Tag: MAlleswaram

How to make epic chakkli like my mom

How to make epic chakkli like my mom

As you may all know, today is Gokulashtami / Krishna Jayanti. It’s the grandest festival in my house and we all love it; “we” being my neighbours, my friends, cousins, colleagues, random strangers who visit the house during the festival, etc. I doubt the excitement is because Krishna was born. I mean, it is, to an extent. But a lot more excitement is because of all the thindi. My mom makes chakkli, kodbale, muchchoray, tengol, kadlekai mithai, kobri mithai, kadlekai unde, puri unde, rave unde, besan laadu, chigli and so many other thindi items with weird names. She makes this every year without fail and in HUGE quantities.

Krishna overdose

We give all our neighbours, friends and colleagues the thindies on the day of Gokulashtami. And it’s not just anyone making the thindi. It’s my mom and her best friend, Prema aunty. They’re out-and-out pros! Anyone who smells the chakkli-making immediately pops into my house for a bite. Uttara, who hadn’t come home for some six months (although she lives next door) came home yesterday, secretly broke her fast and ate a piece of chakkli. Such is the effect of the chakkli frying smell.

Crunchy chakklies

This year, I thought I’ll help my mom out a bit. I decided to make chakkli. And I decided to write the recipe, just for fun. The mess around the house, the atta flying all over the kitchen, boxes of thindi on the dining table, the aroma of elakki, sugar, ginger, and the spicy warmth of kodbaley and tengol really added to my festive spirit.

So here’s how you go about making chakkli.

1. Ask your mom if you can help. She might usually turn you away because you’re no good. But this year, Prema aunty can’t make it because she has baby-sitting duties. So my mom gladly obliged.

2. Watch and learn. My mom works fast and she’s not the most patient person in the world. If you don’t get it right ten times, she’s gonna ask you to go away. So learn quick.

The mould and shaping plates you need to make chakkli and other confectionaries

3. You need akki (rice), uddin bele (black gram) in a 4:1 proportion. Wash them, dry them, roast them and take them to the guy who makes it aa powder. Flour mill guy. “Bees kondu banni,” says my mom.

The beesing guy

4. After that, add salt to taste, heat some oil and add that too.

Before kneading

5. Add water, some hing, and knead it.

While kneading

6. You need to smack it hard before you put it in the mould and squeeze it. You gotta smack it like you mean it. Don’t do it half-heartedly because otherwise, the chakkli will break while you’re squeezing it.

7. After that, slowly squeeze it into the chakkli shape. Make the hole in the centre big so that your chakkli looks big. (Tip: Avoid making the circular shape while squeezing. Squeeze out a straight line first and then make the shape with your fingers. The dough is delicate, so be careful.)

8. Slowly put the uncooked chakkli into pre-heated oil and let it fry until you get the desired colour.

9. Don’t eat it until you give it to Krishna for pooja. (You can skip this step if you believe that God resides in you.) I had a conversation with my mom regarding this and it went like this.

Me: Why do we make thindi for Gokulashtami?

Mom: Because Krishna was a thindi potha. Haven’t you heard all songs go, “I’ll give you that, come here. I’ll give you this, come here.”

Me: So he accepted a lot of bribes? Yeah, I think I’ve heard that. Krishna was a manipulative person and he accepted bribes. He was corrupt. Blah blah blah.

Mom: Before you say anything else, know that Krishna resides in you. So, everything you’re calling him, you are those things too.


Mom catches me eating all the thindies, bit by bit.

Mom: Swathi! You’re not supposed to eat it you mental girl!

Me: But the Krishna in me was hungry and needed the food. He is tempted easily and he couldn’t control himself.

Mom: Sighhhh


Epic chakklies in the making

11. Anyway, after the pooja, you’re done! Eat it. Devour it. Try and share it.

All the thindies

I love how yesterday went. My mum said, apparently when Krishna was born, it rained heavily with no prior warning. That’s exactly what happened yesterday. It poured in the afternoon on a REALLY hot day.

And I also went and gave some cows a few bananas.

Also, Nuvena surprised me today by turning up outside my house after a visit to Iskon.

It was such a happy, productive, festive and Krishna-ish day! :)

I hope many more youngsters like me don’t dis festivals just because religion has a role to play in it, and it’s “cool” to be agnostic or atheist or whatever. Just go with the flow, take what comes at you with an open mind, celebrate the festival without causing anyone harm and be happy!

Happy Gokulashtami! :)


Beauty and the Bandh

So, as most of you in the city may know, Bangalore had a bandh today.

Although it didn’t make much of a difference to me (I had to go to office), it made a world of a difference to the city itself. The daily pollution was probably reduced by 90 per cent today. Hurrah for lungs full of oxygen!

Anyway, I just felt happy about every street being less populated. It felt nice to NOT be reminded that there are around 420 people every square kilometre in this country. So, I decided to click a bunch of pictures. :)

A rose and my new trekking shoes!

