Monthly Archives: May 2009

Finding comfort


Someone recently asked me what was my comfort food. And it stumped me because I could not come up with an answer immediately. I used to have a ready list for the longest time. But now I could not name any one dish that I knew would always pull me out of a funk.

It led me to think.. where did my comfort lie?

Childhood was full of beckoning but yet not-allowed chocolates. It was a majorly rationed commodity. I don’t remember ever having eaten a bar by myself. That accompanying guilt is still there. And since we are two sisters, as is wont, she wouldn’t eat her share and punish me by forcing to watch it lying in the fridge. I, of course, ate up her share often. In fact, for the longest time I gobbled up chocolate. Grabbed, stuffed it in my mouth and swallowed it almost whole. No sense of the sheer bliss.  But that changed as soon as I could afford to buy my own chocolate. Chocolate is still a favourite but not one I pine for. It’s too sinful to be comforting anymore.

Childhood and college meant another phase — one with fewer bottles of cold drinks, burgers, pizzas, ice cream – all of which changed once I started working. I didn’t always dive into a junk food binge but took every chance I got to eat it. It’s novelty value quickly ceased, and soon its quickness charm also eased, and today I actually would want to make something at home rather than order junk food. And now that I think back, my mother took a lot of pains to make healthy junk food back then. Of course Mac D and its ilk didn’t make an appearance till college and we actually contemplated standing in line to eat those awful burgers! What were we thinking!

Junk food cravings slowly moved onto a craving for rich dishes – creamy pastas, rich Indian gravies with ghee-slathered rotis, white-sauce doused vegetables and chicken chunks, cheesy soups, fried fish, red meat. But never-ending press conferences tired me of that too, and fast. I often got to hear from relatives (only!) ‘wow you get to eat in five stars’ (sic) and I would further shock them by saying that I actually passed up that opportunity to come back and order bad raasta Chinese. (I think that craving will always persist as there can be no dish more satisfying than spicy schezwan rice.) But just because the food is free, at supposedly five-star quality, doesn’t automatically make it appealing.

I even went through a phase of the quick-food variety. Maggi used to make me sick but I was sufficiently lazy and always looked for short-cuts. Packaged food became my new best friend. Two-minute pastas, curries, rotis, toast. But the preservative scare quickly helped me get over that too. In some ways my taste has certainly evolved.

So what do I crave for today?

Sweet peaches. A really succulent mango. One square of the perfectly bitter chocolate (still to be found in India but I guess Bourneville comes close). A slice of ripe avocado (which I know is waiting for me at home). Warm varan bhaat with limbu and ghee. Crisp toast. Eggs and potatoes. Even a hot, fluffy roti, just off the flame. Chilled lychees. Perfect custard/ cheesecake/ caramel custard. Good chocolate cake. Homemade granola. A small spoon of oatmeal. A crisp tart apple. A perfect, aromatic cup of coffee.

The list is now endless.

A lot gets thrown in the air


A chat continued from a comment on my earlier post on Sita. It was a long chat and made me think some so decided to post it (in a slightly formatted manner) here.


me: hey.. briefly saw the comment..just wanted to clarify..which i guess the post didn’t do..

vishvesh: be my guest

me: that it’s not that i thot the men were responsible for how the women thought..that attitude pisses me off like it’s his responsibility to stop making u feel like a second class citizen just wanted to add that..

vishvesh: got it and that is exactly my point If a man told you how great his wife is, will you feel the same way?

me: but no man (and i only mean my friends) has ever said that to me..but lots of women have..

vishvesh: How come the same statement coming from different people evoke different reactions? What if they did?

me: I’d tell them the same thing

vishvesh: and may be Men don’t say such things

me: that why does it have to be such a big deal if u are treated as an equal.. isn’t that a given ??my post.. or at least parts of it. are about women being grateful that they are treated like equals.. equating it to such a wonderful husband.. and his great nature..

vishvesh: well, don’t we exclaim a lot of things which are given

me: that’s a very generic statement..

vishvesh: I love my house..I say this every few weeks and have a good discussion at home with everyone saying the same things

me: i’ve never hear any guy say.. oh u know my girl freind said this.. and am so lucky she did..

loving ur house..and being grateful because ur husband treats u well is not quite the same thing

vishvesh: but that may have to do with the ways guys share or speak.  I know My point it two-fold

me: yeah.. i agree guys perhaps aren’t that vocal.and am not even saying it’s the guy’s responsibility.. or any such thing..

vishvesh: Guys will hardly say it…know what, guys will never publicly discuss their wives and if they do, always in the lighter vein

me: am only annoyed because every where else women will fight for the right for equally..and here they readily take crumbs. and are grateful

vishvesh: and married women, when they meet, the first things they discuss is their husbands and it is a serious discussion

me: and true women do discuss more then men..and most of the discussions, i’ve quoted i wasn’t a part of. but this bit I somehow chanced on, in another conversation.

u said ur point was two-fold?

