Thursday, July 04, 2013

What I Dream - A Timeless Food Travel

As I watched the above video to write a post for Indiblogeshwaris - That Tuesday Thingy Premiere , it brought back to me instances of my dreams that come off and on come into real existence. The dream to travel, the dream to immerse into the cultures of people that bring food and communities together.

In my dreams I have walked around cities like rahul had, the music that played in the background crowded my mind. And that music for me was of jazz and tabla. And one such dream that came into existence was during my drip to Ahmedabad. It was the monsoons and drizzled through the day. I could not sleep the day I landed, I wanted to use my time stepping into the streets and breathing in the early signs of life, food, people and how communities bonded right at dawn. And yes with Food :)

I was out there, pushed myself out of the hotel room, and went on to grab the first bite from a street vendor who will serve me fafda freshly made in the sizzling hot oil in the morning. I was ringing bells of tabla as I walked into the streets and found this small shop who had begun making fafda's. Yummmm they smelled delicious.

The whole day, I walked in and out of either eateries or monuments or just in and off streets filled with people. Along the day, with a lot of hustle bustle was this tip and tap of the rain that I walked along with..samosa gully was wanting me to take a bite of this and that, the pakora gully at the other street corner as I went about looking for the most famous dabeli house, the rain tipped and tapped like jazz music and table.

With the tripod at the middle of the road, stopping traffic, I could not stop to capture the essence of the city with its rickshaw wallas. I breathed in the smell of rain, the sand, the people and the food. All in a single place.
You will see from the pictures below that this was just one such trip of my dreams that came into reality.. bringing food, music, cultures and communities. Its amazing how these factors can bring people together to live in peace in such a crowded and chaotic world. And watching the above video, I just cant seem to get enough of it. So here I go to dream again to see many more such places of visit come into reality. Thanks Indiblogeshwaris for igniting this beautiful dream again.

Below is the photo I captured of the teen darwaza standing in the monsoon rain in the middle of the road

Farsan House early morning at 6 AM Ahemabad

Streets of Khau Galli Ahmedabad that never sleeps - people come here to unite on food, kulfis and more food

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

The Year 2012- Introspection as a Mother

Nobody says being a mother is easy and yes I am saying it too. I just read a friend's blog and her ramblings as a mother and I think, gosh I do think the same and felt the same and try to do the same.

I have boys who are now 8 and 6.5 yrs of age. All these years apart from giving them good food, routines, times and trying to be with them, there are challenges that I face everyday.

The challenges are a race against their pace and games. Every morning I wake up and see them sleeping in bed. I dont want to wake them up and at night, it is so peaceful to see them sleeping so snug.

Being a mother is such an emotional roller coaster. There are things that I dont want to see myself doing and there are things I am want to give myself a pat for. But guess what comes in between. TIME!.
Its now time to put my work and thoughts into action.

1. Work on calming myself down when I see a chaotic house. I have been working on learning to enjoy the moments when they are back in school. They run, then laugh, they throw things around and they just want to lift their legs and lie down. I have started putting this into action the past few months. But I can get better. I have let gone if they throw things around, go around and pick them up, but tell them firmly once in a while do clean up and so on and so forth.. So as always it does get to me sometimes..

2. I emphasize that we have to be kind and gentle and not to hurt anyone. I preach a lot of this to them, but I need to practice this with them as well. Show them what is gentle and what it is to be kind instead of reacting in angry mommy ways. This will require patience and time, and again as I said, I think even the children are racing against time. I want life to  to slow down. Life is not a race, we have to enjoy it, sit back, think, be calm and relaxed. I want my children to learn to live this kind of life. For that I need to slow the pace. Lead the path for them. Time to get into action into being a good calm and gentle mother.

3. Sibling rivalry - battling this everyday. Working on them to make them understand that they are brothers and have to help each other and respect each other. But ummm ummm. Its a job that I have been entitled to do for the rest of my life. And half the time, this is what gets me into an un-calm and not so gentle state.

4. I have a two boys who are diametrically opposite each other. Each of them have different needs. Dealing with each one of their needs is next to impossible, trying to let go means not paying attention to one of them. Not paying attention leads to hyper ventilating emotions and behavior, phew... I have been torn.
What I plan to do to fix this..

Work on explaining to them..(which I have been doing) that both are my best, but I need time to work on each one of you one at a time. It has been working only sometimes, as most of them time, my attention has to be given together at the same time. One sings a song, I HAVE to listen and the other asks a questions I HAVE to answer. yes we tell them, one by one.. but....torn as I am.. into the life of motherhood, trying to keep pace with their demands.

And guess what is the most difficult, staying calm and patient. As I write, i think why am I in a hurry, I just have two to handle and not a whole class.
I know why.. as each task with each one of them takes eon years to complete or do and end up in fights. Hmmm....

