W and X is for Walks and XO with Mom

My mother has been a working woman from as long as I can remember.  When I was a kid, I used to eagerly await spending our evenings together. We would go for strolls on the sidewalk outside our residential society, my tiny hand wrapped around her pinky finger. I would recount my activities for the day and bombard her with questions. She had the knack for making up stories that kept me engrossed until my father returned from work as well. This was our way of spending quality time with each other.

Walks with my mother are something I look forward to till date. It hasn’t only been about the walks; it’s about the conversations we’ve had whilst we walked, be it anywhere –  in and around our locality, on the beach, in a park, on MG road, down the quaint streets of Switzerland and the list goes on. Walks with my mother are about getting her undivided attention, updating her about the current happenings in my life, occasional complaints about an annoying friend, confessions, healthy debates, and rants about being stressed. Post a great session, I feel rejuvenated and refreshed. I love early morning walks as they set my mood for the day. When I walk in sunshine with my most favourite person in the entire world, my mood shines like the sun as well.

This brings me to the next thing I love about my mother. Amma has been the quintessential mommy, never holding back on physical affection. She showers us (my sister and I) with hugs (X) and kisses (O). I presumed XO was the motherly norm until the topic cropped up while conversing with a friend. He confessed that his mother didn’t indulge in hugs or kisses. I was incredulous. All you mothers out there, y’all know what the take-home message is.

I’d like to mention that I’ve never been embarrassed about openly hugging my mother. I love pulling her cheeks. Her hugs and kisses make me feel secure and loved. They ease all traces of tension and stress that burden my mind. No matter how dejected  I feel, a squeeze from my mother is all I need to lift my spirits. In fact, the earliest memories I have of her, is of the times she would hum a lullaby whilst tucking me into bed.

What is life without walks with Mom and her warm hugs and big kisses?

W and X is for Walks and XO with Mom

My theme for the A to Z Blogging Challenge is the A to Z of some of favourite things. I just have two posts remaining!

 

 

 

 

S is for Surprises followed by T, U and V

Yup, I’m stuck far behind. Ideally, I should be out of this challenge. But I promised myself I will complete it no matter what. So here goes –

I love good surprises, the birthday kind and otherwise. Plus, I also love surprising my favourite people and close ones.  The smiles and amazement writ on their faces are totally worth going that extra mile.

So here’s the surprise. I dedicate this post to my father who celebrated his birthday yesterday. Though my theme for the A-Z challenge is about some of my favourite things, I’m gonna tweak it a bit for the purpose of this post. This is going to be about some of our favourite things aka food items.

T is for ‘Thaiyar Sadam’

Most south-Indians are big on curd rice. Yup, ‘thaiyar’ is for curd and ‘sadam’ is for rice.  It may seem bland and lackluster at first glance, but it’s the perfect fix for upset stomachs, hot summer nights, and for them lazybones who can’t be bothered to cook something elaborate. However, when it comes to my dad and I, the sheer simplicity and goodness of thaiyar sadam beckons to us on any given day.  A small dollop of urrugai (pickle) usually complements it; the former could be substituted by morru molgai (dried chillies marinated in salted butter milk),  or sometimes a ladle of vathai kozhambu (a spicy tamarind gravy) poured into a small cavity that is smack dab in the middle of a mound of thaiyar sadam .  Our weekend lunches are punctuated with the sounds of us relishing this delightful dish. Thaiyar sadam defies the rules of fine dining. Bye forks and spoons. It’s finger-licking delicious. Mmmm.

U is for Upma

To be honest, I have acquired a taste for this dish over the years. My dad, however, is an upma loyalist. Upma has its variants – rice, rava (semolina), bread, chapati (Indian bread), idli  and semiyan (vermicelli). He loves the traditional preparation comprising roasted rava cooked to perfection, with or without additional vegetables. I, on the other hand, prefer vermicelli to semolina. I love the flavour of onions and peanuts in upma. And of course, coconut chutney is a must! Upma and chutney are worthy of MasterChef. My dad could eat upma all week without tiring of its taste. To me home is where my dad sits guzzling upma for breakfast with a look of intense contentment on his face.

