personal

A speaker or two

ID-100215206.jpg

“We need this!” I said, my eyes dreamily glazing over the shiny black rectangular contours of the Home Theatre system that was on display. “I don’t think so. Plus we should look online for better deals.” exclaimed my wife, tugging at my hand, trying to steer me away from the electronic wonderland that I had stumbled upon. I tried to resist, but followers of my blog will know that my wife knows Karate and can be rather persuasive with her ‘holds’.

“You know what?” I said, desperately racking my brains for an apt sentence that would swing the game in my favour, “Remember how you’ve always complained that we don’t have good speakers at home. And that the one that we have, has wires running all over the place?"

She stopped in her tracks, and I took this as a signal to go on. “Well, if we buy this, we can stream music directly from our iPod to OUR (yes, I used the word OUR) home-theatre system, without the need for messy wires. And it has seven wireless speakers too. Just imagine!”. I smiled as I delivered the sentence that I knew would convince her.

We both stood there for a few minutes - me trying to visualise this state-of-the-art home theatre system at home and watching my favourite movies in complete surround sound and digital sound, my wife thinking about all the music she could play loudly on the new system.

Half-an-hour later, we walked out of the store, with a receipt for a hefty amount and our hearts filled with the excitement of having ticked off something from my technology bucket list and the joy of times to come.

A few days later,

My wife and I stared lovingly at the set of speakers that we had wall-mounted. As a self-proclaimed technical expert, I had opted to do all the installation myself and apart from a few minor blisters and bruises, I had managed to get everything done. Bursting with excitement, I called out to my wife and sat her down right in the middle of the sofa, in the spot where I had decided would be acoustically perfect.

And then I switched on the system and attempted to connect my iPod ‘wirelessly’ to the home theatre. Now, I am a geek and a proud one at that. As the seconds soon transformed into minutes and then longer minutes, I heard my wife clear her throat. I looked over my shoulder at her. With a smile on her face, she held out the ‘How-To’ guide that had been included in the box.

“No!” I exclaimed, turning back and fervently trying to make the connection work. Behind me, I could hear my wife typing something on her phone. Trying to ignore her, I restarted both the system and my iPod. After another 30 minutes had passed with no visible results, my wife tapped me on my shoulder. “I think you should call the experts.” she stated, as I turned around.

“Oh! And before I forget, here is something.” she said, handing me her phone. She had opened up a search site in her browser and had entered the search string - Speakers under Rs. 1000. “We should have just done this, you know. You and your fancy gadgets!” she exclaimed with a smirk on her face, as she walked away.

I merely nodded, as I always did.


 

This is a sponsored post, but the opinions and views are mine.

Photo by Freedigitalphotos.net/Stuart Miles

Together, we can

stock-footage-happy-family-walking-on-sea-coast-silhouettes-sunset.jpg

"Why?", I asked my mother flashing her the best puppy-eyed look I could muster "Why, me?" Sitting across from me, my mother averted her glance just as the waiter walked up to the table with our drinks - a strong filter coffee for my mother, and a bottle of juice for me. She said nothing in reply to my question, as she took a sip of the drink.

 

Even though I was only fifteen years old, I knew the reason for her silence. I had just completed my 10th CBSE board exams, which I had passed with flying colours. Yes, the results had surprised me too. But nevertheless, I was riding high on the success. And then my father had dropped a bombshell.

 

Walking into the living room one day, while I was inconspicuously trying to watch an episode of FRIENDS, he had nonchalantly announced, "Sidharth, you're going to a new school." Now, my father is often known for his good sense of humour, so I just dismissed it as a prank that he was trying to pull off. I barely looked up and just let out a guffaw. But then he came over and sat down on the opposite sofa and placed his hand on my shoulder. "You're going to a prestigious residential school in Kerala. There will be many kids similar to you, ones who have been born and brought up abroad in the UAE and elsewhere. So you won't feel out-of-place either. "

 

Of course, the news hit me quite hard. I am an only child. So as expected, my parents have always gone out of their way to make sure that I've had every level of comfort that they could afford to give me. That is not to say that I was spoiled for choice. No, they offered me a rein, long enough for me to be able to make my small choices, while looking out for me. So perhaps, the last thing I had thought I would ever hear was the fact that I was being 'banished' to the depths of a windowless, soul-less dungeon where I would have no friends, no family and was be all alone. Or at least that's what my fifteen year old brain convinced me would happen.

