Baby Food: Sooji Kheer

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Age Group: 6-8 months

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons Sooji (Rava), 1 cup water

Method of cooking:

  1. Roast the Sooji in a pan till it is brown in color
  2. Bring water to a boil. Add the sooji and simmer for 10 minutes, whisking constantly
  3. Mix in formula or breast milk or juice and add fruits if desired

Nutritional Benefits:

Sooji should ideally be the first cereal you start your baby on. It is healthy and very easy to digest. Initially start with a few teaspoons and then slowly increase the quantity if the baby takes to it.

Baby Food: Barley Cereal

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Age Group: 6-8 months

Ingredients:

1/4 cup ground barley (barley ground in blender or food processor)
1 cup water

Method of cooking:

1. Bring water to a boil. Add the barley and simmer for 10 minutes, whisking constantly
2. Mix in formula or breast milk or juice and add fruits if desired
3. Serve warm

Nutritional Benefits:

Eating barley is believed to help regulate blood sugar, lower cholesterol and prevent heart disease and certain types of cancer. Interestingly, research has shown that it is also useful in protecting against childhood asthma.

It contains amino acids, lots of fibre (ounce for ounce, three times as much fibre as oatmeal), B vitamins, iron, selenium, copper, manganese and phosphorus.

Hows everyone been? :)

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So, I became a mom 6 months back and life has been super duper busy since then :) As things are beginning to get exciting, I feel like penning down some of my thoughts sometimes and some things I have learnt in the past 6 months…

Hopefully, I will be able to blog a little more frequently now :)

Happy New Year and Ekta Arts!

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Hello all,

Wishing you a very happy 2013!! Now that the Apocalyptic year is behind us, we can relax and go on with our lives :)

With new years comes a hope of new beginnings!! :) And it is the perfect time to introduce to you all an incredibly talented Ekta Agrawal who has recently started her own venture!! Check out the beautiful paintings and encourage the budding new talent :)

You can buy her paintings at: http://www.etsy.com/shop/EktaArts

Sorry for being MIA!!

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I just realised that even though I have been reading all your comments on my blog and reading some of the blogs as well, I have not posted a single blog in the last 6 months! Thats a long time to be away from something you love so dearly so I sincerely apologize for the absence..

But, I have been MIA for a reason – Not been keeping very well… But the reason for not keeping well is the most beautiful thing to have happened to me :)

Any guesses?

Media and the concept of beauty

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How do we define beauty? Is it fair skin, 18-inch waist, green-blue eyes, really long legs? Has our idea of beauty become so narrowed down that we are willing to go to any lengths to achieve that so-called-perfection?

You know some thing is terribly wrong somewhere when

  • 10-year olds start talking about dieting to get rid of puppy fat or start applying make-up
  • women known for their beauty (?) get heavily criticised if they appear human (!)
  • people get insecure or become depressed or worse, commit suicide because someone called them ugly
  • so-called pretty men/women get undue advantages at school, work, etc

Instead of appreciating ourselves as God’s gift to mankind, we are constantly trying to change ourselves to fit the concept of beauty as “defined” by the society. In India, the concept of beauty, till about 30 years ago was defined by fair skin. Any girl with fair skin was said to be beautiful. Any girl with wheatish complexion was said to be ugly. I have heard multiple stories where girls were rejected for marriage proposals just because they had wheatish complexion. This led to a mad rush for whitening the skin color of those unfortunate girls. My husband’s uncle would tirelessly make his daughter rub whitening lotions/scrubs/masks on her face just because she was not fair. The poor child had to endure this torture for very many years till her skin actually turned a lighter shade.

The obsession with light skin was always a blot on the way our society defines beauty. Things have just got worse with an equal obsession with weight.  Now, this obsession with weight can be looked at from 2 different angles: One is obsession with being healthy, the other is obsession with being size zero. I had written a blog on the harmful effects of size zero obsession sometime back. As far as obsession with being healthy is concerned, I think its great!! We Indians tend to consume a lot more than we can burn out, so it is a great wave of healthy eating that has made its way to our kitchens! Indians today are more aware and educated about healthy eating habits and a good lifestyle. The problem occurs when health takes a back seat and people want size zero at all costs, sometimes at the cost of their health. I see young girls today starving themselves in order to get that svelte figure. What they dont realize is that proteins, calcium and even carbs are so important for growing children. If they deprive their body of the basic nutrients, they will lead a very unhealthy life later on.

