Memories in March

There is a little corner in our bedroom that I have recently claimed as my ‘me spot’…. a corner of the couch, next to a window. Times are different and difficult and being at home is all that we do. When I get a wee bit of time, usually when the kids are taking their afternoon nap and the good man is busy with his office work, I sit there with the book I happen to be reading ( ‘Snow’ by Pamuk, at the moment) and my gaze drifts outside occasionally. Sometimes it does so to try to visualize the sights ‘ Ka’  sees in the story and sometimes I gaze to try to fathom what’s going on with our bruised world. I fail.

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Spring is here and, what would otherwise be a cheery time with kids running and neighbors hanging around for a quick chat, is eerily silent. Even the birds are quiet. Quieter. Have they taken notice of how the world is hurting? I wonder.

 

Cars don’t leave their parking spots. There is no movement. Only delivery trucks keep making their rounds, rushing to drop off the essentials people can’t seem to stop buying. I don’t blame them (not the hoarders though). There seems to be no end in sight, an end to the fear that has slowly crept deep into people’s souls. It is palpable and rising with each passing day.   Are those in charge taking notice? I hope so.

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I have stopped following the news. It isn’t helping. My motherland is in total lockdown and in a country with 1.3 billion people, that is anything but feasible. Yet it is happening. While it is extremely essential for a national lockdown since the virus, if it spread, would wreck havoc of un fathomable proportions from which the country would probably never recover, it is also not ideal. Not without a well thought out plan, at least. Or any plan. The lockdown has rendered hundreds and thousands of migrant workers in a state of limbo. With no work and no place to stay, they are returning to their native villages and towns. Many  by foot. National lockdown means no transportation in many places. Buses are being provided in some cases but the ratio of number of people needing help to the actual help in place, is massively disproportionate. Add to that,  the lack of or absence of food and water. The poor must suffer… always. And then there are celebrities who post videos of washing dishes… how hard it must be for them.

I am living my life almost exactly the way I used to before this crisis. It is a privilege and I recognize that. Yes, I don’t go out to the mall, my job hunting has taken a step back and my eyebrows could use some salon care. And yes, I am always thinking about, and when need be acting on,  how to keep the fridge and pantry well stocked so that my kids  remain well nourished. I have the privilege of cooking sumptuous lunch and dinner, baking cakes, reading books and taking photos. I am beyond grateful.  My husband’s work is letting him work from home and there has been no change, yet, in the benefits we receive like medical insurance. I am hoping it stays so but with the hit the economy is going to have to bear, it should not be a surprise if those benefits change. Provided he still has a job once this is all over. But we will cross that bridge when and if we come to that. One step at a time. Meanwhile our popcorns and movie nights, family games,  music time and being goofy together continues and the semblance of sanity prevails. Memories in March have been bittersweet.

 

The world is hurting and there is more to come. Uncertainty looms large. Careless acts of some people continue to put others in danger. Petty fights break out over trivial matters as emotions run high. And yet, the good shines through. Those in the frontline continue to fight for one and all.
I pause a little when posting pretty pictures while heartbreaking stories fill the newsfeed. To empathize and to continue with daily activities  is no longer uncomplicated.  I think about last spring when the now babbling baby girl was only a few months old and all of us were just getting to know each other better. It was beautiful, inside and outdoors.


The cherry blossoms outside the window try to put a smile on my face. I oblige. I see some kids drawing on the road. Their message is simple. I smile. I sip on my afternoon coffee and return to my book to travel with Ka.

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Thanks for stopping by. Let’s be patient, let’s be gentle and let’s be kind.

 

 

 

A Photo A Day: 30 days or so

Amidst all that is going topsy turvy, my phone let me keep clicking everyday…almost.

 

 

 


Thanks for stopping by. Wishing you all health and peace during these trying times. Wish our world heals fast and we learn to be better. Kids should not have to be kept from playing with each other, old people should not have to spend their precious days away from one another, families should not have to share happy moments through glass windows.

Dylan has been on my mind.