 

What followed next were a few weeks of utter torture. Not of the mental kind, but emotionally heart wrenching. I bade a heavy-hearted good-bye to all my friends and my neighbours and was soon on my journey to this new 'gated hell' that awaited me. Since the summer vacations in the Middle East and in India are during different times, my father was unable to accompany us. So a couple of days before the start of the new academic year, my mother and I, made the long and arduous journey to this enormous residential school in Nilambur, thousands of miles away from home.

 

Now, up until that point, I had never asked my mother the reason behind my father's actions. I mean, I did not even ask my father the reason. I just complained and tried to resist the change. But that day, sitting at this quaint little cafe, merely minutes away from walking through the gigantic wooden gates that would lead me to my new 'home' for the next couple of years, I was overwhelmed. Mixed emotions surged through me like roller coaster ride with no stop in sight. But somehow I gathered my wits and asked my mother why they did what they had done.

 

As I sat there waiting for my mother to give me an explanation, tears started to well up and for the first time I could remember, since I had entered my teenage years, I cried. No, it wasn't a wail like how babies or little kids do when they're hurt or throwing a tantrum. It was more of a continuous stream of pearl-shaped droplets chasing each other down the contours of my chubby cheeks, while my brain struggled to process the potential reasons behind my parents' actions and how I would face the next two years in a strange place. I felt like I was in a dark tunnel and there was absolutely no light at the end.

 

Suddenly my mother spoke. I wiped my tears and looked at her. Her eyes had started to well up too and the tip of her nose had turned a shade of light pink. As she gently called out my name, it struck me. This transition and change was going to be a lot difficult for her than it was for me. Yes, in due course, I would make friends and settle down. But my mother, whose life revolved around her little family, that included my father and me, would be missing a whole part when I had gone. The fact that she was a teacher who would be teaching kids around the same group as I was, would not help either. For in every pair of eyes that looked back at her while she was reading aloud that poem or story, would remind her of me.

 

As these thoughts rushed through my head, she pulled up her chair towards me and embraced me in a tight hug. Suddenly, I felt like a little kid again. I did not want to go anywhere, but just stay like that forever. But she cut short the embrace and looked into my eyes.

 

"Listen," she said, her soothing voice offered me as much comfort as a gentle babbling brook, "We're in this together. Even though your father might not acknowledge this, it is as difficult for the both of us to be away from you, as much as it is for you to be away from us. But we won't be there with you forever. There will be a time in your life when you need to be able to adjust to newer surroundings, make new friends and be optimistic about the future. And that time is now! Look back fondly on the memories of all the time you've had with us and your friends and at your old school. They will be your light during the darkest days. And they will guide and help you to make more memories with new friends here too."

 

As I quietly nodded along to everything she said, she added, "And remember son, we love you. We are doing this because we love you and want you to be independent. You can't live in our shadows forever or live with the decisions we make for you. This is the first step to your new life. So embrace it. And for everything else, we're always there to guide you. Together, we can do this."

 


 

Looking back, that was perhaps the best decision that my parents had made for me. And also the last. They gave me the support that I needed to be independent, and of course have always been together with me during my low points and high ones. Today, I stand proud and tall with my head held high because of the fact that I've known they have always supported me. In retrospect, I might even say that was perhaps one of the most memorable moments in my life. The time that I spent with my mother in the cafe that day and listening to her telling me the reasons behind their decisions, helped me look up and be optimistic about my future. No, it wasn't easy, but as she said, #together, we did it.