As usual, my day started with a jog. (I say “as usual” to sound cool. I started jogging two days ago.) I found a rose on the road. I clicked a picture. Then I found that people are more conversational and comely in the mornings, especially during bandhs. An old man was poking fun at a fruit seller that he had to work despite the bandh. It was actually quite sweet, because the fruit seller asked the old man if he wanted to take over and do it for a day. It was all in good spirit. I smiled at them and jogged on.

When I got home, I noticed that the fruit seller wasn’t the only one at work. My milkman was also doing his usual rounds. He’s the most laid-back milkman you’ll ever see. There are days when he comes as late as 10 am to deliver milk. But he’s been our milkman for around 13 years and I don’t think we’d like to settle for anyone else. My mum gives him coffee every morning.

“Don’t click a picture of me. I can’t pose!” Then he poses.

Speaking of my mum, she was just chilling this morning. Bandh or no bandh, Saturday is her day off. She was cleaning the balcony and tending to the plants. And posing for pictures in her night clothes with a sleepy face.

“Hi there, you minion!”

I was standing on the road and clicking pictures because, well, I could stand on the road. I live on the main road and I hardly ever get to stand on the road. Vehicles are always rushing by and if I get onto the road, I’ll be shoved right back onto the pavement by violent honks and Oi-get-out-of-my-way’s.

Today, I took the liberty of standing bang in the middle of the road and clicking pictures. Ha!

Middle of the road. Like a boss.

After this lack-of-people happiness, I spent some time with Pupsicle and Piccolo. As always, they annoyed me by not posing properly for pictures.

Get a room you idiots.
Get a room you idiots.

After all this, I left to office on a high note. I sang all the way to office, reached in around seven minutes and worked. It was a pleasant day at office as well. We did some gardening there today. Izzat got lots of soil and compost and seeds. We got our hands dirty.

While coming back from office, I was so happy that I wanted to stop my bike, get off and dance a bit. My office is on the Mekhri circle road. It’s disgustingly crowded and trafficy everyday. It takes me 15 minutes to negotiate just about a hundred metres. But today, I entered the road and my God! I could actually see the road, pay attention to the trees around it and the sky! It’s a once in a lifetime thing.

I also found boys playing cricket in the middle of the road. Well, this happens even normally, but more so during a bandh.

The cricket team of MD Block

After this, I decided to do something interesting. I got bored of just clicking pictures. So I flipped my phone out and decided to do a video. It was quite a stupid idea because I don’t have a Go Pro camera. I have two hands, a bike, a Nexus 5 and a helmet.

But I had to make the video because I loved Bangalore today. I felt like I was back in the 90’s.

So watch this video, because I literally risked my life making it. I rode with my phone in my left hand and my right hand on the handle bar. It was awesome! I took the video on my NExus 5, but after processing, the quality has reduced. Now, I’m no video maker, but I did this for fun. It’s 30 seconds long. So watch it and tell me it’s awesome. :P

That’s all! Hope you had a happy bandh! :)

When abortion is a painfully good choice

Today was one of the toughest days of my life. It was mentally exhausting.

A lady said to me, “These dogs are giving us a chance to undo our sins by helping them out.”

By “helping them out,” she meant neutering or spaying them so that they can’t have babies.

I stood there wondering, “Am I really wiping off a sin or committing another one?”

Things got much harder when the veterinary doctor came to me and said that Puppy was pregnant. It wasn’t just spaying now. It was abortion.

Puppy and me
Puppy and me

This is how it all happened. Around a month ago, a female Puppy that lived outside my house got into her heat cycle. When female dogs are in their heat cycle, they attract males from miles away. It was a terrible sight to watch the male dogs mount themselves on her, whether she liked it or not. She couldn’t sleep at all because male dogs just lined up to mate with her.

I don’t know whether I was doing the right thing, but I brought Puppy inside two days after her heat cycle began. I kept her in my house, taking her for walks four times a day so that she could still play with her friend, Piccolo. Piccolo is another male dog in the area, who dotes on Puppy. Even now, he comes like a bodyguard with Puppy and me when we go for our walks.

For a few days, she didn’t like being inside. She wanted to be outside with her friends. But I made her sleep in my room, bought her a few toys to chew on, played with her every evening after work and promised to let her out after we operate her.

I could get her operated only after her heat cycle, which lasts around 45 days. I waited and waited, and thinking it was over by now, I took her to the vet today.

The doctor called me in after the operation and showed me the six half-grown foetuses he had just removed from her. They were strung together with the placenta. They looked like tiny balloons. In 15 days, he said, Puppy would have littered.

Who would take care of them if they were born? I don’t have the capacity to take care of seven dogs. I can’t even keep one.
I wouldn’t have the heart to separate Puppy from her babies and give them up for adoption.
There are more than 10 rogue dogs around the area that I wouldn’t trust to let the puppies live on the streets.
If they did, who would feed them all after they’ve grown?
Moreover, Puppy is still only around 9 months old. Would she survive childbirth? 

