To Eat or Not to Eat?

A delicious box of cashew laddus lies innocently on the dining table. My heart wants to eat, but my brain calculates the calories. There is salad with lots of broccoli nearby, and it is definitely delicious, so I settle for that saying the sweet is reserved for after the meal.

To further my chagrin, my parents proclaim how in the old days, ghee was served in “dhonnai” cups, and nobody was any the wiser! Of course, these ghee drinking tummies have provided us with hours of glee! Under my wise tutelage, my cousins and brother all aged between 9 and 2, would eye-ball the said tummies from the side, and swing from the loft above for an aerial survey. The owners of the tummies were too sleepy to take notice – how couldn’t they be after wolfing down a meal consisting of vada^, payasam, 8 different kinds of vegetables, pacchidi, platefuls of rice, kesari, dhals, lentils, rasam, sambhar and curd?

Total calorie intake of 1 meal approximately = (Total calories required per day) * 3!

The tummy game was played as follows. Once the surveys were completed, each member would provide a “guess-timate” of the size.

Unit of Measurement used: palm lengths

So, I could say 6 palm lengths, and quietly measure the tummy with my palm to see how far off the mark I was! Occasionally, the tummies would begin to turn midway through the measurement process (the owner trying to shift positions during the nap!) Then, we had to change strategy slightly and measure from the base of the tummy to the belly button and multiply the result by 2.

Thank god, these meals were not a regular affair! I cannot imagine the effect it would have had on people’s health!

The other day, while shopping at Costco, we lingered longer than necessary at the dessert section. There were 4 different flavors of icecreams packaged together (competitively priced), a large box of Tiramusu (also competitively priced) and a box of sugary mini puffs (also competitively priced) to choose from. My brain unwillingly looked at the nutrional content on those containers and my hand put them back!

My heart stopped at a smaller store on the way back to obtain a smaller pack of icecream.

To use the most hackneyed expression of all time – ignorance really is bliss. Maybe, we too would have been wolfing down cartons of delicacies, had we not read about obesity, calories and cholesterol levels. And maybe, teams of brats led by nephews and neices would have been measuring our tummies!!!

^ Indian delicacies made with no regard to calorific content, but pays the best compliments to the tongue!

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Itch Itch..Brain Itch!

Old Mac Donald had a farm – eiya eiya yo!
A “Moo Moo” here and a “Moo Moo” there
Old Mac Donald had a farm – eiya eiya yo!

Hey…..wait a minute, I have been singing this song incessantly in my mind for the past 2 days. I have to push this song out of my mind. So, I embark loudly on a slower melody

“Govardhana Giridhara Govinda, Gokula ….”

The minute I stop, the itching continues.

“Old Mac Donald had a farm – eiya eiya yo!”

Maybe, I should try reading a book. Concentrate dear mind, I prod myself – I am reading, but my brain is going “Old Mac Donald had a farm – eiya eiya yo!” in the background!

Drastic measures have to be taken now. I get up, and embark on a cleaning spree. After all, if you are busy doing something, Old MacDonald can’t get you – Ha!

Clean clean scrub scrub

“Old Mac Donald had a farm – eiya eiya yo!”

More vigorously – CLEAN CLEAN SCRUB SCRUB

“Old Mac Donald had a farm – eiya eiya yo!”

The house is sparkling now, and Old MacDonald still has his farm!

A nap maybe? I wake up singing “Old Mac Donald had a farm – eiya eiya yo!”

If you can’t beat them, plead with them. So, I plead with my brain – “Oh please – please stop singing this damn song!”

“Old Mac Donald had a farm – eiya eiya yo!” it taunts me further.

I try to uproot this menace at the source. I had picked it up while watching a Baby Einstein DVD, singing along with my baby. Maybe, I could try another DVD – that should stop it!

YES!!!! It worked – I am no longer bothered about Mac Donald and his silly farm. I am now thinking about the sea turtle enjoying the swim in the sea.