 

Thank you Housing.com for giving me the opportunity to relive this valuable memory that has made me the person that I am today

 

Image courtesy : www.shutterstock.com

A fresh change

Change2.png

  Change is often inevitable and surprising. It can gently knock you off-balance and demand that you cope with it. Or it can lift you completely out of your comfort zone and put you in situations where you have to make decisions that can potentially alter your life as you know it. But sometimes, change can also be the best thing to happen to you. And I say that with all the authority of someone, who fought change and eventually gave into it, only to discover a new me.

 

The year was 2012, 

I had everything that a person in their late-twenties could want - a loving wife and partner, a baby on the way,  good-paying job, decent career prospects and well-settled abroad. A change from all of this was perhaps the last thing on my mind. But life has its share of curve balls that it often throws at you, to keep you on your toes. And so it did.

 

Fast forward to a year later,

Nothing could have prepared me for what the following year would bring. We ended up relocating to India. One reason was to be closer to family and for our son to grow up amidst his grand parents, relatives and cousins. The other was because my wife was offered a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to head her department in India. Yes, we were well-settled in London, but a part of me had started to feel the monotony of the corporate world.  So we opted for the change.

If you had asked me back then, I would have told you that I was optimistic about the whole move. It was pretty much a win-win situation for us. But I'd be lying, if I said that there weren't a few nagging feelings, gnawing at the back of my mind - of self-doubt; of lack of confidence; of whether I would be able to fit in; of whether I would find a role that I loved doing. Such thoughts sped through my brain like an express train with no halts in sight.

But somewhere deep down, I found the optimism to look up. And keep going on.

 

Seven months later,

My wife was now the primary breadwinner of our little family. She was extremely happy with her career prospects. Our son had coped much better than we'd anticipated and was as mischievous and naughty as 20-month old kids generally are.

As for me, I was career-less, a stay-at-home dad and somewhat a stigma to society. For, in our largely patriarchal society,  not only was my wife the sole wage-earner of the family -  a fact that was perhaps akin to blasphemy -, but I was a stay-at-home father. That was something practically unheard of in the community. Needless to say, I was considered a rebel by many, and a social outcast.

Over the next few months, I faced plenty of intrusive questions. Most of them went along the lines of "So, what do you do all day at home? or Don't you feel wrong to be babysitting all day?". Of course, a few were far more personal; some even questioning my very existence as a man. Yes, society can be rather cruel when it wants to be. Eventually, I started to shy away from any kind of public gathering.

Just to be clear - my so-called 'joblessness' was not entirely by choice. Circumstances paved the way, and I found myself losing hope and looking elsewhere. But I trudged ahead, with whatever little optimism  I had left, expectant that I would find something that I was good at, that would give me time to spend with my family and of course pay the bills to an extend. And that's when I started to write.

Writing and Blogging opened up a world of opportunities for me. What originally started as a diary to jot down my musings about fatherhood, parenting and tales about my daily interaction with my son, soon blossomed into an almost full-time role. I started to write short stories and longer pieces of fiction, articles for magazines, ghost writing for websites and even some freelance designing.

Where society had failed me, I found support not just from my immediate family, but a virtual family of fellow writers and freelance bloggers. And the best part of it all, was that I had quality time to spend with my son. To watch him grow. To learn valuable lessons with him. To be there for his major and minor milestones. To be there for my wife. To be a complete family man.

No, I won't lie and tell you that everything was easy or that it was smooth sailing. I'm still a heretic, when it comes to the way our society thinks. Of course, it helps somewhat that I'm no longer termed as a 'stay-at-home' dad but rather a 'work-from-home' one. And it helps that I've been published on a few sites, have won a few writing competitions, earn somewhat enough money occasionally to be able to pitch in and pay the bills and do my bit for society.

 

And today, as I continue working on the manuscript of my first full length novel, while still finding plenty of time to spend with my wife and play the silliest of games with my little one, I can only say - Change is a good thing. It gives you the chance to alter your life, start anew, be a better person, take risks and most of all, gives you a shot at doing what you want.

