Road trip to Mysore

Applied for a whole week off in December as I had 25+ days off to take for year 2008 - this gave us 9 days off with two weekends. I preferred a week before Christmas to avoid traffic and tourist. Initial plan was to leave Bangalore on Sunday for Mysore and move from there depending on Aarush's comfort. Stepping out of the home with him means a disrupted routine and adapting to a new environment for all us. Somehow, I was super lazy on Sunday and postponed the travel for next day. Even while dining on Sunday we were discussing just to be in Bangalore for whole next week or not. Then I concluded the discussion by saying- "we will start tomorrow(Monday) very early morning."

Next morning we could not start early either because of apathy; we started with normal daily practice and by the time we left home it was 11:20 on the clock. Aarush dozed off as we crossed Bangalore city limit and car picked some speed. He woke up when we reached almost outskirts of Mysore. I was driving with comfort as it was 3rd time on the same expressway in a short period of time. Followed sign for the Mysore palace and reached south gate entrance.

We had our packed lunch in the car before entering the palace compound. Bargained & hired a guide to show us the nooks and corner of the palace. Cameras are strictly forbidden inside the palace and we also had to leave our shoes outside as we enter the palace. Without going into details the palace is awesome; well maintained in Indian standard but not up to the mark like those of "Châteaux de Loire". The work and craftsmanship inside is too good which highlights how rich Maharajas of Mysore were. They had natural resources at their disposal like Kolar gold mine, Ivory and varieties of expensive woods to fulfill their hearts wish. The campus also has 27 temples almost at every corners of the compound.
It was dark when we left palace car parking and headed for a hotel. Initial choice was Ginger (new no frill hotel from Tata) as I did not stopped on the way to note the phone number we opted for Hotel Paradise. We were lost in dark while finding the hotel though we were certain we are in the same neighborhood and then a lady Samaritan guided us to the same on her scooter. The room was nice and clean; it cost us about 2000 (san air conditioning) rupees. A old fashioned beautiful hotel with nice view to whole city. The structure is old but elegant. We discovered the well kept and manicured Hotel garden next day morning.
After whole days of activity Aarush went to sleep very early skipping his normal dinner. Around 4 AM he woke up with full energy and started banging phone and other objects on which he could lay his hands. After one and half hours of playing he dozed off as the east sky was bright.
We woke up late; I called a friend at work who had been to Coorgweek before for details. After getting the contact called the same home-stay letting them know - we are coming today itself. This caught the owner off guard as he was not prepared for any visitor during the week but he said he will go to the market and dinner will be ready for us tonight.

After breakfast we picked some necessary things before hitting the road for Brindavan garden; it was already 11 AM. Brindhavan garden is only 15 KM from Mysore but the condition of the road started to deteriorate as we reached closer to the dam. It is just horrible with big pot holes; big trucks carrying river stones are the culprit for the road condition.
Being Tuesday, there was hardly any tourist in the garden. This garden is brain child of Sir Mirza Ismail influenced by Mughal design. The dam was built in 1927-32 by Wodeyar rulers of Mysore on river Cauvery. In recent time, there have been renovation work going on to beautify the garden and its surroundings. Old guest house have converted to Royal Orchid Hotel; kept wondering who goes there to stay on business or leisure. Only thing I could think off was to have corporate off-site meeting there.
After Brindhavan garden we headed towards Coorg via SH88.

Lavazza in India


Just saw this advertisement on BBC website while checking my morning dose of news. I was quite fascinated by this ad. Immediately started to think “Oh this is great!!” now I can get a great coffee to start my day at home by pressing a button.
If you are not familiar with this machine or not a coffee person this machine uses special coffee capsules to dispense coffee. There are varieties of flavor to choose from and trust me it really makes great coffee.
In India tea is most preferred drink and most of people like to take it with lots of milk. Similarly coffee drinkers also prefers latte instead of “espresso” – sorry I am really addicted and spoiled and not quite human at work unless I get my dark coffee.
Now coming to the ad, immediately I dialed the number as mentioned in the advertisement and asked the tele-marketer about the price. And there I got real shock – it cost 10,000 INR (aprrox. 200 USD) for the machine and 25 INR (50 cents US) for the capsules. Now that is not a price I can afford to start my day :(

