Archive | January 2021

Speechless and Thank you

I second what Tharani has written today. I have mixed emotions when I realize that today is the last day of this blogathon journey. This year the interaction in comments were at vera level. I wholeheartedly enjoyed all the interactions and it was a blessing amidst all the social challenge we face now.

I didn’t have writer’s block this year though I only wrote in the night every day and there was not much to share from 2020 unlike previous years when I used to freak out and schedule posts few days ahead, squeeze my brain about what to write et all. I went with the flow this year and it feels good.

I am sad this is coming to an end but sure to smile at random times in coming days until my memory fades about Summerscript’s comic tales, Tharani’s meaningful posts, Paatiamma’s guess the blogger series, Seema’s Mantam tales, Other bloggers facepalm moments and many more. Loved reading MTW, Seema, RS, Visha, Indu, Prachee, FV, RM, Pepper posts every day. Got to know some new bloggers like Chaithra and some delurked.

I learned about menstrual cup, cooku with comali (watching it and laughing hard as I am typing this post) and had some nonsensical conversation that made me laugh hard. I was smiling to myself while commenting to some posts and family caught me at that moment and thought I have become a nut case 🙂

I am telling again, smiling at random times is such a blessing in the times we live in now.

This was a great reunion and thank you all for joining the blogathon. This one month has helped me realize that I am not alone and we all have our own challenges and fight in our own ways.

I am thankful for the girls friends I have earned for lifetime through this blog as my real life friends. Very recently I have learned the power of girl friends at this middle age. Someone to whom we can speak our mind unfiltered, someone who listens to us without judgement.

At this time, I also want to thank my school friend from other side of the world who stays up very late in the night and chat with me every weekend. I am not joking, usually I call her when its 12am for her and she would pick up the phone to talk to me for hours while I cook lunch. I vent to her wholeheartedly. More power to all girl friends!

Today, I feel the same way I felt on college farewell day. Heart feels heavy and its so hard to say good bye to blogathon!

I am sure the bug will bite one of us to kick start the conversation end of this year and all of us will jump into blogathon 2022 with no second thought as we have tasted the sweetness of this yearly reunion and its hard to let it go!

Next year will be 10th year of blogathon! More reason to join 🙂 I have already started fantasizing about blogathon 2022 🙂 See you all there!

Until then, stay happy, stay healthy!

P.S: I will come back in few days with birthday letter for LHB 🙂

Never have I ever – Food list

How can blogathon end without talking about the task that took most part of my time ever since Pandemic started. Below is the Never have I ever cooked food list that were debut attempt during pandemic times and now made their way to our regular menu list

Egg omelette curry – Make usual tamarind based curry (kuzhambu) and add tiny omelettes to it. Best served after soaking omelette for few hours

Jeera rice – Very easy and quick flavorful rice that goes with any side

Mixed veg ragi roti / ragi uthappam – Healthiest dish

Cauliflower/peas kurma – Cooker style, another easy and quick dish that everyone in the family eats without making a face!

Instant carrot halwa – I accidentally found this recipe while browsing for a less than 30 minute sweet to surprise neighbor kid on her birthday. This was an instant hit and I made it like 4 times in next two weeks. Took this for a halloween small group gathering 🙂

Instant fresh ground masala base for veggies – I love the aroma of these spices and it goes very well with brinjal, ladies finger, tindora or any other dry vegetable fry.

Ragi pidi kozhukkattai – Sweet version, best eaten for weekend breakfast!

Paneer kati roll – I made this few times and was well received by kids and adults. Took this as mess free food wrapped in parchment paper for beach trip with neighbors, hike trip with friends, diwali potluck at another friend’s home!

Oats puttu – My improvisation on this dish is to layer puttu alternatively with grated carrot and coconut. Another dish best suited for a lazy weekend breakfast!

And of course Ulundu (Medu) vadai and Phulka

More food pictures are in my Insta feed!

Friday chronicles

Today has been a good day!

Started the day with a feel good meeting at work, followed by a series of meeting until 1:30pm.

Spoke with parents in between work calls, it was a light hearted call as I was sharing with them about my new trick with LHB.

