Barfi Grown Up

I finally went to see Barfi (my sister’s Pup) again; the last time I saw him he was a wee puppy back in October 2012 a little after my sister & brother-in-law got him for their kids. He’s grown quite a bit and I went to my sister’s apartment this afternoon to see him as I’ll be taking care of him / baby-sitting him for a few evenings as my sister & her family are on holiday. During the day my sister’s parents in law will feed him and walk him and I’ll come over by 6 or 6:30 pm and spend the night at the apartment. I’ll give him his dinner and take him for his night walk and potty time. In the morning after breakfast I’ll come back home.

So here he is, cute little monster and very loveable guy. He seems to like everyone, all strangers included and if he meets anyone new he just wants to be your best friend. He wanted a belly rub, some petting and scratching of his head and licked my hand gratefully after a while.

He really is a goofball and I will take some more pics and some videos during my say there. Here’s a little clip of him strutting his stuff.

In The Summertime

Theoretically, summer will return to the polar-vortex-battered Northern Hemisphere. What are you looking forward to doing this summer? If you’re in the Southern Hemisphere, what are your fondest memories of Summer past?

When I think of summer I think of summer vacations as a kid. We, here in this part of the world, don’t have four distinct seasons. We get blazing hot summer and then monsoon season followed by summer which is less hot until blazing hot summer starts again. No winter and no autumn/fall season and no spring! Tropical area and all that you know.

So, during my younger years my cousins and I would eventually all end up in our ancestral home (read that as grandma’s place) in Mattancherry for a few weeks and we’d have a ball. Mornings wake late and post breakfast get the football and or cricket bats, wickets & ball ready and we’d play the sport of our choice on the large front yard. Sometimes it would be badminton games. Usually the girls never played or played for a while before absconding into the living room with their books. We’d break for a 15 minute juice session and then play until lunch time. Our moms & aunts would serve us our food, careful not to neglect to tell us that we stink of sweat & mud and then perhaps we’d cool down for 30 minutes before playing again until it starts to get dark.

A shower to wash away the sweat & dirt and by 6:30 pm we’d be fresh faced kids & teens smelling of soap, shampoo and talcum powder and we’d pool money to buy ice cream sodas and lemonades from a shop nearby. Dinner – if were lucky we would get money to buy burgers and crispy chips from Abad’s cafe and some cokes for dinner. Followed by a movie that we’d have to agree democratically to get from the video lending library that was near the house. Those who were not interested by the movie would move to another room for some music and reading comics.

Those were the days. Sad we’ll never be able to experience them again.

Prompt from the Daily Post at WordPress.com.

Photographic Blasts From The Past

Here’s a couple of old photos from the past. My cousin Shekhar has scanned and posted them online and for the rest of us it was a rather pleasant blast from the past to see these old pics. Here is a pic of me with my sister and 4 of my cousins, sitting on the folding sofa in the living room of our grandmother’s house in Mattancherry.

From left to right it’s Shekar, Manoj, yours truly (with lots more hair and less kgs), Sandhya, my sister Sherine and Navin. Manoj, Navin & Sandhya are siblings. I think this photos is from 1991 or 92.

This next photos is from a couple of years afterwards, maybe 93 or 94. This is the stairway to the top floor of my house. From bottom left it’s Shekhar, Balakrishnan, Radhika, Navin, myself, Shankar & Jayakrishnan. Balakrishnan & Jayakrishnan are brothers, Shekhar & Shankar are brothers.

Memories Of My Old House

When you think of the home you grew up in, what is one memory that really stands out?

We sold & moved out of our house in Thrikkakara, our home of 19 years, in 2006. I miss the house a lot, even if I don’t want to live in that area anymore. Not that it’s a bad area or a filthy area to live in; it’s actually a nice, peaceful and cleaner area of Cochin. However it is quite far from the city and if you don’t drive (like me) it is harder to get to the city and work areas due to the distance and traffic and also the fact that the buses do ply a little less frequently in the suburban area of Thrikkaraka. Also shopping for essentials and groceries – where  I now live, I can do most of my home’s shopping for the week done within 5 minutes of our apartment.

