Friday, 30 July 2010

Vertical living

This is the place I am glad I am living in, during this phase of my life.

I am talking about the community where we live. An apartment complex of two blocks with about 100 flats. My co-residents and we have been branded "quiet and dull" by a new occupant who, my friend brands in return as "beer-earning, champagne-drinking".

This is my first apartment, "vertical" living experience. At the start of it, over 4 years ago, I was the most apprehensive to live in an apartment. I have gradually learnt to appreciate such living. It is the best way-of-life, especially when you have a child.

Here though each day is stereotyped, there is pure joy and warmth in the pattern it follows. I don't see much of the mornings since I am not an early riser. But I know there is the walking, exercise-conscious, yoga doing folks. Of course no to mention, the li'l souls who wake up earlier than me and chirp me up just with their voice (I am not adding "already loud") on their way to catch a school bus. The officer goers...I belonged to that bunch till some time ago. The maids, security, house-keeping...yes, yes...all same-to-same...nothing different.

Just like all things you put your seal on, has to be the "best" or at least competing to get there, I think so too about my community. True to myself, I know I have learnt to respect, love and feel belonged with a fast growing sense of responsibility for this community only of late. And I already have memories by the dozen.

Like most things that get co-related these days and find a way to reach my baby...I have to zoom in on my child and my community. We have piles of children here. My child is one among them. She has literally grown among all the children. Having her favourites at different points in her life. Because of this, she now has friends from all ages. This is the perhaps the awesomest thing that could have happened to a child this young. If anything that can beat this sensation, every child treats her - his/ her age appropriate. Not the other way round. This has enhanced my child's thinking calibre a great deal. This has introduced her to sharpening her social skills.

The openess of accepting people as they are is what I have seen and learnt to practice from this community. My child today spends most of the evening hours at a friend's place. This is after park-time. She has had every dinner at her friend's all of last week. This is something that I did when I was little. I never thought it would be possible in tall, monsterous, urban spaces. Now my child's friend's mother even knows her likes and dislikes along with her own child's. I simply cannot resist the high with circle of life forming all over again.

I look forward to each day with the same eagerness as my child does. She longs to come back home after school or any outing. I think this is a precious feeling. This is the place where my child has her treasure trove of memories. So it really doesn't matter if as grown-up we are "quiet and dull" my new fellow resident...the joys that my child unravels each time she heads to the park, is more brighter than a kaleidoscope of colours.

Wednesday, 14 July 2010


Discovered something sensational under the cushions on the living room seatie.

Creations made by our baby sitter on her day with Sia, while we were at work.

A girl and an intricate motorcycle made from clay/play dough.

My most heart warming moment of the day!!!

That's the two of them and "Taj didi's" (as she is called by Sia) creation.

Tuesday, 13 July 2010

Welcome home

Welcome home Nemo and Churnip. Nemo and Churnip came home on 11th July 2010. These goldfishes are our first pets since Sia was born.

Nemo and Churnip of course, most certainly named by the proud care-taker, Miss Mathew have been a wonderful team in teaching my three year old a few things about being a grown-up. Firstly, bringing the pets home was a collective decision. She has been asking for a pet. But, we didn't want to repeat a mistake, by buying something which she was not yet ready for.

Sia made her own choice of choosing gold fishes over turtles. She selected the fishes. Though was made aware of the options to select from. I think, it is essential to start as early as possible, to allow a child to make their own decisions and be responsible for the choices they make. With Nemo and Churnip a small beginning has been made.

The other responsibility Sia has, is to take care of "her" fishes. So, has to feed them, ensure the water filter is working, lights are put on in the evening and water is kept clean from toys, paper and putting hand inside the tank. The little child has completely taken me by surprise by diligently following the rules, well almost.

In her high of taking care of Nemo and Churnip, she over fed them. And her dada taught her the need to maintain cleanliness in the fish tank. She participated in cleaning the mucky water and proudly showed off her pets to her friend this evening. With a series of warnings being blurted out as if the poor pets were exhibits. All warnings of course, is the drop-down menu of "Don'ts" that have been told to her.

