Wednesday, March 21, 2012

God-fearing? I don’t think so

What does the phrase “God-fearing” really mean?  I have heard these in a number of different contexts – in the devoted religious sense of the word, in the parents telling children how to behave situations and how I can miss, the ubiquitous Indian matrimonial advertisements that typically starts with something like “We prefer proposals from God fearing professionals of good families…”

The reason for this sudden philosophical reflection is once again my little one, Smera. During our recent trip to Delhi to see her G.Pa and G.Ma, she developed a particular fondness to the Barbie-doll-sized idol of Ganeshji (one of Hindu deities) that was sat in our living room.  She would at first touch his nose and playfully hold his hand. Later, when she musters enough courage, she would put her arms around and lift him up and go for a stroll.

Being the dutiful grandma, fearing that Smera would break the idol, and risk the God’s wrath, my mother tactfully took possession of the deity and placed it in our more secure puja-room (prayer-room).  This of course was followed by a fitting grandmotherly advice on respect for all religions and fear of God.  We left it at that and moved on with our lives.

A few days later, Smera got her first chance to get in to the puja-room when she tagged along with her Grandma for her early morning prayers. I am sure she must have found the setting of the room itself amusing – walls plastered with murals of deities, lingering aroma of the incense and soft lighting from the flickering diyas (oil-lamps). 

Then she spotted the idol of Ganeshji who was earlier moved to safer grounds. And in no time, her face lit up in excitement as if she had bumped into a long lost friend.  Leaping from her Grandma’s lap and cutting through the consonance of the prayer hymns she said “Hi!” She then continued with her mono-syllabic conversation with the God throughout the duration of the prayer. 

God-fearing? I don’t think so. But something tells me (or should I say my little one taught me) befriending someone is better than being fearful, be it mere mortals or the God. Don’t you think?  

Friday, March 16, 2012

Another trip back home with my travel buddy

My recent Delhi trip was nothing short of a roller-coaster rider and the credit goes to my little one. As my husband says “adventure and you can never be apart”. There are few things I wanted to leave for you, Smera to read when you grow up, considering my memory is not that worth mentioning. So here it goes, buckle up my love and read on what you did.
§     Baggage belt is meant to move baggage. Baggage does not include us humans, darling. Hence it’s not meant for you to run on. This was your second attempt but your super-alert mamma caught you!

§   To make up for the lost opportunity, you made me and Grandma run through the entire terminal 1 at Dubai and very conveniently lost your shoe.

§     I somehow managed to retrieve the shoe but you preferred to walk without it. Am I am thankful on that bit since I didn’t have to run again searching for the shoe, but unfortunately the socks had to be discarded.

§     You slept like an angel through the flight, like you always do and if you are not sleeping you do make sure the fellow passengers are thoroughly entertained!

§     Your baby food bottle broke in my bag soaked my voice recorder which had become a constant companion for me to leave voice notes for my next big blog idea.

§     Grandpa patiently took charge to clean up the mess and separating sticky lactose from high-tech electronics.  It’s currently under repair, but let’s pray that we can fix it.
§     Next time you are visiting Delhi, we will make sure that Rani di (aka our help) gets her annual vacation, since your clothes give the impression that you’ve been busy doing her job.

§     Considering the amount of beating and fighting you did with Grandpa and Uncle Sanju, wrestling could be a good career option for you.

§     But if that’s not good enough, you could try what Grandma thinks – athletics, given that you are always on the run.

§     Aunty Veda taught you new dance steps this trip, so you make sure you practice it well. And her bangles are not meant to be worn on your ears they are meant for hands.

§     And an interesting encounter with the God, more on that in the next post.

P.S. - Incase you've missed Smera's escapades on her first trip, you can read it here.
Image courtesy: 

Friday, March 9, 2012

Oh my…emergency!

On a recent weekend, I woke up listening to a familiar tune. I reached out to my phone to figure out if that’s my daily alarm (which I regularly ignore) or a call from of one of my 4am friends. Trying best to hold-up my droopy eye-lids fighting the brightly-lit screen, I realised it was a call, not from a friend or a familiar number.

“Strange”, I told myself sliding my finger across the screen to answer the call. “Salam alaikum” - I was greeted by serious sounding Arabic male voice on the other end. Before I could think of the correct Arabic response (which is of course, Wa-alaikum–salam) came some additional information from the other end “This is Dubai Police, Do you have an emergency?”

