Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Two funerals and a canceled engagement

    One of the reasons we intended to go to India this year was for my vadina's marriage (husband-ji's younger cousin-sister). They were begging us to come, so we caved in and booked the expensive flight tickets. Then, a week later...the wedding was canceled indefinitely! 

AIYOOOO RAMA.

The story goes like this - it was an arranged match. Both the families had agreed on a date from the astrologer. Both families are very traditional Telugu types. Then, one of the groom's relatives died. As per [South Indian] Hindu custom, it is inauspicious for a groom to get married within a year of the relative's death. So, they had to extend the engagement/wedding date to after the 1 year period was over - December 2014.

The engagement was set for December 1st and the wedding for December 7th, those being lucky dates for the couple. During this time, the couple had been getting to know each other better as they intended to get married. 

Then, as Summer rolls around, another relative on the groom's side falls ill. This relative wants the young couple to go ahead with the marriage, no matter what happens. She does not want them to follow the custom of waiting another whole year. In [South Indian] Hindu custom, if an engagement is already performed, then the young couple has to get married no matter what, within a certain time frame. The families eagerly scramble to find an auspicious date within a week and set a last minute engagement ceremony so that the couple can go forth with the marriage, even if there is a death. The bride's side spends a lot of money getting the venue, priests, food, flowers, invitations printed, gold, clothing, and gifts.

Then, the relative unfortunately dies less than 24 hours before the engagement ceremony, and all hell breaks loose. All of a sudden the groom's family is blaming the bride and saying she is bad luck to their family. The groom's mother is saying not to get married. The bride's father is superstitious and doesn't want them to get married, but rather he wants her married to someone ELSE within 3 months. The groom only listens to his mother. The bride's aunt is now saying the groom's brother was disrespectful to her and she never approved of the match. The bride still wants to get married because she has started to love the groom. The groom does not. The family astrologer is saying there will be no "good dates" for the next few years. Neither one wants to wait two years.

Husband-ji was on the phone with his cousin-sister for about 4 hours as she was wailing. He asked her, "What do YOU want to do?" Apparently nobody had even asked her this question. He said, "Forget everybody. This is YOUR life, this is YOUR marriage and the person you will have to live with for the next 60 years. What do YOU want, for YOU?" He instructed her to go to a quiet place and think about what she wanted - not for her parents or anybody else.

In the end, another family member who practices astrology said that there were no good dates for 5 years. So that means that she would probably not get married until she was 28 - a normal ripe age in the Western world. I feel quite relieved for her because that way she will have some time to work on her career and life goals before she settles into slavery married life!!!

The last we heard of this cousin-sister was that she wanted to come abroad to study in Canada. We were helping her research schools. Then her parents said it was too expensive, and basically pushed her to get married instead. Because, you know, if you're a girl in India, you apparently have to CHOOSE between getting an education, and being married off. (What the hell!) Of course now that everything has been cancelled, I'm betting her parents are regretting not investing that money into her Master's degree!

Quite an interesting scenario to witness. The first thing that struck me was that there were too many opinions being considered instead of the TWO people who were going to be in the union. Another is that I know from personal experience - when two people want to get married, nothing can stop them. Nothing. If the union was so easily broken by these things, then how would it survive 60+ years? So, maybe it just wasn't meant to be.

Anyway, we will be going to India for a vacation as we have already booked our tickets. But no wedding this time! Maybe we can crash another...?

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Pumpkin patchin'


As we prepare for Halloween, we had to go for a fun visit to the pumpkin patch. The pumpkin patch we go to is located about 30 minutes outside of the city and it is on an actual farm where you can pick the pumpkins from the field that they have grown in.


It was a really fun experience to take Maya to a farm outside the city because it was really child-friendly. There were farm animals (Maya loved the baby goat and the big fat pig), there were songs and music, and a tractor hay ride took you to the pumpkin field. On the field, you get a chance to walk around and pick out your pumpkin, big or small. We picked out a small one and we will teach her how to take out the filling this week. Even though she was wearing rain boots, Maya didn't like the muddy field too much. She freaked out when she stepped on some rotted pumpkin! She was more into the songs and the animals.


The last time we went was when she was only 5 months old. Last year, we didn't have a chance to go because I was recovering from meningitis. Although husband-ji didn't want to go, he finally agreed and we all had a great time. Maya came back singing the "Old MacDonald had a farm" song for days after! It was a really delightful event and she's at the perfect age for it now!


Next up...Halloween!