 

Of course, the next thing on the cards is a house of our own. One where I have a dedicated writing room with a small library, my faithful laptop and a window from which I can see the world go by. And that's perhaps where Housing.com will help me look up and change my life further. So see, change is a good thing.

 

[embed]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1FXdCjk505w[/embed]

 

And for everyone who is reading this, all I can say is :

Make a change, take a risk - however small that might be. And #StartANewLife.

 

Image courtesy : Self. Created on Photoshop

But first, coffee...

But first, coffee...
My better half (yes, in all possible ways) makes a surprise appearance on my blog again - this time talking about something that she can't live without. No, it's not me. So, today I turn over my blog to my lovely wife, Janaki, for a light-hearted post about something that near and dear to her. Make sure you make yourself a cuppa before reading :)

Four Seasons - A Guest post for Pixie

four_seasons.jpg

Strange as it may sound, Pixie and I bonded over a conversation that started on a rather crazy note. Needless to say, we both saw the reason behind the “craziness” and bonded over our love for food, writing, Bangalore, Mysore, reading and most of all, Enid Blyton. Pixie, just like her pseudo-name, has a streak of mischievousness and just like the folklore, she is someone who is very fond of dancing. She writes with a passion that is so rare these days amongst lot of us writer-folks and her blog represents her space and her thoughts on anything and everything. When she’d originally asked me to write her a guest post, I was apprehensive. I mostly write fiction and humor posts, which are based on the principle of generalisation. Though she didn’t impose, I knew she wanted something that was simpler and purer, sort direct from the heart, so to speak. I spent weeks trying to come up with ideas, and when I saw this prompt, I knew this was something that I could write on. And of course would fit the style of her blog. And with that note, I’m going to jump right in. divider I grew up in a magical Arabian desert land where it was summer, pretty much all year long. Now, before some of you go “Wow!” and “You’re so lucky!”, let me tell you this. It’s not as fun as you’d imagine it to be. Yes, we had seasons too, but it wasn’t the typical Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter that you would so often read about in those lovely books. Oh no! It was more like “Warm, Warmer, Warmest and Hell", particularly during the months of July and August, when the average temperature was often just shy of 50 degrees celsius. But then again, I suppose I shouldn’t really complain about the heat so much. After all, the only time that I was exposed to the sun was during my weekly P.E. class and when I tried to fit in a game or two of basketball after school hours and before my tuitions. Like they say in those MasterCard advert, “everywhere else, there was air-conditioning”. But even so, I’ve always complained about summer. Particularly because my threshold for heat is minimal. There are plenty of things I’m appreciative about. Sweat running down my face and down the my back and into my underwear, is not one of them. For me, the only things that’ve always been synonymous with summer have been those two-month holidays (which were promptly reduced to one month ones when I started 9th standard) and of course, the mind-numbing heat.

Read the rest of the post here on Pixie's blog : Click here

Please do leave comments either on her blog, or back here.

[This post is written for the Project 365 program at We Post Daily aimed at posting at least once a day, based on the prompts provided. The prompt for today was “For many of us, winter is blooming into spring, or fall hardening into winter. Which season do you most look forward to?"  ]

 

Fashionista? I think not!

Jumper_Pixabay.jpg

Fashion is such a weird and wonderful thing.  And I speak with all the authority of someone who spent hours watching Fashion Tv when it first launched. Though I should also quickly confess that my watching FTv had nothing to do with fashion and all to do with the gorgeous international models and well, let’s say, slightly skimpy sheer clothing. So as I was saying, there are fashion choices that don’t make sense to me. I mean, yes you need to look presentable. But somehow I doubt walking into an interview in a crisp, new suit with a cowboy hat (as they sometimes demonstrate on these fashion shows) will get you that job. Unless you’re interviewing for the position of Head-trainer at a ranch maybe.  

Though not a fashionista by any definition of the word, having lived in quite a few metropolitan cities, I’ve been privileged enough to observe some rather strange and  unique fashion choices. Whilst I am not going to go into a detailed report of those, I must say this. Perhaps the stupidest fashion choice I’ve seen so far, is this sudden invasion of the low-rise jeans over the past decade. Also known in my world as either “Wanna see my underwear?” jeans or “Wanna see my bum-crack?” jeans, depending on the kind of (or lack of) inner wear. And sadly this “bum-ster syndrome” as I call it, is something that seems to have affected both genders (and others) equally. Anyway I digress.

