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Before Marriage Till Marriage!

indian marriage

By Malathy Madathilezham

Man is a social being. This is something, which we have all studied at some point of time. Thus one of the most cruel and effective forms of punishment/ torture meted out to criminals, terrorists, etc. is solitary confinement. The need to communicate and interact is something of the utmost importance to human beings in order to retain their human nature. Self-expression, exchange of ideas and organization are something’s, which we are experts at utilizing for our benefits. Thus we have groups beginning from the family to nations. We have created complex social structures, which compete and cooperate with each other. On the basis of social interactions among human beings spread over time and continents, we have established a wide variety values, norms and rituals that are the foundations of the human society.

The society keeps changing, earlier this change was at a much slower pace. Something’s, which were unacceptable, unpardonable and frowned upon, are now part and parcel of our society and nobody gives a second thought to him or her. Similarly, some accepted aspects of society are now considered a blight on society. Thus change is also an important aspect of human civilization.

This change has also affected the dynamics of men and women. May be some people have enjoyed or suffered these changes more than the other! There are of course extreme situations of women still living in the same age old conditions and bound in tradition or poverty, but in this particular discussion I would not elaborate on that. Feminism, Liberalism, Capitalism and many other ‘isms’ have contributed in parts to this change. So a woman doesn’t look at a good marriage/alliance or domestic life as the only criterion, which makes her life a success. It is definitely still one of the most important things to majority of women but education, career, self dependence, financial independence, an interesting social life are also being counted somewhere on the list.

A fairly well educated woman in her twenties wants almost everything from a good job, a handsome and loving husband, friends, a fun social life, decent salary etc. etc. She doesn’t want to have the life of her mother; she wants it to be better and bigger! Any mention that her gender makes her vulnerable is almost blasphemous. Her semi-liberalism and semi-feminism along with her ego would be a force to reckon with. She is assertive, confident and has her own opinion on everything ranging from fashion to politics. At work she may be ruthless. Efficient, competitive and aggressive she want that corner office to be hers. She looks for true love and romance but at the same time is practical when it comes to decision making…She is becoming more and more demanding it seems… ah and confused too. What is the most important? What is the priority?

Until few years ago, the man was the sole breadwinner of the family. He took on the burden of providing a good life and a better future for his children, at least in financial aspect. A well settled (government) job, a ‘good’ wife along with a sizable dowry would probably make him seem more successful back then. Now look at a twenty or thirty something man, he is equally confused. The father was feared and revered. His appreciation and love, one could only see the glimpses of. He sees his mother, always loving, most probably a housewife. She was the stable rock of his family when his father was busy working or on tours. She is the quintessence of womanhood and selflessness for him. The women his age confuse him. They are his classmates, friends, and colleagues/superiors. Equally aggressive and competitive as men, and given undue advantage at times due to they’re gender. And yet they crib about inequality! Life is becoming tough for him. A simple joke and they get offended!

He is in a reasonably good job and enjoys the weekend parties and stuff. Parents want him to marry, but is he ready for marriage? And demands from the parents of the prospective brides are also high. In addition, the question of whether or not to accept dowry. His ex gf thought he was an MCP with double standards. Yes, it is imperative for him to earn more than his wife, what will his friends and family say otherwise! He wants a workingwoman, but not a career woman. He wants to definitely have a better life than his father, who he thinks had it all easy. The option of changing jobs is open, but with the recession and all, the growth in salary is not worth it. At the same time staying in a company for more than three years may mean stagnation. May be he should go for further studies? Or is it better to get married and ‘settled’ now?

And it is in between all this confusion that suddenly a their families find a good match in each other’s families, backgrounds, etc. Its in a daze that meet each other, ask each other some questions, forgetting the important ones, which  they always wanted to.

‘Do you like her/him?’

‘Yeah she/he is okay. I would like to spend more time though.’

‘Oh sure! You will have all the time after the engagement. We need to fix a date for that though.’