My mind was teeming with all these questions. In fact, these questions were what helped me justify my decision to get her spayed.

It wasn’t a decision I made easily. I’d been reading about it every single day for over a month. Most articles I read online told me to spay her. Not trusting the internet, I asked my friends. My two most favourite people, Rahul and Nuvena, were dead against it. And I almost always take their opinions seriously.

You do not have a right over Puppy’s life and her puppies’ lives. You cannot take away her right to be a mother!

Conversation with didi
Conversation with didi

These were the lines thrown at me by them, and by my own mind. Just to make sure I spoke to the person most concerned about animals, I contacted my cousin, Kavitha didi. She has dedicated her whole life to animals, fighting for their rights. She has been a vegan for over 20 years now and is a role model to me. Her opinion was what would convince me, if anything.

So i took her advice and went to the vet. When the doctor told me she was pregnant, I was doubly torn. Will Puppy know what I’ve done to her? Will she ever forgive me? Will she go into depression? How can I do such a terrible thing to her? She would have been a loving mom. If I put myself in her place, I’d be furious.

I asked the doctor all these questions. He tried to convince me saying I was doing a good deed by sterilising six more dogs. He said birth control is the need of the hour.

Well, thinking practically, it makes sense to get street dogs spayed. It’s not easy to take care of them in this hostile urban world. Not many people like street dogs. Besides, I’ve always been pro-choice. Nip it in the bud before it grows up without love and care is what I believe. But when you aren’t making the decision for yourself, it isn’t that easy.

My mind asked me, “Why are you thinking practically when it comes to Puppy? You yourself aren’t always practical. If you were that practical in life, you’d have gone with the tide, done engineering and MBA and gotten a mainstream job and earned well. You wouldn’t have decided to be a writer. So why be practical in Puppy’s case?”

I still haven’t answered that question.


All I know is that it was the toughest day. Watching everything, right from Puppy getting anesthetised, to her dropping out of consciousness, my dad carrying her to the operation table, peeking into the window of the operation room to see how it was going, everything was a huge struggle. During the 10 minute operation, my dad and I were constantly pacing up and down, exactly like they show in movies. I couldn’t keep my voice stable. There was a point when  I broke down because I couldn’t take it anymore. My dad and I were equally concerned about Puppy and trying in vain to convince each other that she’ll be fine.

The most heart-wrenching moment for me was when she was still lying unconscious at home. She couldn’t move, not her eyes, not her ears, not anything. She lay there, limp, with her tongue sticking out. I sat next to her and said, “Puppy, I’m sorry.” And I was shocked to see her tail wag just hearing my voice.


Someone said that Puppy has the deepest trust in me because she knows I won’t let anything bad happen to her.

I hope that still holds good.

To all those of you planning to get your dogs neutered/spayed, I wish you good luck.

Dad and Puppy

Special thanks to my dad, who has been with me throughout my time with Puppy, advising me what to do and taking care of her all day himself. I’d never be able to handle Puppy without him. Heck I wouldn’t even love dogs this much if not for him. So thank you appa! And to my mom, who takes care of Puppy and ensures she feeds her, even if she has to sacrifice her own curd rice. A hug from her after the operation was all I needed to calm me down a bit.

Also, a lovely and selfless lady called Geeta Mishra helped me incredibly in getting Puppy spayed. If you guys know stray dogs around your house that need to be neutered, do feel free to contact me. I’ll put you through to her.

Thank you for sticking around till the end of this post.


Weekly Photo Challenge: Express Yourself


They say that a dog’s behaviour is a reflection of its master’s.

My first dog was a rascal (I don’t mean to be rude, Simba. But you bit someone). This one, I call her Puppy, is a darling. Every time she sees someone enter the house, her ears fly back and her tail smashes everything in its vicinity with excitement. She has learnt to be the most friendly dog in the neighbourhood.

Her eyes are the most adorable, truthful eyes I’ve ever seen.

I hopelessly love her.

Here’s why you should adopt Indian dogs

You all know, by now, that I love dogs. If you don’t know that yet, read this.

The day before yesterday, my Puppy got bitten by a bully. You see, Puppy is a 4-month-old Indian dog, who lives on the streets and sleeps outside my house when she feels like it. I keep a bowl of milk and a bowl of water for her. She drinks when she feels like it. Basically, she is free to do what she wants, go where she wants and live how she wants. No leash, no collar – freedom.

See how symmetrical the design on her face is? She can’t be more perfect.


But like I said, she got bitten by a bully. So for two days, she hasn’t been her usual self – jumping, running about and going berserk when she sees me, or mom or dad. She has been lying low, not walking, not talking, not eating, not even wagging her tail. The bully bit her on her inner thigh. So she is finding it hard to sit and stand easily. She sways while walking too. But she’s a strong little puppy. She’s holding up, without complaining. Not one sound from her. No whining, no growling.