Should I let it pass...May be not. How I am going to handle the undivided time that i can give both of them?

May be I can tell them we will sit an talk together from 8:15 PM for about half hour all that they want. That time is free time and yes not time bound to finish other acts like playing with friends or studying.
Infact I had started this, before going to bed we used to sit in the balcony and chat, but along the way, it died. I must start this again a a routine like brushing teeth. I must I must, this really worked.

Wow.. yes I will....The Super natural Power out there, please help me do so.

I will let the pats on my back pass as I have miles to go.. 
Knowing that such changes dont happen over night in children and not even me, I am going to give myself until next year to get this act of mine together.

- Mission Calm and Gentle Mother Time
- Take a step back, and teach children to live life
- Life is not a race, learn to step back and teach them to put their legs up to relax and kick their shoes away
- I know for this race to slow down, I have to move closer to school. This is on highest priority.

The Year 2012 - My First Book

Last year around October I started writing and photographing my first cook book. It's about Gujarat and its food. I am married into a Gujarati family and felt that there was a dying need for me to write down the recipes that were passed on from generations to generations in my family.

Let me tell you 13 years back I never knew how to cook North Indian Food without onion and garlic. Getting married into a Gujarati Jain family, made be open up, loosen up. Thats is when my yearning to be a home chef evolved. Although I loved to cook, I went through emotions of the do and donts of cooking. Like most other cooks, ranted and said "This way or no way".

Years passed and I relaxed, I was alone outside of India in Boston and began to experiment with cooking without onion garlic. I loved it, more experiments and I loved it further and my father in law was in Aww...

Some could not actually believe I can learn a cuisine, just by tasting it once. I would come to India for a 2 week vacation from the US, taste Gujju food at family homes and then go back and make it. No training, no recipe exchange and yea.. I though may be I am just good :)

My father in law saw my talent and said I should write a book, he was an avid writer of Jainism and a philosopher and guide. Along the way his lectures and stories inspired me to be like him, to write, to help and be a social change.

So in 2011 May, I began thinking about my book and just then, a publisher knocked at my email. And wow I was elated. Getting a publisher and running around for someone to publish your thoughts was never easy for me. I had given up. But when this came along, the elated feeling is incomparable, I was in 7th heavens. Thanks Alchemy for having taking me on board.

Very soon I made plans to travel to Gujarat. I traveled to Gujarat to capture the food and life in that state which I am related to. Ate in the oldest eating joints, walked around the beautiful towns and shopped a little. It was all about food and only food. Went into the kitchens and stood along with the cooks and watched them work with their food with utter passion. It was an experience I simply enjoyed, it was only for 3 days. I was sad, wanted to be back home with my children, who I had left with mom and mother in law, and could not have more fun.

I am sure I am going to go back there again. For a whole trip just to do more justice to many more villages and towns. When I do, I will make sure, both my children have a camera so they can capture all that their eyes see.

With dead lines to meet, I started writing, editing, clicking and more writing. By March I handed the book over to the editor and the editor to the designer. Handing over the book out was the toughest part of my life.

Scared that once the book was out of my hands, the additions and changes will stop happening.

I had to tell myself  "Just Do it" and phew.. out it went into the email boxes of the publishers. Book Status is still in the design phase, as I have one of the most sought after designers. This means, the turn for my book design will come soon.

I am still waiting for the design and print..... scared and a weird feeling, but happy.

I look back at my recipes that I have written, I feel the stories can do more justice, but for that I know the second bible on gujarat will have to wait, my second trip to the family land will do all the justice and that day is yet to come.

So in my mind.. agenda for the coming new year, a trip to the food land of Gujarat awaits.. this time with children.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

The Year 2012 - My Daily Routine

Starting this year, ah yes its the year end; I thought it would be good to reflect back on what life has given me, the kind of parent I have been and would like to be, the changes and challenges I have faced and could have handled better and so on and so forth.

My regular day:
Alarm rings at 5:20 AM. The first thing I do is to snooz for 10 minutes. Rings again and I push myself to wake up and turn on all the geysers of the house. While I dress myself up for the morning I am thinking the plan of action for the breakfast, lunch and all the boxes for the 3 boys in the house.

5:40 AM, I am in the kitchen, opening the fridge, taking my vegetables, etc to be cooked. There I am churning up dishes to be filled in to the lunch box, warming a glass of warm water for me to drink, reminding myself to do deep ujjaiyi pranayam, so it will give me more energy and calmness to deal with the morning school rush...

With the 4 burners with dishes all getting cooked, I heat more warm water for the kids as it is 6:15 AM and I need to wake them up. Rush to their room, yet calmly, call out in whispering voice.. wake up, its morning time, school time; turn on their lights and draw their curtains out.

They jiggle and say mummy "60 more seconds". In my mind, ok and rush to the kitchen to get their breakfast on to the table, pack their boxes and rush back to their room in 120 seconds.