I miss a lot of things about the house. I miss the coolness of the place and thus the house was always quite cool, except for the really hot summer days. Less mosquitoes in the area. More green. We had plants & flowers in our garden and a small lawn and trees. And we kept a large bird cage with 6 love birds. And ofcourse you know that I miss having my dog – my dog Shawny who used to roam around the garden, lawn and the back yard like a landlord surveying her property! I guess the biggest memories of the house is my time that I spent with Shawny and playing on the ground, throwing a ball, running after her when she chases a squirrel, feeding her, giving her water and also giving her a bath (which I used to do in a big  metal tub kept outside and hose her with the garden hose.

Another memory is off relatives gathering in my house. Other than my grandmother’s house, my home was the place where most relatives would gather for a couple of holidays in a year. We had the space and hence could put up a lot of relatives. After a big lunch, we’d all sit in the large living room/dining room, close all the doors and switch the big ac on. Then it will be a lazy couple of hours watching some sports on the tv or watching a movie. Those were the good ole days.

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Recipe Failures!

A recipe fail… It happens!

The blog prompt I happened to choose from Idea Bank is about sharing a recipe fail. I shall share two such recipe failures but only one was with me trying it out!

When I was 16 or 17 years old I remember wanting to try out how to make a milkshake at home. I had no clue as to how to make it. A friend of mine said it was easy and gave me instructions. I came home and as it was just me and a cousin at home I looked to see what I had in the kitchen and fridge. There was milk, cold milk and I had some chingam pazyam (a green skinned soft & sweet banana; no clue as to what it’s called in English). So I tried what my friend suggested and so I took 4 of these bananas and chopped them and put them into the blender along with some sugar and lots of the milk. In them went and -brrrrrrrrrrrr- for about 5 to 7 minutes. I poured the stuff into two glasses and it smelled bad! The milk had spoiled and what we ended up with was thick foul smelling slop! It took me several days to get over the fear and I tried it again – this time they tasted delicious!

Around the age of 15, my sister & cousin sister had picked one evening, when my parents were out for a party, to cook or should I say experiment with cooking. They wanted to make dinner and banished me from the kitchen, only saying that it would be good and it would be delicious and that I was to come only when dinner was served. I said ok and they proceeded to cook up a storm while I went to watch tv. A few hours later when I checked I saw that they had concocted some sticky ash grey matter with lumps that stuck to the sides of the cooking pot – it was supposed to be Chinese Chilli Chicken. And next to that was a smaller bowl filled with, what looked to me like dried up shampoo or conditioner that had been rinsed – that was supposed to be a souffle!!!! In no way did either of the dishes look remotely like, I dunno, food!! The two of them looked exhausted and messy and well, we ended up eating it. Just to keep the peace!

A Pup Named Lassie

Your first pet was a _____. Write about it.

I don’t remember wanting dogs or cats as a young kid. Growing up in a small apartment in Kuwait, most of my friends who also lived in small apartments had either love birds in cages or an assortment of fish in tanks. We had our own fish tank and kept several fish for a while. My mother’s family side has a lot of dog lovers. When I was a baby my uncles, both lawyers who lived in my grandmother’s large house in Mattancherry (old Cochin), bought a German Sheppard bitch they named, rather humorously Hema Malini (a famous Indian actress). A few years later they got another German Sheppard which they named Mickey. Mickey (not sure as to how fine he was) was cute as a puppy, as he grew he scared the crap outta 8 year old me.

When I was 11 years old we moved back to India and settled in the South region suburb of Thirkkakara. Once again we bought some love birds and, since we had a big house with a large front porch, we bought a rather large bird cage and kept 6 love birds and also a fish tank with some fish. A year later my dad, sister & I talked about getting a dog. At age 12 I was excited about getting a dog of our own but didn’t know much about the various breeds. We ended up getting a mixed breed pup – she was part Pomeranian-part Alsatian and we named her Lassie. She was an awesome fluffy ball of energy and my sister & I spent the entire day basking in the little one’s love. We had to keep her in a huge cartoon with her water and some sheets until her kennel could be built.

For 4 days I doted on little Lassie but she died on the5th day as apparently she had a worm infection and she also knocked down a can of petrol and lapped it up. This happened when no one was around and she snuck into the room behind the garage and did it. She broke my heart when that happened and it took me a while to get over it. I also remember that a day or two after we got her, she was so scared because our neighbours were bursting really loud firecrackers and just looking into her big brown & fearful eyes made me want to cry. All I could do was hold her close.

Walls Of My Bedroom

mindbump suggested by Bri is unashamed. Are you?

“What color is the wall of your bedroom, why did you choose it, and if anything, what does it say about you?”