Indian bodies are a certain type – it is unhealthy for us to expect everyone to have size zero. And it takes a really ugly turn when Media starts bashing celebrities who are not size zero or have put on a little bit of weight – case in point, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan being reprimanded left, right and center for not having lost her post-partum weight. The kind of things that are being said about the woman who has always been known for her beauty were enough to put any one in depression, but not her! She has gone out to say this:

This is reality. This is who I am. I am a mother. This can happen and it has happened to me and it is fine. I have lived the real life in public eye and it continues. I have never endorsed Size zero. Beauty is being comfortable in your skin and this is that. Women are feeling that and they are seeing that and I am glad about it. Thats the way it should be.

Aishwarya has gone ahead to show that it is ok to put on a little bit of weight and be happy with it. Hats off to her for that. I wish Media would stop fostering fairy tale concept of beauty and unrealistic expectations. I also wish more celebrities like Aishwarya promote a healthy body image. It will go a long way in changing our constricted perception of beauty and help us appreciate and admire each individual the way they are :)

Satyamev Jayate – A candid review

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When I first saw Aamir’s casual look and approach in the ads of Satyamev Jayate, I told my husband “This is going to be a flop. Aamir is trying too hard to be casual. This is going to fall flat on his face” In fact, the ad where he claims that this show will change your life and comparing his show to stalwarts like Mughal-e-azam saying,”If a film like Mughal-e-Azam can beat all norms and barriers, why cant our show!” That ad was too much for me to take. I felt it reeked of desperation – a last resort to make people watch the show!

As you can say, I wasnt too positive about the show. So, when I switched on my TV to watch the first episode, I was ready and willing to confirm my initial prophecy.

I was wrong.

So wrong.

I watched the show last night. And totally loved it. Also, because I feel very strongly about Female Foeticide and Infanticide situation in India. What Aamir said about the issue did not come as a surprise to me since I had already read about Mitu Khurana’s case and even blogged about it, but I am certain it was a definite eye-opener for the whole of India. Female foeticide is a gruesome fact which is a big dark blot on the canvas of modern India. The fact that the educated and well-to-do are so heavily involved in this crime is a testimony to the fact that this is not just an affliction of the less privileged! In fact, Bharati who lives in the slum of Vastrapur area is a shining example of that! I am determined to look her up in my next trip to Ahmedabad and tell her to keep going strong!

Some of my famous lines from the show:

Atyachar karna jitna paap hota hai utna sehna bhi paap hai (It is as much of a crime to put up with torture as it is to commit one) – Parveen Khan

Zindagi hamein bahut kuch sikhati hai, kabhi hasati hai to kabhi rulati hai… par jo har haal me khush rehte hain, zindagi unke saamne sar jhukati hai (Life teaches us a lot, it makes us laugh sometimes, it makes us cry. But those who remain happy in all circumstances, life bows down in front of them) – Parveen Khan

I would like to reach out to all of you and implore you to watch the episode. You will not be disappointed.

You can watch it here:

If you really think needs to stop, do not waste one more second. Go right away and cast your vote here.

Ben Flajnik – You are a nut bag

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I am sure anyone who remotely followed The Bachelor season 16 will agree with me. I find the concept of people competing for a person very amusing.  I can hardly sit through most of the episodes. But this one, in particular, kept me hooked throughout… the reason? The bachelor was the biggest douche I have seen on Reality television and I have seen the likes of Akashdeep Saigal. The guy is so stupid, it is unbelievable! I kept hoping, for his sake, that he wouldnt pick Courtney Robertson who appeared to be the most fake and manipulative amongst the entire lot!! And thats exactly what he did!!!

No wonder then that Flajnik and Robertson broke up while their season was airing. However, they were later reconciled and got engaged for the second time.

I really wonder if this show is fixed and they kept Courtney around just to keep viewers like me hooked till the very end!

 

 

How to behave with drunk people?