V is for Vadaam

When I think of vadaams, the picture of my father hungrily munching on them, pops in my head. This is usually followed by my mother snatching the box away from him and scolding him for being unable to contain himself before lunch; there’s also some mumbling about cholesterol and high blood pressure. I can hardly blame him. The aroma of fried vadaams wafts into the nooks and crannies of our house, luring him (and me as well) into the kitchen. Vadaams are not an everyday thing, and hence take precedence over chips. Yes, I said it. That’s the power of crispy south-Indian rice fritters. Tamil weddings, Diwali celebrations and possibly any Tamilian family event are incomplete without vadaams.

And that’s a wrap.

There’s a reason why they say my father and I are similar.

Happy Birthday, Appa!

S is for Surprises followed by T, U and V

My theme for the A-Z Blogging Challenge is ‘The A to Z of some my favourite things’. Stay tuned for more posts, this April!

P and Q are for Photographs and Quotes

Frozen memories – the phrase that comes to my head when I browse through a photo album.

Now mind you, when I talk about photographs and quotes, I don’t mean cookie-cutter selfies with captions that make no sense! FYI, I absolutely loathe those. I’m talking about pictures so complete in themselves that they can narrate stories.

The Internet and social media is always abuzz with click-baits on  ‘good’ photography. Photography could be an art. To some, it’s a skill that can be honed. To some, it is intuitive.  And then there are some to whom the technicalities matter – composition, lighting, depth of field etc.

What does it mean to me?

Oftentimes, I have stumbled upon some beautiful photo-blogs, which make me pause and take notice of the details incorporated. These are the pictures that stir forgotten book quotes to my mind. The reverse holds true as well. I have lost count of the times I have perused through the pages of a novel, associating the imagery with a remarkable photograph I must have encountered somewhere.  In my opinion, that’s the power of good photography.

My tryst with photography began when I was eighteen. I am not a photographer by any means. I started off with a simple point-and-shoot camera, its maximum resolution being 2 MP. That’s right. That’s waaayy below today’s selfie standards. Though the pictures are cringe worthy, back then, my modest camera gave me the impetus to dabble with different subjects. Soon I upgraded to another point-and-shoot before finally settling on my very own DSLR.

I have had friends who appreciate the photographs I click whilst some who consider my skills to be mediocre. To start with, I don’t know if I’m blessed with an eye for detail or perspective. But one thing’s for sure, capturing a good shot makes me happy.

Here are some personal favourites (sources are provided in the captions).

 

“After the night meal with his head on his granny’s lap, nestling close to her, Swaminathan felt very snug and safe in the faint atmosphere of cardamom and cloves. ‘Oh, Granny!’ he cried ecstatically. ‘You don’t know what a great fellow Rajam is.’ He told her the story of the first enmity between Rajam and Mani and the subsequent friendship.”

-R.K Narayan (Swami and his Friends )

Screenshot from 2017-04-21 12:07:13

Photo by Abhishek Solanki

“The train would reach Deoli at about five in the morning when the station would be dimly lit with electric bulbs and oil lamps, and the jungle across the railway tracks would just be visible in the faint light of dawn.”

-Ruskin Bond (The Night Train at Deoli)

 

Photo by coffeeforthemoon

“I love walking in the rain because no one can see me crying”
― Rowan Atkinson

 

 

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Photo by Me!

“My grandmother, like everybody’s grandmother, was an old woman. She had been old and wrinkled for the twenty years I had known her.”
-Khushwant Singh (The Portrait of a Lady)

P and Q are for Photographs and Quotes

My theme for the A-Z Blogging Challenge is ‘The A to Z of some my favourite things’. Stay tuned for more posts, this April!

J is for John Mayer’s music

A friend rightly said, “Mayer will always be that teenage love one never gets over”.

