Things Lulu taught me.

Lulu came into our lives when my daughter was 7. Lulu needed a home, and my daughter needed a friend. From that day, to this day, these two have remained bonded in a way I cannot explain. Lulu is no more. But she will always be with us.

I was told that dogs at home, absorb all the negative energies of their human family. Whether this is true or not, I cannot say, but it was heavily vindicated in our household. The kids hardly ever fell ill. There were only two humans who frequented our house that Lulu hated. She would bark, growl and complain incessantly till they left. Later one was found to be a thief. After that if Lulu did not like someone, neither did we!

Lulu left us with deep and profound lessons of love and living.

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1) Sit in the sun. It’s healthy, and a great source of Vitamin D. Let your body tell you whats lacking.

I complained to the vet that Lulu sat in the sun for too long. She told me to let her be. She feels the need for the healing sun and she takes it.

 

 

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2) Stare at open spaces. Dream little dreams. Let your imagination run riot.

 

 

C'mon lil one. You can do it!
C’mon lil one. You can do it!

3) Play with your younger sibling. Years later, when he/ she sees the picture they will love  you more.

 

 

Yeah! It itches just there!
Yeah! It itches just there!

4) Chat with your parents’ friends. You might learn a few things.

 

 

XOXO
XOXO

5) Kiss your kids!

 

 

Come here! Let me hug you!
Come here! Let me hug you!

Love you  girl!

Love you girl!

6) Cuddle with your loved ones! It leaves you with a warm squishy feeling.  – Hugs!! Dont forget hugs!

 

 

Curl up and sleep.
Curl up and sleep.

6) Take a nap when you want to.

 

 

Sit with your friends and chat!
Sit with your friends and chat!

7) Sit with your siblings and friends. Pose. Take pictures. Make the most of the time with your friends.

 

 

I just dont like this!!!!!
I just dont like this!!!!!

8)Complain – make your disapproval known. You never know, one day you might save a life.

 

 

May god always have great stores of rats and cats for you to chase!
May god always have great stores of rats and cats for you to chase!

9) Be who you are. You will leave behind loving memories. No one will ever forget you.

 

 

 

 

 

We went to school too!

My daughter is already in college. This year the son spreads his wings too. And come September we have an empty nest, empty rooms and two desolate dogs. These dogs already have my love, but now they are going to be the sole recipients of crushing hugs, spur of the moment outbursts of violent cuddling. That’s how I intend to make up for the two missing kids, who kissed them on the mouth and let them sleep with them, even if they had rolled in poo. And I don’t think my kind of love is what the dogs are looking for. Most often they see “the look” in my eye and run far away.

Both the kids have done IB. (International Baccalaureate). It’s a fearsome, two-year program. I tried with my daughter, really did, to understand the way they study, the way their subjects are structured. I gave up, within 2 minutes. Physics paper 1 and paper 2. Paper 2 is alternate to lab. (How can you alternate to lab?) English did not have any textbooks. Why? Because it wasn’t literature. It was not even grammar. “What is it then I asked?” She said “Mom, I am buried here in a mess. I have a 500-word essay to submit, another mid term due and 3 assignments to complete. I cannot explain this ++++ to you!” I backed off hurriedly, and after that I would enter her room with extreme trepidation. There would be assorted files all over the place, with scary looking scribbled papers poking out. Each paper had the value of 2 years of hard work.

I really felt bad for them kids. We had it so much easier in life.

 

My batchmates. We did not need FB to stay in touch.
My batchmates. We did not need FB to stay in touch.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We had 49 students in our class, not 15. We had more friends.

Our classes were called standards, not grades.

We had one class, not multiple divisions.

The teachers’ knew us. They did not have to hold up our I cards to see our names.

We HAD no I cards. Our faces were our identity.

Gurkhaji knew each child’s going-home schedule. Fernandes bus child, BEST child, Mommy pick up child etc. Unknown security guards did not monitor our entrances and exits.

We had school from 10 am to 4 pm. Not unearthly hours of 7 am to 4 pm.

We had throw ball and athletics. No fancy tennis and basketball courts for us.

We had one PT teacher. PT stood for Physical Training. We did not have a fancy team of PE teachers. It was never Physical Education for us. It was just plain fun in the sun.