Ok the walls of my bedroom are the same colour as the rest of the apartment. Pink! A light, sickly looking pink. The colour of Gelusil syrup. I’ll wait a second until your queasiness dissipates.

Ok now that you are back I’ll tell you what happened and how we got stuck with this sick colour. Back in 2006 my folks and I sold our former home, a nice big house in the suburbs, due to a cash problem caused by my dad’s business going bust and we owing a lot of money to the company that we used to do wholesale distributions for. With the interest going up over the years the option was to sell our house and we got a lot of money for it. We also needed to buy a new place and the idea of an apartment in the city came up. This was because of two reasons 1) after living in the area for as long as we did, we wanted to be near the city 2) my dad wanted to be close to my sister and her children who also live in the city area just minutes away from our current place.

The person we sold the house to, paid half the amount first and gave us enough time to find a new place before we had to vacate the house. However in between he came and asked my dad if we could vacate the place by the end of September as his family wanted to celebrate Onam in their  new house. So that gave us very few weeks to find a new place, purchase it and move our stuff in. So we sttled on the only place that was within our budget and, most importantly, was ready to be occupied by the end of September. If that person could have held off moving into our old house till the initially agreed date, we would have been living in a much better place than this one. Anyway, we settled on this place and made the arrangements. Now the initial paint colour for the apartment was to be a nice, inoffensive beige as selected by my mom but the stupid workers & painters opened up the wrong cans of paint. They approached my dad and asked if they could continue as once opened they cannot replace it or it will be charged from their wages. My dad was tired, we had to move in within a few days and so said yes! Without checking with mom or me.

So imagine the horror on mom’s face and mine (I was the last one to see it as I was arranging furniture to be sold and some to be moved to the apartment from our old house) when we saw the colour. My dad explained what happened and I was pissed off but didn’t say anything to the workers/painters either. So what does that say about us? We are pushovers and we have had very little luck in such matters.

Dad’s Back At Home!

A small post to let any & all of my readers know that my dad is back at home. He was discharged from the hospital by 3pm today. He’s recovering well, the doctor says that the damage is minor and with the treatment plus lots of rest he should bounce back to full health. He has an optional exercise given by the physiotherapist – a sports band that is used to strengthen the hands and feet. Although the doctor says that it is not needed in his case, we’re still going to get the exercise band so he can work with it at home.

He is ordered t have 10 days rest and mum & I are restricting his mobile phone usage. He is not making it easy as every time the phone rings he wants to use it and see who it is. I will be the official fielder of all calls and only important work related ones which cannot be delayed will be handed over to him. Relatives & friends will call on the landline and or visit from time to time. Once he came back home he had tea, a bit of an apple and biscuits and watched some of Mission Impossible : Ghost Protocol with my nephew Adhitya and my sister. After that he went for a nap. Late evening my cousin Raju and his wife Leskhmi came for a visit. Post grocery shopping by me, dad has had dinner and his medicines and is now watching really bad Malayalam tv serials – there’s no cure for those, unfortunately!

I’m just glad that he is improving and that there wasn’t much of an issue. That was a huge scare for my family and we’re glad that he is doing better.

An Update: Dad’s In Hospital

An update : Some of my cousins already know but – my father has suffered a mild stroke a couple of days back but none of us were able to detect it till late Monday evening (not that he had a stroke but that something had affected him, especially in his speech). He himself seemed unaware of anything like a stroke just that he was feeling more tired than usual. But yes it was a mild stroke. He went to the hospital on Tuesday morning and the MRI results confirmed that he has a mild stroke and he was admitted to the hospital.

My mum is staying with him round the clock as he gets medicines, I’m on evening & night duty plus getting him stuff. My sister is there during the day so my dad has plenty of company & support plus we have relatives galore who are in & out visiting & cheering my dad. My dad is recovering, much better today than yesterday, much better yesterday than the day before and his appetite is back. He will start some physio therapy soon to help his motor functions. He seems ok and will be back home soon.

Those who know him and want to enquire about his health can either call me or my sister (unless you already have)

Don’t Know What To Make Of Them!

