Friday, October 30, 2015

Halloween from years past

Other than Christmas, Halloween is one of our favorite holidays out West, and it has been really fun to see Maya experience it year after year and get creative with it. Husband-ji has also been learning about Halloween slowly over the years...and has finally agreed to dress up with me this year! His costume is absolutely terrifying...stay tuned!!!

October is a fun month because it kicks off with my birthday (of course!), and then Canadian Thanksgiving, ending with Halloween.

I think we like Halloween so much because:
a) I love anything scary
b) We get to put our artistic talents and creativity to work - carving pumpkins, decorating the house...
d) It's a family-friendly festival

Things we do every October, leading up to Halloween:
- go to the pumpkin patch
- brainstorm our Halloween costumes
- read children's books about Halloween
- watch horror films, especially on Halloween night!
- purchase a few new decorations
- decorate my parents' house
- carve the pumpkins (done 1 week before)
- purchase candies to give out

The day after Halloween, we're basically on a candy hangover and do nothing all day! November is a much quieter month, except for Diwali!

Here's a look at how we celebrated Halloween over the years:

(Me at age 6, at my grandma's house for Halloween)

(Our first official Halloween in Canada was in 2009)

(We realized we were pretty awesome at carving pumpkins)

(Maya was a pink elephant for her first Halloween)

(For her second Halloween, she was a bunny rabbit)

(Last year she was a black cat and I could hardly get her in the costume! I had to paint the whiskers on when she was sleeping!)

(But then after knocking door to door for candy, she wanted to dress up every day!)

(sharing candy with grandma)

After visiting Yellowstone and the Wild West, she is obsessed with being a cowgirl! She is practicing daily by proudly stomping around in her cowboy boots and saying "Yee-haw!And we are joining her by dressing up too - both me and husband-ji! (Yes, we are those annoying parents who dress up with our kids! Ha ha!) I never could get husband-ji to dress up before, but this year he is all for it! I am in such a celebratory mood that I might even dress the dog up too!


Dear readers, what are your plans for Halloween?


Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Enjoying Motherhood

(Being a first-time mother was absolutely terrifying...)

It's no secret that I've had some tough times since becoming a mother, the majority of it documented on this blog since I started writing when Maya was 4 months old. I have felt terrified, incapable, lonely, lost, exhausted, and having an identity crisis. I have been blessed with an amazing daughter, but it doesn't make motherhood any easier. And moreover, the expectations that we set for ourselves, and that society set for us - is neither attainable or forgiving.

But lately, and I don't know exactly why, I have been really enjoying motherhood. Like, genuinely enjoying it. Not in a fake Hallmark kind-of-way. Not in a boastful (then quietly suffering) kind-of-way. Just a happy in my heart kind-of-way. For quite a while now. Not just today - like every day, for months and months now.

Maybe it's the combination of Maya sleeping in her own bed and fully sleeping through the night. She wakes us up by tapping me on my shoulder and giving me a hug. She knows not to come out of her room until the sun is up "because everybody in the whole world is sleeping". Maybe it's because she's become my little helper - helping with everything from unloading the dishwasher, to baking and cooking, to helping me do the laundry and folding towels, feeding the dog or carrying a grocery bag. Maybe it's because she is understanding more of the world - she asks me questions, listens, and tells me funny little things. She knows not to run out of my sight and she knows to look both ways when crossing the street. She says "please", "thank you" and "sorry". I can take her to any appointment - doctor, vet, insurance, eyebrow threading - and she will be perfectly behaved. Or the fact that she's loving school, which gives me some time to myself to do my work. And she knows she won't get dinner until she sits her bum on the chair politely! And the hugs and cuddles are just the best. Three is such an awesome age (while toddlerhood was absolutely mental and totally sucked!!!)

Or maybe, it has nothing to do with her. Maybe it's just me, and I finally feel like I know what I'm doing as a parent. Like I can actually relax and not be such a total nut-job stress ball. I think that must be it. After all, she could be subconsciously saying about me, "I'm really enjoying you as a parent lately. Thirty is an awesome age on you." (She would totally say that too!)

Whatever it is, I hope we continue to have fun together, and be best friends, no matter what...having a little girl is just the best thing on Earth.

