Sunday, November 27, 2016

Our Podcast Interview (Part Two)


I'm so happy to share with you PART TWO of our podcast interview on the Indian Interracial Marriages podcast!

If you didn't get a chance to tune in to Part One, listen to it HERE!

In Part Two, we delve deeper by talking about the moment my daughter announced that she was vegetarian, the cultural identity of mixed kids, husband-ji's well-known picky eating habits, differences in parenting styles, gender roles, compatibility & respect in marriage, and allowing desi parents the time & space to get used to your intercultural relationship.

Click HERE to listen to our interview.
Click HERE to subscribe to this wonderful podcast on iTunes.

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Dear readers, can you relate to any of the topics discussed?

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Monday, November 21, 2016

Our Family Vacation to Disneyland


Last month, we decided to do something really special. Being conscious of the fact that our baby will be arriving early next year, we wanted to do a special trip with Maya - her last "hurrah" as an only child! We decided to take off of work/school during a random weekday and head down to Disneyland - in California. It was only a 2 hour flight from Vancouver so it was really easy. We thought about bringing my in-law's too (who currently live with us) but we thought it would be better to go as just the 3 of us, and take my in-law's with us next time.


It was a very, very special trip. It gave us time to really bond with our daughter one-on-one. We made so many unforgettable memories. The whole trip was completely dedicated to her and she was just over the moon! We had so much fun as a family and we both rode on all the rides with her.


Maya was really the perfect age to go, as she is so active now that she was not easily tired. This Summer, when it was too hot to venture out of the house, Maya and I watched all the classic Disney films - Snow WhiteSleeping BeautyCinderellaBambi  - so she was able to recognize all the characters and princesses and was really excited about meeting them.



It was also the perfect time to go during my pregnancy. I had a lot of energy in my second trimester, and we wanted to go before I entered the third trimester no-fly zone.


I remember my parents taking me to Disneyland when I was younger, so it was so amazing to see my own daughter experience it for the first time and see it through her eyes. Husband-ji had also never been to Disneyland before, and although he usually hates doing kid stuff, he also had a great time. Disneyland - as compared to when I visited in the 90's - is even better now and well-thought out. It is so family friendly and it's just the most fun place for kids.


I would love to return back in a few years when Maya is older - it is really a place that kids can keep experiencing as they get older. Maya was so happy about the trip and she said that next time, she will take "her baby" (her sibling) on all the rides!


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Saturday, November 19, 2016

Now Featured On: Indian Interracial Marriages Podcast!


I'm so excited to share with you that we are featured on the latest episode of Indian Interracial Marriages podcast! This podcast is a wonderful resource for those of us in masala partnerships and it's about time that we have a station like this which directly reflects our growing community.

This podcast was a bit unique because husband-ji joined me in the discussion! Most of my readers have heard so much about him, yet have never heard his side of the story, so I think it will be interesting for you guys to listen in to his perspective. I sure found it interesting to hear his thoughts...and OMG he has a sexy voice when I listen to it!

On this podcast, we discussed the randomness of how we first met, how we dealt with naysayers over the years, the shocking moment husband-ji told his mom about me, the importance of grandparents, and our current joint-family household.

Part two of our interview will be released next Friday, so stay tuned!!!

Click HERE to listen to our interview.
Click HERE to subscribe to this wonderful podcast on iTunes.

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What did you guys like about our interview?
Can you relate to any of the topics discussed?
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Friday, November 18, 2016

Ask Firangi Bahu: "I feel like we have nowhere to turn..."

(Img via Atlas Green)

"Hi Firangi Bahu,

I have been reading your blog for a while and I don't know where to turn. I don't know if you can offer me any advice, but this is a cry for help to the universe. I am looking for answers.

Here's my story: I'm an American and my husband is from India. We have two children who are currently in elementary school - my daughter is in Kindergarten and my son is in Grade 3. I work part-time from home and handle the children. My husband has a good job, but he is here on a work visa. He doesn't have his green card yet. We live in a large city in the American Midwest. I met my husband here when he was doing his Master's degree at my American university and we were married shortly after.