My baby shower


My baby shower was done in the Bengali traditional way which is called as Saadh in Bengali. It is meant mostly to pamper the first-time mother to be and cheer her up as she accumulates courage to face the most testing time in her life which will soon change her life in and out. Normally, held in the seventh or ninth month of pregnancy on a specified day when mother-in-law will organize this ceremony. She will invite all the women she knows. Thus this ceremony is mainly for women only.


In our custom, M-I-L presents all the garments which mother-to-be wears at the ceremony. This occasion happens twice once from in-laws side is over then only my mom can have but because of my critical condition, from both sides were done on a single day in the seventh month.


Expected mother have to sit on the floor facing east and sometimes puja is also performed; but as I was medically unfit to sit for a longer duration so certain rituals were curtailed. Alpana (with powdered rice) designs are usually drawn on the floor. In the middle of the design, an earthen or copper pot is kept decorated with a red swastika and filled with pure water, mango leaves and green coconut is kept. This is considered as an auspicious sign.
Mom and mother-in-law of the prospective mother fill her lap, represented by the aanchal of her sari with items. Generally, mother-in-law will first bless with ululating the expectant mother as well her unborn child and then put items like 7 different types of dry fruits, fresh fruits, sweets etc in the lap which will be followed by other invited married women. Had a wonderful time with all elders wishing me luck in their own way.


Last but not least expected mother is fed well with seven different types of savory traditional dishes. A feast is prepared for the guests as well. In Bengali, no ceremony be it a wedding or baby shower is complete without elaborate serving rituals, but nowadays professional catering or buffet-style dining is common. The courses progress from lighter to richer and heavier. Rice remains common throughout the meal.

Starting course is bitter a soupy mixture of vegetables in a ginger-mustard sauce, called shukto. Followed by Dal lentil curry - the most substantial course accompanied with fritters (bhaja). In fritters tailfin and head of fish is must to be served to expected mother. The next course is two kinds of vegetable curry which is followed by fish course of two varieties. Finally comes the chutney course, which is typically tangy and sweet; usually made of mangoes or tomatoes or pineapple etc. And of course at last sweet dish be it rice pudding (kheer) or rasogulla is served which is not to be missed.