Monday, October 27, 2014

Recipe: Brinjal Podi Curry



I used to hate eggplant..until I tried this dish! My MIL recently made this on our big Venice trip when we got tired of eating pasta and it really hit the spot! This dish combines the sweet flavor of eggplant with the spicy nutty flavor of the homemade sesame paste that you can do right in your blender. I like to keep the skin of the eggplant on to maximize the nutrients in this dish. Eggplants are high in iron, calcium, and fiber which gives many health benefits. In addition, eggplants can also help fight colon cancer and diabetes, being very low in calories and high in nutrients. The addition of sesame seeds gives this dish an even greater health benefit. In Tamil, this dish is called Kathirikkai Podi Idicha Karamadhu.

Madh Mama's Brinjal Podi Curry

Serves 3-4 people



Ingredients:

- 1/2 onion
- 15-20 baby eggplant
- 3 tbsp oil (peanut or sunflower)
- salt
- 1 tbsp sesame seeds
- 2 dried red chillies
- 1 tbsp coriander seeds
- 1/2 tbsp chana dal



Tools:
- large pan
- blender

Directions:


Before starting, you have to dry roast the spices for the paste. Turn the pan on to medium heat and add the sesame seeds, red chillies, coriander seeds, and chana dal. Keep a close eye on it as the sesame seeds will golden first. As soon as the sesame seeds start to tan, pour the spices into a blender and keep aside.


Chop the onion and keep aside. 


Chop the eggplant into quarters and then in halves. Keep aside.


Heat the oil up in the pan on medium heat. Add the chopped onions.


When the onions are halfway done, add the eggplant and stir.


The eggplant may take 10-15 mins to cook and the skin of the eggplant will become clear. Keep stirring it every 5 minutes.


While the eggplant is cooking, you can blend the spices and keep them ready. Blend the spices with 6 tbsp of water until it is a smooth consistency. Keep aside.


When the eggplant is done, add salt, and 3 tbsp of the blended paste.

Stir and cook for an additional 5 minutes so that the spices can develop into the eggplant.

And voila!

This dish can be served with rice, roti, or poori.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

My 2 year blog-iversary & tips for other bloggers


Today marks my 2 year anniversary from the time that I started this little madhhouse. I didn't know exactly what I was doing, how I was going to do it, or where it would take me, but I knew one thing for sure...I wanted to write. Just write. That is all.

In my first post, I assumed that this blog would document my journey of motherhood, but it has become so much more. Two years later, my blog has taken me on a tidal wave in a destination that I never dreamed of. I have met so many interesting people, I had the opportunity to write for a published magazine (twice!), and was recently interviewed by a producer on my favorite TV network, TLC. If I keep this going, I really wonder where it will take me, as I'm only on year 2! 

I think I knew I was doing something worthwhile when I felt a freedom from writing, as well as several readers telling me that I inspired them to write a blog of their own. So, for those of you who are thinking about starting a blog, or are bloggers already, here are some tips:


Write often
The sooner you make writing a priority is the sooner you will make it a part of your daily routine. I often carry around a small notebook (or you can use a notebook feature in your smartphone) to record down different ideas. Ideas will literally come to me in the middle of the night, when I'm in the shower, or when I'm out and about. It strikes me like a lightning bolt!

Read often
One of the things that has improved my writing capabilities is reading very frequently. I like to read novels, articles on current events, and I read a ton of blogs. I read things from all over the place, that are not necessarily in my "genre".

Schedule posts in advance
I like to use the Google calendar feature to schedule my posts so I can see what my month looks like with a variety of topics. That way, things are more spaced out and consistent. I leave some room in between for things that I write on a whim.

Talk deep
It's fine if you want your blog to reflect sunshine and rainbows, but it's not entirely honest. If you write a dishonest blog, then you yourself as a writer will not be inclined to write when things get tough. Plus, blog readers offer amazing advice when you need it. Talking about deep issues prompts deep responses.

Variety
Offer a variety of things to your blog to attract a complex reader. Fuck genre. I talk about relationships, parenting, current events, religion, travel and more. It's your space and make it complex. You never know what people will be able to relate to!

Don't forget about the blog
Many opportunities may arise from blogging, but never forget your blog's main goal is to provide content for readers. 

Surround yourself with serious people
Whether it is other artists, writers, or just people who are good at what they do, it's important to surround yourself with serious, passionate people. People who have hopes, dreams and goals (and who put in the effort to achieve them) can greatly inspire you to do your thing, whatever that may be...

Stick to it
In the blogging world, you'll notice pretty seriously about who is really serious and who is wishy-washy. Someone who writes 1 post a year is wishy-washy. Of course, things come up like life stresses and internet trolls who threaten your life (yes, that happened), but there is something to be said about people who stick to their goals, no matter what...


Cheers to year 2, writing fearlessly, and riding this tidal wave!

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