Last week, we watched in horror as Trump was elected and now we are doubting the future in this country. The state where we live is full of Republicans. We have had to deal with racism over the years, but nothing was as bad as last week. My children were bullied at school for "looking Mexican" and told by classmates that they would be "deported", even though they are American born and bred!!! When I was voting, a white man standing beside me remarked that he "couldn't wait until all the terrorists get kicked out", and he pointed to a Sikh man standing only yards away. Who could have been my husband. My husband has also faced numerous situations of bullying - at work, and even when he's been out grocery shopping. He doesn't feel like his job is secure. Frankly, it has been horrific for months. Many of our friends are dealing with the same thing, but they can't leave. We do not feel safe. We have both discussed a plan to leave the U.S. to a safer, more tolerant country. We have discussed renting out our house and maybe returning to the U.S. when it is more safe and when we can trust the leadership and the government. I feel like it's only a matter of time before my husband loses his job, or we are the victim of a hate crime. I'm not willing to expose my children to years and years of an intolerant dictatorship under Trump. This week was bad enough. I have lost all my faith in my country. For our family's safety, I'm not waiting to stick around until it gets better. I'd rather leave entirely for somewhere better, and live as an expat.

I have always thought of India as another possibility for us. A lot of Americans don't have the option of fleeing to their spouse's country, so in that way at least I felt fortunate. However, my husband's family lives in New Delhi and I have serious concerns about the air quality and also my personal safety as a foreign woman. Recently, our relatives have not been able to step outside because the smog has been at an all-time high. They said that even the air inside the house is bad.

I feel like we have nowhere to turn - my country has become a hotpot for racist attacks, and my husband's country has become physically unbreathable. It's like a nightmare come true...."

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Dear readers, what would YOU do if you were in the reader's position?
Helpful advice / brainstorming / solutions welcome...

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Wednesday, November 16, 2016

My Pregnancy Essentials


First off, let me tell you guys that I'm so very happy to be able to write this post! This is my second time being pregnant and I feel so fortunate to experience that. However, pregnancy is a pretty weird experience in general. Even though this one has been far easier than my first, it is still pretty taxing on my body as all my nutrients and energy are going directly to the baby. Sometimes I don't feel quite myself as it's like my body is being controlled by some tiny emperor alien growing inside of me, who is quite bossy already. Also, as my body expands (god help us!!!) I realize that I'm not quite able to do the things I'm used to - lifting anything, for example; running around like a madwoman; or straining too much in any way (I am on strike from any strenuous household work - hee hee, lucky me!).

There are also a lot of things that I am relying on in my daily life, just to make my life a bit more comfortable. A lot of these things I used with my first pregnancy as well.



Here's my top pregnancy essentials:

1. Bio Oil
This is a cheap drugstore oil that is available almost anywhere - I think they even carry it in Costco. It has a very delicate smell to it that doesn't irritate me too much. I like to put it on my tummy at night to alleviate any stretch marks or itching as my skin expands on my belly.

2. Tums
I have the worst ever pregnancy-related heartburn, that I have a stash everywhere I go  next to the bed, in my living room, and in my purse.

I used this pillow with my first pregnancy, and now with this one. It is the perfect shape and it wraps around your head and legs so easily, since you can only sleep on your side. Regular pillows just don't do the trick!

This is my favorite skin cleanser and it works so well on sensitive skin. It makes your skin feel so soft and light, and it is unscented. Most cleansers I have tried are too harsh.

I am not wearing any makeup nowadays, but I still like to add a nice glow to my skin. I spray this on my face after I have a shower and it feels so nice. The smell is very light and non-irritating.
Being pregnant, your body temperature is naturally quite high which means you can sweat a lot. I used to use husband-ji's deodorant because I was sweating like a man, until it stopped working for me. I found this Honest deodorant at a baby store and it actually works!!! I also love the smell. One of the moms at school said I smell like essential oils with it on!
For some reason, my regular toothpaste started making me gag during pregnancy. Right now I'm using Tom's toothpaste because it's very gentle.
I'm basically living in these! It's the only thing that's comfortable to wear right now, and I'll even wear it under a dress too. The waistband stretches over the entire tummy and feels so comfortable.
I have to keep a notepad beside me most of the time because I'm constantly forgetting everything! I also can't move around too fast, so by the time I reach my desk I've already forgotten what I was meaning to write down!
My aunt gave me a Lakshmi necklace for my birthday and I have been wearing it every day. Lakshmi is a powerful goddess for women to wear, and she is also very lucky.