Journey to Motherhood

Remembering my journey to motherhood as Aarush turns one year old. After 4 years of marriage and lot of traveling around Europe Santanu decided to move back to India to find a better professional career. Life as couple was not full of hip and happening but we were happy and carefree about the same. I use to scorn at people whenever brought up kids in topic; balked at elders. After getting back to India this pressure was getting on me. It seems no one bothered Santanu ever on this matter.
With time finally made a decision to walk on a family way after 3 and half years – although we knew it was not an easy journey but still.. At first we were completely ignorant on this matter. I did every such thing which one should not do; with the thought that when other pregnant women can do job why can’t I? So got into locals, bus, trams, climbed flight of stairs, did moping ,brooming, cleaning, had papaya almost every day and what not. Result : on stepping in fourth month had unavoidable abortion.
I took five months of rest before thinking on it again as per doctors advice. Somewhere I felt my biological clock was ticking fast. If not wrong, Santanu didn’t had any interest left on this matter; may be he was scared to walk on this path again. With lots of discussion and doctors second opinion finally for second time a life formed inside me. Although it was not “aha” moment as family faced untimely loss of Santanu’s father almost at same time.
Before conceiving only I was told by doctor that I have to be in bed rest completely (which I didn't took much seriously at that time). Even was asked to quit from job and stop doing any household work. It took me a while to find a helping hand who would take care of domestic chores. Under medical ground I was not considered normal like 95% other women which was difficult for me to accept.
The journey started; everyday was full of anxiety and fear. Each time I prayed frantically for my kid’s safe arrival. At times, life was difficult as well different and you never know how this journey will end up.
Certain times I felt like entrapped with well wishers whom I wanted to avoid. Your very own people sometimes don’t allow you to be in peaceful mood. For some it was time to challenge me rather then giving me courage. And there was no easy way out for me to escape from all this situations. Everyone have their own say. For many it was time to make a big speculation whether it will be a girl or boy….I really don’t understand why people want to know when they have chosen to be a parent…after all how sex of kid matters.
Keeping excitement alive amidst the stress of baby-making with weathering storms of weekly injections to preparing for the birth of my dreams was not at all easy. I was administered almost 40 injections in this whole 9 months journey. Along with whole cocktail of nutritious food, medicines like folic acid, Susten, sujat, iron and calcium tablets – was to be taken regularly till end. Papaya and pineapple was big NO this time.
To make things complicated Santanu had to travel for a month form work to Singapore. It was pretty scary at time, but looking back may be it happened for good. The only time I was allowed to venture out of the four walls was routine monthly check up with my gynecologist. Each time I used to find the streets had changed from the last time as some new shops, new pot holes and new buildings had come up.
With maturity of months I was asked to cut on salt, sugar, spice from my diet which was very difficult for foodie person like me. Not only that beside house arrest bed rest was imposed on to me from 6th month after cs got stitched. It happened all of a sudden after second ultrasonography I was admitted on the very moment and had to spent 4 days in hospital. After getting discharged my life was even worse like a bird in a cage at times.
I was only permitted to get out of bed for toilet and shower. My bed was inclined from leg side. Sleeping like a log on one side was really tough. People who have met me personally knew my condition. Before Santanu left for his office he use to keep laptop, books , phone on my side so that I can shuffle among them. It was a daily routine which went on till d-day. One doctor used to come each week to give injections.
My parents visited me for baby shower on the seventh month. On one hand, each time I felt movement in my belly, my heart use to fill with joy with the very thought that soon I'll hold my little girl or boy while on other hand I was not allowed to stand even in the balcony to get a glimpse of the out side world.

In the first week of January doctor removed the stitches and asked me to move around in the house. It felt so awkward carrying extra weight and was scared of doing something stupid at end of the journey. I was counting every moment when finally we will meet. Taking advantage of doctor's permission, for first time I visited a baby shop to pick the basic needful. At the end my doctor opted for a planned c-section as she did not wanted to take any risk. And I was admitted a night in advance. I could not sleep much in anxiety and neither did any one who were around me. My parents came a month before my delivery to help us.
On long awaited d-day when baby was taken out of my belly; someone slapped I suppose which was followed by high-pitched squeak and wailing around 12.07 PM looking as though the little one has just been in a fist-fight ( bluish, covered with blood and cream-cheesy glop) yeak.....
After a while, one nurse came to me saying “Pamela its male child” carrying too delicate baby wrapped in green cloth with short neck, chubby cheeks, tiny curled fists, pink toes, quivering eyes, puckered lips and button nose.