LHB’s birthday is less than a week away. Yesterday night when he was whining to study for his Math test and I instantly came up with a birthday God idea. It was like that proudest mommy moment! I told him that like Santa, birthday God is watching him to decide if he should promote him to be 8 year old, that birthday’s have to be earned every year! He fell for it and the rest was easy peasy. He finished all Math assignments in no time. Amma called me evil when I shared this incident with her!

Today he asked if birthday God also gives gifts! One day I made cup cakes appear at a snap and he asked if birthday God will make me do it on his birthday 🙂

Made Kadai panner and paneer paratha for lunch (MTW – I blame you for the paratha pic and I love you too as Adi and I spent good time together in kitchen :)) . Adi was asked to cook a cultural meal by her health teacher and she helped with paratha making.

Took 2 hours break from work in the afternoon. Dropped off birthday cards made by my volunteer kids at Senior centre, covered few more errands and came back home in the evening. My last stop was at a volunteer friend’s home and she made hot hot murukku for me and packed for family too 🙂

It has been a while I drove alone and felt good to go on a drive with unplugged songs playing non stop.

Helped LHB to do his tamil homework, settled him at his online class, washed truck load of dishes, cleaned kitchen and settled down to watch Master with the family!

Wrapped up all pending online work while watching the movie and here I am on my last task for the day 🙂

I was listening to this video while washing dishes. It’s a long video but trust me, every story was worth listening. Especially the story of 3rd point “Know more before you judge others”. I had a hearty laugh listening to this story. Listen from 8:00-12:00 if you don’t have time to listen to full episode.

Yet another day

I went to bed very early yesterday

Woke up very late today

Did not cook much today

Paying half attention to things that needs my full attention

Trying hard to keep the mind positive and move on though the negativity is ready at its tip to pull me down if I give a chance

Lot of incoherent thoughts have been going on in my mind all day today about unrealistic expectations, patriarchy, different type of challenges that people I know are going through including myself, that feeling of helplessness, suffocation, same roof but different world that we all live in yaada yaada…

Its yet another day to question everything!!!

And then I see Indu and Seema wrote almost similar post today. Tharani and RM wrote about blogging friends. The day I wrote a happy post, I saw many of you wrote happy post. The day I feel not so good and mind is occupied with train of thoughts, I see that reflected in my reader too. Or is this all my imagination?

What do I do on such low days? Play songs in loop. How can I end blogathon without even one music post when that has been my best companion through highs and lows every single day?

My recent loop list are mostly Acapella or Staccato or Mashup kinds. I usually play the Mix (50) from Youtube as it plays related music.

I enjoy the related recommendations as much as I hate all those personalized Ads!! Same as how enjoy waking up late in the morning as much as I hate to go to bed in the night **rolling_eyes_heavily**

This girl Niranjana Ramanan has sung a Staccato version “Raasave unnai nambi” that was in my loop for a very long time but for some reason I am not able to find that video now!

And then there was an Acapella performance of a collection of Chitra ma’s songs by a bunch of girls in Super singer that is also missing! What is going on?

And this girl Priyanka, what a mesmerizing voice she has

90’s mashup

Hope tomorrow will be a better day for the mind!

Thithi – 2nd year

Today, we performed thithi 2nd year ceremony for FIL in the morning and I cooked an elaborate spread to offer to him and ancestors. I took morning half day off to keep my mind and time dedicated to FIL and cook the spread for him. Not to mention, I was forced into multiple power naps second half of the day. Its the zombie me typing this post so excuse any err…

An orange hibiscus blossomed today morning in indoor garden. May be that’s his way of blessing us from the above. I usually let the flowers stay that too now in winter when it’s so rare to have one but today the flower was meant for him.

Carrot/broad beans sambar
Raw banana fry
Arbi fry
Moong dal payasam
Urad dal vada

Bedtime routine

Were you all bombarded with my comments for your posts yesterday? Let me tell you a kutti story (No, I didn’t watch Master movie yet!) I told MTW that the story behind commenting at that unearthly hour is the fodder for my today’s post!

