Skywatch Friday – 3

Watching the sky, looking for shapes in the clouds started as a mere pastime, which has turned into an obsession now a days.

Have you seen those cricket batsmen looking up to the sky as they enter the ground to bat ? They pray for a good innings score for them or for their team.

Whenever I sit in the car heading out to work, I also look up to the sky, to my front, side, back, actually all possibilities. But my only reason for looking is to catch a glimpse of a beautiful pattern or even a clear blue sky. I love watching it.

Today, has been gloomy so far. The sky is a dull grey. I don’t know if it will rain or not. But here I am trying to post some amazing patterns from my archives, which can make me feel happy and energised in an instant.

A picturesque field, which makes me wonder if its a painting!

When man made structures and God-made coconut trees form a perfect shadow to the beautiful sunset!

Somehow this leafless tree looks so damn good against this backdrop…l love it!


Linking this with Skywatch Friday 🙂

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Malligaipoo Idly

This phrase has been with me for as long as I can remember – malligaipoo mathiri idly irukanum (Idly should be like jasmine flower)!

My amma used to make the softest idlies which I can remember. Those days, she never used a cooker for steaming the idlies. The big iron kadai (irumbu ilupachatti) was half filled with water and brought to a boil. The big circular idly mold (idly thattu) which has molds for 7 idlies was covered in a white wet cloth cut in the shape of a circle.  Idly batter was poured on the cloth exactly on top of the mold, which held the batter intact. This idly thattu fitted exactly on the iron kadai. A tomb shaped lid was used to cover the idly thattu. When the idlies were done steaming, the whole house could smell it. That was the power of cooking, which can evoke the senses even before we started to eat. The idly thattu was removed from heat. Then water was sprinkled on the idlies, which helped them to cool fast so that they can fall off easily from the cloth. A big plate was used to collect the idlies from the idly thattu. Using the cloth for steaming helped in maintaining the moisture content so that idlies remained soft for a long time.

These idlies were soft…amazingly. We can bite into it without any great effort. And yet they held on to the shape and they don’t break at the touch of human fingers.  Its no wonder that the softness quotient was compared to that of a malligaipoo.

Now, the major ingredient for that amazing softness is the urid dal (ulutham paruppu). The correct proportion of this dal is required for that right amount of softness. Less the urid dal, harder the idlies. Similarly, when the urid dal is more, then idlies are not fluffy – they come out as flat discs. After choosing the right proportion of urid dal, it is important to soak it for the right amount of time. Long hours of soaking will make the urid dal accumulate froth and starts smelling too and needs excessive cleaning. Ideally one hour is enough for the urid dal to soak to the right consistency. And while grinding the urid dal, the right amount of water should be used so that the batter is fluffy and soft. Grinding for a long time will make the batter loose its fluffiness.

Rice can be soaked for a long time, no restrictions there. But the rice should be ground enough that its neither too soft to touch nor too coarse. A light coarseness is good for idlies and for crispy dosas too. A very fine rice batter is good for dosas but not for idlies. A balance needs to be achieved here.

After getting all these proportions and grinding consistency to the right level, the right amount of salt should be added for proper fermentation. Depending on the temperature of the place we live in, the batter should be left out for fermentation. Ideally 4 to 5 hours is enough for a warm place like Chennai. There is another important factor – using our hand to mix salt will induce our body heat to the batter. And accordingly the fermentation will happen faster or slower. We need to watch the batter for fermentation levels and accordingly refrigerate it, so that the batter doesn’t turn sour.

When I write the whole thing down, it sure sounds like a lot of instructions and rules to follow. I’ve grown with all these small tit bits ingrained into the soul by practice and a lot by observing amma and paati. My paati used to grind idly batter for others in the colony and me and my sister were assigned the work of grinding all those batches. Years of grinding it, day after day, to the same consistency makes it a part of the soul.

This batter is sure to give idlies as soft as the malligaipoo and will melt in the mouth too. The softness is so crucial as it can absorb the idly milagai podi spiciness or the tangy taste of the sambar so well.

Today’s idlies came out amazingly soft to touch, melt in the mouth kind and the chef in me is very happy at the outcome!

If you see keenly, you can actually see the air pores in the idly, which conforms that they are light and soft.

Also, I try my level best to make the batter at home. I’ve tried commercially sold batter once or twice and I hated myself for buying it – they were tasteless and idlies came out very hard to bite. Somethings are better when done at home, especially the idly batter.