“Ohh yeah – I am having fun swimming in the deep blue sea”

Maybe, it will be easier to stop this one from getting to me………

“Ohh yeah – I am having fun swimming in the deep blue sea”

The Namaskaram Account

As children, my brother and I maintained a burgeoning account titled “Namaskaram Account”.

There were diaries galore and every year, I would religiously carry over the latest cash flow statement over to the next year. My brother and I were joint account holders, and our names were mentioned prominently on the page.

Funds for this account were procured from the following avenues:

(a) Money obtained as blessings

The process involves falling at the feet of uncles and aunts who would gush at what a lovely thing it is to do in today’s world, and dole out the cash. We would mill around for the right opportunity, and “Thud!” (another inflow into the account) Once done, I would signal my brother to do the same and dutifully stand around to collect my brother’s share as well.

(b) Secratarial work for my father

My father invested in shares. He had the luxury of having a career with loads of time to spare. He even had the time to apply for new equities. The chances of getting an allotment for heavily over-subscribed shares were a little less than winning the state lottery. He had the able assistance of an able secretary in me. Every share application filed would fetch me Rs 10, while every allotment would fetch me Rs. 20. To improve cash flow, I would innocently place every application near God, and seek his blessings before posting it!

(c) Money won as Prizes

Contribution from this source was a little late in the game, when I started winning scholarships and the like, but it was money all the same.

I also remember gallantly offering money from our account, if something was denied us by virtue of its cost. Thank God there was no overdraft facility. I must have asked for goods worth 10 times the amount in the “account” over the years!

For years, it provided my brother and I with work to do, and my father got what he needed – the devils were kept busy filing out applications!

I wonder what happened to that “account”. Maybe my father used it up for my wedding!!

PS: I must admire my father for the innovative method of getting work done from me!

Some things never change

In the pre-digital era, the more useless pictures in our album at home were usually attributed to me. There you see my then kid brother measuring 4ft 3inches looking a grand 6 ft 4 inches, and somewhere else a touch of scenery gone all awry when taken from the moving train. From then on, I have always admired good photographers. Although, their talk of focal length, camera exposure and lens speed goes above my head, I love looking at the end result – a good picture!

I still remember the camera we had. It was a Yashica, and my father had paid a family friend to buy it for us from the Gulf. Photographs were reserved for special occasions, and the poses were standard too. The kids would be in front of our parents and there would be as many people as possible in every photograph (especially the earlier ones!) So, come any major festival, and you would find my sister and I dressed in clothes tailored from the same material and my brother, posing in front of my parents. (One of these days, I shall blog the economics behind the clothing in the same material, but for now – yes, we would be wearing the same shiny pink, or the same spotted blue!)

In all photos my father would be standing stark erect, and posing with a serious face. I have tried time and again to get him to smile in a photograph. He would smile, even grin or laugh before the flash comes on. But FLASH!!! Boom – there comes his serious face once again!

Yesterday, I was trying to get my father to pose for a photograph, and guess what? My father is standing erect with a serious face!!! The digital era may have swooped in with revolutionary changes, but I am glad some things never change.

Words don’t speak

When I reminisce about my School and College days, one thing I remember vividly was the “Parting diary culture”.

There were pink diaries, blue diaries, heart-shaped diaries, and of course those tiresome diaries with lots of questions:
Name:
Favorite Actor: **I am pretty sure my favorite actor then is not my favorite actor now**
Favourite Director:
Favorite Colour: ** What would one do with this piece of info?!**
Birth Date:
Zodiac: ** Derive from above – DUHHH! **
Interests:

These diaries are handed out with gay abandon to pen your “good-byes” in. People one shared a smile with, would thrust a diary into your hand. For most diaries, I had a standard quote on life, a word of praise and a reminder to stay in touch.

I chose not to write in my closest friends diary, because I had too many things to share, too many things to hold onto. The sentimental side of my brain cried that “Keep in touch!” meant people would not keep in touch, and hence the request to “Keep in touch”!