We were known by our names. Even to the office staff.

The teachers knew the records of our pranks and academic falls and rises. They did not have to look us up in fancy filing systems.

Our teachers when we were in school.
Our teachers when we were in school.

The teacher, who taught me in KG class, had also taught my 10 years older sister in KG class, and my 10 years younger sister in the same class. They did not change every “Semester”.

Most of them are still teaching in our school.
Most of them are still teaching in our school.

We had terms and not Semesters.

We got a holiday in pouring rain. We did not have to rush to school to show our sincerity.

We played honest to goodness interschool sports, in semi playable grounds. Fancy in-house tournaments were never organized for us.

We were hit at least once by our teachers, and our parents applauded it, instead of marching into school with cavalry and names of politicians.

Our parents could never enter school for the heck of it. Corridor walking parents were not allowed.

We beat each other up and took care of our problems. Parents never heard of our issues.

We did not have fancy canteens, catered by fancy restaurants. Infact we did not have a canteen.

We had a huge garden to play in. Not a rugged concrete passage.

We had ranks and marks and percentages. We did not have grades and percentiles.

We had 2 tests, mid term Exams and 1 final exam, which determined the status of our promotion to the next class. We did not have TOK, EE, IOC, IA, II, WL, PP, CAS, and other combinations of vowels and consonants.

You see, we went to school too.

 

Snoring!

Anything for this kind of peaceful sleep!
Anything for this kind of peaceful sleep!

A while ago, someone questioningly pointed at the husband’s dark circle, and in answer he scowled and pointed at me. It was a very deep and profound statement, delivered with out a single word being said.

He has been having sleepless nights –  Because I snore. Loudly.

I remember a weekend out with my grand mom and grand dad. I must have been thirteen years old. Just before we were retiring to bed, grand dad called me out and took me in a corner, and whispered conspiringly, “ If you feel you are hearing a steam engine at night, don’t get scared. It will only be your grand mom snoring.” I remember snorting with laughter, till I fell asleep.

It’s that same sound that jolted me out of bed one night. It was a fearsome growl mixed with deep sonorous snores. Nothing soft and gentle about it.

The first time I heard myself, I woke up and jumped out of bed, with my eyes still squelched shut. I was looking around for an intruder, my mind running all the moves of kick boxing, that I had ever learnt. The husband, who was obviously awake, said “Come back to bed. There is no one else in this room. No one will dare enter. You were snoring and sounding like a wounded lion.” And he went back to sleep, before I could start snoring again. I was wounded too and really worried, because I was getting these terrible bad vibes of being thrown out of the room. Which was okay by me, except the bed in the other room was not very comfortable.

Snoring is not the only thing I inherited from my grand mom. I inherited her dark circles too. Most days my eyes look like I have been socked a good one. My nights go something like this – “ I am snoring? Oh! Good Lord! That’s for oldies. I am not that old. Oh! Boy! I better loose some weight before I turn 40. It will be really difficult to after wards. No wonder those jeans don’t fit me. Should I buy new ones till I loose weight, or hang on to these. Hang? Hell! I forgot to hang the kid’s uniform in his room. He’s going to charge around. ……. “. And so on and so forth. The mind is running all over the place when awake and making the oddest dreams when asleep. So – of course I have dark circles!

Something had to be done about the snoring, My friend swore, that her husband’s snoring almost disappeared after he started doing yoga. So I started too. Except the teacher loved to talk. Incessantly. And all about how great he has become after he started yoga. It took all my newly found yogic calm, to not assume kick boxing positions, in lieu of yogic positions.

I have learnt what I need for my snoring. It has definately helped. Now I’m trying to get hold of my dog Oreo. He sounds like my co-wounded lion, when he sleeps. And he sleeps practically the whole day and chases rats the full night. I’m trying to teach him yoga. The bugger keeps running away. And just as well, because he looks at me judgementaly, like I have lost some of the brains on the floor, while doing the inverse yoga moves.

Dead to the world, snoring Oreo.
Dead to the world, snoring Oreo.

 

 

Have you been hugged lately?

Have you been hugged lately? It’s a wonderful feeling.

Get one today!
Get one today!