We took her to the vet this morning, to CUPA. My dad and I. My dad is helplessly in love with her, although he won’t admit it. So he drove us down. Puppy sat with her front paws and head in my lap, her eyes wide open, gaping at everything she could see through the window. You know dogs like Marley? How they stick their heads out of car windows, stand in the seat, wag their big tails and make a mess? Puppy did none of that. She sat quietly, ready to accept whatever came to her.

When we reached CUPA, we parked the car. We lifted her and put her down, because she isn’t currently strong/brave enough to jump about with the wound and everything. She walked towards the lawn and peed there. My dad and I began to walk into the building. All we had to say was “Puppy, come,” and she followed, although a bit hesitantly. At the entrance sat a scared Golden Retriever with its two masters. A Rottweiler soon followed, drooling all over the place. Puppy, naturally, was a bit scared of other dogs, because she’d just been bitten by one. So she sort of hesitated and went off-path. so my dad carried her to the waiting area. There, we set her down, just near our feet. There was a Labrador, a Pomeranian, a German Shepherd, two Golden retrievers and a Dachshund. All these dogs were snarling, growling, a few excitedly whimpering and straining at the leashes of their masters. One of them peed right there, just at his master’s leg. Puppy sat there, at our feet, without a leash or a collar that we could hold her by, just looking around at things with amusement. She was curious no doubt; she didn’t show a sign. I’m blessed that God put such a well-behaved puppy on my street.

Inside, all went well. The doc gave her two shots. Before we got into the car, puppy, who was following us, took another detour to the lawn, to pee again. I have no clue where she learnt that she mustn’t pee where humans walk. She sat in the car as she was told to and slept outside after we reached home.

You might think that she is this subdued because she’s wounded. But that’s not true at all. The first time I took her to the doc for a general vaccination, it was the same scene. She was very good. And although playful and enthusiastic all the time, even with other dogs on the street, she has never caused problems.

Now, I don’t see a reason for her to listen to me or my dad. We are not her masters. Yet, she does. She doesn’t do anything to piss us off. When she is thirsty or hungry, she holds her bowl in her mouth and stares at my mum. Even my mum, who isn’t as into dogs as my dad and I are, has fallen in love with her. Even if the amount of dinner is just about enough for the three of us, mum keeps a bit aside for puppy every night. That’s the only time we feed her. She fends for herself otherwise. She hasn’t been trained, hasn’t been made to stay with us. But she does.

Puppy, hugging my feet and sleeping


I’m not bragging about Puppy here. In fact, I’m telling you, she isn’t mine. She loves me, I love her and that’s about it. She is an Indian dog, and I help her when she needs it. It’s all you need to do, because Indian dogs are bloody intelligent and street-smart. If you’re wondering why I don’t keep Puppy inside my house, I have had bad experiences in the past, and I feel it’ll reduce their immunity. Besides, last night, I tried bringing Puppy inside. She came inside. When I shut the main door, she panicked and wanted to be let out. It was 1 am and I couldn’t leave the main door open.

But a lot of puppies aren’t lucky like this girl. Many puppies are left in other dog’s territories and when that happens, they are bitten and sometimes, killed by other dogs, because like humans, dogs are extremely territorial. So when you see abandoned and helpless puppies, do what you can to help them – be it adopting them, or rescuing them for adoption through online forums – because no one can love you and stay equally detached like Indian dogs can. It is the most ideal relationship in the world.

You know that cliched line, “If you love something, set it free. If it comes back, it’s yours. If it doesn’t it never was”? I think whoever wrote that had an Indian dog.

So if you’d like to adopt puppies or help adopt abandoned ones that you come across, you can check out this Facebook page, Let’s Live Together. They do really good work. Or hand them over to CUPA. The number is 080-22947317. Or post pictures of the puppies on Put Me In Touch or Bombat Dawgz, both of which are groups on Facebook. That’s also helpful.

PS: I have nothing against foreign breeds. I go gaga over them too. But Indian dogs need help where they can get it. So do try and help.



To new beginnings!

I’ve been putting off this post for a while, maybe simply because I don’t want to have to deal with the thought yet. But WordPress persuaded me today, saying, “Write a post about something that should’ve been left untouched, but wasn’t. Why was the original better?”

Well, my entire life is about to change this month. For the past year, I’ve had a daily schedule; I’ve been able to tick things off a list that I made at the beginning of the year. It’s been mostly filled with work at Deccan Chronicle. The year actually flew by, but it has perhaps been the most fruitful year in my life, in terms of work and personal life. Su and Anand lived one kilometre away from my house. My Friday nights were almost always spent with them. I interviewed a few awesome people and grew close as ever to Nuvena, Sneha and Zoya. And I have to now bid goodbye to all of these people.