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At a party recently, a few girls got drunk… I would say they were high so much so that they were swearing at the top of their lungs, dancing like no ones watching (which is good) and then falling over innocent bystanders in the process (which is not)… and then there was puking… the bathroom was obviously a mess and so was the path to the bathroom.. This did make me a little uncomfortable, unlike a lot of others who were pretty ok… but then I do get very uncomfortable around drunk people.. and this is something I am still working on…

Thinking back, one part of me tells me I should not take these things seriously and should casually brush them aside… another part gets super annoyed at anyone who cant handle their drinks…

What do you guys think? What would you do if in such a situation? Curious to know :-)

होली मुबारक!!!

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होली मुबा!!!

There is only one way that I can pay tribute to womankind on International Woman’s day today and celebrate my most favorite festival, Holi :) Spending it in rememberance of the woman I find most inspirational, my nani.

I called up my Mami to wish her a happy holi… The mood was sombre in the house since everyone misses Nani a lot… specially during the festivals because she used to celebrate each and every festival with a lot of enthusiasm and spirit!! Mami choked up while talking about my Nani, who was her mother-in-law for 25 odd years. Seeing her talk about Nani with such love and care was heart-warming… A sentence she said specially stayed in my mind long after the call was over… She said “You know your Nani was a very strong woman with an innate sense of fairness. She would sometimes stand against her husband and her own son for me if she thought I was right. Most people these days are afraid of standing up for their own children some times for fear of retribution and she would do it for me… such was her love… unconditional and pure and yet unrelenting against injustice of any type”

Now if that doesnt talk about how selflessness then I dont know what does!

Hats off to my most favorite person in the world and I thank you from the bottom of my heart for always leading by example! Your body may not be amongst us anymore but your thoughts and ideals will live on forever!

On that note, I hope you had a great Holi and took time out for your loved ones :) and go give a kiss to your favorite woman in the world… I just did :)

When women rally against their own kind

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An issue as sensitive as rape had compelled many women in the past to take their own lives or bear the mental trauma for all their lives. Just thinking that women can turn an indifferent eye towards rape is a very disturbing thought! The sheer helplessness of a rape victim and the mental scar is something that even men can show empathy towards. In such circumstances when women turn a deaf ear to the cry of a rape victim, I feel nothing but immense rage towards my own kind!!

Recently, in one of the busiest streets of Kolkata, a woman was raped and dumped after brutally being beaten up. Not  just that, she was jeered at by police officers and not taken to the hospital as is required in such cases. To top it all, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee goes out to say “The incident is contrived and intended to malign my government. Truth will come out”.

To the woman who came as a ray of hope in the otherwise devastated State, Shame on you!!

Commercialization of love…

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[Source: http://www.drawinghowtodraw.com/]

IMHO, celebrating Valentine’s Day is a good idea. In fact, I believe every important relationship in your life should have a day dedicated to it! Its like celebrating Raksha bandhan, you dont need a day to tell your brother/sister how much they mean to you but having a day dedicated to that relationship means you leave everything else aside and dedicate that particular day in the memory or if you are lucky, then actually being with that loved one. This is precisely the reason why I am not opposed to the idea of Father’s Day, Mother’s Day, etc. It doesnt mean you dont love them or care for them the rest of the year. It just means that when life is rushing by and you are losing track of time, on a particular day you leave everything aside, take a step back and actually be with that special someone…

What I do NOT like about “days” is the commercialisation of love, the one emotion that makes everything else in your life worthwhile. Suddenly everyone from the flower guy to the chocolate owners to the greeting card gallery owners start charging from 100-200% markup on all their merchandise… and the sad part is that we fall prey to those things and burn our hard-earned money on chocolates/flowers/gifts! Many of us succumb to it due to peer pressure or the expectations set by the said loved one.. “Tum mere liye kuch nahi laaye? Tum mujhse pyar nahi karte!” Now thats the last thing you want to hear from that special someone on that day, right?

