Pal Kozhakattai

Whenever amma made kalandha sevai (rice vermicelli mixed with coconut or lemon), it was an arduous task. She used to make the processed rice flour, then make a dough with hot water. And then cook them again in boiling water and transfer it to the sevai nazhi (sevai making machine) which was hand-pressed. The arduous task eases down and joy overrides when the strands of sevai fall seamlessly from the sevai nazhi. The long strands of sevai were thoroughly enjoyed when we eat them. A slightly similar comparison will be the noodles that the kids slurp in one go.

The best part is always for the last. After making the sevai, there will be leftover rice dough which will be then rolled into small round balls and cooked gently. Jaggery will be added and crushed cardamom will be sprinkled. Coconut milk will be poured and mixed. And that is the definition of home-made heaven, which is called the pal kozhakattai. The simple and delicious dessert to be eaten after the sumptuous meal of coconut and lemon sevai.

Making pal kozhakattai is like a nostalgic journey into the kitchen of my patti and amma, sitting there next to them in my pavadai sattai (Long skirt and blouse), helping in the pressing of the sevai nazhi, waiting impatiently for the sevai process to be done so that patti will start making pal kozhakattai.

A dish as simple as this reminds me of my patti’s soft hands and the way she will smile at me for making my favourite dish.

A dish that is reminiscent of my petite patti and the way she does magic in the kitchen!

The taste of Pal kozhakattai in my mouth just takes me back to the times when I am still a little girl lying on the lap of my paati – the sweetest part of my childhood!

And here it is paati, this is for you, made by me in my kitchen!

Whatsapp conversations…

I love my whatsapp conversations with my special ones. These conversations are the real ones for me – like in knowing what the other person is thinking about a certain idea or thing or movie…anything!

To me, whatsapp conversations are certainly NOT the mindless forwards which insult the relationship between husband and wife or that propagates fraud (false) news or those that hurt the sentiments of others or those badly made memes based on movie dialogues. I firmly yet politely tell people not to send any forwards to me on whatsapp. I feel it is a waste of time to dwell on those unimportant things when we can use that time to actually talk to another person using that same technology.

During the difficult hospital times of last year, the quiet yet simple messages of hugs and healing wishes from dear ones made me a lot stronger. I felt their presence through their written words in their phone. There were times when I couldn’t talk to people over phone considering the high emotional fever that ran inside me. But these whatsapp conversations helped to calm me down. A kind word soothed me. A prayer lifted me. And I am greatly indebted to all the kindness which was passed on to me.

The conversations with a best friend can be so real especially with all those emoticons; the facial expressions are best expressed with them. Even when we are waiting in a clinic or a queue, these conversations can be continued bringing warmth to the heart.

On any given day, I would prefer a simple “Happy Diwali Uma” on whatsapp to a mindless one minute video of a lamp doing gymnastics with a backdrop of sparklers at the end of which it bursts into a Diwali message!

I always prefer the written wishes – a greeting card done by hand or a whatsapp message typed especially for you, conveys the fondness and love from that person.  A forwarded wish can reach hundreds of people spanning over many groups but a single personalized message typed is way too precious for the one who receives it.

So, how are your whatsapp conversations?

Nostrils scanning…

Today was a day of excessive fragrances, some bearable and some were the headache types. I wonder if all the people join together on one single day to keep my nostrils on scan mode all through the day!

And what better way to inhale those varieties of fragrances than a crowded bus…sigh! The smell of sweat mixed with deo is something which goes around too much. And that too, it is a mix of the various fragrances of deo! Even though I crunch my noses at some strong deo smells or sometimes I cover my nose with my scarf, I have this fleeting thought inside my head – Do I smell nice? 😉 I actually make sure I do…he he 😀

And then there are smells of chocolates, fruits, idly, upma from the tiffin boxes of all those people rushing to office and who left home early.

Not to forget the smells of flowers esp malli that adorn the women’s hair. I actually like the fragrance of malli poo. The only time I can’t stand it is when it is worn by the woman standing in front of me, so that the flowers are literally pushed into my nose.

Especially today there was this guy next to me in the bus who had this strong attar perfume! I hate that smell for it always makes me nauseated and also gives me a headache! I had to make my way among all other women who were guarding the tiny space on the floor of the bus on which they stood to a better place where there was movement of wind, as that would take away these strong smells away from me.

Being the finicky person that I am in this fragrance topic, I make sure to pray for a window seat before I leave home; then I am saved from all these headache-giving-fragrances that float by activating my nostril scanner!


Sleep – lost and found!

As Shail wrote about her sleep(less) patterns, I had a thought which I wanted to share about sleep. Then I realized I have already written about what a sound sleeper I am 😉

Last year’s trauma of my husband being hospitalized was one of the difficult times for my sleep as well. I remember, all throughout the first four weeks, that my sleep was barely minimalist. I don’t remember a good night’s sleep. I was always awake for him as he kept calling, tossing, moaning in pain through the night! And just like small babies he will sleep soundly as the day breaks. I will be sitting there wide-bleary-eyed maintaining silence as that was the time of hustle-bustle in a hospital with shift changing, housekeeping…phew!

