Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Why I'm Daddy's girl.


I am not coming home unless you pick me” I screamed and rushed out with my school bag, leaving my parents pretending to be least bothered, with contrasting streaks of concern in their eyes.

I used to have special tuition classes for Chemistry, because this was one subject I had no clue about. And my chemistry class was after my regular school hours after which I had to board two buses to reach home, thanks to the choice of location of Papa to build our house.

So that day, I asked Papa to pick me up- because I dint want to board those stupid buses, you see. Papa, whose office was a good 25km away from home, reaches by 6 pm every evening. By then he would be exhausted, and riding that primitive scooter which has to be kick started around twenty five times and riding it in peak hour traffic for another few miles to pick me  was nothing less than trying to balance chemical equations. So he requested me to come by bus. And when I left saying that I wouldn’t and instead wait at the tuition campus, Mummy said….”She doesn’t mean any of it, will come home herself as usual, you know it”.

Evening came, and as I stepped out of my tuition class I could see Papa from a distance. I was so overwhelmed that I ran towards him and climbed onto the back of the scooter and we sped off home. On the way, I narrated to Papa about the endless chemical equations and that one equation in particular which would never get balanced and the teacher found that the formula itself was wrong. Papa nodded all the way along and laughed at my not-so-funny teen jokes keeping both eyes on the road all the way.





Next I can remember is a staggering pain in my tummy as I lay on the roadside on a  stack of gravel and I lifted my eyes to see Papa’s shoes on the center of the road. I turned around and saw Papa walking towards me barefooted. The scooter lay on the road, and so were my school bag and Papa’s shoes. By then a mighty population had already crowded us as if to catch a glimpse of the item dance I was performing. Anyway we both were okay, Papa and me suffered minor bruises ( but to all my friends I somehow managed to sound like I survived a shark attack). The wound  on my leg was slightly big and it bled a lot as we took an autorickshaw to the hospital. 

We called Mummy from the hospital and tactfully lied to her, that we are getting late as we dropped in at Margin free market midway. If not for that call, the least she usually does is to inform the police and say that her husband and daughter are missing and create chaos of a kind in the neighborhood. But we cant blame her, as it runs in her family.
By the way, let me explain how we were thrown from that scooter.As we were "speeding" at around 40km/hr, suddenly a puppy appeared as if from nowhere and it crossed the road just in front of us. You know when something is that cute, it mostly doesn't have enough brains. I do not remember what happened to that puppy or my school bag. 

As we reached home, Mummy almost broke into a temporary coma seeing Papa with bandages on his arms and me limping in a bandage clad leg. Mummy regained her senses a few minutes later and shot a long array of questions without leaving breathing space. So we explained the incident in dramatized tones, nursing our bruises for added effect. That’s when Mummy, wiped her tears and turned to Papa. “I told you there is no need to pick her up; she may say many things, but will come home”

Papa asked, ‘How can you be so sure?”

Mummy got up briskly, and said ‘Its so obvious! 99.99 chances are that she will!”

Papa gave his signature smile, turned to her and replied in a low tone, “I couldn't risk that 0.01%”.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

To the most disgusting bank, ever !



I am entirely frustrated by the turn of events. It’s been two years since I left my last employer and I am still struggling to get my PF. What have I been doing for the last two years is what you ask? Yeah I had a baby and he is going to be ten months old now, but in between all that I have been communicating with either my ex employer or my bank to get things done. Except when I was in the labor room.

This bank, basically a foreign bank, had a different name two years back, when a sales guy thrust those documents in front of me and asked me to sign them on my joining day at my ex employer’s. And lo and behold, I am an account holder ! And right there was my debit card, a customer relationship number, cheque leaves all neatly arranged in a file which looked as elegant as the Brittanica. All on the same day…or the same hour that I met them! I accepted the account without questions- well why would I - when I all I care about is the salary which has to get credited promptly by the end of every month.

Six months after I put down my papers, I randomly checked whether all is well at my PF processing. Then suddenly those guys came up with an excuse saying that the PF papers require a Rs.1 revenue stamp, signed across by yours truly, which was not in my submitted forms. I clearly remember submitting that when I was in India, and it was very obvious that these guys lost it. Then it took a few ISD calls, hunting for Re.1 Indian revenue stamp in a different country, signing it across and sending it by courier. Thankfully they acknowledged the receipt of the stamp and as instructed, I waited again for two more months and checked the status when they came up with a fresh excuse- cancelled cheque leaves are required. This time, my head fuming with rage, I applied for a cheque book to be delivered at my address. Then these bank guys said that the cheque book returned undelivered (My foot!). I updated my address ( added a spacebar to the existing one) and it got delivered the second time at the same address. This process took a lot of emails, phone calls to customer service and more importantly, two good months. Again the cheque leaves were sent to them and I ensured that all the documents were in place.