I am new to hugs. I would give a half – hearted one and let the person go, till one day my daughter’s new friend, met me for the first time. She immediately got up and gave me one of the tightest – I wont let you go soon- kind of hug. I was surprised and I admit it took me a few moments to reach out and hug her back. I also admit that I was a bit taken aback and thought it was a bit much, but when I left the room and went into my own, I remember feeling this fuzzy warm feeling, like I have never felt before. It was a I ask for nothing back – hug.

I have always hugged and cuddled the kids. And it has held me in good stead, because even now at the threshold of adulthood, they are still easy to hug, and now I need it more than them.

I have a cousin. He always hugs as a greeting. A nice warm, huge hug, accompanied by, a hearty laugh. His eyes light up, his never- been – cut moustache curls into his cheeks and, we all get left feeling so very special.

So often when I am at a loss for words, I just give a hug. What can oft repeated words convey that a hug cannot?

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So all you mommies, daddies, husbands, sisters (Mine is awesone! She hugs and kisses,) please go out there and hug your loved ones. Life is too short. It’s a matter of one second to let go of your inhibition. And the returns are unbelievable.

Maybe one day you will convert a non-hugger like those kids converted me!

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PS: Try hugging a dog. It’s even better!

My kids and other animals.

Many years ago we lived in a small cottage. My family on the ground floor, and a big fat snooty woman, her arrogant husband and their nice children, on the 1st floor. Opposite building had, assorted kids of assorted ages and dispositions. A mad gardener who had pyromania, a piano teacher, assorted movie personalities, and a few undescribable human beings.

I wanted my kids to learn some of the same elements of wildness, that I had, and, which had turned clumps of my mother’s hair startling white. So the kids raced around barefoot and ate with dirty hands, climbed trees, cycled at dangerous speeds, rummaged in the overgrown garden and of course lived with assorted animals.

We had one dog, and another walked in our garden leaving his siblings with their mother. He was all furry and cute and was promptly adopted. The lady upstairs had cats – lots of them. They slunk around all over the place, hissed at my dogs and drove them batty. So much so that when my daughter went up to play with her kids, one of my dogs kept guard, giving her warning barks- telling her not to get too friendly with the cats. We kept fish, but they ate each other up. Many other dogs ran amok in the compound and my dogs would take off randomly, to the beach. We had direct access to the beach, which was also an invitation for more wild dogs.

One day the kids ran in, highly excited. There was a gaggle of them kids. (I felt so proud looking at my dirty haired, filthy nailed, muddy faced kids..!!) In her tiny hands, my daughter had a small baby parrot, looking all disoriented and bewildered. We immediately fashioned a large basket, tied up at four ends, looped up the rope and hung it high on our, open-to-sky balcony. We were reluctant to close the bird in a cage. It was a fledgling, could barely fly, and we all feel in love.

Nippy (for he loved to nip at my gold earrings) soon grew, as did the blood lust of my younger dog, Teddy.  When we realised he could fly, but could not stay up for too long, we had to put him in a cage.

For flying practice, Nippy was taken to our closed living room and left to experiment. He would flutter, rise to the ceiling, try to sit on the fan (switched off obviously) and then land on my shoulder, climb up my neck and nip my earrings. We were both in love with each other.

Soon Nippy was desperate to fly all the time. We all wanted Nippy to be one with the wild, and so we started leaving the cage door open. Until one day I saw something, which had my heart beating in my mouth, and my knees as weak as a limp cucumber. Nippy would step out of his cage and stand on the door, giving the skies a good, once over. Teddy would place himself strategically right under the door of his cage. He would smack his lips and then hang his jaw open.  Just hoping that the bird would fall into it. At this point Teddy made direct eye contact with the bird. Open mouthed and slack jawed I moved closer and saw the little bird’s heart beating wildly in panic. His little beasts were moving as rapidly as a flag in high winds. I promptly shooed the dog away to the other side of the house and had him kept with the watchman. I had nightmares of waking up one day, and seeing small birdy feathers and a few bones on my balcony, and Teddy sitting in a corner and looking like – well like – a dog, who has swallowed a bird.

Teddy - at age 13. Connoisseur of birds and rats.
Teddy – at age 13. Connoisseur of birds and rats.

