Battle with the body – VI

Imagine the worst thing you have gone through in life and then in the same breathe read this…

A girl [of about 16 yrs of age] is walking on the street to the post office in a metropolitan city when few other kids [school going girls] who are heading home look at her, point, sneer and comment something to each other before bursting into giggles. This girl halts in her steps and slows down, not wanting to be seen out in the open. She intact starts lurking in the shadow and waits for the girls, and everyone else on the street to go before heading on her way. 

And then come these two guys on the bike, who are staring at her, slow down as they cross her and laugh as they sing “Kaththirikka kaththirikka gundu kaththirikka ..”

While these might just be passing moments in the passer by’s life, it leaves a lasting scar on the girl’s mind. She is left feeling so bad about herself, wondering why she is the way she is and if this is how her life is going to be. Not to forget the gazillion people who under the pretext of being nice and caring tell her she is fat and fugly and nobody would want to marry her. She becomes a recluse, stops going out other than to college, does not have any friends, does not talk to anyone, just sits in her room reading or drawing …. She hates going out with family cos they are embarrassed about her, she doesnt get clothes her size and needs to go to one of the plus size stores and there are people constantly giving her advice on how to lose weight, and why it is not nice to be big.  

At a family function recently, an uncle [about 45yrs of age] came, sat next to her and initiated a conversation, asking her what she did, where was she studying etc. And then few minutes later asked her if she could get him some coffee. She got up and went towards the dining area. Suddenly she feels a hand under her kurti, turned around and saw it was the same uncle there groping her. She started protesting and wiggling out, but he held on tight and tried to push his hands up her breasts under the bra. She threw the cup of coffee on him and bolted back to the main hall looking for her mom. When she told her mom what had happened, her mom promptly gave her a reprimand saying she must have said or done something to provoke him. She writes that she started crying, but had to hold back tears till they got home an hour later… Says she felt alone and lost. Oh and few weeks before her 17th birthday, she even thought of committing suicide.. Why? Because clearly no one in this world loves her or cares about her… She managed to get through her birthday but says everyday is a struggle. 

Born in a family where almost everyone is big built, she says it is surprising that nobody seems to understand what she is going through  or empathises with her. She has joined a gym two weeks ago and goes early in the morning, finishes workout, showers changes and heads to college. Few days ago, a guy who works out there started talking to her, sharing his personal battle with the bulge and she says he is nice, we share our horror stories, laugh over it… maybe there is a friendship brewing there. 

Well, if you think this is a cooked up story and such things don’t happen for real, let me stop you right there.. This was an email I received few days ago.  I read, and re-read this email to make sure I was reading it right.. Could not believe that a mom would act this way with her own child.. I mean, wtf is wrong with the world. Why this obsession with size, why this assumption that big is fugly, why this discrimination? 

Dear Diary… mind wanders

Hey There,

Yes, I do agree.. Am sorry for abandoning you for so long. But well, in my defence I was busy living it up. 

Say what, you don’t believe me, is it? haha.. well, what can i say.

I manage to revisit a town I had nearly taken off my list of “fond destinations I have been to” and well, it just might be sneaking back into the list, atleast somewhere at the bottom for now. And whilst there, I had some kind of light bulb moment as well. It dawned on me how much I have changed over the years. Not sure if it was cos of life, or just generally, you know the whole “matures with age, like wine”

The conversations, the moments, the way I was thinking, the kind of things I wanted to do, the people I connected with- they were all very different from what I would have done few years ago. So I guess somewhere I grew up.. That said, I was glad I still have a bit of the kid left in me. A friend told me I was good fun to talk to- have serious conversations, bounce off ideas, and yet crack up and have quite a few laughs.. Well, I will take that as a compliment and smile away. 

Over the course of months, there have been a few friendships that have become stronger, some have faded and others well they are just there… I guess as with most of us, time is a test for many things in life- work, friendships, memories, pain, la la la, the list is endless. 

I continue to be happy being on my own, I don’t long for company, there are very few I miss talking to, some conversations tire me out [they are invariably like the hamster on the wheel, go round and round with no end in sight] and some leave me energised wanting to go conquer the world [or what little I can]

While I sit here waiting for a friend, I look around at the many faces, some waiting for company, while others are focussed on their gadgets, and some have a forlorn look on their faces. A few look up, make contact and smile, while one just turned her face away. This reminds me of the book I love-  Phantoms in the Brain: Probing the Mysteries of the Human Mind  by V. S. Ramachandran .. What can I say, Human beings never cease to amaze me!