Meanwhile, poor husband-ji is feeling so left out lately. After being such a daddy's girl for such a long time, she has completely switched sides - to which I am secretly thrilled about! She's become such a mummy's girl again. The other day, Maya announced that she was "mummy's daughter, and NOT daddy's daughter", to which we completely burst out laughing. We explained to her that she "is both mummy AND daddy's daughter" but she argues with us every time and swears she is not. She has also become extremely bossy with him (seriously, where on Earth does she get these traits from?!). She would make a great lawyer with these skills! Now husband-ji has his tail in between his legs and sheepishly calls her "beti" [Hindi] instead of "daughter"! We have been having a big laugh about this at our home. Kids...and the things they say!!! I'm sure she will become a daddy's girl again, but for now...I'm fully loving this mummy/daughter closeness!

(Hey Maya, let's take some funny selfie's!)

"A daughter is a mother's gender partner, her closest ally in the family confederacy, an extension of her self. And mothers are their daughters' role model, their biological and emotional road map, the arbiter of all their relationships."Victoria Secunda


Monday, October 26, 2015

My 3 year blog-iversary

Three years ago, I was sitting around my living room with my then four month old daughter napping on my chest. I was most likely covered in spit up. I had most likely not found the time for a shower that day (new mothers, you can relate!). I was basically watching the world go by, either from my window, or when walking my infant in the stroller. Everyone was so busy, but my life was at a stand still. I had virtually no contact with the outside world. I was basically a zombie. And I had all these amazing ideas in my head, but no time to do anything. All I had was my daughter's nap time - and I certainly wasn't going to sleep. That ever-so-precious nap-time which meant I got some time to myself. Kinda like a get-out-of-jail free card - but only for 45 minutes tops!

There wasn't much I could do back then, especially since I insisted she slept on my chest for the duration of the nap time (what was I thinking?!), and I certainly wasn't going to watch the Real Housewives of Orange County again (once is enough!). I had one arm I just started to type. And type, and type, until sometimes my hand got numb. And I did it again the next day too. And the next day. And that's how my blog was born.

That day, when my hand was hitting the keyboard, it was freedom. It was a tool for creative freedom, for freedom of emotions, and just because I wanted to write. It was like a light switch turned on in my head, and there was no turning back. It would be flexible, I thought. I can just write when I want to. I didn't have any expectations or goals. To be honest, I still don't know why people read here, but I'm glad they do. Who would have thought that the simple act of writing could turn into practically a career - one which I had no intention of having! It has brought me a lot of happiness to have this space. I think it's safe to say that I'll never quit my blog. I just love it too much!

(my work space)

I also wanted to take a moment to truly thank all of my devoted readers. Many of you have been reading here since the very beginning. You have come along for this journey with me, and many of you have helped me personally, although you wouldn't know it. I love hearing from each and every one of you. I love reading about your experiences.

I have a lot of hopes and dreams for this blog - a lot of things that I'm working on behind the scenes. I love writing my blog. I am continually excited by my blog. It keeps challenging me creatively. It has made me a lot more confident in real life too.

Cheers to another year of fearless blogging!


And, if you're curious, these were my most read posts this year:

Top recipe posts:

Top Intercultural Love Stories

Top Ask Firangi Bahu dilemmas:


Sunday, October 25, 2015

Call for submissions: more intercultural love!

It has been 8 months filled with many fabulous submissions for my new Saturday feature - My Intercultural Love - where I interview real life couples on their journey and how they make their relationship work. So far, I have featured 33 couples!

I know there are not too many of us out there, but it is up to US to represent ourselves. When was the last time you saw other couples like us, especially represented online or in the media?

You can also anonymously answer the Q&A, and I can use stock photos if you are a more private person. (Examples of the anonymous submissions HERE and HERE).

I am looking for couples of ALL ethnicities to share their journey. Let's keep this series going for as long as possible! Let's stop hiding in caves! I know you're out there!

Please email me at: and I will reply with my Q&A. The posts will be published weekly on Saturdays on a first come, first serve basis.

Read my previous Intercultural Love Story features HERE!

Friday, October 23, 2015

Ask Firangi Bahu: "I feel like I'm in a one person marriage"

(Img via Tiago Aguiar)

Sharing a letter from a reader...

"Hi Alexandra,

I have read your blog for years and I thank you for sharing your journey with us. I have never commented but I want to write to you in hope of some help with my marriage.

Maybe why I feel we are so similar is because my husband and I have been together for 14 years, as of this Summer. I really do not know so many Indian-white couples who are together for so long - nowadays there are a lot of newlyweds but there are few of us who have been together for the long haul. I'm not exactly sure if my problem is cultural or not.

For the past several years, I have been having a problem connecting with my husband. Or rather, I think he has had a problem connecting with me. He has no affection towards me any more. Having been together for 14 years, we have had a lot of ups and downs like any couple. But lately, it just feels like he couldn't care less about me. He ignores me to death. I cry my eyes out about it at night.