 

I went shopping the other day. Yes, I know what you’re thinking. “Now, that’s not a statement that you hear everyday from a man!”. It’s true. I’m not so much into this retail therapy madness. Ok, maybe if I am shopping for gadgets. But for clothes ? Meh. Unless I really have to, I won’t. You see, I’m a rather overweight chap (I prefer the word physically disproportionate or better yet, round. Round is a shape, no?). So finding clothes that fit is, well, an arduous task. No, it wasn’t always like this. But my love for food, combined with a lack of physical activity and a rather severe hypothyroid condition which went undiscovered for several years, all collectively resulted in where I am and my shape today.

 

Back when I was in the UK, finding clothes that fit was rather easy. In a country, where even the average teenager had a much larger waist size than me, I was pleasantly surprised to find that I actually fell into the category of “normal-sized” people. So in reality, when I suddenly had to go shopping for clothes the very first time since I’d moved back to India, I was quite optimistic. I naively assumed that with so many big brands vying for market share, they would all cater to the needs of people of all shapes and sizes. After all, the labels on almost all the clothes that I had ever bought in the UK, stated proudly that they were made in India. But oh no! I was about to discover a whole new world of shopping pain.

 

As part of this “impromptu shopping spree”, we decided to try one of the larger shopping malls in Bangalore. All the big brands were under one roof and surely at least a couple of them would have thought of catering to the needs of “large disproportionate” men such as myself. So off I hankered into the men’s section. A bunch of salesmen cautiously approached me with their measuring tapes in tow. “Can I help you, sir?” asked one of them politely. “No, I’m alright!” I replied, sharply dismissing them with a wave of my hand. Kind of made me feel like a king, that act. I was confident that I could find a pair of well-fitting jeans in no time. After all, I knew my waist size and height. What I didn’t realise was that my waist size didn’t exist for most of the “ultra-cool” modern brands. Not one to give up hope, I continued to hunt and finally managed to find 3 pairs that boldly announced the waist size that I was after.  With these tucked under my arm, I marched confidently into the trial room. Alas, my nightmare was only about to begin.

 

The very first pair I tried on, never actually made it past my “muscular” thighs. I carefully took them off and looked at the size. Yes, I’d gotten the waist size right. But what I’d missed was this tiny little tag on the label that said “Slim Tapered”.  On closer observation, it revealed all kinds of details about the pair, the key one being - “Slim through thighs”. “No wonder they didn’t fit!” I thought. But then again, I was also secretly curious to find out who that rather unique person was, who had my waist size and such pencil-thin thighs. The second pair fared much better. It actually made it to my waist. The problem started when I tried to button them up. I tried everything I could think of - holding my stomach in and even clenching my butt. But nothing helped. And then finally I huffed and puffed like the big bad wolf in the three little pigs, and managed to button it up. By this point, I was sweating profusely and I wasn’t even done yet. I still had to pull up the zip. After another five minutes of unsuccessfully trying to zip up the jeans, I stopped trying. Huffing, puffing and panting again, I vetoed yet another pair of jeans. Or rather they’d vetoed me. All my hopes now rested on the final pair of jeans that hung comfortably off the hanger. It stared mockingly at me, almost daring me to give it a try. Wondering what fresh hell it was about to unleash, I decided to give it a go. To my surprise, it not just made the journey up to my waist quite comfortably, but I was able to button it up well and good without having to decide which bone in my body I needed to break.

 

Whilst I was standing there with the triumphant look of finally having managed to find a pair that fit me, there was a loud knock on the door followed by a rather melodious “Are you done yet Sid? We need to hurry!”. I smiled and quickly bundled up the “fitting” pair of jeans. But not before I glared at the other pairs that were now hanging off the hooks. “Jeans - Zero, Sid - One” I said out aloud as I quickly walked to the counter to pay the rather exorbitant sum of money for this single pair of jeans.