I made a self promise around new year to regulate LHB’s bedtime routine. All our bedtime has gone for a big toss during pandemic time. LHB is the first to sleep at 10:30pm, followed by me around 11pm and Adi’s was the worst. She comes to sleep past midnight. You might be wondering about the 4th person in the house. He hides himself past 8pm. We have no idea when he sleeps but we know that he wakes up to office calls at 5 or 5:30am while we are in deep sleep! In old normal life, LHB’s bedtime was 9pm, followed by Adi and me anytime between 9:30-10pm.

Coming back to the self promise, I wanted to keep it realistic so fixed on 10pm as the cutoff time. We start bedtime routine at 9pm. The boy takes one hour to do all of below

  • eat my brain, make me scream to read for 15 minutes (school allocated time for everyday bedtime reading and enter in reading log). But, we do enjoy the read along in between all screams. I think he has developed selective hearing to ignore my screams and continue to talk to me sweetly. Sigghhh!!!
  • brush his teeth (without my prompt. it comes naturally for him and makes me proud)
  • change to PJs (again eat my brain by bringing down all PJs from the shelf to pick one pair) Shabbhaaa!!!
  • play with his remote car
  • play his lego blocks (what does he do all afternoon and evening after school? can’t he play at those times?)
  • arrange all his plush dolls on either side of the bed as fake Amma and fake Akka to give him company until we actually go to bed!
  • And then happens the grand finale! I tuck him to bed! Tucking in involves giving 7 kisses on his cheek/forehead as he is 7 year old and 1 kiss to each of his plush doll and say good night, sleep tight. He will wrap it up with “don’t let the bed bugs bite” and close his eyes…

I secretly love and look forward to this routine as much as I roll my eyes 😀 This is how I unwind my busy day and I prefer to keep it this way as long as it lasts!

My bedtime routine starts after this, that includes

  • Go to Kitchen, check if leftovers have made their way to the refrigerator, clean up rest of the kitchen
  • Start dish washer if needed for the day
  • Come back to bedroom
  • Take shower
  • Settle down on my rolling bed on the floor in criss cross apple sauce posture with fluffy pillows around.
  • Check WhatsApp, make sure all messages are read, replied.
  • Plan for next day
    • fix mind on what to cook
    • mental note of important meeting timings
    • do any prep work needed for next day meeting
    • check personal calendar to make note of kid’s classes/specials or any other appointments
  • Wrap up volunteering follow ups, initiatives, updates
  • Write my blog post for the day
  • Catch up on other bloggers post, like, comment
  • Do my 10 minute meditation if the time is not 11:30pm by now.
  • Replace the fake Amma in bed with my body and try to go to sleep.
  • Somedays are lucky as I sleep right away but somedays are not when I toss around for hours!!!

Back to my kutti long story, yesterday night was obviously not the luckiest day. I managed to wrap up all work early and go to bed at 10pm along with LHB. At 11pm, I had a sudden realization in my dream and woke up as I forgot to start the dish washer. I was in double mind for some time and then decided to take care of it. Dragged myself to kitchen, loaded remaining dishes, rearranged the plates, started dish washer and came back to bed at 12am! Lost all my sleep so started catching up on blog reader as I was few days behind! Spent the next one hour in happily commenting on all my favorite bloggers post making sure I caught up on all posts!!! I tried to swipe down reader a few times but no new posts so I had to force shut my eyes and start the routine of twist and turn at 2am!!!

– The End

That’s the little fella with fake Amma and fake Akka on either side!

P.S: Its 11:30pm now and I have to wake up at 6am tomorrow and I didn’t have a proper sleep last night. Life is fun!!!

Loss of hair-part 2

Part 1

My friend responded after few days and shared the suggestion from dermatologist. He said the main cause for this condition is stress and it is reversible. Taking steroid injections may give temporary good response but those hair roots will be very weak, it will fall off soon after and it will also stop natural regrowth of hair. He suggested to play wait game for few months, reduce stress and look for natural regrowth.

I was furious as my local primary care doctor didn’t warn me about any of this. She never had a conversation to explain the choices and pros/cons of each choice. All she said in a very confident tone was just get the injections and I will be fine. What if I didn’t reach out for a second opinion? What if I had not discussed this with my brother and he has not warned me about steroids? What if I blindly trusted her? Which I did and already booked my consultation appointment with local dermatologist. I would have ended up taking those painful scalp injections for rest of my life giving up on the opportunity for a natural longterm remedy.