How about this? You celebrate love by thinking of each other, by spending it with each other… but instead of doling out inexplicable amount of money on flowers that will wither come tomorrow, or chocolates that will give you the extra calories you can do without, why not take a longgg walk and set aside some money to bring a smile to someone else’s life. Bring a smile on your loved one’s face by contributing your bit to someone else :)

On a fun note, as Sheldon Cooper once said, “Given that St. Valentine was a 3rd century Roman Priest who was stoned and beheaded, wouldn’t a more appropriate celebration of the evening be taking one’s steady gal to witness a brutal murder?” :D

Have a fun day, guys :)

Movie Review: Silsila and an Award

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I must be one of the few to have never seen the Yash Raj mega blockbuster Amitabh Bachchan, Jaya Bhaduri and Rekha starrer Silsila. I was always in love with the songs but never got around to watching the movie. I finally did and I have to say I am terribly disappointed. I had heard such good things about the movie and I enjoyed the first half so much, it probably upped my expectations a lot… so much so that I ended up intensely disliking Amitabh and Rekha’s character towards the end of the movie.

For the uninitiated, here is the story: This movie starts with 2 brothers: Amit (Amitabh Bachchan) and Shekhar Malhotra (Shashi Kapoor). Shekhar is engaged to be married to Jaya, but before they can marry, he dies. Amitabh, in the mean time, is madly in love with Rekha and wants to marry her. When Amitabh finds out that Jaya is pregnant with her brother’s baby, he decides to sacrifice his love to marry Jaya. In the meantime, Rekha gets married to a decent doctor (Sanjeev Kapoor). Amitabh and Jaya, both married to different people, run into each other and start an extra marital affair!

They always loved each other and were in love-less marriages, so it was hard to keep hands off each other. They start lying, cheating their spouses to meet up! They even leave their spouses to run away and live happily ever after. Thats when they realise how the society views them and go crying back to their respective spouses. Now, I have the following problems with the movie

  1. Amitabh Bachchan’s character is in love with Rekha. Funny then how he makes Jaya pregnant!!
  2. Funnier is how the only reason he goes back to his wife is because she is carrying his child!!!
  3. Funnier still how she smiles and hugs him saying, she knew he would come back :O

I have no issues with Amitabh realising that he never really loved the woman he married and that he always has loved Rekha. He doesnt want to think about the world and his wife and wants to think about his own happiness! I am ok with that too… but then I lost it completely when Jaya takes him back and how she pleads to him when he is leaving her “Ab mera dhyan kaun rakhega?” I would have been happier if this movie did not end in the typical Bollywood style… Pretty sensitive topic should have been dealt with more sensitivity than portrayed in the movie. One ends up feeling no sympathy whatsoever for any of the characters involved, which is pretty sad!

Now moving on to happier things: Thanks Deepika for the Liebster award! I am truly honored :)

Per the blog, to accept this award, the recipient will:

  1. Thank the fellow blogger who nominated you.
  2. Link back to the person who awarded you.
  3. List five blogs that have affected your writing in a positive manner.
  4. Leave comments on those blogs to let them know of the nominations.
  5. Post the award on your blog.

I have woken up from a longgggggggg hiatus from blogging, and so my award goes out to all those friends whose blogs I love and I wish they would write more often :)

Vasu: http://vasutalkies.wordpress.com/ Her blogs always emanate the same warmth as she does! Brilliant thinker and writer!

Avada Kedavara: http://evanescentthoughts.wordpress.com/ Recently engaged, I wish her all the happiness in life… Also, I wish she would write more often for her loyal readers :)

Serendipity: http://sweetserendipity.wordpress.com/ Cant believe it is almost 4 years since you last wrote! I hope alls well and you get back to blogging soon!

Nikhil: http://mirrorcracked.wordpress.com/ Its great to see you back in the blogging circle.. Keep writing!!

Prerna: http://pr3rna.wordpress.com/ I miss your regular updates on my google reader! Hope you are well and start blogging full throttle again :)

Book Review: Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother by Amy Chua

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When I ordered this book on flipkart, I knew nothing about it… Yes, I had come across the highly discussed article on WSJ – Why Chinese Mothers are Superior. The article was so explosive, it touched the raw nerve of every westerner I knew. Even then, I had no idea this book was related to that article. I ended up buying it because it was highly recommended by a friend, and I am glad I did… If the article was this explosive, imagine what the entire book would be like!!