Our relationship has been filled with so much love that I am at a loss of words at where it went wrong. He constantly criticizes me. He never even touches me. At night, he watches movies and then rolls over and goes to bed, without even asking how my day was. Sometimes he storms off and sleeps on the couch. He says he is tired all the time only when I want to spend quality time with him. I plan out quality time and take extra consideration to him - making his favorite meals, planning outings he would like, and I still attempt to be affectionate with him even though he rejects me a lot. I feel like my life revolves around him, with no consideration for me or my life.

He doesn't even look at me when I talk to him. When I try to speak to him, he then starts judging me and telling me that my feelings pertaining to a certain situation are wrong. If I want to talk to him about something important, he says that I am either overreacting and dramatic, and that it is my fault I take things the wrong way. I feel like if I want to speak about something important, it can't be to my husband, and that's where I feel disconnected to him.

The other night, we got into an awful argument. I told my husband that I feel ignored and unwanted by him. I told him that it hurts me. Besides telling me that I was overreacting and telling me that I'm crazy, he also told me that he shouldn't have to prove his love to me all the time. That I should just understand. That he shouldn't have to SHOW his love to me. I was brought up believing that you have to continually make an effort for your spouse. He was brought up in an environment where the men seem to do nothing after marriage. They know the wives won't leave them, but they don't put any effort into the marriage. They just expect women's lives to revolve around them. Needless to say, the romance is dead.

I am not going to divorce, but I would like to know what to do with myself since my husband is not allowing me to connect with him in our marriage. I have tried everything under the sun and I feel like giving up. I feel so alone in my marriage. I am truly in a one person marriage. I feel like we are not married any more with his selfish mindset, meanwhile I still act like I'm married and consider him in everything. All he cares about is work and not much else. He pays attention to our children, but not me. This hurts a lot. How I wish he could spare a little love for me too. After I became a mother, that is my only role to him. He thinks I should be grateful with scraps of love here and there, when only HE feels like giving it (which is never). I spend the majority of my days feeling numb.

Any advice from you or your readers would be greatly appreciated. Thank you in advance for letting me vent..."


Dear readers, what can this reader do?
Have you experienced similar ebbs and flows in a long-term partnership?
How do you re-connect with each other when only ONE person is making the effort?
Do you think women get trapped in this "mother" role, rather than a wife?


Thursday, October 22, 2015

The one about the Goddess Yellamma tattoo

Somehow, I am continually shocked about the news that comes out of India and makes it to the West. Since we are not currently living in India, it is really hard to judge what is/what is not sensationalized. However, several of my friends (both Indian and Firangi's alike) who are living in India say that the general feel has been that our beloved country is becoming more and more severe with the Hindu nationalism (read: not in a good way)...

The latest news that really shocked us what was an Australian tourist who was dining at a restaurant in Bangalore was harassed by BJP extremists who have no other work and surrounded by an angry mob, because his tattoo apparently "hurt their sentiments". The crowd threatened to "skin" the tattoo off of his leg. Then, to make it worse, the BJP thugs called the police, and the corrupt police supported said thugs, telling the young tourist "to have his tattoo removed", and saying "this is India" [culture excuse], and then proceeded to illegally detain the couple at the police station and force them to write an apology letter. They were then discharged and given an instruction to "wear long pants and learn Kannada". How hilarious considering that there are so many desi men wearing short lungi's in South India; not to mention when I was in Bangalore, every person I ran into spoke only Tamil or Hindi, and not Kannada! The BJP thug decided to give a speech "about his love for his religion". How ironic that the love for one's own religion makes people behave in such an inhumane manner, using threats to physically harm someone. (I swear, I am getting more atheist by the minute...)

[Side note: some Goddess Yellamma followers marry their daughters to the Goddess, enslaving them as "devadasi" - prostitution in the name of *religious* tradition...where are the *Hindu values* police there???)

Bangalore is a very cosmopolitan city, and a mecca for foreign tourists, as well as being a central hub for brilliant IT minds and it also has an awesome music & arts scene. A huge chunk of our family lives there, as there are lots of career opportunities available. It is unfortunate that this has happened in such a modern city, although I think these types of thugs are consistently angered by how multicultural & multidimensional their city has evolved into. The fact that this has made it into the foreign media may further hurt India's image abroad, which is really unfortunate. One Firangi told me, "what if something I unknowingly do offends someone? Will I get attacked by an angry mob there?". I am getting a little tired of having to constantly explain to my friends & family that yes, India is a wonderful place, I swear!!!