 

divider A couple of days later, 

My wife and I had planned to go out for a nice dinner and I decided that this was the best time to cavort around in my new pair of “branded” jeans that I’d paid a fortune for. Just like in the trial room, the jeans once again, slid up comfortably. Quite pleased with myself, I turned around to look at the mirror to admire my rather snug fitting profile. And that’s when I noticed that my boxers had made an appearance, peeking rather coyly over the waist band of the jeans. Wondering why I hadn’t noticed this the other day, I did what any self-respecting man would have done.  I tried to pull up the jeans at the waist. But no matter how hard I tugged, the jeans refused to rise enough to cover the label and brand of my inner wear. As I frantically tried to think of ideas that would help me cover this up, I noticed a tag on the jeans . In bold red letters they exclaimed, Speciality Low Rise jeans - for the man who likes to flaunt.

 

As someone who hated (and still hates) the concept of low rise/waist jeans, the irony of the fact that I now had to settle for these sort of jeans, was not lost on me. So what did I do? Well, I did what any sensible man would do. I’m now the proud owner of a number of Calvin Klein boxer shorts. After all, the world says “If you've got it, flaunt it!”.Except that in this case, “It” refers to an expensive pair of intimate wear. Fashion is a weird thing indeed.

 

 

divider

Let me leave you with this parting image. Tada - the future of jeans :)

low-jeans-funny

The birth of a Chef

i3Vp5BGS.jpg

The first  ever meal I cooked was a total disaster. Ok, disaster is probably an understatement. But it was absolutely inedible. So much so, that I had to bribe the waste bin to devour it. The year was 2006 and I had just moved to the UK to pursue my Masters degree. Though I’d been away from home for almost five years at that point, I had been fortunate enough to have had plenty of affordable takeaways near where I stayed. Which meant, I'd never had to cook. Moving abroad was an eye-opener in more ways that one. But that’s a topic for another day. Today it’s all about my tryst with cooking.  

Here’s a bit of a flashback into how much I knew about cooking back then. Something as simple as cooking rice was beyond me. The monstrous pressure cooker scared me (To be honest, it continues to haunt me even today, especially when I'm caught off guard by the howling whistle). Spluttering mustard seeds spooked the beejeezus out of me. I didn’t know that one should never pour oil into a hot pan that contained droplets of water. I even gave up drinking coffee and tea when I  moved from home, in the fear that I would burn the house down, if I had tried. In retrospect, I blame my mom. Though she was really forward-thinking in most aspects, she still refrained from asking the men of the house for any kind of assistance in the kitchen. And my father, foodie though he is, his association with food both starts and ends at the dining table. So I suppose it should come as no surprise, that I didn't know a thing about cooking.

 

However when I landed in the UK, in the quaint little seaside town of Brighton, which essentially was a student hub, I had no choice but to start cooking. Or rather acquire the skill of cooking. Now I’ve always been intrigued by the art of cooking. It all started off when my almost-similar age cousin started showing off his culinary skills. Everytime we visited their home, he would whip up tasty dishes. So, by peer-pressure, I decided to do some research into this. Back then, I was still at school, and living with my parents in Dubai. The Friday newspaper was always accompanied by a free Lifestyle magazine, coincidentally titled “Friday”. And they had a food section, spread across four pages, filled with mouth-watering images of glorious food. And they were all mostly international cuisines. Now, though I was born and brought up in a multi-cultural society such as Dubai, our “international food experiments” ended with pizzas and shawarmas. Apart from that, it was mostly Indian cuisine. So these brilliant food images with their fancy names intrigued me to no end. But here was the problem - I was more inclined to devour them, rather than actually attempt making them.