vishvesh: let me reiterate the first one

your observation could be due to the fact that men tend not to say these things…Consider if they were and if a few men did say it, would you be annoyed? take a hard look at this question and then we can go further in the discussion

me: ok then wait.. i have to clarify my irritation is completely directed at women men dont feature in the post.. not for the reason u imply

vishvesh: AAAAAAARGH!

me: and second point?

vishvesh:there is a reason I am bringing men in this equation

me: ok..i think i wld be annoyed because to be grateful  because someone treats u fairly, in a relationship meant to be of equals (yes i know this isnt the case) wld bug, men or women. does that anwer ur question?

vishvesh: yes so with that, the same thing applies to men in the relationship as this question may not be Ram V/s Sita! anyhow, the other fold is or you have something to say to this one?

me: no no carry on..

vishvesh: so if it is established that regardless of men or woman exclaiming about the nature of their spouse, if you would be irritated then, it may not be about women or feminism or whatever it is

me: yes to the relationship angle…. not nature.. completely. i mean only this aspect in particular

vishvesh: It may simply be someone being grateful to his or her partner

me: grateful he lets u decorate the house, or spend ur money the way you want..i don’t think these are any reasons to be grateful unless it was a complete mismatch of words when it was being conveyed to me.. and the last conversation was with me.. so i know i dint mistake being affectionate and being grateful are completely different things.. esp not when all these women are otherwise very successful and independent, esp financially. make decision, run their offices/job /tasks etc all in the 30s. so these aren’t really kids who don’t know what they are saying.. again, no one’s fault in particular and its more to do with conditioning.. but its pissing off nevertheless.

phew! done for now i think u were saying?

vishvesh: speechless!

this discussion will need to be carried out in person…whenever we meet!

me: 🙂 the only man man enough to comment on my post. 😀 am very proud

vishvesh: I mean there is nothing being ‘man enough’..I just think this isn’t a feminist or a ‘woman’ issue…I am sure men feel grateful about their wives too..just that isn’t always expressed in words to their friends etc.. in plain words, I think you are overreacting!!!!!!!!!!!!!

me: ok.. ill put it differently are u grateful ur wife had ur baby?

vishvesh: aagh, got you!

me: sigh I always overreact but these are strong issues for me

vishvesh: let me answer the first oneI am not grateful she delivered my baby but I am grateful she went through all that pain and all….

me: see u get the difference that’s why u made the distinction

vishvesh: In marriage, there is always a time when you are grateful to your partner

me: yeah

vishvesh: and there are times when you are too grateful

me: i know that.. (tho single and all that jazz)

vishvesh: no but this is different

me: but this grateful and what these women are saying is different

vishvesh: let me ask you a question

me: wait..on teh baby issue

vishvesh: do you feel grateful to your parents?

me: it’s not interchangeable

vishvesh: IT IS!

me: it is??? u can have the baby too? I’ll get back to the parents part in a bit..

i meant u cant have the baby.. only she can .. so that grateful ness.. is mixed with many other things.

vishvesh: ok

me: and it’s part of the relationship

vishvesh: got it

me: but the grateful i am talking about.. is say for instance..ur wife tom came upto u and said..i havent told.. how grateful i am because u are polite to me/ dont beat me up/ let me work/ etc that’s appalling..(i know she wont..) just an example

vishvesh: and what if I told the same to my wife? Will you feel equally appalled?

me: but wld u? do u think about it? do u think wow she is so polite??

vishvesh: WHY NOT? WHY CAN’T I?

me: yes u can.. but u wldnt.. because its a given..

vishvesh: that is what I am trying to say for a looong time now to you

me: is ..


vishvesh: why is it given? that, this gratefulness cuts both ways and so if you happen to hear only from one set of partners, doesn’t necessarily have to be a gender issue

me: but when am i saying that it only cuts one way??? but tom any partner says

vishvesh: if you aren’t saying that, where is the gender thing come in between? why it has to be a Ram and Sita thing?

me: i am saying as an independent women u have no business being grateful to man because he is polite in ur husband’s role. do u walk around thanking ur boss because he is polite? because he is being polite, treating you with respect

vishvesh: Me, I do

me: is everyone’s right

vishvesh: but then, I have a boss like that

me: i am polite too.. but i dont thank ppl because they are polite..

vishvesh: arey but that isn’t a close personal relationship

me: exactly my point.

vishvesh: okay, let me try it this way when people marry, they always have it in their mind that life together will be different..It will be exciting but it will also mean compromises Now, if any of your ‘perceived’ compromises haven’t come true, you may exclaim in happiness big deal!

me: maybe that’s why am single vishvesh. compromise to means different things.. i guess. smaller things less consequential..

vishvesh: phir tumne samasya badal daali!

me: i still think we are looking at the same  thing from diff ends and about the parents i dont know if grateful is the word i’d use. i am happy they are my parents and for all the opportunities they gave me. and will do everything i can to keep them happy but am i grateful, i am not so sure. which is perhaps why i still think i wont have kids.

