Friday, 29 March 2013

Confessions of a love affair

My friends at office introduced me to him. I was skeptical of meeting him, but they insisted. They told me that he was charming and irresistible - a dangerous combination. I laughed at them. They smiled at each other, a know-it-all smile.

I didn't know what I was getting into. It initially was just a tea time meeting, he would come with my friends. If he joined us for lunch it would be a longer rendezvous. He was silently charming. I would return fresh and delighted after meeting him. He had me now. Soon, I found myself waiting for our lunch time meetings. I had a longing to meet him. I would blush and giggle like a small girl in his company. 

As days passed I became restless. I wanted more of him. Meeting him just at lunch time was not enough. I wanted him all for myself. I wanted his undivided attention. I talked to my friends about him. They were surprised that in-spite of being a mother, I am doing this. They asked me if I have told my husband about it. I didn't want to answer that question. They warned me that it would be difficult to hide him in this era of social media. But I didn't care.

I began spending more time alone with him. I would meet him in between work, in break time, in free time. I would think about him all the time - in meetings, at home, while sleeping and eating. Sometimes I even ignored my daughter.

Then I crossed the line. I went to bed with him. 

After this I started feeling miserable. My shoulders and back suffered, my whole body ached. I wanted to stay away from him, but it became more and more difficult to keep him away. I devised plans to avoid him. I ignored him, thrashed him and abused him. He wouldn't give up. I had decided. I had to get rid of him to maintain my sanity. 

And today I finally did it. 

I deleted him from my iPhone. I had a great affair with Candy crush saga, but I have to move on.

Until I fall in love again, with someone else.

Thursday, 21 March 2013

Find the Balance

Originally posted on Parentous.

Have you thought about how some people achieve more things in 24hours of a day than you, how some people cruise through life without cribbing, how some people are happy even without doing much in 24 hours? The common answer I get, silly albeit, is that the person is either unmarried or doesn’t have kids. For such I say, grow up.

Ever since I became pregnant, I had decided that I would not use my kid as an excuse to crib or slack. I took a break from every other aspect of my life when my daughter was born. I wanted to take it slow, but not forever. I had decided that being a mom would not be my sole identity. I wanted to do a lot with my 24 hours. I knew such a life was going to be stressful.

The researcher in me awoke - searching the net and real life for inspirations. I know women who are really ambitious, travel extensively, study after having a kid, leave kids with parents and work in another city. On the other end, I have seen women who dedicate themselves to child rearing and home making completely with satisfaction. I admire those women who smile and live by their decision confidently.

The story of my life currently is this. My daughter is now 4 years old, more demanding than ever. I have a full time job, I exercise, I blog, I read (my target is usually 20-25 books per year, that is roughly 2 books every month). I spend a lot of time with friends. I indulge in simple me-time like shopping or a massage. Adding to the chaos, we have a pet dog. There is another person who gets a major slice of my time – not to forget my dear, loving husband, who becomes a child as soon as our daughter gets sick.

Yes, I have more mature lines on my face now. Yes, I have become thinner and look less attractive than 5 years ago. But I am happy and that is the key.

These are the tips that I would give to find the balance in life. 

Have a support system: 
“Behind every successful woman, there is another woman - her domestic help”

Have someone to fall back to – family, friends or hired help. You need a break once in a while. Besides, doing everything by yourself is the sure-fire way to get frustrated and look 50 at 30. Hire a part-time domestic help or a nanny. Know what to give up and when. If you decide to pursue other activities, send your kids to playschool, as soon as you can. I sent mine at 18 months - for couple of hours. You both learn to give each other some space early on. Your kid will get sick more often. This only helps them in building immunity early on. They fall sick even when you put them to school at 4 years. 

Get your priorities right: 
If you think you can do it all by yourself, you must be kidding! You are not a super woman. You can't possibly go to work, cook three meals a day, have a spotless house, not send your kid to playschool/daycare and have a good night’s sleep – all in one life. Make a choice and stick to it – go to work or stay at home. Accept the side-effects of the decision. Whenever you get those infamous guilt attacks, remind yourself of your priorities.