My cousin, who’s been living & working in Kuwait for the past 8-9 years, was in town for a visit. As we met at my residence on Sunday afternoon we talked about a bunch of stuff including his experiences in Kuwait. The Arab country suddenly woke up and realized that their land is getting too populated by foreigners. A nation of 2.8 million, only 45% of them are Kuwaiti! Just 45% while 35% are other Arabs (mostly Egyptian), 9% are from South & East Asia (mostly India and in particular from Kerala), while there is a 7% of Iranians and 4.8 are Caucasians from either Europe or the US. They want to change this and thus want to get some foreigners out. They are not going to trouble the Americans or Europeans so that leaves either the large number of Egyptians or Indians. Egyptians are Africans but still Muslim and so who does that leave? You guess it! The situation is even more dire in Saudi Arabia because well, it’s the Saudis, and some of it has been in the media spotlight here. As a former Kuwaiti resident of 11 years and heck I was born there, I am appalled at the nation.

So my cousin was filling me in about the subtle (ok not so subtle) ways that the Kuwait authorities are trying to make Indians leave willingly as they don’t want to force them out. So they do it by having separate laws for the forigners, especially Indians. You are now not allowed to help anyone even your friend or family by driving them to the airport or other places. The cops will stop you and accuse you of running an illegal taxi service. Unless ofcourse you can prove that they person or persons in the car with you are related to you. Hence people are carrying photos of their wedding and marriage licenses with them! I am not kidding; my cousin has his wife carry both when she takes the car out with her son, as well. People dropping their friends or colleagues are stopped, accused of running an illegal tax service and fined and maybe the car is towed away. Then there is random checking but only if you look like an Indian or atleast non-Arab. And heaven forbid if you have an accident in Kuwait now; if you hit a Kuwaiti’s car even if they are at fault, who knows what will happen. They are also restricting people in jobs like drivers, maids etc to only work for the initial company that hired them and are forbidding them to find other work. If caught, it’s instant deportation!

He was telling me, among other things about his experiences in Saudi where he has to go every 3 months for 2 weeks at a time for work. Religious police are everywhere and it’s a crazy country but then most us knew that. The religious police will go out in the street and  stop people in their cars during mosque prayer calls, making them pray. If you say you are not a Muslim, it doesn’t matter. You still have to stop everything and wait until the prayer is over. The same goes for when you are eating out in a restaurant. Although it sounds hilarious and we were both laughing our asses off! He told me stories of restaurant staff ushering out people in mid meals when prayer calls are heard. Just get out cause we have to pray and so do you! Also single men or men without women in their group, having a different entrance from families, ladies & children to the same restaurant and different seating. If you are a man alone and you go to where the families & women are, you are thrown out!

What a country!

Tasted, Smelled & Heard

Tell us about a sensation — a taste, a smell, a piece of music — that transports you back to childhood.

A taste – The taste of shawarmas or good khubus, not the crappy ones you usually get in Cochin, reminds me of my childhood in Kuwait. Shawarmas are one of my favourite foods to have and I just love it when it’d done just right. Our family weekend dinners back in Kuwait would be my parents, my sister & I joining my uncle (my mother’s brother), my aunt and later my cousin for a large dinner of khubus, hummus, shawarmas and falafels (my aunt is a vegetarian). And ofcourse pickles soaked in vinegar and olives. Big family fun and big family food. Ofcourse a movie or some good tv shows would follow.

A smell – You’ve got me here. I can’t think of a specific smell or smells that remind me of my childhood. Maybe smell of certain food? The smell of the olive oil – since that’s what we used a lot of in Kuwait as opposed to coconut oil which is predominant here in Kerala – in particular is linked to my childhood. For some reason the smell of glue reminds me of doing Arts & Craft projects in the school. The smell of the ocean reminds me of the beach we used to go to in Kuwait during my childhood.

A piece of music – It’s more theme music of tv shows that I watched & loved as a kid that brings me back to that time. The A Team, Remington Steele, Knight Rider, Battlestar Galactica (this one in particular is highly nostalgic), V, Gimme A Break & Misfits of Science.

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Pizza With A Cousin

I hadn’t had pizza since late December and I was hungry for some. Yesterday it so happened that I forgot to pack a lunch for work and ended up eating just a few biscuits in the afternoon. So I was hungry come 5pm and decided to meet up with my cousin Sujith for some pizza at the Dominos outlet in Palarivattom.

Well, I couldn’t pick up my lunch and actually Sujith & I had planned to meet up for pizza well in advance – we planned it the past Sunday and agreed to make it on Tuesday. Me not having had lunch was just a coincidence! But yes that did leave me famished by 5pm and so I quickly left the office and made my way to Palarivattom junction where Sujith would be waiting for me.

