Friday, October 21, 2011

Strong-Will or Treadmill ?

Indian festivals and celebrations are synonymous with a customary overdose of sweets. Even though I pride myself for not having a sweet tooth, Diwali is different - the spread of sweets makes even a die-hard savory fan like me go weak at the knees. This is in part triggered by my childhood memories of Diwali celebrations and I blame the rest on kaju-barfi.

I don’t know how I came to love this diamond shaped combination of cashew, sugar, milk, dry fruits and edible silver foil. What I know though is that I can have a whole box in a single sitting and anyone who can resist a bite must have a steely resolve. Kaju Barfi, for me are pieces of pure happiness and contentment.

What I also know is that, every time I have had a generous helping, the happiness fades quickly and calorie guilt kicks in. With over 500Kcal packed into every 100grams (about 3 pieces) and a family history of diabetes, I think I am perfectly justified being on a guilt trip.

If I feel this way, imagine the plight of a person who is diabetic or someone trying to diet. Diwali brings with it a sinful plate of temptations along with the festive cheer. This definitely should be one of the most vulnerable periods that could squash months of labour that kept the notorious glucose levels in check.

So what really is 500 calories? It is about 25% of what you require daily. It is equivalent of pounding on the treadmill for nearly an hour. Now that is a scary thought – an hour of treadmill for paltry 3 pieces of kaju barfi. 

Monday, October 17, 2011

Free Advice, Anyone ?

I am sure you also get this a lot, some are wanted and some unwanted. Some are meaningful while some have no meaning whatsoever. People love giving, while they are not keen receivers. I get it all the time - I am like a magnet when it comes to unsolicited advice.

I admit, there are some exceptions though. There are times when I look for advice from a very select group of people - my mom tops the list, followed by my hubby and then Google. I thought Google was immune to providing unsolicited advice. However, I was proved wrong when I stumbled up on this one during one of those ego-surfing trips (okay, that's googling about yourself). I just couldn't help clicking at the link which said 'advice to the younger generation' after one of my recent posts about life's instruction manual. I know what you are thinking, it is not entirely unsolicited but there we are.

It was a research from Aviva (a large insurer) on top financial advice from retirees to the younger generation. As I was reading through the article, i started scoring myself and my views against each of them

1.     To have fewer children – I think that’s a wise advice particularly if you have a notorious one like mine (Obviously they are hinting at the phenomenal the cost of raising kids)

2.     Keep a tight lid on the cost of the big day - well, this is already done with, but one to keep an eye on if you are planning to splurge as you take the plunge

3.     Shop around with every penny – I love doing this, through thorough research (aka window shopping) before landing on that right pair of shoes at the right price.

4.     Drop designer labels – Yeah I am not fussy about the labels, as a matter of fact I love street shopping and never leave a good bargain!

5.     Don’t use credit – This is a difficult one and I would say use credit wisely (i.e. use credit cards for convenience, detest personal loans etc)

6.     Spend less on cars – I agree great value to be had from this if you think cars as a mode of transport to get you from A to B.

That's not too bad. My grand mother would have been proud. I have to confess this self assessment would have been lot worse had I answered these some 4 years back. I think starting a family forces you to think about your financial future and more pecuniary aspects of life.

You can read the full study on: 
Image courtesy:    

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Can dirty shoes make anyone happy?

I am a stickler when it comes to keeping things clean and organised. Making sure clothes get folded in a particular way, ensuring odd sized things  go into stackable boxes and feeling great after a session of spring clean-up are just some examples . I wasn’t always like this – I fondly remember my messy bed half piled in books during my college days.

I think, as we grow up, we grow out of liking things lying around random. We become conscious about what other people think of us if things appear unorganized. We are worried about guests coming home without notice, setting bad example for our kids or leaving a bad impression on strangers.

Being the mom of an 11 month old has put my obsession with cleanliness and organisation to test. Smera loves to mess things up. When she is in action, books fly off the shelves, clothes jump off the line, food turns facial and magazines transform themselves into toddler origami. All this have forced me to re-learn the art of appreciating the unorganised and unclean.