Basically the book is a memoir of a first generation Chinese immigrant lady, who is highly accomplished (Harvard et al), married to an American, has 2 daughters and 2 dogs and some pretty strong opinions on Chinese style of parenting. In reference to the book, by Chinese parenting, she refers to parenting style of being extremely strict with children, training them with a hard stick, making sure they turn out successful. This kind of parenting style is mostly associated with Asian women, Chinese, Indian, Korean, etc…

You know you are dealing with a Chinese parent when you can NEVER

  • Attend a sleepover
  • Have a playdate
  • Be in a school play
  • Complain about not being in a school play
  • Watch TV or play computer games
  • Choose their own extracurricular activities
  • Get any grade less than an A
  • Not be the No. 1 student in every subject except gym and drama
  • Play any instrument other than the piano or violin (Replace this with Classical music/Bharatnatyam in the case of Indian kids)
  • Not play the piano or violin.

Amy Chua starts the book by claiming that Chinese parenting style is a fool proof way of producing supremely intelligent and talented kids through sheer dilligence. Lack of talent is simply not an option. The approach to failure is very different. Here is an example from the book:

For example, if a child comes home with an A-minus on a test, a Western parent will most likely praise the child. The Chinese mother will gasp in horror and ask what went wrong. If the child comes home with a B on the test, some Western parents will still praise the child. Other Western parents will sit their child down and express disapproval, but they will be careful not to make their child feel inadequate or insecure, and they will not call their child “stupid,” “worthless” or “a disgrace.” Privately, the Western parents may worry that their child does not test well or have aptitude in the subject or that there is something wrong with the curriculum and possibly the whole school. If the child’s grades do not improve, they may eventually schedule a meeting with the school principal to challenge the way the subject is being taught or to call into question the teacher’s credentials.

If a Chinese child gets a B—which would never happen—there would first be a screaming, hair-tearing explosion. The devastated Chinese mother would then get dozens, maybe hundreds of practice tests and work through them with her child for as long as it takes to get the grade up to an A.

There are all these new books out there portraying Asian mothers as scheming, callous, overdriven people indifferent to their kids’ true interests. For their part, many Chinese secretly believe that they care more about their children and are willing to sacrifice much more for them than Westerners, who seem perfectly content to let their children turn out badly. I think it’s a misunderstanding on both sides. All decent parents want to do what’s best for their children. The Chinese just have a totally different idea of how to do that.

The book is a fun read because I could relate to some of the things being said and done in the book. As an Indian, growing up in a middle class family, my sister and I:

  • were not allowed to have sleepovers
  • had only 2 career options growing up: Engineering/Medicine
  • had to excel in exams (I once got less than 70% in Maths, my dad sat with me every day for the next 3 months till I topped the class)
  • had to take up a hobby (I took up Singing, my sister took up Bharatnatyam (We both loved it and were never forced but always encouraged to develop hobbies). Also, every extracurricular was ok, as long as the grades did not drop!)
  • were allowed a half an hour of television time daily, Sundays were special and we were allowed to watch 1 movie (this privilege was based on upcoming exams, summer vacation, etc)

Kids and their marks were a constant topic of discussion between all the neighbouring aunties. A child doing well ensured that his/her mom walked about with a proud smug look on her face. Parents would compare and the comparisons would never end.

This may seem like I had a deprived childhood. Au Contraire, I had a blast growing up! My parents were closely involved in every school activity/test/exam, which made even exams seem like fun. All the restrictions never seemed like one coz if we were not allowed to watch tv for more than a half an hour, it meant our parents did the same! You can not expect kids to study while parents watch tv, do you? In fact, I was encouraged and prodded all my life to work beyond my capability… I was pretty average growing up, but I would push the envelope and give everything more than my 100%, and then leave the rest to God. I owe this attitude completely to my parents! We were never allowed to give excuses for below-par performances – Bad teacher, tough syllabus, tough exam, nothing! If we dint do well, it was because we did not work hard enough!

I am not saying I am in favor of Chinese parenting (Amy Chua did go too far a couple of times), but I do not fully approve of Western Parenting as well (If you tell a 5-year old, you can do what you want… he would want to play only video games and waste time!). I guess the formula lies somewhere in the middle. Both styles of parenting are effective based on the personality of the child and the timing!

Overall, a fun read! I recommend this book to all the mothers :)