All the lack of sleep took a toll on me. I used to roam around with such dark circles around my eyes. After he had the skin grafting surgery done and when I knew that I could relax a little, I caught up on my sleep like crazy.

I had been of the view that sleep once lost cannot be compensated but I think I ate my words during those fitful sleepnights I got after we got him home healthy and fine!

Then later when the husband started walking and even driving his car, the actual realization of what I went through hit me.

Again I was plagued with sleepless nights and woke up with a drab mood every morning with no josh or energy to do any work. I was awake from 1am to 5am and nothing I did helped me to sleep better.

Have you ever thought that what comes your way is actually the life’s challenge for you to face or the solution to an existing challenge. Like that came the opportunity for me to enroll to a Yoga course. Through one of the teachers I got initiated to meditation.

And the wonder of wonders was, I started to sleep well at nights. My meditation was filled with thoughts as I had no control over them. I was advised to let the thoughts be. Just push it aside giving focus to the thought of meditation.

When we lie down to sleep, we need to focus on the thought that this is the time to sleep. We should not entertain thoughts; they will come and keep coming more if you ponder.

And that is how I got my sleep back. Its so precious that we realize it only when we lose it.

Angels in white uniform

We used live in Mylapore during my childhood days. And our gala shopping adventures are always to Rangachari stores on Luz church road. Every time I cross that place I always see white uniformed nurses walking to Isabels hospital or sometimes come out of the hospital. I use to look at them with wonder and love for their uniform. Such pristine white dress with stockings and shoes – they were an image of sincerity and smartness put together for me.

I was so carried away with their uniform because of the dress they wore. While I was restricted to wear only full skirts and blouses, the nurses wore such smart dress.

The senior nurses wore white saris with collared white blouse. I loved that blouse model – such a smart design. But buying such white clothes was a big no no at home. So all I could do was stare at them and their smart dresses.

And last Jan, I came to know their big warm heart with such amazing softness for the patients they cared for.

There was this training nurse who came to our room one day. She had to collect patient information as part of the curriculam. She kept asking a few questions. As my husband tried turning to one side, he winced in back pain over long duration of lying in the same position. That training nurse immediately sprang to his side and rubbed his back while I tried to give him a hot water massage. Even though she was in training, she was very much in her role to help the patient feel comfortable.

And I learnt that nurses are trained not to lie to their patients. So when my husband was put on a lower dosage of painkillers owing to other problems, he used to request the nurse to increase the dosage as he couldn’t take the pain. That nurse will stand patiently next to him everytime i.e. thrice everyday, to explain the reasons of lower dosage. He used to insist again and again as his pain shot up so high. Then I intervened to tell the nurse “just agree to what dosage he says but give him what the doctor prescribed”. She said that she just can’t lie to the patient. I was amazed, touched all at the sane time. Then I told him that blatant lie of dosage has been increased so that he will sleep better. That nurse stood by her truth.

There were nurses who became friends over the extended period of stay who took time off their schedule to explain the many medical jargons to me as it was too confusing many a times.

From admiration for their uniforms, I now have a new found respect for the tireless service they provide with an ever smiling face – bless those Angels in white uniform!

UFO Redefined…

I hope you have seen the animated series for children “Bob the Builder”. My girls loved watching that series which involved construction of buildings / bridges and other stuff. And in that series, the cement mixer was called Daisy. Whenever we used to go out and we get to see a cement mixer, the girls will start shouting “Look at Daisy, Ma” ! The husband’s perplexed looks on where the Daisy was made us all laugh more.

That was throwback Thursday story…ha ha 😀

Last month, one evening, me and the husband were chatting, sitting in the balcony, enjoying the chill Chennai breeze (for a change, the chillness took us by surprise)! And suddenly, at the distant dark sky, I saw three lights descending from above. I started screaming “OMG! Its an UFO” 😀

The husband laughed at me and told me that it will be a crane only and not an UFO. I told him that I couldn’t see the grids and I was very sure that it was an UFO.

He kept laughing at me and started teasing about my obsession with the movie PK.

I stomped off inside to get my glasses, wanting to prove my point. When I went to the balcony again, he was still smirking at me with a “PK aaya ho kya?”

I ignored him and after wearing my glasses I looked out at my UFO. And I laughed out aloud. It was indeed a crane with lights fixed on its base. It was being used at the construction site near our place.

The heart that wanted to see magic happening saw an UFO in a crane.

Now, my girls look at a crane and call it UFO with a teasing smile pointed my way…he he!

This is that crane, which is being referred to as the UFO now 😀

Bus stories…

I got into the bus at the bus terminus, which means that I got a nice seat to sit and I got to choose it too among the many available. I chose the one next to a young girl with nerdy glasses. Somehow students attract me; maybe because of their inquisitiveness! And this girl smiled sweetly which created a warm feeling inside me.