If you don’t already know, I have quit my job at Deccan Chronicle and have 11 days left there. So that means I won’t be seeing these silly girls, Nuvena, Sneha and Zoya, everyday. Sunayana is going to be in Orissa for a year, starting tomorrow, and Anand is going to Chicago for maybe two years. The thing is, I’m used to living away from my sister. For six years, she was away, studying, and for a year, she was in Amsterdam. But now, I’ve grown surprisingly close to Anand and having them both away, might be an extra pain to deal with and I don’t want to come to terms with it. They are my gang! No matter what my problem is, I go to them. “Should I quit?” “Should I buy these pants?” “Should I change the poster in my room?” “Should I put pickle in my curd rice?” You get the gist.

I don’t think the change of circumstances ever makes a difference in one’s life. It’s the people. It’s always the people. And I had gotten too comfortable with these people.

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I suppose getting too comfortable with a phase in one’s life callsfor a change. We are all excited about change. By ‘we,’ I mean Su, Anand and I. Su is in Orissa to help in rural development. Anand is off to USA from work, which means alone time in a new country, which is always a good thing. And I’m looking to write and travel as much as I can before I settle into another job. Maybe that’s what has gotten me all jittery. I’ve always been like Jenny from Marley & Me. The organised-kind with life plans and a bucket list to follow. Right now, I have absolutely nothing to organise because I don’t know where my life is headed! I’m so confused. On the one hand, I have people asking me “What next?” every time they see me. And on the other, I have my own mind asking me to take things easy, and take up whatever comes at me. I’ve always been told to listen to my mind, by my mind.

This looks like a silly diary entry, with nothing for my reader to take away. I know. But I have to set these thoughts free, and make some space in my mind, you know. Because every little thing is changing.

The left side shift key on this keyboard isn’t working. It has always worked and now it isn’t.

I hope that’s the only bad change out of everything I have mentioned in this post.

All in all, I’m looking forward to 2015. Supriya is coming back in January (hopefully). Sunayana is going to visit in January. I may go to Orissa to visit her. I may go to Shillong to visit Priyam. I may travel to Chennai, Pondi, Kerala and who knows where else!

But I’m going to miss the perfect past year. The nights at 1522, the gossip lunch time in the pantry at office, making tea with Nuvena, riding back with Sneha, drinking chai at the adda, staying over at Su’s where we always fell asleep trying to do something constructive, making plans to go for runs regularly and failing, going for movies, watching the matches together, watching Su and Anand argue about BJP (and watching Su shed a tear when he insulted Modi), attending parties where pretentious people came and waved their hands about at each other… Wait, I really don’t think I’m going to miss that last bit.

Su and Anand, just for the record, I love the team that the three of us are. (If I say anything more cheesy, I think Anand might remove me from the MVM Rowdies Whatsapp group.)


Anyway, cheers to new beginnings!

*Deep breath*




Here’s to the end of a grand, memorable era

So my dad retired yesterday, after working for 36 years at BHEL. That’s 60 per cent of his life.  

Just retired
Just married retired!

There was a grand function at his factory yesterday, a send off party. Four other people retired along with him. There were 200 people in the hall to send them off. People went up on stage to say nice things about the retirees. I think more than 20 people spoke, with words of praise for all the 60-year-old retirees there. 


My handsome appa 

Yes, 60. The retirement age. I still can’t believe my dad is 60. He can easily pass off as a 35-year-old, with his lean mean physique and jet black hair. Save for the greying moustache, nothing can give away his age. I don’t think he believes he’s 60 either. Recently in April, he had an angioplasty. Everyone was mighty surprised about it, because my dad has always been the healthiest guy around. He tirelessly works from 6 in the morning to 9 in the evening, and by work, I don’t mean sit lazily in front of a computer. I mean physical work. He worked at a factory that manufactures porcelain. He worked in the Quality department there, so he had to test everything, life heavy things and move about a lot. His colleagues said he can’t be replaced. “Ramesh is Quality. Quality is Ramesh,” one of them said, while speaking about him on stage.

The audience at the function was offered the chance to go up on stage and talk about my dad. Despite ten people already having spoken about my dad, a girl a couple of years older than me went up to the dais. Her name was Jaya. She was an apprentice under my dad and worked at BHEL for a year. During that year, my dad encouraged her mentally and financially to go ahead and study whatever she wanted, and now, she’s working at Indian Space Research Organisation. My dad’s eyes were wet by the time she finished her speech.

I thought, shouldn’t I go up and say a few words? But just one thought was chewing my head off that time.
How on earth does anyone stay with one company for 36 years? 
Even my mother, for that matter, has been with Accountant General’s office for around 30 years.

