor and running with friends while playing hide-and-seek or lock and key etc. when I was in my ninth standard. Now, after so many years, I am glad that I am able to run behind my son when he takes off in a lightning speed. We even jog/run back from my daughter’s school to the bus stop, a distance of about 500m.
  • That moment when my lead called me up and told me that I had gotten a promotion when I was on my maternity leave! It felt so good having a high on the career front too at the same time as on the personal front. Had I continued to work, I might have been waiting to become a Project Manager by now. I do keep pondering about all those ‘ifs’ of my life often.
  • How I happily embraced pregnancy twice despite being dead scared of doctors and needles and hospitals. Motherhood is indeed a life-altering experience!

There might come a time when you might think about all that you have not achieved in your life or you might doubt your own capabilities or there might be those around you who might remind you of all that you have not achieved in your life or all that you are not doing well. But believe me when I tell you that in the larger scheme of life, everything you do becomes insignificant if you just don’t feel happy in the first place. Those small everyday tiny accomplishments matter too in the longer run.

After all, who better than you know what your own capabilities are, what all you really can or cannot do, how much effort that you put into doing all that you have done and what all emotions that you went through during every stage of your life.

Nostalgic and Happy

It’s now almost 11:30 pm here and I should be asleep by now. But tonight is one of those nights sleep eludes me. (Remind me not to keep reminding my daughter every few minutes that she should sleep even when she protests that she is just not feeling sleepy.)

It happened mainly because sleep was eluding my daughter too and she kept talking to me. Nowadays, lengthy conversations are a rarity to me because of my throat problems. But in a hope that my daughter would fall asleep I started talking something as a substitute of bedtime story and before I knew it, I was telling her all about how I finally started driving the car on my own after almost 6 years of learning it on and off.

Along with that conversation came back all thoughts of all my dreams, desires, life and my blog too. After all, my blog was where I wrote about my passions and some of my thoughts. I reread a few old posts of mine. I just couldn’t remember the exact month in 2009 when I had finally overcome my fear of driving to a great extent. A search through my blog gave me the answer, reminded me of all the wonderful friends and acquaintances that I made through this blog and in general, made me feel so happy.

Here I am, fresh and happy, typing away all that comes to the mind.

On Phonics and Spellings

All I knew about phonics till about three years back was it was all about learning the sounds of the letters. When my daughter first started school and came back home one day singing, ‘Snake is in the grass, snake is in the grass, ssssssss’, that’s when I started taking a real interest in learning all about phonics and using it to form the spellings of words. At the end of her pre-nursery, my daughter and I could sing the songs for almost all the alphabets. I was to discover only later that the songs they taught in her school were from ‘Jolly Phonics’.

Having so far never been a mother who freaks out and makes her kid study for several hours each week, partly because my daughter just cannot be made to sit if she is not interested and I am also of a strong believer that there is no way a person can escape from learning ABCD, all through her Nursery and Kindergarten 1, I continued to be laid back teaching her only on and off. The school was doing a good job anyway and I never could and still cannot understand why so many parents are enrolling their kids for extra phonics classes.
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Those Random Acts of Kindness!

It was a rainy afternoon yesterday and there I was on the way to my daughter’s school, carrying my half-asleep toddler in one hand and carrying my umbrella in another. Even as I was struggling to manage both, a fellow parent with whom I haven’t interacted with before asked me to close my umbrella and shared her own with us. Even as I thanked her so many times, I remembered the numerous times I have been offered timely help by strangers simply because I was with small kid(s). It is a kind world after all!

Talking Less – Am I doing it?

Ok so now back to tracking how my voice rest is going on. Last Saturday saw me waking up with my throat strained. I immediately started doing multiple rounds of gargling, drank lots of warm water and above all, did a quick recap of all that the doctor said. Then I maintained almost complete silence for the next 2 hours. My throat did become better after a while. My daughter, ever the most helpful, from then on, has been reminding me to stop talking the moment I talk beyond a couple of sentences. Barring four-five instances when I talked a lot, but never once shouted, I have otherwise been Ok. My patience level is also improving. I don’t just maintain external silence. I am also working on remaining calm deep down.

Belated Birthday Wishes, My Madras!

Dear Madras,

Yes I did want to wish you on your birthday itself. But you don’t know just how much I miss you these days that I just didn’t want to write yet another post here expressing my longing for you. I read posts all around celebrating you, your culture, heritage and everything that is Madras.

Hey Madras, every time I see a sign board giving details of a heritage place, road or a tree (Yes heritage tree!) in Singapore, I think about how we all have taken your culture and heritage for granted and, forget about taking care of it and promoting it, how much we are neglecting it. Forget about heritage, even your roads are not how they used to be. It is now filled with potholes and bumpy patches in many places. The new Metro and MRTS continue to run with not much patronage. Here’s wishing that you get your infrastructure back in excellent shape and your heritage gets preserved!