Quite shocking more so, that many members of my own Firangi Bahu community are claiming "cultural appropriation", and that "he should research more about India", and that his tattoo is "offensive" and "disrespectful". I kid you not. Tell me, what will they do when the same folks come after them for being in an intercultural marriage in the name of Hindu *values*? Saying that your love hurts "Hindu" sentiments and that it is offensive? (Been there...)

The reality is that anything can be offensive to anybody. Seriously. Do you know the things that I have done that has offended some people? Living with my husband as an unmarried couple. Having sex before marriage. Not wearing my thaali or my other symbols of marriage. Working after having a baby. Being chubby and proud of it. Not living with my inlaws. My bra strap showing. Not wearing a dupatta. Kissing or hugging my husband. Having tattoos. Going to the temple with my period. Being in an intercultural marriage. Husband-ji was once told he was "not a true Iyengar" anymore for marrying me. He has been reprimanded by certain family members for inviting his non-Brahmin friends over to the house for snacks. I have seen Sikh friends harass each other because one chose to cut their hair.

And to those people claiming "cultural appropriation" might want to fact check that this "tourist" was actually no stranger to India. In fact, he had lived in South India and studied in Kodaikanal, and he had such a great time that he eagerly came back, along with his girlfriend.

Secondly, telling someone they should "research more about India" borders on victim-blaming and the fact that it is eerily and disgustingly familiar to the Michaela Cross story. Everybody said she should have "researched more about India" before going out ever so freely and consequently sexually harassed. I mean, seriously...I'm all for research about India, but that's NOT the reason why these things happen. More than anything, it's a case of: wrong place, wrong time.

Another big commentary was "the reason he was attacked is because of the bad placement of the tattoo", claiming that he wouldn't have had a problem if the tattoo was on his arm. SOME Hindu's believe that images of Gods should not be on the lower body because it is "dirty" and "inauspicious". However, SOME Hindu's do not share this belief - many believe that the body is a temple and that ALL of the body parts are created equal, with one not of lesser value than the other. SOME Hindu's also believe that images of Gods should be kept in the pooja room, and woken up and put to bed carefully each day. SOME Hindu's display images of the Gods everywhere - for as much good energy from the Gods as possible. As it is in every religion, there is more than one way to do things...

Lastly, what people choose to do with their body - what they choose to wear, tattoos, piercings, hair styles, make up, head scarves - is not anyone's business to comment on - even if certain people find it offensive. People who have tattoos that mean something to them do not have to explain them to anybody. Ever. 

Honestly, tattoo culture in India is still evolving and is nowhere near as developed - or as respected - as it is in the West. A lot of people are underexposed to the true art of tattooing, especially middle class urban Indians. Before husband-ji, the only people my MIL saw with tattoos were rural, tribal people - who quite funnily enough had religious symbolism inked on their body.

As many of my readers know, husband-ji has two full arm tattoo sleeves - one of Shiva and the other of Vishnu. He plans to get Brahma on his back. Originally, he got the Shiva tattoo to cover a third degree burn from a terrible cooking accident that covered 11% of his body and took over a year to heal. Everyone used to point at his burned skin and husband-ji was very ashamed of it. Until he got his tattoo, he felt he could never wear short sleeves or people would stare. It was also such a scary accident that he wanted his Gods with him at all times, for protection and to bring good energy. So when I hear people telling me that having your Gods tattooed on you is "offensive", I feel like telling them to f*ck off. They do not know the reasons for his tattoos, and how he suffered. His arm was an open wound for an entire year. He was in so much pain. He had to have plastic surgery and have the skin from his leg put on his arm. Even his skin transplant didn't look right.

Tattoos - much like religion - is a personal and private experience. The tattoos that people choose to get do not have to be explained. The way in which people practice their religion is private and does not need to be justified.

Husband-ji is very proud of his tattoos, and has even been complimented by priests! They are truly amazing works of devotional art. He constantly gets stopped, both in India and abroad, by fellow desi's who compliment it. Everyone in his family has loved it, so much that one of his younger cousin-brothers has got a Shiva tattoo, following in his footsteps. 

What ever your thoughts are on this - tattoos, the definition of Hindu "values", and what it means to be a "good" Hindu, one thing's for sure: mob mentality is a very dangerous thing. Let us not make excuses for the reason why this happened. Let us not make excuses for common criminals who choose to use "religion" to attack people and behave badly. They could attack anybody over anything and claim it is in the name of "religion". Especially any of us, who love outside borders, or live or lives different than the norm.