Sunday rumination – Life’s always throwing lemons…

Its up to me to decide if those lemons are meant for making a sweet lemonade or to make a spicy hot pickle or just crush it out to clean the whites of stains 😀

Actually every lemon that gets thrown at me is an opportunity for me…

…to distinguish the good from the bad, in my own way

…to move away from closed doors and start looking at small windows that are trying to open for me

…to understand that some incidents happened in my life to change my course of journey and to make me think differently about the same situation

…to turn the sour lemons to sweet melons, just by looking only at things which give me happiness

…to ignore the things that cause hurt and pain to the heart – oh yeah, this could be a daunting task, but well worth the effort, as I love myself more than anyone, now a days

As I woke up this morning, “When life throws lemons, make lemonade” came to my mind…its one of those bizzare thought process of my sleepy mind. Just out of the blue, I started thinking more about that line. As I loaded the clothes into the washing machine, I thought that it need not be lemonade always and it could also be made into a pickle – the citrus-y spicy can make the tongue wanting more of it!

And when I was making coffee, came the philosophical thoughts – some days are like that – I just learn to take it as it gives me myriad of thoughts and critical analysis of myself. The only difference to the whole scene today is I don’t carry on the guilt of not performing to my standards. After all the thoughts are processed, I realize that I am more important to myself and my happiness is more important to myself and it is one of the treasured things which I should not forego at any cost.

So, keeping myself happy, whether with lemonade or lemon pickle, I go about my day, writing my thoughts in my space – a recording to be read another day to calm the mind and soothe the heart.

Microblog Mondays: Addicted, I say !

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Oh my !! Its the winter skies
Brilliant with cloud patterns
And beautiful hues
That take my breath away
Every morning, day after day
And then the sunsets too !!

As I stand in wonder
In that balcony of mine
My mind calms and the soul wakes up
Its this moment that I wait for everyday
That keeps me going the whole day !!

Then it hits me…
This moment needs to be captured
In lens too.
So that I can tell all those people
Of the amazing sunrise that started off the day !

And so the fingers dance over the tiny keyboard
On that outdated mobile
Instantaneously shared
Without any filter
Of course, on Instagram 😀

Oh yes…it’s out there for the world to see
The sunshine pics and my happiness !
Its a routine now, everyday…
What else to call it ??
Addicted, I say !

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A second innings babble

I know its too early to put up a second innings update…but nevertheless words or thoughts cannot be stopped from expressing 😉

Sometimes I wonder whether to put my thoughts as a Facebook update and be lost in the sea of updates there or write a leisurely post on my blog and save it for future references.  As always, giving respect to my intuition and to the fact that I love my blog more than anything, the thoughts and hence the words find their way here. And thank you all for reading them and giving your comments 🙂

The second innings began for me just a few days ago – no, I don’t mean a cricket field. But in my life which some people call the empty nest syndrome.  I actually have a lot of plans for it. Since there is no big responsibility of children at home who need my immediate attention, am planning on doing things which I’ve postponed for long.

In the mean time, there is this big reality hits, that I face on a day-to-day basis.

– First of all, there’s no lunch packing. And many days I miss doing it, which I never thought would. Seeing all those empty lunch boxes lying in the shelf makes me nostalgic.
– After switching off the lights at night, there is no little voice that asks, “Mommy, what’s for breakfast tomorrow??” or “What are you packing for lunch tomorrow?”.  And I didn’t know that I’ll miss it.
– Suddenly, my 10 ltr pressure cooker looks humongous. And I’ve switched to the 5 ltr one.  You feel this is such a small thing ?? Just try changing the regular one – you’ll understand my feelings.
– I’ve the 6 plates idly set of which I’m using only 3 now :\
– Vegetable buying is based more on my taste than the kids.
– Washing machine can be run just two times a week – OMG !! Just imagining those hectic days when I used to put two loads in the machine and wait for it to dry so that it can be ironed…sigh…is this what everybody says that “its just a phase…this too shall pass” !!
– Coffee drinking and Dosa eating – clearing the newspaper and vessels – a few routines that I do…that means I’m free for a chunk of time – may be I can read a book 😉  And that’s all the more reason that you see me blogging more and reading more of your posts too 😀
– Then what ?? Even my two bedroom flat looks big now !! The mind is seriously thinking of a Studio apartment 😉
– Me, who used to love the weekends, is dreading the same, as work days are better at handling the emptiness at home.
– Its funny how we both are learning to live just by ourselves – sometimes we are so bored that we don’t know what to do, we both get up in the middle of the night like bats and keep talking, many a times we don’t cook elaborate stuff and just stick to thayir sadam (curd rice) – its weird and its funny. Yet we are learning again.