11. Ellen Tracy or Eileen West nightgowns
I'm basically living in these right now - they are so comfortable and pretty. Lots of room for an expanding belly and totally unfussy!
My feet totally expanded during pregnancy, so I started wearing husband-ji's shoes! That's when I discovered these fabulous slip-on shoes by Kenzo. They are so comfortable, supportive, and stylish!
I swear sitting on this ball in my last trimester made my daughter come out super fast! I used to sit on it and rock back and forth several times a day, and also during my laboring as well. At a certain point, sitting becomes uncomfortable, and that's when you need one of these!
Don't worry, this is non-alcoholic! Ginger is proven to be a great nausea buster, and I can't get enough of the taste of ginger. I love to drink it in a soda form because then it settles my stomach and reduces my heartburn.


Some other things I'm doing are:

Acupuncture
When you're pregnant, you can't really take any medicine to alleviate any bodily problems like before, so I rely on acupuncture to help me out. More than anything, it really relaxes me.

Reflexology
I go to reflexology every few weeks where someone massages my feet for an hour and I completely fall asleep. It has helped so much with the swelling on my feet!

Chiropractic Care
I can't recommend this highly enough - it's such a lifesaver for me. Pregnancy is really hard on the spine and the pelvis, and getting weekly adjustments has been an absolute life saver on my growing body. Chiropractic care can also help with easier births.

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What are/were your pregnancy essentials?
Is there anything you used to make the 9 months easier?

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Monday, November 14, 2016

Bibi's Chicken Rogan Josh

Hi, I'm Bibi and I'm honored to do a recipe guest post on Alex's blog today! If you'd like to learn more about me please check out my interview on Alex's blog here or visit my blog Keep Calm & Curry On.


In Persian, Rogan means fat or ghee and Josh means intense or boiling. Rogan Josh made with mutton is a traditional dish of Kashmir that was introduced by the Persian speaking Mughals. This recipe uses chicken in place of mutton for a delicious red curry. Although lavishly spiced this dish is more aromatic in flavor than fiery hot. The chicken is seared until golden brown then braised until tender in the rich velvety sauce. Perfect for a chilly Fall or Winter day served with rice and a few piquant chutneys.


As is the traditional Kashmiri manner the chicken is first browned in salted ghee and oil then set aside. Browning the chicken in salted oil gives it a bit of a salted crust as well as leaving delicious drippings for making the sauce. The sauce is then made with layer upon layer of flavors. Kashmiri mirch, fennel, dry ginger, cassia, cloves, black and green cardamoms are all authentic flavors of Kashmiri cuisine. Tempering the yogurt gives it that velvety texture we're looking for. Finally the sauce and chicken are combined to slowly simmer thereby melding the flavors. The sauce is quite soupy as it is served with rice like most Kashmiri dishes. (If you'd prefer a thicker gravy then grind the onions to a smooth paste before frying.) Kashmiris probably wouldn't use the cassia leaves but I find their delicate fragrance enhances the flavors so I put them in. Enjoy!

Ingredients:
1kg/2lbs chicken, skinless and cut into 8 pieces with bone in
2 tbsp cooking oil
2 tbsp ghee/clarified butter
3 onions, sliced thinly into half moons (or ground into paste for thick gravy)
2 tbsp garlic/lahsun paste
2 tbsp ginger/adrak paste
2 cassia leaves/tej patta (optional)
2 inch piece of cassia bark/dalchini (or 1 tsp ground cinnamon)
2 cups water or stock
1 tbsp dried mint (optional for garnish)
Grind for masala:
3 black cardamoms/kali elaichi
5 green cardamoms/elaichi,
6 cloves/laung
10 black peppercorns/kali mirch
2 tsp cumin seeds/jeera
2 tsp coriander seeds/dhania
Mix to smooth paste in bowl with fork for sauce:
1 cup full fat yogurt/dahi
1/2 tsp flour/maida (this will keep the yogurt from splitting)
1 TBS Kashmiri mirch (or 1&1/2 tsp paprika plus 1&1/2 tsp cayenne)
2 tsp ground fennel/saunf
1 tsp dry ginger/soonth
1/2 tsp turmeric/haldi

Here's what to do:
1) Heat cooking oil or ghee with 1 teaspoonful salt in kadhai or deep heavy bottomed skillet for 7 minutes. While oil is heating mix yogurt together with spices and flour as listed for sauce until smooth and set aside. Grind spices listed for masala and set aside.