vishvesh: my only submission is that everything is not a Man V/s woman fact a lot of such issues are more due to the difference in the way the genders Behave

me: but i never said.. it was a man vs woman thing

vishvesh: reading your post that what appeared to me

me: am saying women get a grip on your selves ok.. that’s my mistake then 🙂 wrong phrasing in the post

vishvesh: I thought the entire Sita reference was accentuated because of socially dominant thinking/behavior of the Ram and this ‘grateful’ thing being a case in point may be I need to read better

me: the sita context was yes, she, thru conditioning, is projected as the ideal wife

vishvesh: Didn’t Ram also inflict the pain of separation on himself?

me: yes true which is also almost always mentioned how he never married again.. but am a hard woman (if u don’t know that as yet)

vishvesh: besides, wouldn’t He be aware that he would be criticized no end…Also, wouldn’t he have felt the pain of not being as dutiful to His wife as he should be?

me: i know i know

vishvesh: My point is just because men aren’t expressive, they are kind of take for a ride. Ram could have lived his entire life in guilt

me: what guilt!!???oh god can’t do this on chat 😀


Though the chat ended inconclusively (I think), I constantly read and re-read it and still think that though percieved as a  difference in behaviour in genders issue, it’s still so much about expectation that anything apart and women tend to think how different and good an experience it is and my god, they must be lucky. We, as a gender, perhaps are really used to constantly even belittling ourselves hence the surprise.

A dream job anyone?


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I get this in a mail every single day. Is it a sign?

My obsession with Sita


My obsession started long ago, much before I realised I was named after this goddess and someone remarked that that community never names their girls after Sita — since she suffered so much. And turns out the building I live in is named after one of her children.  But trivia apart, Sita still fascinates me.

It all came together one day when one friend was narrating a conversation she had with someone else. This friend had an arranged marriage with an unconventional beginning and today had a smooth relationship with her husband.

She leads a life like any of us do — works, runs a house how she feels like (doesn’t feel compelled to cook in short), has her friends, does her thing, spends money as she feels fit. Her friend mentioned to her how great it was that her husband treats her well and lets her do what she wants.

It rankled when I heard this but I thought may be the person making the observation truly had a bad relationship. This conversation came to me out of the Dubai. Subsequently I heard of another similar conversation between two women, one telling the other how great it was that her husband let her do what she wanted and gave her space to do what she wanted. This came from the US.

I kept thinking so maybe couples are stuck in a time warp abroad trying to preserve their Indianess and not really questioning the very roles they claim defined them. Then someone in Mumbai mentioned how it was great her husband let her work, let her do what she wanted and even let her decorate their house.

Somewhere along the way I lost my cool. I kept asking the last one who said this to me, what was so great if he treated you well??!!! Wasn’t it normal behaviour? She turns around and tell me, it’s okay for people like you to talk like that.

The silenced me. People like me? Unmarried was the first thought that crossed my mind but she said feminist. Or rather murmured it. And that stumped me. I didn’t think I was the feminist types. But if not being grateful for good behaviour from your partner is feminism, I guess I am a flag-bearing, card-carrying member.

I always get into trouble for this but whenever I have a conversation I am not satisified with, I replay the conversation with someone else, who I think can give me another point of view. So who else but a man.

He agreed with me that yes women place far too much faith in one person who happens to be their husband. Women today are very independent and take on so many decisive roles. Even after marriage they are usually more available for their ageing parents than sons but these women still glad when their husbands treat them well.

So why this conditioning? Why this gratefulness? Why this abject thankful attitude for something that should be a given?

A professor friend mentioned it to me in passing that it has perhaps been handed down to us in our mythology itself. Sita, the wife every woman aspires to be, is often the ideal myth. To be the ever-sacrificing, pious and pure wife.

That brought me to Ram. As mythology goes, to me he is flawed. Instead of encouraging his praja to think in a fair manner, he abandoned his wife. Maryada Purshottam aside, this itself makes him less of a king.

And to worship to the woman who still treated him like he did no wrong cannot be the best situation. Her other avatars where she stands up for her rights and rights the wrongs are better myths to follow.

But then I chanced upon  some reading material and one neat movie that made it clear that while Sita may be what she was, contemporary times were slowly revisiting her myth too.

The book Retelling the Ramayana is a powerful book in that sense because Ram faces censure from his own for abandoning his pregnant wife. And other female characters from the Ramayana who are strong voices but have been rendered mute in the patriachal tale.

And then there was the movie: Sita Sings the Blues. I don’t know how I missed it all these years. But I chanced on it here and caught the whole movie online. And realised it was possible to view Sita in a different light. Another opinion, that has also made a popular feminist icon, is that though independent of thought and action, she still let her man make her decisions.

While some may point out that it is a bad example to set, others also say that it was finally she who took the all-important decision of  asking Mother Earth to consume her. She abandoning him, not the other way around, which should have been the focus. I guess it’s easier to look at the smaller picture and think of how he abandoned her at her most trying time.

Somehow I forget now why I was so angry when I started this post. It lay in the ‘Drafts’ section for a while and now that I am ready to post it, I realise,  there isn’t any anger any more.

And for those who are interested in Sita, check out this movie. All four characters have names of the goddess and four stories are about women empowerment (with Bollywoodisation I guess).