Joyeux Anniversaire- mon petit

As usual there is lots of gaps of posting. Last month was quite hectic as we celebrated Aarush's first birthday
We started planning from December onwards. As our schedule now revolves around his nap-time and whims we hardly get time for each other or to discuss any matter it’s just a lot more rare these days than it used to be. So, gone are the days of last minute plan. Despite how he has completely turned our lives upside down we wanted to celebrate his first b'day which I know he hardly will acknowledge at this age. Basically, it was more of a party for parents get-together on completing one-year milestone.
Initially,we wanted to have it in a restaurant with few friends and family members. Thus, short-listed few places but nothing was getting finalized.We didn't wanted dinner party as it could be more stressful whole day for us as well Aarush might get cranky. We wanted him to be in good spirits for the special day.Thinking on all this aspects, finally we decided to have the party over lunch at our apartment club-house where we just need to rent some chairs and tables for that that day and that is all.
This was the first time we were organizing B'day party we were not sure about the logistical part. It took a while to come up with final plan with inputs from veterans (in kids party).
We sent invitation to our guests through Evite in-order to get an idea how many guests are coming but we must admit we have to call people at the end except few. Most of Indian can not say "NO" so we have lots of guests in "undecided-mode". That added one extra effort where we had to find out if they are coming or not from the "context" of conversation as no-one is going to say "NO" over phone either. This was truly difficult part of all as based on this number everything depends be it food ordering or cake or return gifts.
The food was ordered from Golkonda Chimney, near Marathalli. We were lucky to get hold of one event-manager who helped us in decorating the place, getting music system, Bouncer, Caricaturist and Balloon Modelling.
Didn't had any parents-child games as we didn't wanted to worry too much about entertaining the adults, just made sure they have all been introduced to one another and they chat and mingle on their own.
As we already had cake before from Cake Walk, Indira Nagar - we knew about its quality. Without thinking much we ordered 4 kg Black Current Cake from there after tasting a piece. Now all three of us got our Birthday cakes from same bakery after moving to Bangalore.
Next tedious thing was to work out on return gift. We categorized kids into 3 groups based on their age.We bought toys and books for around 25 kids. Though it was not easy to choose from so many varieties - hopefully they liked it.

On the d-day party went on smoothly- Aarush was friendly. He was not at all cranky for a single moment seeing the crowd. We got some cute pictures through professional photographer, the cake was fantastic. Only thing was we forgot to blow the candle before cutting cake.
At last we were very satisfied with the party and hope the same from our guests.
Will always remember this first party of my son.

Happy New Year

Happy New Year everyone!!!. Wish you all the best for next 361 days; already late by two days to post the first one of '09.
Only one resolution we take -- that is to update our blog often and complete the list of posts we are supposed to for long time; there are some of travelogue too to complete. Keep coming back and put your comments that really makes us going.

2008 - mixed bag

Thinking of 2008... it was an eventful year. We started by adding a new member to our family after going through lot of apprehension. Now our new world started to revolve around baby with umpteen number of diaper changes and sleepless nights, his cries, bowel movement and what not.....

Pamela's parents were at Mumbai to help us in our happily tough times. Even before completing two months Aarush left Mumbai for Pamela's hometown. They spent a cruel summer in Durg from March till June with temperature soaring high up to 47 ºC.
In between in May I moved to Bangalore continuing with the same company. Domestic reallocation was a Herculean task as I had to manage every thing myself from finding apartment to movers, closing or transferring various accounts and establishments. My international reallocation experiences were like piece of cake compared to this.
In June Aarush had his rice ceremony at Siliguri which is elaborate and very similar to Bengali marriage ; in nutshell exhaustive but full of fun and festivity. After that we three came to Bangalore directly, the journey form Durg to Siliguri and Bangalore via Calcutta each time was first long trip for Aarush where he got the taste of train and flight.
Even before settling properly within a months time I had to travel to Singapore for 3 weeks on business in September. Pamela managed pretty well with Aarush by herself.
In October we traveled again to Siliguri to attend a family marriage for a week.
By November we started to get familiar with Bangalore and its surroundings. Initial days Aarush used to get very uncomfortable after 30 minutes drive in car but now got accustomed to it and enjoys the same.
Two weeks before we went to Mysore and Coorg. It was a great escape with a change and Aarush behaved very nicely as he spent his first night at hotel. This vacation was a perfect one as we had no pre-set agenda we moved and stopped as we wished.
We will cherish this bygone moments as we are about to accomplish one year milestone of our parent hood in few days. I have faced new scale of challenges through out this year on professional front too. World economic news yet to bring good news for all of us.

chocolate Banana Muffins

First weekend of December past with lots of activities - a trip to commercial street, malls and office. On Saturday Aarush forced me to leave bed early - deprived me of extended sleeping on the weekend. After that I was busy with him mostly for breakfast. Nowadays he has developed a nasty habit of prolonged (around an hour or more) eating times be it breakfast, lunch or dinner. After that he played for while but soon he was sleepy for nap. That created an opportunity for me to try muffin which was long time overdue.