Well, ok, enough rambling, might as well go get a start on work … until next time! 


And we meet again Bangalore

It has been nearly 2.5yrs since my last visit to Bangalore, and that was also a short one. I remember having a full day meeting in Coimbatore, and from there heading to Bangalore for few days with friends and family before getting back home. Well, this time it was a short trip,but must say it was a good one at that. 
I see this change in me, a visible one and that extends to my trips as well. Few months ago, when I planned my Bombay trip I had a similar plan in the head. I was done doing the rounds of the city, visiting a million places, catching up with all of them and la la la.. This time, in Bangalore I knew I wanted to meet a few who I have known through the virtual world, and reconnect with a few I had drifted from.  And that is exactly how the trip went , not to mention the few lovely surprises it threw my way… 
It was one of those trips when I was travelling with a friend, a first time with this one.. We had a blast, though I am sure we provided some interesting entertainment to the rest around us with our constant squabbles and laughter. As I always say, travel with someone to know if you can tolerate them in your life or not.. well, this one is a keeper alright.. 🙂 
Lal Bagh gardens clicked during one of my earlier visits..

I spent a lot of time walking around the hotel we stayed at, it was down the road from Lal Bagh gardens, a km maybe.. The area was fairly quiet, there was a children’s park next door, the lal bagh wall across the hotel and was generally nice to wander in. 
I enjoyed lazing, and doing things at my own pace, not worried about sticking to a set time or trying to achieve way too many things in the short duration I was there. I had a meeting, spent time with people who mattered/connected, did some book shopping at Blossoms, enjoyed a quiet cup of coffee while watching people at Cafe Matteo … 
Overall, must say it was one helluva trip~ Until next time.. 

[Book review] The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman

Well, its about time I revived this  blog and what better way than to talk about a book I have just finished reading for the 2nd time. The Yellow Wallpaper” by the American writer Charlotte Perkins Gilman [it is is all of 27pages and was first published in January 1892 in The New England Magazine..

The book is entirely in a first person narrative.. It is all about what One woman goes through, dealing with her husband [a physician], brother [also a Doctor], husband’s sister and a housekeeper, not to mention her own thoughts which daunt her day and night. All this happens at a home away from home, a place chosen to help her recuperate and cure herself of what she deems to be “nervous depression” but one that is completely shrugged off by her husband and others, sometimes they even  mock her.  Over time she starts exhibiting different behaviour in front of those who don’t accept she has a problem and on her own she is a completely different person. 

She wants to occupy the rom downstairs that opens out to a garden with flowers, but her husband decides otherwise and they move to what used to be the nursery upstairs. He says the room downstairs is small and even if he wants a room of his own, there are no others nearby. Yes, it is a big room, but quite drab. She hates the wallpaper and wants to rip it off. She is left with nothing to do and no one for company, she stays confined to the room upstairs and does nothing but is lost in her thoughts or writes in her journal. Unfortunately her husband or his sister do not approve of her writing and so she hides it from them. She slowly she starts developing an increased interest regarding the room’s wallpaper, especially the pattern. Over time, with nothing to do, the wallpaper becomes her sole focus and soon her interaction with it grow deep and dark.. 
The book speaks volumes about how women/people are just ignored when they talk about having random thoughts, fears or issues. They are told to just put those thoughts away, and focus on other aspects of life. Apparently, back in the 19th Century, women were considered psychologically quite frail and no attention was paid to their aspirations or desires.
There is this one statement the woman makes in the book- There are things in that paper that nobody knows but me, or ever will.” ... this left me haunted… I couldn’t even wrap my head around what she was going through. 
Free download of the book is available on the net..  

A piece in The Guardian about the book & the author..

In touch..