It’s just hard for me to digest. I’ve been at my institution for just one year and three months and I’m already thinking of quitting. Well, if not seriously, it’s just there somewhere at the back of my head that soon I’ll get bored of this and must find something more intriguing to do. My dad was also up on stage yesterday. “Don’t bother whether you’re given promotion or not,” he said to the younger employees. “What matters most is job satisfaction and I thank BHEL for having given me that all these years,” he concluded, and the audience applauded with rapture.

I think I have the most dedicated and loyal parents. And it’s not just when it comes to work. They are loyal to their friends (they’ve had the same best friends since school and beginning of work), committed to each other with all their lives and love their children to bits, and all this in a very non-intrusive, held-back way. I find it so hard to find that balance between being dedicated to something with all your heart and being unhealthily obsessed with it. And my parents have effortlessly achieved that balance. Clearly, I have a lot to learn from them.

I’m guessing the not-overly-obsessed bit is what’s going to help my dad, now that he has no more factory work. I’ve known him to leave home at 8, come in between at 12, go back and come again at 4:30, pick up my mom and come back at 6, and go to the garage and come home at 9, ever since I was born, literally! His entire life for the past 36 years has revolved around factory work. It’s going to be hard for me, him and everyone around us to get used to the fact that the BHEL phase is over. At least for a month, I’m sure I’m going to wake up at 9 thinking appa has already left to work. Funnily, it seems like it’s not just my father who has retired, but all of us, who have bid goodbye to a habitual lifestyle that had an impact on all daily lives until now. 

A picture from his retirement day
A picture from his retirement day

I can’t tell you how proud Sunayana, amma and I are of you appa. We love showing off to everyone that YOU are the first man in our lives. We are lucky to have you with us, when everyone wishes they can have you in their lives forever. I don’t know what we did to deserve you, but we did something right! 

Hope you don’t ever change appa. 

Love you to bits. 

Happy retired life. 

Helping fellow Ugly Indians

This morning, I helped fix a road in Malleshwaram.

I volunteered with The Ugly Indian and picked up a paint brush and went to one of the dirtiest, stinkiest streets on 8th main road – the road that connects the main road to Renaissance Park and Brigade Gateway. It’s a small road, which is always shady because of the trees towering over it. It’s a beautiful road. It ends at a railway crossing, and trains pass frequently, maybe twice an hour. The sad part is, people get bored waiting for the train. So they get off and go take a leak, spit around just for fun and stick disgusting Kannada movie posters on the walls. One of those movies’ names was Pungidaasa. I don’t want to speak of that further. Ick!

ugly indian
That road didn’t look that clean before. It was strewn with garbage. My sister in the blue kurta. And the father-in-law in the green t-shirt.

All credit for the now pretty road goes to my sister. She has been planning this for more than two months, inspired by seeing pictures of The Ugly Indian’s work on Facebook. She is the social work types and just the HR work in office won’t suffice for her. So she actually got in touch with The Ugly Indian, clicked pictures of the road and sent it to them and got them to agree to help out. She took print outs and put them on all notice boards a work and mailed those who’d be interested. In a way, this must have made her feel a sense of achievement. Even if she doesn’t feel it, I’ll feel it for her. Every time I ride on that road and see the beautifully painted walls and the clean road, I will know that it is only because of Su that people can walk on that road and breathe clean air at the same time.

I didn’t know this street could look this pretty!

Just for this, I woke up in Jayanagar at 6 in the morning and rushed to Malleswaram to be there, to participate. By the time I reached, they had already done some cleaning and were just getting started with the paint work. There were around 25 people, right from 6-year-olds to 60-year-olds, all sweating it out to have a clean neighbourhood. While some scraped posters off the wall, some walked around with small paint buckets and paint-blotched brushes in their hands, and some sat in what was garbage until half an hour ago, dusting the ground and cleaning off the grime.

This is probably the most over exposed picture in the world. A bunch of us volunteers who wanted to pose

I’ll admit I’m the kind that wouldn’t like to get my hands too dirty. I even cringe if I have to clean the table after dinner. Yes, I’m horrible like that. But I overcame that a little today. As I painted the wall, standing close to it, thinking how many people had peed there, how many people had gotten rid of their wet, rotten and stinky garbage there, I was disgusted in the beginning, but overcame it eventually. What matters is, it’s clean now and we won’t let it get dirty ever again.

What I liked about it was that it was so much fun, to stand next to a stranger and paint a wall. It builds a sense of community. Also,  I always fancied graffiti but I’ve never had the kind of talent. So this is what I settled for. I left a heart-shaped gap in the blue Pungidaasa poster and fascinated little children until they grouped around me and gaped in awe of “Sunayana aunty’s sister’s masterpiece.” I was their artistic hero that morning.

Wearing my heart on my err… wall. A fascinated little girl clicked this picture

This was only until The Ugly Indian squad came and stood behind me and said to not leave any patches and “paint it completely.” Oh well.