After that its’ a whirlwind… Time passes so quickly .. then engagement, the thousands of calls and SMS’s, each of them trying to impress the other, share as much as possible about themselves, the apprehensions and doubts,etc etc. Then the wedding shopping, planning…

And Voila! The D-day is here. The usual confusion and mayhem prevails during the wedding also… and soon its all over or should I say its all beginning of everything!

Let me not say more now… Just

Wishing them a happy and blissful married life!

🙂

Simple Grilled Pomfret

By Tahira

pomfret 1

Bengalis love fish. True. So being a true blue bong, there was no reason as to why should I not drool over this aquatic creature. I love all kinds of fish – be it the royal hilsa, or the humble rui or pomfret – direct from the sea. Back home for my holidays (that stretched for nearly 3 months) I would often concoct up fishy delicacies in the kitchen.

Most of the time, I cooked pomfret. One of my favourites. So, just thought of sharing the recipe of this delicacy with my readers. Its simple, easy and definitely lip-smacking.

pomfret 2Ingredients

  • ŸPomfret – 2 medium-sized
  • ŸGinger paste
  • ŸGarlic paste
  • ŸRed chilli powder
  • ŸTurmeric
  • ŸYogurt
  • ŸLemon juice
  • ŸSalt to taste
  • ŸCooking oil 1 tablespoon

Method

Wash and pat dry the fish. Make deep slits on each side. Rub lemon juice and ginger-garlic paste on the fish and keep aside for at least minutes. In a bowl make a smooth paste with yogurt, turmeric, red chilli powder, oil and some salt. Apply this paste evenly over the fish. Marinate it for at least two hours. Pre-heat oven and place the marinated fish. Cook for around 20 minutes at 180 degrees. You may apply some butter for basting while cooking. Serve hot with onion slices and lemon wedges.

The Great Indian (Before) Marriage Tamasha – Part 3

By Shwetha Kalyanasundaram

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Not to forget that this blog is attributed to the tamashaa that ensues in every house (almost every house), there are quite a few funny snippets that must be highlighted in the process.

In a lot of profiles that I have scanned, in the “about me” section, there would be details of the parents, brothers, sisters and the whole gamut of people in the family; but no information about the guy whatsoever. Poor guys! In some profiles, even their pet makes their presence felt but not the guy in question!! Heck, why is there a separate space for family details then?!?

Nearly 40% of the profiles that are available on these matrimonial sites have very funny descriptions – descriptions that use only adjectives (and I mean only adjectives) to describe how “good” the guy is. The most common adjectives that one would find are “nice, loving, caring, jovial…” and the likes. I thought all of us fit into those adjectives!! It’s so obvious that I don’t understand the reason why it is being stated! Ooh, the best part is their expectation for a “homely” girl. Here’s the dictionary meaning of the highlighted word:

HOME.LY / ˈhōmlē/

Adjective

(of a person) Unattractive in appearance

Synonyms – plain/simple/unsightly

Now we know what every guy wants!!! Bu ha ha ha *evil*

Most of the guys, on their profiles state that they don’t smoke or drink. But when you do start talking to them, they accept that they are social drinkers/smokers. Why hide it?!? Accept the facts as they are – it’s after all one’s personal choice and in today’s world, its acceptable and most of the girls don’t mind it at all. As the Tamil proverb goes “aayiram poi solli oru kalyaanam pannalaam” (read: One can say a 1000 lies to get married), I guess this just adds onto their bag of lies!! I appreciate guys who are really honest when it comes to this.

Can you believe it if I say that being the only child to my parents had become a disadvantage for me in the marriage market??!! We have received calls from parents who didn’t want to go ahead with the proposal just because I’m the only child.

And one parent even had the audacity to ask my mother if anything could be done…what does she expect?!? Does she expect my parents to adopt one or go through the entire process of delivering a child again?!? Oh boy, didn’t I enjoy the dressing down that the lady got from my mom for being so downright stupid!!

So what happens if the horoscope matches?!? Watch this space for more!