I grew up in Madurai and Tirunelveli before landing in Chennai, so my growing years were quite different.. heck, we dint have a phone at home till I was in my 7th and the same applies for a TV. But then, I never missed them. I was out almost all the time, until mom was yelling out asking me to come back home. School was around the corner, I would go walking and since we lived in a small town, there were a few streets around our home where most of my friends lived in.  We used to go to an aunt’s house nearby to watch TV shows and same went true for phone calls, someone from there would come over to tell mom she had a call, and it used to be called Trunk call.. 🙂 
It was one of those ideal childhoods, I dint have to worry about being out late, did not have to worry about being groped or raped [ I don’t think i even knew the meaning of these words back then].  Come holidays, I would be in Chennai at grandparents home , being spoilt by all.- books, tv shows, outings, etc… I was the 1st and only grand kid [grand daughter] for a while.. 🙂 
I used to receive post cards from grandpa and uncles whenever they travelled and I still have most of them. I hadn’t been introduced to letter writing then, and so the only way to keep in touch was the occasional phone call or during the holidays. And I was more than happy with things the way they were. Infact, my uncles used to visit us with bag full of cassettes and books, they are the ones who got me hooked on music & reading..

Today I woke up wishing I could rewind time..

[Image courtesy]
[Image courtesy:]
With all this Social media and WhatsApp, I feel there is way too much “contact” and am not too kicked about it. Yes, we do need to keep in touch with our loved ones, but do we need to be in touch all the time.. Do we need to tell them whats happening, whats going on, what we are doing, ask what they are upto etc etc…. It sometimes suffocates and I just switch off Data /wifi and run away [metaphorically] 
The apps I have on my phone were Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, WhatsApp, Amazon kindle, Duolingo, Tinder [had few others but deleted them along the way] apart from few other utility based ones [bank and bsnl] ..  
I deleted Facebook about 2 months back and use only Page manager [ my page and client accounts] and it has been quite peaceful.. But yes, I do see there are certain events I am missing out on cos am not on FB, but then its ok. I do check it once in a few days to see if anything earth shattering is posted… There are a few characters who not only post fwds/images/videos on their wall, but feel the need to message me the links and if i havent responded within a few minutes I get the same on whatsapp.. i mean, seriously, chill won’t you!..It reminds me of this guy I went out with very very briefly- he would msg on fb, follow it with a text and a whatsapp and even a mail [no am not exaggerating].. it is called stalking, not reaching out 🙂 
Twitter – was a fun app few years ago and now seems to have become a place where people wake up looking for something to outage on, or thrust their opinions on.. And then there are those who are looking for ego massages.. [ no am not generalising, but you agree with me…admit it ]
Skype is another app that I have used ages ago, but then stopped and deleted. There are times when guys am talking to insist on doing a Skype call and again I just say no!! Phone works just fine, Thank you! 

Kindle – was telling a friend am tempted to buy one esp since there is an offer going on. But then the whole idea of carrying one more device, worrying about charge, etc just killed the temptation..yayyy

When friends tell me to try  Telegram, Snapchat, Alo or any of the other apps, I blatantly deny cos I have no use for them. Am sure there are gonna be new ones cropping up daily.. Somehow feel we all either have too much time on our hands or just become so lonely that we need to keep active on these many apps so the world doesn’t forget us.. Guess we need to draw the line, get our priorities in place and move ahead… 🙁  
While I do love it, esp cos it is part of what I do for a living, and am always curious about whats new, I sometimes feel it has taken over our lives.. 
Technology – I love it and gotta learn to live with it ~!! 
An interesting article about why people use social media

Smoked Tofu and a salad in a jiffy

Last weekend was the By Hand from the Heart event at Crowne Plaza.. For the last few years I have been attending this event, it all began with a friend having a stall, and over the years well it has become a tradition of sorts. The event is different from others because it is a Maker’s market, all products on sale are hand made – ranging from clothes, cheese, honey, chocolates, jewellery, bags, etc etc… 

So, on Saturday a friend and I made plans to visit, it was the 2nd day and we wandered about checking out the stalls. The 2nd stall right at the entry point was by Aurosoya, and there we met Dhaval Chandarana who spoke to us about their products and got us to taste the Smoked Tofu. It was love at first bite, we picked up a packet each along with few other items from the stall. 

I have always enjoyed Tofu and was quite excited about using this product in salads or stir fries.  Anyways, after about an hour we were done here and wondered where to head for lunch. I asked friend if she had been to Benjarong and she said it had been ages. It was down the road and within minutes we were in the restaurant and shown to a table. 