That is all.


Wednesday, October 21, 2015

My 30th Birthday celebrations

(Maya's cake decoration)

A decade ago, I was celebrating my twentieth birthday with my gaggle of girlfriends by playing laser tag and then going dancing and getting drunk. Now that I am THIRTY and totally boring, I had a quiet celebration with my family, which turned out to be just as nice!

I started by spending the majority of the day in my pajamas, being fabulously lazy and watching Netflix while playing Lego's and Thomas the Train sets with Maya. Just me and my girl. My best friend.

Then, we hired our trusted babysitter so that we could have a special date night. Husband-ji showed up at the door with 30 long-stemmed red roses - SWOON!!!!!!!! And bath products. DOUBLE SWOON!!!

He took me out to my favorite restaurant and then we went to a late night movie (The Martian).

My parents had to attend an art gallery opening that night, but my mum still wanted to do something special with us, so we decided to spend the next evening together. They are usually away for my birthday, but this year, my mum changed her entire travel plans for me - I felt so special. We had a little family birthday party and she cooked a fantastic Thanksgiving-style meal which was utterly delicious. Since my dad cannot peel potatoes anymore, she did it single-handedly which was really incredible.

I began to realize that my birthday was also a big thing for her. "I can't believe your thirty," she said. "I remember when I started going into labor. I was two weeks overdue and sitting on the couch watching Dynasty when the contractions started, right around this time. Then I was screaming at the hospital and I was the loudest!" My birth day also symbolizes that day she became a mother. I have noticed this a lot, being a mother myself, that on Maya's birthdays I get so emotional and sentimental too.

Husband-ji brought two cakes from one of our favorite bakeries and we blew out the candles all together, as a trio. 

It was the best....


Monday, October 19, 2015

Top horror films for Halloween

It's no secret that I'm a huge horror film fanatic, and every year I love to watch horror films non-stop for the month prior to Halloween, and especially on Halloween night!

Here are my favourites:

The Conjuring
A husband & wife team of ghost hunters help a local family with the most evil spirit attached to it...
*MIL's favourite*

A woman checks into a hotel in the middle of the night run by a sinister man...

The Birds
Thousands of birds wreak havoc on a small beach town...

Halloween (the original!)
A deranged killer escaped from a mental institution and goes on a killing spree on Halloween night...

The Sixth Sense
A boy who sees ghosts...

The Exorcist
Filmed in Vancouver, and starring our family friend Ellen Burstyn!

A teenage girl tormented by her crazy religious mother and nasty bullies at school develops telekinetic powers...

The Shining
An isolated hotel owner goes crazy on his family after they become snowed in...

A masked killer stabs residents of a small town and everybody becomes a suspect...

Two guys wake up chained inside a room in a sick, twisted game...

The Descent
Four friends go on on a girlfriend's adventure trip by exploring remote caves...only they find something sinister and have to fight for survival to get out!

The Ring
A videotape contains a sinister spirit that torments the watcher...

The Grudge
An expat horror film - an American nurse in Tokyo moves into a haunted house...

The Eye
A blind woman gets eye transplants and starts seeing ghosts...
*MIL's favourite*

The Craft
Bitchy Catholic private school girls dabble in witchcraft for vengeance...

What Lies Beneath
A housewife starts seeing the ghost of a her husband a cheater, or worse, a killer?
A police call centre employee helps track down a serial killer...

World War Z
Apocalyptic zombie flick that combines science and mystery...

Sleepy Hollow
A period detective flick investigates the mystery of the Headless Horseman...

I Know What You Did Last Summer
Four teens hit a man walking on the road in the middle of the night, only he comes back to terrorize them...

The Woman In Black
A windowed lawyer becomes tangled up in the affairs of a haunted house and a spirit who won't rest...

The Gift
A man bumps into his old high school bully and begins to stalk them, leaving "gifts" on their doorstep...

And here are some films that are appropriate for kids:

The Witches
Based on a book by Roald Dahl, these witches prey on children by trying to turn them into mice...

Hocus Pocus
3 witches return from 17th century Salem after they are accidentally conjured up by a group of mischievous children...

Double Double Toil and Trouble
The Olsen twins go on a Halloween mission to retrieve a magic moonstone that breaks their evil aunt's spell...

Harry Potter
Witches, wizards, supernatural and mystery makes this 8 volume series a hit with kids and adults alike!

The Addams Family
A spooky family wakes the dead as their long lost uncle reappears....great Halloween humour in this one...


Dear readers, what are your favourite scary films?

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