A Date With the Kitchen

By Shwetha Kalyanasundaram

girl_cooking.83102123

For a very long time now, the day a girl comes to this world, she’s born not with a silver spoon in her mouth, rather a silver ladle in her hand!! And would I be far from it?!?

I grew up watching my mother conjure up delicious and mouth-watering dishes in the kitchen. I did notice that the man of the house (my father, that is) stayed away from the kitchen. The curiosity in me was piqued as I wondered why men basked in blissful ignorance and weren’t as kitchen savvy as the women. At school, my sexist idea of “Women Only” in the kitchen changed, when my male classmates proudly displayed their kitchen cuts and bruises. In today’s age, the cooking profession is dominated by that category of homo-sapiens who bear the Y chromosome.

When I was in college, being a “bad cook” would have been princely. Growing up, I didn’t have to worry about peeling potatoes or playing with oil. I had my mother to do it all. I couldn’t cook anything—I even burnt water!! Then my mother sat me down and reasoned with me that to be a wonder girl of sorts, I should learn to cook.

Here’s why!

They say the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach. Attracting men through your culinary skills have proven to have a success rate greater than that through your intellect. Cooking is art and science rolled into one. It helps you build skills, be imaginative, and is a stress buster. At a marriageable age, spurred on by her advice, I decided to explore the art of cooking.

And here’s my first date in the kitchen, rather with the kitchen!!!

Our day usually kick starts with a cup of coffee. An engineer that I am, my mother handed me the “procedure” to prepare coffee. Boil milk – check; Measure exact amount of decoction into cup – check; Add sugar – err?!? And that’s my first goof up and it’s an obvious guess. Sugar and salt should never be kept together – NEVER! The expression on my parents face in the morning as they sipped coffee laced with salt – priceless!

A three course meal that maketh a typical Indian meal involves using a variety of pulses. Phew! It’s easier identifying a salt in the chemistry lab rather than identifying the right pulse for the right meal!!! What a harrowing time I had!! The number of times I had to abandon ship and start over again, I used up the entire ration in the kitchen.

And the Indian bread! Gosh, to get the rotis in a perfect circle can be a humungous task. Mine resembled the continents on the world map!!! Who cares about the shape as long as they were edible!

You know what happens to vegetables when they’ve cooked too much? They turn to mush. And that’s exactly what happened to my ladies finger curry! Here’s a small piece of advice – wash the ladies finger before cutting them rather than washing them after the cut!

You may have heard it a million times, but do you practice it? Do you taste your food as you cook it? If you don’t, you really should start. Recipes aren’t always accurate and can often times lead you astray. Tasting your food as you cook means the difference of a mediocre meal or a delicious one.

In the latter half of the day, my mother asked me to curdle the milk. While I knew that adding curds  to milk will  result in fermentation, I did not know the proportion and hence added the whole lot of curds to the milk and when I innocently asked my mother what I should do with the balance curds as the vessel was filled to the brim , my mother’s temper rose sky high!!!

Every cook, being human, errs, bungles, botches, and screws up in the kitchen once in a while, but in my case, the whole date was a disaster! For your day to go alright, guess it helps waking up on the right side of the bed *chuckle*.

And years down the lane, with a sizeable portion of hours spent inside the kitchen, I’m definitely making great inroads to the heart of my man through his stomach!

Chronicles Of A Mom – To – Be!! Woo Ho!! Part 6

pregnancy

By Shwetha Kalyanasundaram

Phew! I’ve finally touched the halfway mark. And another 20 weeks to go. Time does fly!! The serious rounding of my tummy finally makes the pregnancy feel more like a reality.

Week 16 to week 20 has been interesting, yet again. The little orange (no more a peanut folks!) is growing nicely (touchwood) and is busy practicing its twists, rolls, kicks and punches. Definitely no WWE Dear Husband, if it’s a boy! I’ve had and still going to have enough action inside to last a lifetime. As the baby doll keeps itself busy performing acrobatics inside, there is no better proof that a brand new and remarkably spirited life is evolving within me.