I have been here way too many times and the Chef [Ramkumar] is a good friend as well… But that day, I dint tell him I was coming and hoped to get away… [Wishful thinking]. We decided to try the Vietnamese set meal that started with the delicious Vietnamese coffee. Just as we were getting ready to dig into our soup, he came over and we chit chatted. I told him about the exhibition and proceeded to give him the packet of Smoked tofu to try. 

Voila, next thing I see him back at our table with a plate that looks divine. He has managed to whip up a salad using the smoked tofu and raved about its flavours. The salad was simple, yet packed a punch. It had lemon juice, garlic, some peanuts, chilli oil , cherry tomato and few other elements. The one thing about the dish was that it heroed the Smoked tofu…  How amazing is that. Friend was stumped and excited at the same time… 

As we wound up the meal and left the place a statement my friend made plays in my head often… “It is amazing how you connect people and are more than happy to do that”… 🙂 

Fabelle comes to town, ITC Grand Chola, Chennai

There were Quality Street chocolates in those round tin boxes when I was growing up. And then I discovered the world of Lindt, Ghirardelli and Godiva… But then I am not a big chocolate fan, and am reminded of this every time the entire family comes together. They laugh about how they would have me in the room and wipe out the entire Quality street box and I wouldn’t cry asking for one. Well, am pretty much the same today when it comes to chocolate. Only difference is if there is dark chocolate around, you will see me come back for a second piece a day or so later. That apart my appetite for information has grown multi fold over the years, am constantly curious – origin, the process that transforms the humble cocoa pod into the chocolate and beyond… How fitting that I got to visit a Chocolate boutique when am reading a book called The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier which is about students and chocolate boxes.

When I heard about the newest entrant in the chocolate arena in the city, I was curious to say the least. Fabelle is the brand am referring to, they have partnered with ITC Hotels across the country and opened swanky chocolate boutique within the property.  In Chennai, ITC Grand Chola is where you find the Fabelle boutique.

If you are the kind who enjoys chocolates, loves to just let them linger in your mouth and allow the taste buds to have a party, then this is where you should head to. Sit down in one of the plush sofas, browse through some interesting and quirky books, walk around the place listening to the staff give insights/facts about the chocolates and finally do indulge…

You can choose from the box of Ganache [dark or milk chocolate], the one called Elements [Earth, wind, fire, wood and water] or maybe a dessert made with these fine chocolates [ranging from chocolates from Saint Dominican, Madagascar and so on] along with cinnamon, cocoa nibs, ancho chilli, nectar, almonds, salted caramel, coffee, berry, and some more to create the most amazing chocolates. The best part is, you pop the chocolate in your mouth and just let it melt, and enjoy the burst of flavours… Sinful ~!! 

I watched the Chef put together this beautiful dessert- Chocolate Flower [similar to a dessert created on MasterChef Australia]- she patiently arranges the mousse in the center with precision, and steady hands place the chocolate Petals around it, then the tiny drop of flavours all around; Wait, here comes the drama- a warm liquid made of orange and white chocolate is poured all around it and the petals fall down one by one. The mousse also has layers within- raspberry coulis and a crunchy pistachio layer.

 Oh and you can also create your own little cups of heaven – “As you like it” [on the tablet available at your table] – pick a base, add a filling, now the topping and voila and can bite into it within minutes.  Looking for something to wash it all down with- well choose from their hot or cold beverages.  ITC sure is turning things up a notch- be it food or these chocolates. What more could you possibly need? I loved the dark chocolate Ganache, it was just yummilicious. Oh and I also tried the 100% cocoa mass, and 84% dark chocolate- both of which I love love loveddd… 

The plated desserts are priced around Rs575 while the box of 5 pieces [Elements] is priced at Rs 400, and the box of 20 Ganache pieces is around Rs675. I must make a mention of this- their  attention to detail, if you were to ask for a box of the “As you like it” or the Ganache, it comes with a special ice pack to ensure the chocolate retains its texture and form till you reach your destination.  
Disclaimer: The reviews posted on this blog are based on my personal experience. Also remember that restaurants and eat outs sometimes change with time, so does their food and service. So, kindly consider these factors while visiting the places. Remember, no two palates are the same. Bon Appétit  🙂