2) Fry chicken pieces in hot oil and ghee for about 3 minutes on each side or until browned. Set fried chicken pieces aside on a plate.


3) In same pan fry sliced (or ground) onions until beginning to brown. Add garlic paste, ginger paste, cassia leaves, cassia bark and spices ground for masala. Fry for about 2 minutes or until raw smell is gone from garlic.


4) Remove pan from heat and add yogurt mixed with flour and spices to fried onion mixture. Stir well and return pan to heat. Bring mixture to a simmer. (This tempers the yogurt to give it a smooth texture.) Allow mixture to simmer for 5 minutes. If mixture begins to scorch or stick reduce heat, add 1/4 cup water and stir well.


5) After 5 minutes return the fried chicken pieces to the pan with the onion, yogurt, and spice mixture. Stir well. Add 2 cups water or stock to the spice and chicken mixture and bring to a simmer. Cover pan and allow to simmer for 15 minutes or until chicken pieces are cooked through and oil separates from the sauce. Salt to taste and garnish with dried mint if desired.


Helpful Hints:
I do find that sometimes chicken can get a bit dry when cooked this way. To prevent that I usually soak the skinless chicken in a brine solution of 3 tablespoons salt to one liter/four cups water for at least 3 hours or preferably overnight in the refrigerator. Before frying rinse the chicken pieces well and dispose of the brine solution. This really makes for tender, juicy chicken!

(An illustration of market boats on Nallah Mar canal that runs through Srinagar from Francis Younghusband's 1917 book Kashmir.)


I hope you enjoy this recipe and do come visit me at Keep Calm & Curry On for more culinary fun!

Calmly currying on,
Bibi

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Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Ever-changing Motherhood


One of the things people tell you as a parent is that as soon as you get comfortable in a new phase (or routine) with your children, something changes. That's why you have to be so flexible with your parenting methods and overall outlook - because life with kids is consistently changing. Once you feel you know what you're doing, your world will be turned upside down! But what people don't tell you is that motherhood (or fatherhood) keeps changing as well. 

Sometimes you will feel so stressed out that you think you simply can't handle another day, and other times you will feel so happy and your heart will feel so full. Sometimes motherhood brings about different changes or priorities in oneself - sometimes you just want to be home with your kids, and other times you can't wait to get out of the house and do your own thing.

I have gone between both. When I was pregnant with Maya, I was so ill that I physically couldn't work. By the time she was 3 months old, I was ready to do something for myself again so I started my blog, which unknowingly became a huge job. I returned back to work part-time when my daughter was a little over a year old - very sparingly. When toddlerhood became too much for me to handle, I found ways to work more. My writing passion took me down other roads too - eventually I was engrossed not only in my blog, but my Etsy shop, working on my book, on top of working in our store part-time. Up until my daughter started preschool, there were a LOT of late nights and early mornings as I tried to take care of my daughter as much as possible, and work on my own projects. I don't think I got more than 5 hours of sleep until she was 2.5 years old. After she started school, I used each minute to work, and I worked hard with my new found time. If I needed more time to finish my projects, I would arrange for husband-ji or my mum or our babysitter to watch Maya for a few extra hours per week - and I did not feel guilty about it. In many ways, I was a stay-at-home mom with a double life - when I was with my daughter, I was really there; but when she would go to school or do another activity - then I had time to cram in my passions. And boy, did I cram it in. Every minute was put to good use. It was kinda crazy.


Now things have come full circle again - now I'm fully a stay-at-home mom again - by choice. I do not want to work at all. I don't think I ever thought I'd say that again. But ever since I got pregnant, everything has just slowed down. There's not such a rush about everything. I'm trying to spend as much time with my daughter as possible while she's still an only child. At night, I'm reading a book and going to bed early, instead of staying up late and working on my projects. It's not that I don't have any ideas - I have soooooo many - but right now I just don't feel the rush to pump them all out. I'm not thinking about the past or the future - I'm just enjoying the moment as it is. Maybe it's the baby's personality coming through - if so, this baby has a very relaxed Hawaiian vibe!