It’s around this time the little one gets to taste whatever I eat. So out goes the green chili sauces (yea, I developed a taste for it over the course of my pregnancy) and in comes everything that’s sweet. Sugar, I’d definitely watch out for you!!!

And hurray, my little one has its own unique fingerprints. Biometrics, we’ll meet you soon!

There’s something about an obvious bulging mid-section that attracts gratuitous advice-givers and you can’t even turn a deaf ear to. I call ‘em old wives’ tales! As much as these tales do have a strong base in facts and some have been scientifically proved, how accurate they are in every child born is still unclear.

One such is providing the baby a head-start by conducting classes in the womb! You heard me right – providing an utero concert and reading great epics and/or classics is going to turn my child into Mozart and a soon-to-be Booker prize winner!!! My my aren’t we being pushy parents even before the baby comes out?!?

Nevertheless, I see no harm providing a uterine environment rich in music and literature; it helps me bond with the little one, much before its first momma cuddle! And it helps having an astounding singer in the family – my Dear Husband! His YouTube music videos do make up for his absence every day and my kid’s jus loving it (and me too, as the baby kicks to the tunes of its father!). And out comes the dusty classics (now dust-free) which I read away to my belly every day.

Boy! This is definitely turning out to be a lot of fun!

Will meet you all soon with updates on the 6th month chronicles.

Au revoir for the moment!!!

Disclaimer: As much as the above experiences are my own, I have definitely referred to my pregnancy bible “What to Expect When You’re Expecting” by Heidi Murkoff and other pregnancy blogs easily available on Google for certain details and reasoning.

Home-made Pancake on a Sunday Afternoon

pan 3

Pancakes are types of flat breads, generally round in shape enjoyed by millions across cultures. Though not much popular in India, but pancakes can make for an excellent snack in the evening or sometimes even breakfast – on days you want to try something different.

Back home for my summer breaks (spanning nearly three months) I would trying making some or the other snack almost every evening. So, it was just one of those days that I thought of concocting up a continental delicacy in the kitchen. Though the first attempt turned out to be good enough, but consequent attempts turned me into a good pancake-maker. I still make pancakes and sometimes make my friends savour their taste buds over this home-made delicacy. Here’s the recipe of simple home-made pancake for a Sunday afternoon snack.

pancake 1Ingredients

  • pan 22 eggs
  • 1 ½ cups of milk (250 ml)
  • All-purpose flour (maida for Indian Kitchens)
  • Salt to taste
  • Sugar to taste
  • Pinch of baking powder (optional)
  • Cooking Oil

Method

pancake 2Take a deep pan and mix all ingredients except oil together. You can either use a spatula or a hand blender. Stir well to form a thick consistency of the batter. Keep it in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.

In a flat bottomed frying pan pour 3 tablespoons of cooking oil. Once heated, spread the batter evenly. Keep for a minute or two; then turn it over and cook for another two minutes. Reduce flame and wait for a minute or so. Transfer it on a plate. You can enjoy the pancake with a sauce of your choice.

Beer-Battered Prawns

clean prawns

Since I am a foodie, I am always in search of satiating my culinary delights. Though a Bong by birth, I relish almost all delicacies from across the world. From the Italian Rissotto to Nigerian Jollof Rice – from traditional Bengali Mangsher Jhol (Mutton Curry) to Rajma Chawal – I concoct up a galore of dishes in my kitchen. From starters to main course till desserts – you can find almost anything.

Last Saturday it started raining heavily. I woke up In the morning with a gloomy mood. Saturdays are off days from work. So, after breakfast all I did was lazying around. But, by afternoon when I started feeling more dull, suddenly, the idea of concocting up a spicy non-veg snack came to my mind. It struck me a pack of prawns are lying in the fridge and its been already three days. Lo and behold! Minutes later I was in the kitchen making Beer Battered Prawns.

Here’s the Recipe.