They wake up knowing each day I give them more time than they ask for. Send them to do their morning duties while I get back to the kitchen to do the finishing touches to their school boxes.

Did you ask me how many boxes I pack?
1. Morning Breakfast Break Box
2. Lunch Box
3. Evening Return from School Bus Snack Box

And that's for two boys (my children), my third boy (dear husband), his box is half ready. It will get packed completely just before he leaves for work.

Once done, I get to their rooms again as they are ready after bath to help with uniforms and then we all finally sit on the table to eat breakfast. It is 7:00 AM and time for breakfast. I like to chat with them and watch their sweet calm faced munching the breakfast away.

They have learnt to eat really quickly this year and understand the importance of eating their breakfast. I know now they will never ever skip this meal in their lifetime.

Training 1:No matter what time we wake up, a glass of warm water, toilet and bath.
Training 2: Breakfast is important and cannot to skipped

Mornings are never a rush for my children, I gave myself enough time to finish my work and help them with theirs as well. I feel really happy when I send my children calm and happy to school. I feel I have achieved.

7:13 AM, we are out of home to the bus stop to wait for the bus that comes in at 7:20 AM. We relax a bit in the bus stop watching other kids. They meet their friends with a smile and begin playing hand cricket.

I board them in the bus, and really make an effort for them to take a look at me to say BYE :).
My mind is running, I have to finish my runs/ walks and yoga and get the breakfast and hubby's boxes ready. So i time and pushing myself to be on schedule.

Oh yea, I love this schedule of mine, because, all of us are calm and things get on time as per everyone's wishes and schedules and I get to fit in my fitness regime in as well. I cant do without yoga. Sometimes my time is so limited that I have to decide either run/walk or yoga. If yoga then I fit in 2 asanas and pranayam.

But no matter what I try to put in one asana - the most rejuvenating  Sirsanana and Nadi sodhi pranayam.

My morning rush is done, have got my exercise and I am back in the kitchen, getting tea, breakfast and lunch ready for husband and me. Set the breakfast up at table and this is the time I love the most. The breakfast time. Sit relaxed with all work done, a cup of coffee and both of us with our news papers or news on ipad, chat about news, work and pending work, plan for day...

My day begins, with my computer, checking mails, replying to recipe comments, social networking, writing  recipes, making videos, taking photographs, video editing and more.. I seem to have very less time all the time, I do a working lunch as I need to prepare dinner, evening, milk shake, evening snack all before kids get back from school at 3:45 PM.

At 3:45 I shutdown my computer and I am done for the day until 9:00 PM at night. When they are around, I try my best to keep myself away from my smart phone, gadjets etc.

Tennis, studies, play ground time/rest, reading, dinner, piano, guitar practice get done during the course of the weekday after school schedules. Some get skipped, some get done, but no pressures.

In my mind, my children need an extra break, how best can I let them have it. Rambling thoughts, do this today, then that tomorrow and that no day and let go.

By 9:00 PM they are dead tired and drop dead handsomes into their beds. With our daily prayers, kiss them good night and back into my computer again replying to pending mails and doing what I am doing just now.

Turn off in about half hour and catch some TV to shut off my mind. Relax and back to routine in the morning again.

So that's my daily routine.

Thursday, January 05, 2012

Have you thought about "Goals"

A few minutes before writing this I lay my head on the table that I have mentioned to a dozen odd people to expect my next post after my year of slavery into nothingness. A dozen thoughts, a couple of dozen wishes, with a zillion work at hand.

I do have a story here and that is about "Goal". Ponder on this and tell me what does a "Goal" mean to you.

I have not spoken to many parents to get a feedback on what they think about "Goal", but I do know a handful of parents think children cannot understand goals. But I think otherwise, children do understand "Goals".

What I think are Goals
Goals are something which is not necessarily time bound that needs to get done in a particular period of time. You play a goal and you play it tactfully such that you are able to achieve what you want. I did say "able" and not "must". Goals are not the be-all and end-all that you take a situation to to the extreme and be so anal about proving to yourself or others that you have achieved it or did not and accept defeat. Goal is not victory. Goal is not your life. Goal is not going to live your life. You don't live your life for the goal. So in short don't be anal about goals. Don't be scared about goals.

Don't be scared of goals. Goals are important and add meaning to life. Most of us have set goals and feels hey we have not followed it or achieved it so why make it. I believe that we have all achieved our goals in the smalls ways we can unconsciously and although may be not completely. And once we unconsciously see the results we revised our goals yet again. With each passing time, measure your consistency, the pace you are following and the methods you use to to get there. And again I don't believe there is a "a place or a goal post in life" as philosophically thinking if we feel we have got there and done this and done that and achieved what we wanted in life then we have got "Keval Gyan".