 

 

Life goes on…

It has been an eventful, to say the least, last couple of weeks around the world…wouldn’t you say? Personally, I never imagined that we would be witnessing something of such gigantic proportions in our lifetimes… and it’s kind of hard to know what to expect going forward. News feed has been depressing, scary and at times triggering the panic mode.  With small children at home, whose immune systems have not developed fully yet, the fear if pretty real.

With every passing hour, more and more grim reports flood the inbox. Schools are closed and here in New Jersey, starting today, there will be a curfew in place from 8pm through 5am for some time now. It is whole lot of unknown and with a crisis of such unprecedented nature, I can’t stop wondering when and how will this end? When will we get to return to our ‘normal’ lives or will this be the new normal?

I have been seeing a lot of posts on social media as to how people have been gifted the gift of Time’ to unwind, to slow down, to mediate, to pick up that book taht has been on the shelf for a while. I agree but I also feel this applies to the ‘privileged’- those who can work from home or have been asked to stay home, without worrying about pay cuts or losing their medical insurance. What about those who depend on their hourly wage to put food on the table? What about the kids who now run the risk of remaining hungry since schools are closed? What about small businesses who may have to close shop as recovering from the financial fallout of such proportions will be impossible?

Here in my blogging world, half baked thoughts, half written posts, unanswered messages await while deadlines of some of my favorite challenges keep passing by. Going to the grocery store feels like a challenge as the fear of contracting the virus does not seem to be an irrational one at this point in time. And worrying about parents and in laws and other loved ones, living on the other side of the world, does not let the mind be at ease, ever.

One evening, just a couple of days ago, as I was busy alternating between scrolling through Instagram and Google News, I heard the gentle music of guitar coming from the other room. I put down my phone and strained my ears to catch the lines. My son, oblivious of everything, including  the crazy thoughts in his mom’s head, was trying to sing “Ob la di- Ob la da” by the Beatles and the only lines he could were

“Ob la di Ob la da, Life goes on

La la, How life goes on”.

I couldn’t help but smile and think about the lines he was trying to hum without a care in the world.

I am letting the frightening thoughts in my mind take a break. They are clouding the present moments that I get to spend with my kids and husband, now that he is working from home.  I don’t want to miss out on the silliness that the little ones engage in or the faltering steps that baby girl has started taking because I am too busy thinking only about all that terrifying things. I don’t want to miss the signs that are clearly telling the Spring is slowly making her way in and I also don’t want to miss out on messages of hope that is carried by the soulful music filling deserted alleys.

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Wishing everyone, especially those in dire circumstances, who have loved ones in communities that have been hit hard, who have been directly affected by this terrible tragedy, strength and love to help through such difficult times. Hoping our world heals fast and we learn our lessons.

 

Thanks for stopping by.

Monday Motivation

Sufi Saying-
“Before you speak, let your words pass through three gates.

At the first gate, ask yourself: ‘Is it TRUE’?

At the second gate ask: ‘Is it NECESSARY’?

At the third gate ask: ‘Is it KIND’?”

 

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Thanks for stopping by.

Cook, Eat, Repeat: Revisiting Japan through Food- Okonomiyaki

When I went to an okonomiyaki restaurant for the first time with a friend of mine, Imroz, it was an interesting experience for sure. It had been a very tiring week where my days at the school began at 7.45 in the morning and I would come home after 8 in the evening. It was a Friday and we were heading into a long weekend and I was able to come home by 6.30. Imroz’s apartment was one stop on the subway and we decided to meet for dinner along with Rika, who I later went to become great friends with! It’s strange how one remembers such details even from years ago while things from yesterday often slip from our minds. The restaurant was a modest one as many Japanese places tend to be and every table had the teppan (metal plate/hot plate) and we were given the option of cooking the okonomiyaki ourselves. Rika was a native and Imroz had been in Japan for a long time and much more attuned to things that often took me by surprise! How was I supposed to cook okonomiyaki? And why would I have to cook it myself when I have come to a restaurant to precisely not wanting to have anything to do with cooking! Little did I know at that time that it was/could be also a part of eating okonomiyaki🙂