 

There was actually another reason as to why I experimented with cooking while in Brighton. My lovely wife, JP, (who was then my girlfriend) was also pursuing her Masters degree in the same university. And me being the hapless romantic that I was (influenced by a lot of rom-com movies and chick-lit books), decided that it would be the ultimate romantic gesture to cook her a lovely meal. Once again, though I have repeatedly said that I was forced to learn the skill of cooking,  the reality was I still had it relatively easy - because JP is (and always has been) a fantastic cook. In retrospect, an attempt to impress JP with my cooking skills, when I had a total of zero hours cooking experience, was always going to have a not-so-good ending. Whilst I am not going to go into a step-by-step listing of my disastrous culinary steps, I will say this. What I had originally conceived in my mind to be a romantic dinner of fried rice and cauliflower manchurian, ended up as an out-on-the-porch dinner with cups of instant noodles doused in pickle (yes, we still retained our Indian-ness) and chilli ketchup. Not quite as planned, but romantic nevertheless.

 

That evening was single-handedly the biggest contributing factor to me picking up the knives, spatula and saucepan with a view to at least master the art of cooking a decent enough meal. Some famous person once said that “In the journey of self-discovery, it is important to identify what stage you’re at presently”. Now, for me, that stage was quite evident - I still had miles to go before I could even climb a single rung on the culinary ladder. Though the realisation was a bitter pill to swallow, it helped me let go of my inhibitions and awakened me to the fact that I was indeed, an abysmal cook.

 

Being a bibliophile, I naturally assumed that cookbooks would be my first source of guidance in my culinary journey. Boy, was I wrong. Even the famed “Cooking basics for Dummies” didn’t help much, as I succumbed under the pressure imposed by the super-villains for the culinary world  - the “I-can-make-anyone-cry” onion, the “I-am-both-firm-and-squishy” tomato and “I-am-unbelievably-hot” chilli. Soon, I bundled up all the cookbooks that I had so gleefully borrowed from the library and returned them. Being an avid believer in the fact that technology has the answer to almost everything, I decided to befriend two new partners - Google and YouTube. Since I’d already discovered that cookbooks were not for me, I decided against reading the recipes. Instead, I watched clips of talented chefs using their magical knife skills and brilliant taste palettes to create some formidable dishes. After weeks of unsuccessful practice sessions, cut fingers and burnt hands, I was still no where closer to being able to put a single dish on the table. And that’s when I decided to swallow my pride and place myself under the tutelage of JP.

 

And on one cold winter afternoon, JP and I, embarked on a culinary journey, that would change my very outlook on cooking. I soon learnt how to skillfully use the basic kitchen tools without cutting myself in the process, how to identify what combination of vegetables worked well together and mastered the art of using spices judiciously. Within months, I successfully delivered my first complete Indian meal. Ok, so I still didn’t know how to make chapattis. But I assure you, my mutter paneer was spot on.

 

image

 

Soon, we started taking turns in the kitchen and my cooking became the talk of the town. Well, ok, not the town, but it did gain some popularity amongst fellow students. However my culinary journey felt incomplete. From not knowing how to cook rice to frequently delivering above-average dishes, my culinary skills had definitely improved. But in my heart, I knew that I wouldn’t be happy until I was able to successfully re-create at least one of those international dishes that I had read about, years ago, in that lifestyle magazine.

 

That’s when JP & I discovered the Food Channel. The Food Channel took us right out of our living rooms and placed us alongside (albeit virtually) culinary legends such as Gordon Ramsay, Nigella Lawson, Jamie Oliver, Marco Pierre-White, Rick Stein and many others. It also opened our eyes to the world of culinary competitions such as MasterChef and the Great British Bake Off. There started our love story with cooking, and there’s been no looking back.

 

Before I wrap up, here are some of my sample dishes:

 

image

image

image


You’re probably wondering what madness coerced me into rambling about my trysts with cooking. Actually, it was a Project 365 prompt. The prompt was : "Teachable moments -You have to learn a new skill. Do you prefer to read about it, watch someone else do it, hear someone describe it, or try it yourself?”. And as you can see, I pretty much did all of it before I was eventually able to add “cooking” as a skill to my repertoire . Featured image: http://www.morguefile.com/creative/Seemann