A call from the police, first thing in the morning – boy didn’t that wake me up! Quickly gaining my composure and switching the lights on I replied “Sorry Officer, I think…it must be a mistake…err…misunderstanding?”

Listening then to the officer who continued “We got an emergency call from your number”, I quickly scanned the room to zeroed-in on a tiny target, a sheepish looking Smera. I knew by then what had happened. A profound apology from my side for the early morning trouble ensued.

But the real trouble is that my fifteen-month-old is an early riser and I am not. Once she is awake, she would try every trick in the book to get me out of the bed. On that day, she obviously got bored and called the police to get her mother out of the bed! You have to give credit where it’s due, she did manage to wake me up early on that day.

You may remember from one of my earlier posts Smera’s love for the phone and that she wouldn’t take anything less than the real thing. We have had a number of call backs from friends who thought we were trying to reach them, when in reality, it was Smera checking out the speed-dial function!

All these antics mean we are usually very careful to lock the phones when they are left alone. But as it turns out, you can make emergency calls even when your phone is locked and it is no match for a toddler’s random experimentation.

I hope the only disruption that was caused by this whole episode was to my sleep and not to anyone who was in need of a real emergency attention during that time.

For now, Smera holds the record of being the youngest member in our family to call the police, by a long margin. 

Saturday, March 3, 2012


I am an expert at making chapattis. And my husband loves to tuck in freshly made hot chapattis with curry by the dozen. It is however, a lot of hard work to produce the version that our in-house-aficionado devours – one that virtually melts in your mouth.

It starts with choosing the right flour, the right proportion of water, at the right temperature and a fair amount of time spent kneading the dough. Then making the dough balls is easy, but rolling the pin to flatten the bread and baking it to get the balloon-effect requires some skill.

Overtime, my husband and I have developed a neat division-of-labour arrangement when it comes to chapatti production. I would choose the flour, oversee the mixing, he would then make a mini-workout of the whole kneading process and finally I would come back to roll the pin and make it hot.

By way of what I call the muscular-arm and skillful-hand partnership, all was well in our tiny bakery. Okay, that was only until our little one popped-out. With lesser time on hand and frequent interruptions, we were now using Smera’s sleep-time to carry on our family tradition.

One evening when we were both tired, hungry and on the ritual, Saju asked a very profound question. “What is the economic cost of making chapattis yourself?”  Before I could utter a word, he sputtered out an impressive mathematical equation.

I do not remember the exact numbers but it included the cost of the flour, water, salt, wear and tear of the rolling pin and kilo watts of electricity used. He then paused for a bit and asked me for an estimate of the most valuable ingredient, our time.

While I was trying to make sense on where the whole conversation is headed, he said “Let’s use the time cost of our part-time help” After a moment of what appeared to be an exercise in mental mathematics, he came up with a number of two-dirham and fifty-fills.

“Two-dirham and fifty-fills, that’s how much each of our chapattis cost” he said with a stoic-face. Faced with the prospect of heavy-duty-math standing between me and my dinner, I said that it made sense hoping he’ll forget about it after a good nights rest.

Alas, we were soon researching our in-house chapatti replacement options. Those who made it to the short-list were the ones from the open-food counter at Lulu, the wafer thin kind from Saravana, heat-and-eat version from Chiotrams and the tawa-parata from Bombay Tadka.

Of all the options, Tawa-parata from Bombay Tadka (BT) stood out for couple of reasons. It was made of whole wheat flour (atta) and it was at least twice as big as what we would normally make. It costed us three dirhams a piece and it was right next to the place where we would do our weekly grocery shopping.

Now, even I can figure out that is a good deal. And thus we started another family tradition – weekly shopping of chapattis by the dozen. It straight goes into our freezer and gets a microwave treatment just before dinner. It sure doesn’t taste nearly as good as our in-house version but all things considered, it is a steal.

The reason why I started writing this post is because of a recent development in our chapatti strategy. Last weekend when we called BT to place our regular take-away order, no one answered the call. Thinking they must be super busy serving the hungry, we walked in there, only to find out that they have shut the shop.

Looks like someone got their math wrong.

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