It was interesting to also see the reactions of passers by. While one guy commented, “People these days do anything to be on TV.” Another kinder-hearted person, said “You guys are doing a great job!” Other people wanted to know just what on earth is going on.

Nice people or not, I had a fun time anyway, and it was totally worth it waking up that early and riding 18 km to do it, despite having to go to work in Koramangala after. I want to ask all of you to help around in your area, not for your road’s sake or anyone else’s sake. Do it for you. Do it to feel good about yourself. Do it to leave your mark in the city.

Waking up to find four adorable kittens at home (Cute kitten pictures inside)

I’ve heard cats are quite popular on the internet. Let’s see how this works out.

A while ago, in January, this is what I had tweeted.

Think then, what my reaction was, when I heard my mum wake me up with, “Swathi, there are four kittens on the terrace.”
I’m the kind of person that likes to laze around in her bed for an hour after she wakes up, just reading a book, or WhatsApping people or going through my Twitter timeline. But when I heard her say ‘kittens,’ my ears pricked up. No wait, my entire body shot straight up! I yelped and ran to the terrace to find these.

It’s my dream come true!

Have you gone ‘awwww’ yet? Aren’t they the cutest things in the world?

I just wanted to go pick them up and hug them. But I didn’t, of course. They were scared. They are still in that infant phase when they take time to focus on things. They detect big movements, but small movements go unnoticed. Slowly, they got used to us (two little girls from the neighbourhood had found out about the kittens and come up to see them), and after a while, I picked up one of them. Unfortunately, it liked me too much and caught hold of my dress with it’s really sharp claws. It refused to let go. Normally, I’d have been extremely pleased with the scenario, but today, I was getting late to work. Imagine going and telling my editor, “I’m late because I was playing with kittens on my terrace.” If I was the editor, I’d have probably empathised, but i doubt I’ll be at the other end of that empathy with anyone.

Kitties 1_-7
Little explorers, these are.

After five minutes of the most delicate wrestling, I got the kitty off my back, quite literally. I left them all there but they began walking hastily after us, tumbling awkwardly and getting up to keep up. We climbed down the stairs and one of the kitties just fumbled down one step and landed with this legs splayed there. Assuming it would go back to it’s hiding spot, I came downstairs and got ready for work.

After getting ready, I went up to check on them. That kitten lay on that step sleeping, because it couldn’t go back up. It was such an adorable sight; the cat having succumbed to helplessness with not a word of complaint. Such cute, innocent creatures! Even yesterday, I was at my aunt’s place in Jayanagar and a dog has had puppies outside that house. I told my aunt that in order to wake me up, she just had to say the magic word, “puppies!” Unfortunately, she forgot. I woke up at ten, when I had to be at work by 11. Sigh.

This post is also a celebratory one because India has finally passed the law to stop testing of cosmetic products on animals in India. They’re probably going to use lab-developed human skin-like thing itseems. Animals are any day better than humans and they ought to be given more priority than they are given now. Hopefully, some day, non-animal lovers will realise how harmless they are, unless you cause them harm.

Oh also, my sister hates cats. A lot people seem to think cats are evil. Well, there’s a difference. See this cat, it’s evil.

ACJ wild 10
He’s Hubert Cumberdale from Asian College of Journalism. 

See this one? He’s just like chocolate pie. You want to eat him. No you non-vegetarians. Not literally.

Kitties 1_-9
Just HOW can anyone not melt looking at those blue eyes and that pink nose? This is my favourite picture from the day btw

Anyway, I had read this line somewhere. “Accidents don’t happen. They are caused.”
The same line can be applied here as well. “Animals don’t bite, unless they are provoked.”

In the case of these kittens, I could have taken them away from there and kept them inside my house. (The little girls did do that in my absence, for which I taught them that they should never separate siblings or babies from mommies. “You want your mummy no? I want my mummy no? Even the kittens want their mummy.”) So all of you who dislike animals, it’s alright if you don’t like them, but please ensure you don’t cause them harm.

Now be nice and say bye to my kitties

I have to think of names for them. Oh! And I can make personalised bowls for them after I’ve named them! I must figure out how many are girls and how many are boys before that.

Let’s hope they’re still there when I wake up.

Good day/night people!

Thanks for stopping by. Go give an animal some love today! : )


How to celebrate Sankranti – A glorious picture blog

Hello everyone!

It’s that time of the year again! Err.. Ok I don’t want to start this post like that. Let’s start over.

Hello everyone!

Hope you’re doing good, enjoying the two days off that you got from work, or the one day – either for Eid/Pongal/Sankranti. I’m a Tamilian. Ideally I’m supposed to celebrate Pongal in all grandeur. But I learnt only today what the festival is about. To ‘pong’ in Tamil means to overflow. So the festival basically is a celebration of life, praying for/wishing that everyone’s life overflows with happiness, isn’t that nice? But I don’t like pongal. The dish I mean. So I won’t write about it.