And this is just a sample. Await more updates on my second innings 😀

While my wonderful friend is beginning her awesome life with her second born, I’m sitting in an easy chair with a book in hand and Romedy now on in the background, sometimes wondering where the hell did the time fly !!

Conversations

You know what ??? I love conversations – the various faces and colors of it.

The best of the best conversations till date, which I cherish are from my childhood days – with my sister and pal, over a cup ( a big mug to be precise 😉  ) of tea and endless talks – the places can be anything like a corner between the cot and the wall – it can be on the steps overlooking the sky – the terrace with its umpteen crows looking on us – but they are the best and I miss those conversations a lot. We just talk, we don’t give opinions neither we judge. We just talk and I’ve found that great sibling bond with those awesome conversations with her.

And then there are the amazing conversations with my daughters. Even though the ones during their toddler years are adorable, I loved it even more when I could talk to them as adults. The endless talks about this girl and that boy, the testing teachers, the teen issues, the books read, doing the HP discussion on spells and what not, all the rom-coms we’ve watched together, people’s behavior and attitudes, why this superstition and why not that – when I sit to think about it, those talks have made them strong and confident and not to feel awkward about expressing one’s thoughts.

Even though I’m not a great fan of group conversations, there is this place where I’m myself and I love the openness and fun there – my kind of girls group. Did I forget to mention it’s on Whatsapp and I’m loving it there ?? 😀  Even though I keep typing my thoughts, its great conversation to be there.

Of course, Facebook conversations work great for me with all the new found online friends – there is great exchange of thoughts and ideas and I love it totally.

Those conversations with the neighbor on the corridor…

The casual conversation with the older mamis in our apartment temple…

Those BBC kind of informative conversations with my house-help, Muthu…you know, I actually love the way she talks with me.  Yesterday, I discovered one of my sandals was missing which I had left it outside my flat.  When I told Muthu about it, she just went on and on about the various incidents on sandal / shoe stealing that has been happening in our apartments. I felt very naive about living in this apartment and knowing nothing about it, while she comes for a few hours and is up-to-date on the happenings here.

When I used to stay in Hyd, my best friend used to stay in the next block.  Even though we had an intercom to talk our heart out or a mobile to chat wherever we want, we were amused by our conversations over the balconies using sign language 😀  Also, all the evenings saw a few of us gather near the play area for a laughter-filled conversation session, which used to be our stress buster and feel lighter time.

When my best friend of college days traced my number and called me, I had one of the best conversations in life, with her. We just picked up from where we left decades ago. It was quite easy and the flow of words and topics, still matched amazingly.  That is one conversation to cherish for my lifetime.

This post on conversations can never be complete without the dining table conversations….aaahhh…with hot rasam and pappad, conversations at the dining table are the best.  All of us talking about our daily routines with lip smacking sounds in-between make it all the more memorable, on a day-to-day basis.

And finally, here is the picture which initiated the whole post.

IMG-20150630-WA0001If you look beyond the beauty of the room, you can find two happy people conversing as there is no tomorrow. The early morning birds chirping away at the background, the morning freshness of the garden around and a hot cup of coffee in hand made it all the more memorable. I don’t remember on what we spoke, but that happy conversation moment is etched in memory.  And I thank my daughter for capturing this moment for me.

So, what are your favorites ??

 

Microblog Mondays – Dressing up

Yup….you got it right ! It’s the dressing up season, what with the advent of the Tamil month Thai, weddings are happening just everywhere.

And I love our weddings where we get to meet all those aunties, uncles with their typical question – “Do you remember me??”  And I’ll be LOL-ing at that question, which repeats at every wedding !! 😀 😀

Of course, the most wonderful part of wedding is the dressing up.  To choose among the crispy kanjeevaram silk saris, the matching jewelry / accessories makes me all delighted and fills me with such josh.  The weekend was spent happily dressing up and attending a wedding. And I look forward to another one this week.

It’s such a happy time for me, dressing up 😀 😀

How about you ?? Do you like weddings and dressing up for them ?? 🙂

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