I had taken a break from his music until he released the first two installments of his recent album – ‘The Search For Everything’.

Okay, I adore his music. He’s a fantastic guitarist, a fine singer-songwriter, and sure, his good looks are a bonus too. Though his themes center largely around love and heartbreak – an instant crowd-pleaser (and fodder for mediocrity) –  he has managed to carve a niche for himself in a competitive industry.

The Internet is abundant with articles about his achievements, his infamous link-ups and relationships. I am not here to elaborate on that. Mayer, the Casanova, is also an incredible musician. His music has saved me from many a rough patch. It  inspires me to challenge my guitar skills. When I think of Mayer, the words that come to my head are ‘passion’ and ‘dedication’. The image of a thirteen year old boy earnestly practicing scales on his beloved Fender Strat, makes me happy.

Mayer’s songs are powerful mood-changers with melancholic to sunny undertones.  Often, I find myself quoting his lyrics because they resonate with me. Here are my favourites –

A song that gets me through my anxious phases

I worry, I weigh three times my body
I worry, I throw my fear around
But this morning there’s a calm I can’t explain
The rock candy’s melted, only diamonds now remain

Clarity (link to my previous post)

A song to boost my confidence when I feel dejected

Down to the wire
I wanted water, but I’ll walk through the fire
If this is what it takes to take me even higher
Then I’ll come through, like I do
When the world keeps testing me, testing me, testing me

-Vultures

A song that nails what discontentment feels like,

I’m not alone
I wish I was
‘Cause then I’d know I was down because I couldn’t find a friend around
To love me like they do right now

-Something’s Missing

A song that voices my fear of growing up and outliving my parents

So scared of getting older
I’m only good at being young
So I play the numbers game
To find a way to say that life has just begun

-Stop this train

And finally, this one’s been on loop for the longest time. There’s a difference between falling in love with the idea of a person, and that with the person himself.

Who do you love?
Me or the thought of me?
Me or the thought of me?

-I don’t trust myself (with loving you)

This list isn’t exhaustive by any means.

There is no way I’ll tire of his music. Nope.

J is for John Mayer’s music

My theme for the A-Z Blogging Challenge is ‘The A to Z of some my favourite things’. Stay tuned for more posts, this April!

C is for Chips 

As a kid, I had strict restrictions imposed on my consumption of junk food, thanks to my grandfather. This obviously meant that the menu for my snack box (for school) was usually devoid of Maggi (an Indian brand of noodles), samosas or cake, or wafers, or chips. Biscuits were considered occasionally. I was the kid with upma, poha, or sandwiches in her box, which meant my peers hardly hankered for it. The latter didn’t make me feel better as good food guaranteed traction and popularity back then. Talk about the beginnings of peer pressure.

I used to eye swaying packets of ‘Peppy’ and ‘Uncle Chipps’ hanging at the entrance of grocery stores. For the uninitiated, these are popular Indian brands of potato chips. The only times I would get my hands on them was when I stepped out with my mother. My mother and I share the same love for junk food. The only few times my grandfather would relent was if I scored well in academics, or when I injured myself while playing and began bawling. Ice-cream was a bonus in such circumstances.

Things have, however, changed since then. Buying a packet of chips is no big deal now. My mother is of the opinion that I am eat chips voraciously to make up for their absence in my childhood. It is true for the most part.

Chips have never failed me. They have been my loyal companions during times of stress. The burst of serotonin on popping the first one into my mouth is extraordinary. Crunching on chips is such a pleasant exercise that I find myself indulging in it at least once a week. I recall reading an article about them titled ‘We Hear the Crisp and Taste the Crunch’. Brilliant use of words. Of course, you must think I am quite obsessed to be reading such stuff. Who knows, I am already an addict.

Who would have thought that the mere combination of potatoes (or any other starchy vegetable), salt and oil would create such magic?

C is for Chips

My theme for the A-Z Blogging Challenge is ‘The A to Z of some my favourite things’. Stay tuned for more posts, this April!