I waited another four months.

Suddenly one fine morning my Papa called me and said sadly that my account with this nasty bank is getting closed as there is no activity in it for the last two years. How did Papa come to know? Interesting question. The so called super bank's primitive website does not allow country codes other than +91 to be entered in the mode of communication tab and so, I was forced to give Papa's number there. So these brainless monkeys at the bank were actually communicating with Papa on my behalf - now that's what we call a secure modern age banking. 

I called these bank people, wrote emails – crispy and lengthy, I posted grievances saying-please do not close my account, as my PF is getting processed and I have given this account number in it– nothing happened. They said that as my salary stopped coming in, they converted my account into some other type (wth !) in which it required a minimum balance. How am I to know this, you bastards? They say they gave me a warning letter to my address, that account will be closed- which wasn’t delivered (because you dint send it, you useless creatures!). And one day they just closed it; which essentially also means that my PF will never get credited. All my other efforts to get the PF went down the drain.

 I emailed the branch head, node head, communication manager, everyone whom I could get an email of and pleaded them to reopen my account as my PF will be credited into it. They replied saying no, not politely though, with enough shameless lies about the phone calls and emails they sent which never reached me. However the courier saying that the account is closed reached me promptly…how madam? Your bank is just plain spiteful and I genuinely hope it closes down and you roam down the streets begging with your resume, you know that?

Anyway what lies ahead of me is a herculean task to download a fresh set of forms, fill them, attach revenue stamp and cancelled cheque leaves of a different account number. It will again take another year to get processed. I do not know how much I have in my PF, but mind you worthless fools, even if it is Rs.1, I am entitled to each and every paisa of it - as it is the fruit of my toil - which you disoriented dumb heads wouldn't know a shit about. Then I will send you an email, my dear ex-banker. I will also come to your office when I am in India, a couple of months from now, and give you an earful. 


Monday, March 12, 2012

Tit for tat !


So it was a overall checkup for the nine month old at his pediatrician’s.  

A two year old girl came close to me and tried to pull my son - Aaron's nose. I gracefully and tactically avoided the damage by moving him away from the cute little intruder. 

Then I told hubby, “ Are you watching this or not? That kid would have pulled his nose out now. She had nails too…sharp ones”


“Ohh” came a sluggish response coupled with a yawn. “ Kids are like that. They will play and sometimes even hurt each other. Nothing to worry about”

Me: “Nono I mean to say, we should not trust him at a play school with older kids at this stage, you know”

Suddenly he sat straight, gave me a look and “ Oh I see? Then you do one thing. Buy a glass cage and keep him inside that. So no one will ever touch him and he will be perfectly safe”
 I fell silent and the day went about as usual,  the conversation conveniently forgotten.

The very next day, Aaron fell down on a mat in the living room as he was crawling. As I was in the kitchen, his rough n tough Daddy was in charge and he was eye witness to the accident. Suddenly he lifted the baby, pacified him and came running to the kitchen. 
“Should we take him to the doctor?”

Me: *casually* “Why what happened to him”

“He just fell down you know…**gasps for breath**and his face hit the floor, and a drop of blood came from his gums”

Me: “Happens. As he is teething, gums are tender now..So… every time he falls, this is bound to happen”

“No he cried, tears also came…”

Me: “Really? Then do one thing …you put him in that glass cage and keep in the living room”…. 
Well he left the kitchen before I completed that sentence.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Lent Recipe: Vegetable Cutlet.


To be brutally honest, I am a terrible cook. I am not a foodie either. I just eat to live unlike err… everyone I know. Each and every dish I ever prepared was just mediocre, nothing special and some of them I cooked soon after marriage were total flops. However by mistake a pepper chicken came out great when I was at Bangalore and ever since I don’t remember being praised or blamed for something I cooked. I received nods from my ‘victims’ which suggested ‘Yeah, it is edible’. However women are judged by their culinary skills and any other skill she has is usually overlooked. But I’ve never bothered or even strove to be a good cook, because I’ve never been interested in it. However this quality of mine is an insult of the highest degree to my Mom, grandmother and sister who have that magic in them that whatever they prepare even when half asleep turns out to be one of a kind. So I ended up being a man-woman and I am not proud of it either.

Recently I came across a few food blogs. The reason I was browsing through food blogs was that it is lent time for us Christians, and for the next fifty days until Easter I have voluntarily given up chicken and fish, which are the ones that I really love. I am allergic to red meat, and so I am living on leaves and herbs now. I have a new respect for vegetarians these days. And to stay the least, being vegetarian in the middle-east where chicken shewerma is a national food – that is the kind of temptation I have to overcome during this period. So I was checking to see any exciting vegetarian recipes which can be cooked by dummies like me. And I came across vegetable cutlet.