I think, my little one is growing up. She has been a wonderful care-taker, home-giver to her pets. In just 3 days, for her to run off in the middle of a Tom & Jerry story to see "if my fishes are alright" - I guess has somewhere ignited the basic human instinct of being responsible for your choices in my child. Welcome to Sia's home - Nemo and Churnip!

Tuesday, 6 July 2010

The fabric of life

Have you ever discovered the true joy of cross-cultural marriage?

Out here, it has created a super weave with multi-colour hue of culture, religion, tradition and most critical element of it all - a cuisine blast!

One such explosive recipe is "papa-mummy meen curry". This is not what it is called otherwise. Its plainly called "meen curry". I mean how boring, especially when there is such a delightful story behind the recipe. "Papa-mummy" are my parents-in-law. "Meen curry" is fish curry.

Hailing from the "mal-land" - Kerala, this recipe was discovered by papa from a local food stall (commonly known as "kada" in Malayalam, meaning "stall") which are permanent spots in the Kerala landscape. Papa simply wanted another variation to his regular meen curry being made at home. Being the gentleman who has worked (by the way papa still is a working professional in the Life Insurance business) all through his officially prescribed work years, papa enjoys the simple joys of life, especially his food. When he discovered this new taste, he could not stop going to the kitchen of the kada and humbly asking for the recipe. There was no way he could be refused. He has such a pleasurable, non-intrusive and definitely non-threatening personality. I am quite sure he would have made the chef feel like the most sought after chefs - worldwide.

Armed with a new version of the meen curry, a happy papa passed on the recipe to mummy. Now, mummy is someone who has always done everything and more for the 3 men in her life (her husband and two sons. I am married to the youngest of her sons). And she still does. That is mummy. A math teacher all her life, she doesn't care much for frills in life other than enjoying life itself in all honesty.

So, going back to the recipe - she obviously made it and enjoyed the discovery. Since then, the meen curry has been this. It has passed on to our dining table as well. And all those who have eaten from our home, swear by the curry and make an attempt to make it. Marvellously, the taste varies. But the contentment after having "papa-mummy meen curry" is a sense of immeasurable joy. When I share the story behind the recipe, the smiles and blissful look I see in others is amazing.

This is the fabric of life we adorn. The true sense of relationships coming to life. A traditional recipe is a mere represent of the otherwise way of life. Whenever you feel like living the moment, and value our life and the moments in it, try the "papa-mummy meen curry".

For "papa-mummy meen curry" you will need:
500 grams: Seer fish (deskin if preferred)

A handful of sambar onions (small onions/ Indian shallots)
Peeled garlic (as per liking)
A piece of ginger (small enough to let out the flavour)
Curry leaves
Green chillies (optional, if spice is preferred)
Kerala tamarid (pulli)

One tomato (coarsely chopped)

Mustard seeds
Methi seeds (dry roasted and coarsely powdered)
Red chilli powder
Turmeric powder
Eastern fish masala
Coconut milk


How do you make it?
Crush the sambar onions and garlic in a pounder. Keep aside.
Oil the meen chetty (the traditional earthen pot) and warm it on low flame.
To this, add oil and splutter the mustard seeds. Then add curry leaves. Follow it up with the crushed onions and garlic. When slightly transparent, add the ginger, slit green chillies and saute for a bit.
Now add the salt, turmeric and red chilli powders. Cook the masala powders well. Once done, add the Eastern fish masala. Make sure the fish masala is not over cooked. Else will the loose flavour.

With oil leaving the sides, add the Kerala tamarind and chopped tomatoes. Mix it well.
When well cooked, add water and bring to a boil. To this add the seer fish pieces. Cook till the fish is done or is firm. Add the methi powder. Give it a mix.
Finally, pour in the coconut milk as per taste and thickness required. Give it a slight boil.

For an authentic Kerala twist in flavour, drizzle some coconut oil on top at this point.
Serve with boiled rice, authentic-traditional curd curry ("more curry"), papad, one vegetable side dish and fish fry.