In short goals leads us to the path of thinking, the path of questioning knowledge, the path towards learning, the path towards achieving and yet again learning and so on and so forth until.....???? I better stop here before I get reminded of the karma and philosophy :)

In short: Set Goals to travel into a path of knowledge and please lets not combine it with success as it is relative.

Life is full of goals and this I believe can start at a young age - as young as second graders; unlike many of us who start when we need to meet the quarterly results at our company!

Teach your children to achieve - set a path for them to travel. Why not! This gives them the confidence to think and dream - To dream is so important.

This topic once again comes to a point where parents question their children's capabilities on why they did not score good marks at exams even when they knew everything. A parent tells me -"My child lacks focus - he forgets, he needs to focus and focus, he has no choice and he has to learn it". Does focus happen by just telling your child "Focus, you dont focus at all and thats why you lost marks even when you knew"

I believe all children and including adults loose focus. We dream and day dream and continue to do. Times when we lax and say "hey, its going to be just kichadi tonight for dinner - I cant focus and I have no energy"

The same applies to children. We as adults can retrospect and remind ourselves to focus and get back into the track of our goals. But children, they are short of time as they are children who love to karate kick , jump, dance and sing. Their life is a sing along.

So to help your child traverse a path of wisdom as he gets into the real world, allow him to set his own targets based on previous performances and help him plan this path towards a goal. Allow him to follow at his own pace with gentle reminders every time. As a parent, avoid setting targets for him and avoid expecting that he meets his target every time he sets it. Your job as a parent is not to slother but to guide.

Remind and guide and be gentle and kind.

I understand it is easier said than done, but who said life was easy and who said parenting was easier? Well you can make it a little lighter if you step back, give you child his space to explore. His space and time to meet his targets. He is not a rocket scientist that travels at the speed of light :)

So hang in there parents, I am in the same boat as you, trekking a path of patience to help teach my children about goals and guide them. I try to step back as they traverse slow and also be calm when they reach a goal and give them a small note of appreciation that they are doing well. I think this process will help them face life with positiveness and ability to accept failures and down trends in a positive calm and stress free way. If we as parents stress on a tiny thing like marks then we are teaching them just that. So....I let you think now.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Reflections and Perspectives

Yesterday I met up with close friends from hostel days and we had a good time chatting about our times, our lives etc.

Both are working and one is a working parent with support from her mother who lives with her and the other is with no children. But nevertheless, I was the only one who was not into work (supposedly quit because of kids).

They spoke about how they were managing work and home and getting enough time with their husbands and making sure its quality time spent, like even going for walks would be quality time. They would in between keep reinforcing facts that Arch " you are doing something which is the most toughest, not working and taking care of children". Now excuse me, it was a nice gesture to empathize and make a person feel good. I would just quietly listen and nod.
Now those were perspectives of someone else, of what I am doing and that I am a super mom, who takes care of home, cooks, kids etc and still does my "Archana's Kitchen". Again in their perspective I am super because I find time for all this despite being a mother.

But really, I was one among them about 10 years back, a very focused women who wanted to have one of those successfully careers and my dream was to work in wall street. What ever that
dream was, now I am ORR in a 1800 sq ft home, on home call.

As I drove to the dinner, there was something in me which felt odd, I had nothing to share with them apart from the school experiences. And I am not one of those women who does a lot of self prophecies as well, as personally I did not have anything to talk about. Growing up in a career, talking about work life, culture, all seemed to a distant past.

No regrets about any of it, but just the memories that so many aspirations and desires to become and achieve something in life we all shared in the college days we seeming gray. I was happy for them, they got educated well and now they are managing their career in the light they wanted to.

Now a mother of two boys, who think the be all and end all of me - that scares me. A husband who's first love is his smart device thinks and talk to it and manages everything in his life with it, so much so thats my interactive device with him. Me, who thinks now writing recipes and clicking photographs makes my life simple and feel that at least I am using some part of my brain, even if it has not elevated me to levels of the career I had dreamed of.

Having seen perspectives and having reflected of what I wanted, now really what I want is nothing. I cant believe I am so cozy in my shell, which is my home, my kids, my DH, and my computer. It scares me to think that motherhood and home-hood can take life to such glaring changes. Contentment and satisfaction just drives me to do what I am doing today, unbelievable!!! But at the same time scares me.

Today, I have my in laws living with me and my life has still not changed, I continue in my shell and write such crazy posts. There are friends from all over who would say, oh dear, who must be so busy etc, you need to keep full time help, you need to do this and that and you need a break , get out etc. But not once have they ever asked me are you busy and tired, how is it going? Assuming I am over loaded with my parents in law at home, get a stream of advices. And btw, my life is not changed one bit...I am still in my shell, doing what I have to do.

Amazing, what am I doing....where is my life going to go ....what is it that I am going to do... become.... none of these haunt me any more but scares me. I have in short become plain boring or can there be a better word?