And like long lost pals, we started talking. I should say that I am mighty pleased to have met her even for that brief 30 mins bus ride together. She hails from the town of Kumbakonam and is doing an internship. And may God bless that lovely girl for she and her family have moved to Chennai to enable her to study the teacher training course for physically and mentally challenged children. I just sat astounded hearing her talk very gently about her passion to help the challenged children, while she didn’t even make a great deal about it.

The conductor boards the bus and he was showing his annoying face and vocally disapproving anyone who was not giving him the exact change for the ticket.

While I had already kept the change ready in my hand, my bus pal had a twenty rupee note. As she started searching her purse for change I told her that we will buy our tickets together and then there won’t be an issue with change. She was so happy to have the “change” problem solved and we continued talking.

That nerdy glasses girl with her humbleness and gentle voice is someone who will stay in my memory forever!


Remembering Appa…esp today!

With so many ads and reminders in the TV and social media, one just cannot skip the fact that today is the special day for fathers. When one day is never enough for celebrating the father-daughter relationship, this day can be the affirmation day of such a beautiful love.

I’ve written so much about my Appa before, here in this space.

There are many things I adored in my father and I greatly respected him for that. One such thing is the simple fact of giving us the space to find our foothold.

This man, my Appa, needs to be applauded for the simplest fact that he just let me make my decisions on what to study, where to study, where to take up a job and he quietly supported me in my endeavor to make a difference in the world.

Out of all the support he gave me, I consider this incident to be the best in his life as a father, for it meant a great deal to me, then and now.

I was working with a company’s research department, after my college. Even though my dream then was to work with Microsoft, this was the most coveted job among my classmates. And I was the lucky one to get through the rigorous training, which made me the happiest one ever. Appa was elated to know about the job and he was so proud of me, which meant the world to me.

Over a time frame of two to three years, I felt a natural shift inside me to search for something else as I felt that that the job I was doing, was not my calling. I started feeling a natural boredom in the place of passionate research. I just wanted this whole thing to sort out by itself. It just took me some more time to realize that whatever change that needs to happen in my life, will happen only because of my decision to change.

And one fine day, as I was sitting and pondering in my chair, I just wrote a resignation letter and submitted and quit the job. Phew…I felt relief. I didn’t know my next course of action. But I was open for new things to happen as I was free of those things which held me back.

I came home by afternoon. Appa, thatha and patti were having lunch. Appa asked me “Ennachu?” (What happened?) I told him that I just quit my job as I didn’t feel like continuing in that job and that I wanted to do something else. It sounded strange to my ears as I was prepared to let go of that engineering studies and its related job profile, while I was the one to go for it after school.

He just smiled and said “Just sit and eat” – just pure acceptance of me, my decision and whatever I wanted to do later. My God! What a relief it was for me for such blinded acceptance from my Appa. It just made me to work harder and to get back in a good job about which my Appa will be proud again. Even though I did things for myself, I secretly aimed at making my Appa proud.

Today, I sit back and reflect all these, as my daughter has quit her job and come home to take a break and there is this smile of acceptance and support from her father and I feel grateful for such fathers in this world.

For without such understanding fathers, we daughters are never complete.

WW – The wonder called sky!

As you are already aware now, I love these sky watching phases during my day. It might be a brief moment in the morning, when I stare through my balcony to see if the sun has risen before me. Or it could be a moment during the day when I casually look up to see if there are black clouds looming around. It could be even be a moment like below, when I caught the glowing western colors on the move, while going for a meeting. I somehow love this click of the sunset, as the colors blend so beautifully to create such lovely shades and the sun adds its lovely evening glow. Sigh.

The following one is a fun picture. The constant looking up at the sky for patterns may yield such results, on a few occasions. While I saw a horse, dog and a bear – one behind the other, there were other friends of mine who lent their imaginary horses to this picture. And I love such cloud pattern based childlike conversations, where we keep looking for different animals or even people.

My dear friends who spent time cloud-watching with me virtually, gave me these responses and I enjoyed and laughed through the whole time.

  • looks more like a seahorse, an alligator and a rhinoceros to me 😂 and they’re dancing. Conga line 😊
  • they could be jet skiing too. 😂looks like they’re standing on one, the seahorse on the handlebar
  • Could be three on a magic carpet. 🤔 alakazam.
  • Spot the opera singer hitting a high note.
  •  ……….on a magic carpet!
  • Crocodile hugging its hatchling and a baby elephant is looking at both of them.
  • I can see a bird too.

Have a great day and look out for cloud patterns 😀

When the sky made its statement…

There is a routine to my days and generally it begins from the moment I open my eyes and look at the eastern sky from my caged balcony. I try to squeeze out my phone through the gaps and click the wondrous sky to my satisfaction. With the birds chirping, crows cawing, a gentle morning breeze caresses me. I soak in the wonder called sunrise and let the energy flow into me. My day begins and it’ll be an awesome one for sure, says my heart.

This morning was no different. But I stood in the balcony for a long time, gaping at the wonder high above. Here are the pictures, when the sky makes its statement and makes the people to look above and go wow at the nature that is bigger than anything else.

Have a wonderful day!