So we met at a half hour past 5 and went into the outlet and perused through the menu. We ordered a Zesty chicken and a chicken pizza with golden corn something. And two 600 mls cokes. It was a hot day, the weather turning a bi mean these past few days and we were happy to sip our cokes but not happy that there were a few flies in the place. A couple of them were bothering us!

So our boxes arrived and we tucked into our medium pies. we also shared a slice each of the other’s pizza and I must say that I preferred his better to mine. Anyway, we were happy to munch on our slices and chatted for a while.

This is his pizza!

And this was my pizza!

Evening With Sarath & Sujith

I was working today. I left early and went to Cafe Coffee Day in Pallimukku to wait for my cousins Sujith & Sarath. It took me an hour to get from Padamugal to Pallimukku. I went in to CCD and ordered my coffee and in 10 minutes Sarath & Sujith joined me. They (brothers) are my second cousins and although I have been spending many hours with Sujith online and in person for drinks, food and discussion, I had never met Sarath – his older brother – except for online and a couple of times on the phone.

We drank out coffees as we sat in CCD for 90 minutes and chatted about movies in general. Later we walked over to Golden Dragon for some beer and good food – different beef, prawn & chicken dishes with fried rice. We have long conversations and finally left there at around 9:45 pm. It was a really great evening and I hope we have more soon.

Which Food Transports You To Your Childhood?

It’s more than just one type of food for me that reminds me of my childhood. It’s not very complex food because as a kid you don’t usually like complex stuff. I’m just gonna list out the various food I loved as a kid and which when I eat now, or even see them, instantly reminds me of the good times I had as a kid.

The first and foremost has got to be the Arabian staple shawarma (not surprising as I was born and raised in Kuwait till I was 11). As a kid I usually had them as rolls, or sandwiches if you please, rolled inside the pita bread along with cucumber, onion, tomato, lettuce, usually with hummus as dressing or mayonnaise. In Kuwait I believe we had the choice of either beef, lamb or marinated chicken but here in Kerala it’s mostly either beef or chicken. I remember many evenings when we as a family would buy and eat shawarma for dinner.  My uncle, aunt and later their daughter Shalini, my cousin, also lived in Kuwait and many weekends were spent together and we sit together in front of the tv and enjoy a big meal of shawarma, khubz and hummus. Hummus is ofcourse the very popular Middle eastern  dip or spread made from cooked, mashed chickpeas blended with tahini, olive oil, lemon juice, salt and garlic. My aunt being a veggie used to not have shawarma but enjoyed falfals – a deep-fried ball or patty made from ground chickpeas, fava beans- with khubz and hummus. Whenever I have shawarma now (I can’t seem to find a place that will serve the other stuff but shawarma is very popular here in Kerala as well) I always think back to the old days.

Kentucky fried chicken is another reminder of the days gone by. We used to order the buckets for family dinners during the weekends in Kuwait and we still do as a family now. Although it’s either KFC or an Indian owned alternative like Chick King or Chicken Chicago in India. Why we just had some Chick King last night although I opted for just a veggie burger and fried since I was a bit ill. That with Coke or Pepsi and French fries. Come to think of it Pepsi is a great reminder of my days as a kid. 7up and Pepsi and there was a even a Lemon Pepsi with it’s cool cartoon fish add. I also loved Hungry Bunny hamburgers although I only had that for the last year that we lived in Kuwait. It was a frequent meal for me after I came back from school. Half boiled eggs, cheese sandwiches, tuna sandwiches (oh my sister and I loved the canned tuna we used to buy a lot), fish fingers (that we used to buy frozen) and ofcourse – McDonald’s the very epitome of globalization and corporate capitalism!

Funny enough I don’t remember having pizza in my childhood days even though it’s my favourite now. My obsession with pizza came much later by the time I was 15-16. I’d love to hear what were your favourites during your childhood days and which trigger nostaglic memories for your whenever you eat them now.

Meet Barfi The Pug

My sister and her family have expanded their numbers from 5 to 6 with the new addition of a 30 day old pug puppy who they have named Barfi. After work this evening I went over to her place to visit my new…..nephew! He’s a lively little monster who seemed to be attracted to my socks. Here he is searching for my foot.

It’s my niece Geethanjali, who is now 6 years old, who named him Barfi after some stupid Hindi movie that she saw in the theatres. The pup  is kinda hers more than my nephews. She kept playing with him and cradling him like a baby and hugging him. The pup meanwhile is just so in love with her.