Okonomiyaki is a savory pancake where other than flour and eggs, cabbage is the primary ingredient. Dashi (fish stock), eggs, other vegetables, meat are added and a cooked okonomiyaki is usually topped with bonito flakes (shredded dried tuna..like flakes of dried tuna), seaweed, pickled ginger, Japanese mayonnaise. We opted to cook it (and by we I mean Rika and Imroz) and it was fun though a bit scary at first. To begin with, I found sitting at the table a little uncomfortable as one would have to be very cautious with the hands with the hot teppan right in front! But you get used to it soon, to be honest. That was the scary part. But the cooking part was fun and a bit messy but when you are with good friends, making memories you could care less:) And they made delicious okonomiyaki-s and I have been a fan ever since. It did get a bit warm at the table with all the cooking being done but we had some very cold iced tea to help with that and it was a wonderful dinner that we finished off with some matcha ice cream.

The good man has come to love Japanese food and it makes me very happy! And he has taken it a step further by cooking it from time to time and when he made okonomiyaki for the first time, I was on top of the moon:) The recipe he followed was from here and it was oishi, hontoni! (delicious, really). It is not very involved, this recipe, and tastes great. You could surely give this a try and you won’t be disappointed.

 

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Do you have stories that involve your adventures with Japanese food? Have you ever tried okonomiyaki? Did you have it in Japan in an okonomiyaki restaurant? Did you have it in the Kansai area, like Osaka, Kobe, Kyoto or in the Hiroshima area? Those of you who did have it in Japan , how was your experience? Did you get to make one for yourself or was one made for you? How has your experience with Japanese food been where you live? Are you someone who is open to all kinds of food or is there something that you would never even try?

Please share your stories, experiences, photos, recipes, links to recipes you have tried, bloggers who you follow for making special dishes…anything that you wish to! It is always exciting to read about our collective experiences and find out ways in which we are more connected and what makes us unique!

 

Here’s how to participate:

  • Create your own post with your recipe, photos, story anything that you might want to share, representing this month’s theme
  • Create a pingback (link to this post) or leave a link in the comment section
  • Join whenever you can!

 

 

Thank you for stopping by!

 

Friendly Friday Photo Challenge: Coffee Conversations

This week Sandy invites us for ‘coffee conversations’ and while I would ideally really like to have coffee with quite a few of you wonderful people, I have come to know a bit about through here, for now those wishes have to be put on hold. And maybe someday, somewhere we would share a drink or two…who knows. Am I a tea person or is coffee my preferred drink is something even I can’t answer with certainty. And so you may see me answering different things…but please believe that it’s a  conflict I often deal with within my tea-coffee loving brain! However,  plain black tea (and sometimes that cha I fondly remember from the bygone days) and plain black coffee are almost equally loved and always my go to version from among all the many available variations!

Now, I am someone who rarely takes photos of food when  eating out or in, but a bit of that has changed since Cook, Eat, Repeat. But taking photos of food while at a restaurant- I am still a little uncomfortable with that. However, I do have these 4 ( one was taken Sunday afternoon!) that can be shared for this week’s prompt… yayyy!

 

Taken at one of our favorite brunch places, The Turning Point in Princeton,NJ. It was also one of those handful of times when the good man and I both indulged in something other than the good old black coffee! I guess that’s why the photo;)

 

 

 

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We welcomed our darling baby girl in Nov 2018 and it was beautiful but obviously exhausting. We were saved by the love and care that my parents showered on us, while putting their lives on hold so we could feel better, eat better and sleep better and be there for the kids. And one such day, they encouraged us to go take a little break and so we did! We went on our first ‘coffee date’ after a very long time and though it was very brief and we worried for the little one for the duration of the date, it was still wonderful:)

 

 

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It was a gorgeous sunny day on Sunday;) We went out for lunch to one of our favorite places. And a bad cold made me order coffee, instead of something deliciously cold, that I was happy to take a photo of! And while our ‘conversations’ were mostly about how much fun the baby girl was having dropping things on the floor and how her big brother had started liking different kinds of food, it was still wonderful to be able to go out as a family and enjoy a meal together. We have been going to this particular place for the last nine years and while a lot has changed since, the food here has always been comforting!

 

Thanks for stopping by!