There were other recommendations by the Indian dermatologist like topical cream to ease any itching. Rogaine was another reco by my old primary care doctor but I have heard this also doesn’t help with permanent regrowth, you have to use it for rest of your life, otherwise those thin hair will fall off soon. She at lease explained it to me. I have switched back my primary care to the doctor in my old neighborhood after this incident.

I went back to my self search in Internet and found about rice water. It is a natural remedy with no side effects so no harm in trying. I followed this remedy religiously for next few months. There are different ways to follow this. I tried rice cooked kanji but ended up with high fever for next few days as my body couldn’t take that coldness. Some also soak rice water with warm wrapped towel for hours and then wash but I didn’t have that much luxury of time. So, all I did was soak washed rice for 48-72 hours, then use it when I wash hair next time. Shampoo my hair, wash it, then wash again with rice water, let it soak for 5-10 mins while staying in shower and then gently rinse it off, don’t use any conditioner. I kept reminder in my phone to soak rice as this was a new routine.

I don’t know if it was a natural reversal or this remedy worked but I saw baby hairs after 2 months. Adi is the one who took pictures time to time. I had few close friends who constantly supported me through this process and I was happy to share progress with them. Meanwhile, few more new small spots showed up but in next six months hair grew back in all spots.

Very recently, I also started using homemade onion infused coconut oil to massage my hair the night before I wash my hair. Hair fall was terrible for past decade and my forehead already has sparse hair but the complete bald spot threw me off. It took a while and lot of patience to accept it. I hope this regrowth is to stay but who knows? I may end up in same condition again.

However, What I know for sure is I am not going for those steroid scalp injections. Let it either reverse naturally or not. I don’t really care anymore. I have come to accept it and move on! There is much more to focus in life. This could possibly be one of the main reason why I was very focused on react vs respond, stay positive, get less irritated, learn to accept, let it go et all.. It’s all in our own mind!

This journey and experience has taught me much more than just hair re-growth. I have never been a person to judge someone by their hair and skin as I have personally been through a fair share of judgement by skin color all through my life. This journey has only deepened my belief, to look at the beauty of a character and not their appearance.

#pandemic-tales

Loss of hair-part 1

Feb 2020 – I was driving to Indian store for grocery run and stopped at red light. My left hand fingers were gently massaging my scalp and I felt something unusual, like a bald spot behind my left ear. I couldn’t get to a mirror right away and my fingers were going back to the spot over and over again like a million times until I got back home. After returning home, putting away the groceries, I was scared to check on mirror. I called Adi and asked her to check and take a picture. There it was, a big bald spot as I anticipated.

I was shell shocked but acted normal as I didn’t want kids to get affected by my reaction. M was at India during this time. I googled about it after kids went to bed and came to know about the condition “alopecia areata”. Internet self search happened for next few days to learn more about it and its cure. After few days, I noticed another spot closer to scalp centre. I got panicked, what if its rapidly spreading? will I become completely bald soon? I didn’t have any adult nearby to talk about it. Mind was racing with all sorts of thoughts. I looked up for wigs and all other alternative choices if in case I go bald.

Anyhow, we have to move on right? So, I sent pictures to my friend to have second opinion from a skin doctor at India and took an appointment with my doc. She took a look and was very cool. She said this is very common and suggested to go with scalp steroid injections. She assured hair will grow back in few weeks. I felt very confident with the way she spoke and booked consultation appointment with dermatologist for same week. Meanwhile, I was talking to my brother and few more friends to collect more information about this condition. My brother suggested against steroid injections as he said its temporary and this should be my very last option. In parallel, I was also waiting for the opinion from Chennai doctor.

My friend responded after few days and said… to be continued

P.S: It was very tough for me to write this post but decided to share as my experience may benefit someone someday. As this is a serious topic I don’t like to leave this post as a cliff hanger. All is well now (well almost) and it will be too much to share my six month battle with this condition in one post. So, will do it in parts.

Part 2

Of Extreme feelings, Titan watch, Amma’s letter, Dance

I have been wanting to write about a specific topic for few days now and keep pushing it. I will surely gather the courage to write about it before blogathon ends.