One day Nippy was gone. I admit I looked hard at Teddy, opened his jaw and checked, and all that, but apparently, Nippy had flown his (makeshift) nest! Teddy was bereft for days.

We have since shifted, kids have grown, so have the dogs, but I still look for Nippy across the skies when I hear parrots every morning. Teddy of course had plenty of wild dreams, when he would smack his lips and paw the air, thinking he had killed that damn unreachable bird.

The gaggle of them kids, have grown. Some become film heroines, some doctors, and my kids still have fond memories of those wild days.

 

Long Summer Shadows

I wrote this a while ago.

The sea has always been a part of my life. I can be called fanciful for saying, that when in need of guidance, I would stand next to the sea and get my answers. I have never regretted all those decisions taken on the basis of these answers.

Long summer shadows,

Over cool, cool sand.

Sitting by the beach,

I gaze at the sea.

The waves are talking,

And the wind is whispering –

It’s secrets to me.

 

Secrets of life,

And, talks of living.

What I understood is –that,

Life is for forgiving.

 

Love the ones you love,

Never forget to tell them so.

Hugs should be free,

Even for your foes.

 

Spread good rumors.

Let the dirty ones rot.

Fill up everyone’s happiness pot.

 

Laugh a lot.

Dance in the moonlight.

Hold on to dreams.

And let the stars connect.

 

And when you get up.

(From the cool, cool sand.)

Your leg might be asleep.

But your soul has been set free.

Appu (2778)

 

Peanut Curry

I visit Bangalore (now Bengaluru) quite often. The local care taker’s wife is an amazing cook. So intermittently I will post recipes from her kitchen.

This is Rekha. Most of the ingredients she uses are from her village. They are fresh, and have an aroma, not found in the markets here.

Rekha. Clean, neat and methodical.
Rekha. Clean, neat and methodical.

Ingredients. 

Peanuts 200gms. (Raw with skin. Not roasted)

♦Try and use the best quality and freshest peanuts available. You cannot use salted or roasted peanuts in this recipe.

Green chillies 2 large ones

Tomato 1 large or 2 middle size ones

Kadi patta (6 big ones of 8 to 9 small ones)

Mustard seeds Appx ¼ teaspoon

Sambhar masala ½ + ½ teaspoon

Haldi ¼ + ¼ teaspoon

Dhania powder ½ + ½ teaspoon

Oil 4 to 5 tablespooons (dont worry, it wont be floating in oil)

Onion 1 small – chopped

6 pods of garlic crushed

Kadipatta 6 leaves (No. I have not repeated by mistake)

Red chilli dry 1

Salt.

For the Tadka
For the Tadka

Method.

Crush the peanuts.

Crush them with a heavy vessel. Here we used a stone garlic pounder.
Crush them with a heavy vessel. Here we used a stone garlic pounder.
This is how it looks after de skinning.
This is how it looks after de skinning.

De Skin them. The old fashioned Indian way is the best.

De Skinning the peanuts.
De Skinning the peanuts.

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Keep aside.

Make a paste of Tomato and kaddipatta (the first lot), with a little water.

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In a kadhai (indian wok), add oil. Let it heat then sprinkle the mustard seeds.

Add onions and garlic.

♦Nope , I have not missed the kadipatta and chillies both green and red. Rekha adds them after the onions have roasted, so that the chillies and kadipatta does not burn.

Once the onions have roasted, add the red and green chillies, and kadipatta.

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Add the crushed peanuts. Add salt. And haldi, dhania powder, sambhar masala. At this point add the first half of the given quantities.

Roast the peanuts for a few minutes.

Add the tomato paste.

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Now add the rest of the masala – ie:  haldi, sambhar masala, dhania powder.

Cover the dish and cook for a good while. The peanuts should cook.

Check for salt and serve hot with Jowar Roti.

 

♦Please excuse the picture quality. The Bangalore weather, does not lend to continuous bright sunny moments.  When Rekha was making this dish, it was pouring outside. The air got nippy, and as the aroma of the food rose up, we started thinking of this peanut curry with hot soft Jowar Roti.

Do send comments on this one. Rekha will be very pleased.