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Ingredients:

  • All-purpose flour/ Maida 250 grams
  • Beer 150 ml
  • Prawns 250 grams (clean and de-veined)
  • Cooking oil 4 to 5 table spoons
  • Pinch of Turmeric
  • Pinch of Red Chili Powder (optional)
  • Salt to taste

Method:

Clean and pat dry prawns; marinate them with salt, pinch of turmeric and red chili powder;In a bowl mix take some flour and add beer and salt according to taste. Mix well to make a batter;In a frying pan add oil and wait till it is heated up. Dip the prawns in the batter, coat them evenly and deep fry them. Serve with Tartar Sauce.

Chronicles Of A Mom – To – Be!! Woo Ho!! Part – 3

pregnancy

By Shwetha Kalyanasundaram

Being pregnant means one thing – you are barraged with a plethora of advice from the older generation and older to older generation (sigh)!

Coming from a typical Tam-Brahm family who love their filter “kaapis”, cutting down on your caffeine intake is a Herculean task. From drowning 4 cups of coffee a day to a cup or two does lead to its own share of withdrawal symptoms. It’s advisable to add just about 10 ml of the coffee decoction to your milk. (And I sure do use a measuring jug every afternoon when I make my coffee!)

Here’s why! Heavy caffeine intake in the early stages of pregnancy slightly increases the risk of a miscarriage. Caffeine acts as a diuretic, which washes away some of the key nutrients required by the mother and baby.

A pregnant woman doesn’t feel too great a lot of the time and the fact that her bladder is indeed becoming squished as well as having to drink more water to make up for the additional blood supply she is making. When caffeine can act as a diuretic, oh my god! One can just imagine spending most of the time in the loo.

Forget your aerated drinks too (that contains caffeine as well). So all my Mountain Dews have become Mountain Don’ts!!

And not to forget your mood swings which are anyways volatile, thanks to your pregnancy hormones!

And here’s to all my rants on my morning sickness, I finally have an answer in the form of a lemon! Scratch the surface of a lemon and work up the good oils and one sniff and lo! Your sickness mellows down.

Practically everyone is connected through mobile technology. Life’s next to impossible without a mobile in your hand. I have been advised to reduce my exposure (and the baby’s too) by going low on Bluetooth. I get a glare every time I hold my mobile device close to my belly. The only solution – use the landline!!!

And I have bid adieu to all my lovely, shining heels (Sob! Sob!). Sadly, they are all collecting dust in my shoe closet. And soon, my wardrobe. It’s hello maternity wear time!!!

Do you know a pregnant woman drools! I surely do that a lot. Especially at the sight of the pictures of cakes, CUPCAKES, pies, tarts, ice creams…(now I definitely have drool all over my laptop just typing ‘em!) that adorn my Facebook home page. But all that’s a complete no no for me (Baaahh boo hoo hoo!). And they say buy whatever a pregnant woman desires (hrmph..)!

Psst…I still manage to get my hold on these once a month, thanks to a wonderful mom who allows me to indulge in my cravings.

So it’s good bye time folks as I have to hog an ice cream waiting for me in the freezer! Catch up with y’all soon J

Disclaimer: As much as the above experiences are my own, I have definitely referred from my pregnancy bible “What to Expect When You’re Expecting” by Heidi Murkoff and other pregnancy blogs on Google for certain details and reasoning.

Relevant Articles

Chronicles Of A Mom – To – Be!! Woo Ho!! Part – 2

Chronicles Of A Mom – To – Be!! Woo Ho – PART 1

Chronicles Of A Mom – To – Be!! Woo Ho – PART 1

pregnancy

By Shwetha Kalyanasundaram

Two educational degrees – check! Career – check! Marriage – Check! Love – Check! Baby – Err?!?

A couple of months into our blissful marriage, a delayed period turned our lives into a tizzy! Barf! The numerous visits to the bathroom to retch, occasional dizziness, a freaked out husband!

Could I be pregnant?!?

The neurotics that we both are, we both spent a couple of sleepless nights googling out the numerous signs hoping that they could just be false alarms. There was no way that I could be pregnant. A baby was definitely not in our bucket list of things to do in our first year of marriage (sigh).