What I do like, is sakkare achchu. And ellu. And the toffees and chocolates and little toys that people generally give along with the ellu bella. If you’re confused, I’m gonna give you a tutorial of this Sankranti festival. Not the religious bit, but the colloquial bit. I’ll tell you what all people do for the festival, and since I don’t wanna ramble on, I’ll show it to you in pictures.

Sankranti is a festival that’s celebrated to thank God for a good harvest. My mum says Samyak (Excellent) + Kranti (Revolution) = Sankranti. I have no clue if that’s right. Anyway, you’re generally happy about your good produce, so you feel generous. So you distribute things. Here are a bunch of things that are shared with others. All pictures shot on Malleswaram 8th cross.

Sweet potato and ground nuts
I have no clue what this fruit is. It’s called yelachi hannu in Kannada.
Same fruit
Turmeric, along with it’s stem.
Of course, during every festival, there have to be betel leaves (to present to guests along with kumkum and turmeric) and mango tree leaves.
Are flowers harvested? Don’t know. But it’s part of any festival.
This man wanted to pose with his tulsi garland. : )

Those are a few of the things we share with everyone. Of course you want a box or something to put all these in. So currently, markets are FULL of colourful boxes and plates!

Ok these boxes are boring
These are more like it! These kind of boxes used to get me all excited as a kid!
Tarle boys
I think this is one of my favourite pictures from the day!

And of course! The festival is about ellu bella (essentially sesame seeds, jaggery, groundnuts, cobri and some sort of gram. Dad says donkey gram. Sigh.) When I said colloquial, this is what I meant. It’s what the festival is known for now. They even harvest ellu (sesame seeds), and share with their well-wishers.

And women who make all these things are all excited this season.
This colourful saunf is my favourite stuff in ellu bella! : )

The best part of the festival is, of course, sakkare achchu.

Let’s hope the kid didn’t make that eh?
A garland of sakkare achchu

So I found this garland of sakkare achchu. I’d never seen this before. I clicked a picture of it. And then the owner of the store came along and said “That’s not how you click a picture. Go stand there… Haan stop. Now as I’m explaining the garland to you, you click a picture.” This is what I got.

“This garland is used on God’s idols and on children when an aarti is being done.” *Applause*

There are just too many varieties of sakkare achchus. You’ll get tired of them really. There are colourful ones also but I wouldn’t recommend them.

I just don’t feel like eating these

Why don’t I feel like eating them? Because I get mom-made, melt-in-the-mouth sakkare achchu and those are the only ones I have ever eaten. And they come in the coolest shapes. Check these.

The coolest ever! B-)
I love getting my mum to pose for pictures. It’s such a laughter riot! Haha! Oh! Also, she means to say, “Look what I’ve got for you! (Provided you come home)”

I’ve titled this post as a glorious post for a reason. There are TOO many pictures. AND I’m going to show you HOW to make these achchus. So only those that have lasted this long in the post will get the secret, precious tutorial.

Step 1: You have to get moulds that look like these or like in the picture before my mum. Without them, you’re going nowhere.

Step 2: Soak 1 kilo of powdered sugar in water overnight. The next morning, boil it and while boiling, add half a glass of milk. Strain into another vessel with a muslin cloth.

Step 3: You’ll be making the achchu in batches. So take a small quantity of it, heat until it boils in a smaller vessel. (shown in the picture).

Step 4: After a few minutes of boiling, take it off the stove and begin to stir it, until it turns from a clear liquid, to a dense white liquid.

Step 5: Pour the liquid very quickly and carefully into the moulds. You have to be quick because the liquid will solidify very quickly.
Step 6 – Wait for around 5-7 minutes
Step 7 – Once you think it has completely solidified, open up the mould and carefully take out the achchu.
Step 8 – You have to be careful because the sugar is too delicate. It’ll break if you’re not handling it with care.
Step 10 – And tadaaaaa! Look what you’ve got! A classy, tasty, melty, sakkare achchu! : )
You can make it in any shape you like : )

So that’s that. Anyone who has eaten my mum’s sakkare achchu will know what I’m talking about when I say it’s out of the world! I don’t have a sweet tooth really, but I eat it anyway. My mum says the stirring bit (Step 4) is the key to the perfect sakkare achchu. Now I’d suggest you don’t completely rely on this blog post if you’re making the sakkare achchu. Call my mum if you have to or read up a proper recipe. But I hope this gives you an idea of how it’s made.

So go spread sweetness, with everything Sankranti-ish! I’ve spent an entire day on this blog post, not to mention, gotten a really sticky camera and a tanned face. So thank you if you actually scrolled down until the end. (Even if you didn’t read it, I’m glad you saw the pictures!)

Also, if you’re not celebrating Sankranti, go out and walk around the markets around you. I had such an awesome time clicking pictures of all those vendors on 8th cross. They are such a happy people.

Ok enough. I’m tired. Bye : )