I hadn’t thought about this change until yesterday. We were out for our weekly shopping and for the first time Smera walked outside the comfort and safety of home. She was in her elements hoping around in her pink boots at the shopping mall and at the parking lot.

As I was making her sit in her car seat, I noticed her soiled boots. As silly as it may sound, I felt happy watching a pair of dirty shoes. 

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Dishwasher Insight

I've never tried a dishwasher. We have one sitting idle in our kitchen that we currently use as additional storage. Finally, last week I got curious enough to figure it out and started searching for an instruction manual. I turned to google for help after completing my offline search (that's the kitchen and cupboards). As I was typing the words "instruction manual for..", Google gave me some auto complete options - ipad, ipad2 and life. "Very interesting" I told myself "people actually search for an instruction manual for life?"

Assuming you wanted an instruction manual for life, where would you logically go ? Google ? How about your Grandmother? - They have lived long enough to reflect on life and figure things out. Again assuming they are alive and you are still in talking terms with them you get some tips from there. Both my Grans passed many years back, so I decided to settle for the second best option, the good old Google.

As usual, she didn't disappoint me. The search fetched me an impressive 23,500,000 results in 0.16 seconds. Without going in to too much detail, let us take a moment to marvel at the enormity of this information. If this were to be printed out as a book it would be twice the height of burj khalifa which is currently tallest tower in the world. If you were attempting to read only the highlights, say a million pages, it would take you about 192 years assuming you find time (not to mention live that long) to cover 100 pages a week.

At this stage I am tempted to give up and live a life without instruction manual – intense reading hasn’t killed anyone that I know, but why take a chance…

Friday, October 7, 2011

Murdering Malayalam: Guilty as charged

Malayalam is first language for my parents, my husband and his parents. I normally think in Hindi and consider it as my first language. But with a score of 5-1, I ignore my Malayalam skills at my own peril.

Under normal circumstances, Malayalam should have been my first language - but I grew up in Delhi, at the centre of Hindi-heartland. Even though I grew up listening to Malayalam at home, I did not pay enough attention to be able to converse in it fluently.

I never considered it as a big deal until I got married to a true-blue-mallu. Being in Kerala for the wedding and meeting relatives tested my Malayalam language skills for the first time – rest as they say, is history. The word about the new bride with a funny accent and a flair for gaffe spread like Chikungunya !

Being from a country with 500+ languages, you would think that you get away with some minor goof-ups on your second language. However, our family circles have not been very forgiving with my exploits with Malayalam. And I don’t blame them frankly– check out some of my famous mallu bloopers below

I wanted to say..
I ended up saying…
Elder brother (Chetta)
Scoundrel (Che-ta)
Nice (Ko-llam)
Murder (Kol-aam)
Be Careful (Shradichu)
Vomit (Shardichu)
Fever (Pani)
Pig (Panni)
A yogurt based curry (Kaa-lan)
Lord of Death (Ka-lan)
Remember (Marakathey)
You better..(Mariyathey-ku)

Not an excuse, but an additional context to non-Malayalam speakers (that’s about 6.5 billion as of this morning) - Malayalam has 51 alphabets compared to a measly 26 in English, it can get quite tricky at times.  

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Why true love is like Wifi?

Search for my next blog idea led me to our neighborhood coffee shop. Sipping a flat white, I stumbled upon a question many of my unmarried friends ask about marriage. “How does it feel to be married?” I was chasing that line of thought and had started typing the letters L-O-V-E, when I was interrupted by a barista – “Madam, your WiFi code”

Putting a fake smile and hiding my mild annoyance for breaking my train of thought, I thanked her. Staring at the sheet of paper with the WiFi access code, I was trying to re-start where I left off – Love. After drifting for a while I landed on another idea, a bit removed from the original but still related. Why is true love like Wifi?

  1. It is everywhere but you have to find the right connection.
  2. Some are secure, some unsecure, just like in love.
  3. Public Parks and Shopping malls are the new ‘hotspots’
  4. One is blind, the other invisible
  5. Distance may weaken the connection
  6. You take your home connection for granted, Neighbours’ connection may require passwords
  7. Beware of hackers and virus attacks
  8. You think you will find it at coffee shops – but signals are often weak and baristas could occasionally distract you!

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