Don’t blame your husband: 
I have observed this in many Indian families. Indian husbands are breadwinners and that’s what they do best. Most of the men "help" mothers in child rearing but they play secondary roles, as backup. The sooner you accept this, the better it is for you. Our husbands are a lot better than our fathers. We can leave the kids with them behind for the evening and go on a ladies night out. But it is still far for Indian men to take 2-3 kids alone to the zoo/water park, all by themselves. I have not seen such an Indian man, so far!

If it is of any solace, this generalization can be extended to all Asian families. Asian women are the primary care givers of their offspring. 

Simplify your life: 
You knew this was coming, didn’t you? If you have something to crib about, that needs to be sorted out. You have to find tips to manage that aspect. God helps those who help themselves. Be it morning madness, bedtime struggles, irritating co-worker, idle mind or boredom. Find ways to be happy and productive. Find a hobby, learn a new activity and give space to each other in every relationship.

I remember reading this somewhere: "The busy man is never wise and the wise man is never busy

Don’t be too busy to take part in the important things in your life. Take time to slow down without being stagnant. 

Care to share your tips to find the right balance?

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Cakes and bakes

I have been interested in baking for quite some time now. But it's only recently that I revived my inner baking goddess. This post was triggered by a recent success story. I made a cake for a small birthday party of twenty guests. If this is any indication of how good it was, everyone, all six ladies, wanted to take home the small remaining portion of cake that was left after party.

One of the easiest cake to bake are tea time cakes, also called fruit cakes. I suggest any beginner to start with this type. I also like these cakes because they can be eaten on their own and do not ask for a layer of icing, ganache or creamy cheese. 

One such favorite tea time cake in our household is carrot cake. They are no way close to being healthy other than the carrot part of it. It is loaded with a generous dose of sugar and baking soda, but they are the tastiest of all tea cakes. 

Here is the version of the recipe that I tried: (from

2 eggs
1/2 cup of vegetable oil
1 cup white sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup all purpose flour
1 spoon baking soda
1 spoon baking powder
1/4 tspn salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1.5 cups grated carrots
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

- Whip together eggs, sugar, oil and vanilla extract.
- In another bowl, mix together the dry ingredients - flour, baking soda, baking poweder, cinnamon and salt. Add this flour mixture to the egg mixture and beat till all the ingredients are mixed well.
- Stir in carrot and the walnuts, finally.
- Pour this mixture into a greased pan.
- Bake this in a preheated oven at 175-180C for roughly 45 minutes.

While baking, the kitchen fills with the caramelizing fragrance of carrot mixed with vanilla and cinnamon, making you impatient to taste the goodness. The soft, moist, grainy textured, freshly baked carrot cake with a hint of cinnamon aroma is a real treat.

By trial and error, these are the few tips I use for baking:
- Bring all the ingredients to room temperature before preparing the batter. Watch out for egg and butter(if recipe calls for it) temperature.
- Use exact measurements of ingredients as specified in the recipe. Invest in a good measuring cup and spoon. Some recipes are stated in grams. A weighing scale would be perfect for such recipes. Follow the recipe exactly for a better cake.
- Preheating the oven to the said temperature is the key for baking success. My oven has a light indicator that switches off when the oven reaches required temperature.
- Grease the cake pan with butter and coat with flour. This prevents the cake from sticking to the bottom and sides of the pan.
- Fill the unused molds of a cupcake pan with water before baking. This helps in even baking.
- Position your rack properly. If a high rack is used for backing it might burn the top of the cake.
- Do not over bake. A toothpick test is generally useful - a toothpick inserted at the center of the cake must come clean. Also around the specified timing in recipe, the cake begins to pull off from the edges, top layer is evenly browned and lightly sprigs back when pressed at the center.
- Give sufficient time for cooling before cutting the cake.

Now, I only wish I had taken snaps of the finished carrot cakes.