On one of my recent cleaning sprees, I chanced upon my own college diary. My college diary just contained the addresses and phone numbers of all my friends, with small notes to “Keep in Touch” Ironically, the people I am still in touch with, are the ones who had not asked me to keep in touch with them!

I thumbed through the diary, and I chanced upon one tattered piece of paper, that I had taped to the very last page. I still remember a close friend of mine thrusting this note in my hand as my train was chugging away from Coimbatore station. I was leaving my friends and family to take up my first job in Bangalore. I was too pre-occupied to notice the letter. I was scouring the station to see where another one of my closest friends, mentor and senior was. She had promised to come and see me off, and I was upset that she had not come. As the train chugged on, and I could no longer see my friends, I crawled my way back to my seat, still upset that she had not come. I opened the letter to see the shortest note of all time. The essence of the communique was:

I am really bad with words Saumya,so I shall try my best… Please don’t be upset with me for not coming to the station to see you off. But, I cannot bear to say “Bye” to you.
Love and prayers for your continued success,
———

And that, my friend, is powerful communication!

T-r-i-n-g T-r-i-n-g

I could tell the smugglers that their ploy was no good. Their most cherished possessions were in our hands. My spouse and I are running against time to hand in the possessions to the authorities. We can feel the chase getting hotter, and in a desperate attempt to save our lives – we run to my brother’s help. He works in Google(^) The company requires all employees to stay in the office premises – each employee is given a room, and all meals are taken care of by the company. All employees are expected to report for Dinner at 8 p.m. in the dinner hall (I hope Larry Page and Sergey Brin aren’t listening!)

** This is where I should include the link to the page on Google’s work culture, but I shall desist **

My brother’s eyes grow wide in amazement when I show him the priceless statuettes we are trying to save! (*) We decide to spend the night there.

The next morning, hubby boy and self are contemplating other avenues of escape, when we spot a trucking area in China. The terrain is beautiful – a serene river flowing a few metres below, and a mountainous region with snow-capped peaks on all sides. There is a gargantuan person fishing in the river below.The weird fisher is shooting at the fish, while standing in knee deep water. Irritated with the fact that the weirdo is shooting at the fish, my husband tries to stop him by banging him on his head. I watch on shell-shocked as the huge guy gnarls and picks my husband far above his head!

** I can hear my husband say: “Hey, I may be dumb, but I’m not THAT dumb!” **

Startled I start screaming and rush to his rescue……..

TRRRIIIIIIIINGGGGGG! TRRRRIIIIIIINNNNNGGG!

Oh dear alarm clock! How much I loved your sound this morning?!

Footnote (*) : I can see why his eyes widen – the statuettes are laughing buddha statues that one gets for a dollar in China Town!
Footnote (^): No, my brother does not work at Google! And Google is supposedly one of the best employers in the world.

Not so funny!

Yesterday was Halloween. I usually wait for kids dressed up to come and knock on my door, while I act surprised. Especially, the younger ones – the chicks, the tigers with squeaky voices, the batman with a timid demeanour, the superman hiding behind his mommy, the dainty princesses hanging onto their tiaras, while clutching their candy bucket tightly – Oh, I love the innocence on these children’s faces.

Yesterday started out on a different note. The first bunch to knock on my doors, were dressed too eerily for anybody’s good, and were not exactly top performers in the manners department. The language they used had no right to be uttered by boys their age, and merely looking at them sent shivers down my spine. I gave them candies and hushed them away. But, I could not help wonder at the point of festivities, if such is the case. I recall a similar festival in India, Holi. This festival has people smearing each others faces with colour powder and generally is a lot of fun. Recently, however, the convenience of masking one’s face with colour has spawned rowdy elements to take advantage, and guess what? Not so funny anymore!

With increasing spending power, I wonder whether we are falling prey to vicious marketing ploys and giving people ideas to sharpen their darker side.

I understand the significance of Halloween, and how it all started to ward off the evil spirits in the harsh winter months. But if the warders became the evil spirits, who do we ward off?!