Today, day started with a long walk with LHB. Cooked peerkangai (ridge gourd) kadayal, ridge gourd skin thuvaiyal for lunch based on recommendation from school girl’s group. We renamed our group name as “Saapattu Ramigal” (Food crazies) :). Rest of the day was spent with intense cleaning of one room and few closets.

I am not exaggerating at all. Spent 2-9pm with no break just to clean master bedroom, bedroom closets and bathroom closets. LHB misplaces things very frequently these days. It drove me nuts today. I found his under pant in the draw where I keep my jewels, Adi’s pant under his toys, tiger balm under his books and socks stuffed inside pillow cover. Shabbaaaa!! This guy does all this in the name of cleaning. He just finds convenient nearby spot to hide things lying around and calls the room as clean!!! This was the most dreaded task and I am glad to have completed it today. I feel super exhausted. Adi served a slice of brownie cake drizzled with hersheys chocolate syrup/walnuts and a cup of filter kaapi in the evening that helped me to keep going!! She also made dosas for my dinner very patiently as I kept asking for more! I ate my dinner at 10pm like a monster gobbling up 4 dosas.

I feel exhausted, extremely tired but happy!

In the cleaning process, I also found some treasures and relived some happy memories

A letter from Amma – She sent this through M when he was traveling and I was already in US many many years ago. She clearly did not trust him and wrote this detailed letter to me about what to do with all goodies she sent me. The letter tells me how to store rice/Idiyappam flour, sweets and snacks for longer shelf life. She also explains how to make sweet and savory Idiyappam with the homemade flour. It is a 3 page letter. Publishing first page here 🙂

Titan watch – Amma bought this watch for my 10th board exam, in 1995. It was Rs.995/- and this was the titan model of the year. The first expensive gift I received and she never thought twice to buy this for me 🙂 Amma’s love is selfless with no expectation. How can we ever repay that love? Its only possible by following her footprints while performing the same role in current life!

These pictures are taken during my Bharathanatyam Salangai poojai held at Music academy, Royapettah 🙂 I played the role of Kuravan (male role) for one of the dance performance.. This reminds me of a funny incident.

M with his parents and relatives came to our home for the first time to get introduced to my family and this program was on the next day. I was not much interested in marriage proposals and was just waiting for them to leave so I can go to the studio for final practice session. When they were about to leave, Appa told about my dance function and gave an invitation to M. I was furious as I didn’t know anything about M at that time. I didn’t even know his name. Ours is a pakka arranged marriage. I thought he would not come but he came for the program and spoke to me when I was in the “male” costume as that was the last dance performance. I had invited my office colleagues and college friends as well and rumors spread like fire about M. The very next day, my colleagues started inquiring about him and I didn’t have an answer. I was cursing Appa every time someone asked about M. You know, how long it takes to confirm a marriage proposal back then right?

It took few months to confirm everything, marriage happened after 6 months, Adi happened soon after and little did I know that my Salangai poojai performance would me my last dance performance!!

Of Biriyani, Urad dal Vada, Phulka

Today was another normal day. I am thankful for that. A normal day is a blessing in the world we live in now.

After Visha and Tharani spoke about leftover biriyani, the taste started lingering in my mouth so I dreamed about Biriyani all night, woke up to the virtual smell of biriyani and made Egg biriyani for lunch. Only after eating it till my tummy cried to burst I came back to normal state. LHB demanded for Chicken biriyani and Adi convinced him saying Chicken is the secret sauce I mixed in the egg biriyani, that he cannot see it but it’s all over the biriyani. Little one fell for it and polished off the bowl. He heee *Poor guy has evil Amma and now evil Sissy too**

This girl has taken psychology course at school this year and using LHB as her guinea pig for all experiments. Often times, she also gives me parenting gyan about positive reinforcement, shaping, classical conditioning, operant conditioning yaada yaada… Shabbbaaa!!!!

I watch these videos when I want to feel better. Sharing my mastered art of making of “Urad dal vada with a hole” and “Phulka” video.

#pandemic-learnings

LHB is my videographer and this is an unedited original version. We didn’t do any voice over or make over.

Happy weekend to all!