I searched quickly for “chocolate banana muffin” recipe and found this one and went with it as it looked simple and easy except few changes. I beated powdered sugar with melted butter first. In between I kept two eggs outside of freeze to bring them to room temperature. Mixed one tea- spoon of leveled baking soda and baking power each in the flour and sieved 3-4 times to make sure there is enough air mixed in the flour. Then I whisked the eggs and added milk to it; after mashing banana in the grinder I mixed all three together.

Now kept adding half of the dry and liquid ingredients alternatively to the sugar - butter mixture. Lastly, stir in chocolate.
With that my job was almost over as soon as I put the tray for baking; to my surprise and delight they started to rise nicely. Best part of the whole exercise was quick yet successful result. It only took 40 mins to prepare and clean up the kitchen. It might take much less if you are prepared as of my case it was all impromptu right from searching recipe to oven. Anywayz, after a long time enjoyed my time in kitchen – thanks to Aarush for his nap :)
P.S. May add little bit more sugar if you prefer muffin sweet.

Wear the red Ribbon


December 1st 2008- World AIDS Day - today, AIDS is one of the main causes of mortality on the planet. 33 million people are HIV-positive in the world, but 90 % of them ignore it. Given the numbers, there is a definite need to increase the awareness levels about the disastrous effects of this incurable disease.
I am sure there are plenty online about the same which can be accessed quickly but the main problem remains in uneducated rural areas where it is not even mentioned forget about a healthy discussion.

Change


In last 20 months “change” was one of most used word thanks to new President elect Obama. I admire the way he delivers speeches and uses words. Most reporters must be missing those malapropian phrases used in last 8 years.
I took this picture in February at Mumbai Airport; personally I too was thinking about the change and transition I was going trough at work and home at that time. A long waited post with little details but again the line from Gandhi says it all.

Back to Bangalore

It is almost a month posted any thing on the blog. It’s neither that boring nor that there are not enough events happening in our life which can be shared with you. It is just that we do not have any time for ourselves where we can sit and relax which sometime looks like a very remote luxury now.The day starts quite early at around 6:30 when Pamela gets up and prepares breakfast for Aarush ; that allows some extra sleep for me if Aarush permits. As soon as Aaursh is fully awake around 7:30 I need to kick start my day ; try my best to feed him every morning but there are days when he demands for Pamela especially.After that breakfast part its me who try to entertain Aarush while Pamela finishes cooking. Same time try to get all my personal morning “hustle and bustle” taken care.Same time need to keep a Corbett eye on Aarush as he is very unpredictable and things happens before you can blink. Aarush now crawls with speed and he stands up as soon as he finds any thing to hold. He has not mastered the technique to sit from standing. All we do is pick him up and start laughing loudly which causes enough confusion for him. And it takes away the fear and cry from his face and he forgets about the same in next 5 minutes. Today we lost our faithful blue-vase as Aarush was quicker than Pamela. This was bit special as we bought in Wal-Mart and may be as couple one of first purchase we did in 2002 winter. Around 8:30/9 ish Pamela finishes cooking and I start for work and her demanding day gets more demanding. After 2/3 hours of

As time flies...

We feel elated to celebrate our sixth year of togetherness @ IndiJoe. A journey full of sweet, bitter, sour, spicy and many more...... flavours. After all soft items like paper, linen etc finally we reached anniversary which is represented by metal -"Iron Anniversary".
This year's anniversary is extra special because we were given a very precious gift from God, our son Aarush, and now we've moved on from "couple" to "small family", and it feels amazing. So,for the first time we celebrated it as parent rather than couple. Aarush was at his best which helped us to finish our lunch buffet. Though we did not had the luxury of time as we had to stuff ourselves quickly. By the time we reached for dessert he wanted to crawl all around in restaurant.