It was weekend, and I was all set and hell bent on making this cutlet. My husband had the double duty to take care of the baby (the other being watching TV), who’d crawled under the dining table as a sign of protest when I was making this cutlet. The little dude was not very impressed as I dint play with him all forenoon. For anyone who is going through this article right now, please note - this is not a recipe post. It is my experience of making a cutlet for the first time in my life. If you want, I guarantee that you may try this at home as it came out really well. If I can make it, then you definitely can, even if you are a robot and reading my blog.

Ingredients(Vegetables)

Beetroot – 1 medium sized
Potatoes – 2 reasonably large
Beans – a handful
Carrot – 1 large
Onion – 1 large

Other Ingredients
Coconut oil
Bread Powder
Eggs – 2 (vegetarians can use maida and water instead)
Coriander leaves
Green Chillies - 3
Garam Masala
Pepper Powder
Salt
Ginger-Garlic Paste.

How I went about it

1.       Initially, I called my mother.
She said that instead of cooking potatoes separately, you can combine them with beetroots, if you don’t mind the potatoes getting that purple color. (I wanted the end result to taste and look like a cutlet – the color of potatoes was far from my concern at that time). This will save time and energy, she added. So I cut potatoes in squares, and beetroot the way I know it (it’s okay folks no one will dig out the shape of beetroots from the final result, so chill and cut whichever way you want), and cooked in a pressure cooker with very less water and some salt for 5 whistles. I drained it and let it cool.

2.      Then I peeled a medium sized piece of ginger, few garlic pods and green chillies and put them in the small jar of the mixer. I added garam masala, salt and pepper powder also to it, made a paste and kept it aside.

3.      Then I heated a pan, poured coconut oil (just little) and sautéed the onion. When it became light, I added the paste and closed the lid and kept on low flame for couple of minutes. Then the raw smell of the garam masala disappeared and the paste was blended with the onions.

4.      I added the cut beans and grated carrot into this and closed and cooked for five minutes or so. I then checked whether they were cooked and switched off the flame and let it cool.
5.      By that time the potato-beetroot was cool, so I mashed it and watched some TV.

6.      After some time, the cooked carrot and beans were also cool and I added them into this mixture and mixed it with my hands. Yes I washed them...I mean the hands. I checked for salt and gave a little to my maid for her opinion. She gave me a go-ahead. (Don’t go too far with the salt at this stage, let it remain subtle, because eventually you have to dip them in egg and if its subtle now, it will eventually round up to the nearest salt accuracy)

7.      I tried to make a ball of it with my right hand alone, then used both hands to mould it and pressed it manually to form a circle. It did not stick to my hands and rested on the plate in good shape.

8.      Likewise I did for the entire stuff and made 15 balls. Phew!

9.      I then dipped each of them in egg, and rolled them around in bread powder and kept in fridge for half an hour.


10.   I took them after that and shallow fried them until they got chocolate brown, but not burnt.  I used very little oil. In fact I took enough oil only to fill the tiny cap of the oil bottle twice. After frying I moved them to a container with absorbent paper and it absorbed rest of the oil.




Notes: 

1. I made the ginger garlic paste at home and did not use any ready mades. It makes a hell of a taste difference (lesson learnt from my previous catastrophic experience)

2. If you buy the rusk and powder it and store in air tight container at home, that is the best. I dint have time to do that so bought ready-made bread powder for this one. Its okay, but I was not so satisfied. The original bread powder smells good and is very much different from the canned one.

3. Do not add water while cooking the beans and carrot. Just close the lid and cook on low flame. The beans can be cut thinner than that shown in the picture. ( I don’t have a food processor…sob Lbecause buying me a food processor is like buying LED TV for a blind man.

4. The garam masala used was made at home by crushing the spices in the mixer. Pepper powder was also crushed and prepared at home.

5. You can add a combination of other vegetables of your choice and avoid beetroot. I used beetroot because it gives a dark color to the cutlet and has a good flavor too. You can use cheera(leafy vegetable) also to prepare this. Cheera is super healthy and rich in iron and hence I don’t like it much. But I’d like to try with cheera next time, and check whether they taste good when disguised as a cutlet.


6. For those who are wondering what is the role of eggs in a vegetable cutlet, chill. You can use maida or all purpose flour, made to a paste in water instead. 

And there is my healthy and tasty vegetable cutlet which has negligible oil content. It is undoubtedly a healthy snack for fussy toddlers (that is if the toddler lets you make it).


 Am I cool or what! (Already soaring high in self appreciation…you are welcome too : D)


Photo Courtesy: Hubby - Abu Sandeep.