And soon enough, the first appointment with the gynecologist – the doc who delivered my husband! After a few milliliters of blood less and an empty bladder and two hours of waiting, the big P – moment finally arrived! We had done it!  I was PREGNANT!!!

An ecstatic mom and dad – in – law and overjoyed parents and a hurried call to my husband to regroup back in the house, my fingers were crossed! How do I break the news to him?!? Numerous flashes of the Cadbury’s ad showcasing the wife breaking the news of her pregnancy kept playing in my mind. Do I follow a similar technique?

The husband arrives…with a bunch of flowers and a box of my favorite chocolates! What?!? Am I dreaming?!? A warm hug and a kiss on the forehead later, and with a wide grin on his face, “Can you believe it baby? We’re gonna be PARENTS soon!!”

Let the celebrations begin!

What happens next, stay tuned!

Silent Support – My Father!!

i love you daddy

By Dwaipayan Chakraborty,

Happy Father’s Day.

Never wondered about going up to my father to wish him a “Father’s Day” as it would seem a very formal gesture. But this is also true I never told him how big a support he has been throughout. Through this piece I would like to take the opportunity to tell him and everyone how significant he is in my life.

As like most families, my father was the sole breadwinner, until he retired from his services. But if I look back at the days of my childhood, the earliest memories between us would mean that I was dead scared of him. Rarely did I speak loudly when he was around, never did I ask for any extra favour. The reason of such a scare was his strict behaviour & rigid attitude. Any mischief never went unpardoned. The discipline ranged from a slap to a heavy beating in order to drill the right thing in my head. Gradually this fear created a distance between me and my father. In his presence, I could never be myself, kept silent most of the time. My mother was a friend, and my father often, a stranger.

There were a lot of things I wanted to tell him, share with him, take his opinion, but that uncalled for distance never let me do it. From school to college and on to a professional field, the distance persisted. At a later stage he probably understood my uneasiness and often openly asked, but every time I ignored it saying everything was just fine. He was a good student, and I being a moderately ordinary his share of disappointments with me was evident. Yet somehow I have nudged my way through all of these and become the sole breadwinner for my family. It does give me a sense of pride to take over the mantle from him.

It is this retirement period of his where I understood what actually he meant to me. However unbelievable it might seem but it’s true that standing toady I can speak my mind to him without any fear. The person twenty years ago and the person now are a lot different. He has become a lot more patient, surprisingly an ardent listener too. Sometimes I wonder what if this had happened earlier, my attitude, his life; our family’s future could have been a lot different. Even after all such minor complains, I have no regrets at all.

As I now work in a professional field, I understand how the office hours take a toll on the mind and body. Now I understand why he used to get irritated when mother used to ask me to take me to the field after returning home. Now I understand how difficult it is getting frequent leaves for family commitments. The fact that he was a strict disciplinarian has shaped me into a cultured individual. At that time restrictions seemed cruel, but now it seems those are required in order to lead a healthy and sound life. He knew my mother was soft on me, often pardoning my mistakes, so he was very strict, balancing it prudently. Agreed he sometimes went overboard, but all that now seems acceptable. I remember he toiled hard, rarely taking holidays and trying to accumulate as much as he could, all for our comfort. From school books to cricket bats, though he never bought me myself, but asked my mother to give me everything I required. I regretted that as a family we hardly had vacations, but today we have a moderately spacious house in a metropolitan city, which does require savings over a long period of time.

A transition from a boy to man, has made me realise what a father means to a family & to his children. Now while I am finishing this piece, I wonder how comfortable my life has been, mostly because of a silent support existing from behind the curtains in the drama of life.

By virtue of my father, I feel content today. His relationship with me might not be too loud with expressions, but an undercurrent act of endless support.

However formal it might sound but each child should once go up to his father, hug him and acknowledge his presence after pausing to think, what life would have been if this grumpy old man was not around.

Thank you Baba.