I'm sure I will feel different after the baby arrives - or maybe I won't. But one thing's for sure: motherhood keeps changing...for me, at least!

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What about you, dear readers?
Does motherhood/fatherhood keep changing for you?
Have there been times where you wanted to work more or less?
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Monday, November 7, 2016

Our Halloween 2016


A day after celebrating Diwali, it was suddenly Halloween! This year, Halloween seemed to creep up on us so quickly. Much like our Diwali, our Halloween was pretty low-key this year - which means we trick-or-treated for 4 hours instead of 6 hours!!! This year, Halloween fell on a Monday which meant Maya was in school for a big chunk of the day, so she was a bit tired to begin with. 


To prepare for Halloween, all the school children were doing themed crafts all month. We bought a small pumpkin for our apartment, which Maya designed and I carved for her. We also went to the VanDusen Gardens to see their award-winning pumpkin carvings. And, to the Stanley Park Ghost Train, our annual tradition.

The costume part was easy this year since Maya wanted to wear my bunny costume. I found this costume back when my parents moved in the Spring, and she became instantly obsessed with it! It is a cozy homemade costume that hasn't aged a day! I would love to learn how to sew and make costumes for her, just like my mum used to for me. Until then, she has my hand-me-downs!


We were a bit sad that we didn't have a house to decorate this year, since my parents' moved to an area with no children, and apartment buildings don't really celebrate Halloween. Luckily, we dropped by our friends' house and they invited us to stay over, so we ended up doing the majority of trick-or-treating around their neighborhood which has lots of kids. Maya also got to help give out the candies at their house, which she loves doing.


My mother-in-law really enjoyed celebrating this festival with us. She had been here for Halloween once before but that was when Maya was too young to celebrate it full-force. This year, she loved seeing all the kids in their costumes and the houses decorated. She couldn't believe how much candy the kids got!


It's hard to believe that next year, we will have another little baby celebrating Halloween with us!

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How was your Halloween?
Did you or your kids dress up?


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Friday, November 4, 2016

Our Diwali 2016


This past weekend was so busy that we're still recovering from it! On Sunday, we celebrated Diwali, and Monday was Halloween. One of the things I love about being in a multicultural marriage is that we get to celebrate double the festivals - and this year, both these fun-filled holidays happened to be on the same weekend!

This year, Diwali was pretty low-key but we were happy to celebrate in a simple way at home. Husband-ji was off work so we spent the whole day together as a family. My mother-in-law woke up early in the morning and did a special Diwali pooja with Maya.

The big question was whether Maya was going to like being dressed up in traditional Indian attire, since she is very specific about her clothes and personal style. I avoided a tantrum by letting her choose between two new pattu lehenga's, and she also picked out all her jewelry herself and her bindi too. The pattu lehenga was silk, so it was very comfortable and she kept it on the whole day! She kept twirling around in it like a Disney princess, and she decided she wanted to have her hair down, instead of her usual preferred French braid.


Husband-ji and my mother-in-law spent the whole day cooking a delicious meal of tamarind rice, drumstick sambhar, brinjal curry, rasam, mint-coriander chutney, aloo jeera, and corn fritter pakora's.

By dusk, we got all dressed up in our new outfits and took our special Diwali annual family picture. We also lit an assortment of diya's and candles which made the house sparkle. Our friends came over after that and we ate all the delicious food and the children played together so nicely.


It was also the first time I wore the saree while pregnant. I picked out a new designer saree that husband-ji brought back from Hyderabad recently, which was so special. I didn't know if I'd ever get the opportunity to be pregnant again during a Diwali, so I wanted to be extra extra glam this time!

(My baby bump!)

The best part of it was that Maya was very involved in all the aspects of Diwali, from selecting her outfit, to helping pluck coriander leaves for the chutney, helping with the diya's, and helping Pati with her pooja. It was all very exciting for her.


Celebrating Diwali put me in such a nice mood. It is such an uplifting festival, and we have so much to be thankful for this year.

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How did you celebrate Diwali this year?

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