No photos of autumn this time

Sadly, I have no photos of autumn this time
I was far too busy
Watching the motion of the falling leaves
The way they sang
One last song. 🍁
I was too caught up
Walking through groves of gold
More precious than gems and stones
And so much more fleeting. 🍂
I was unable to tear myself away
From gardens cloaked in autumnal rainbows
Gently nudged by a frosty wind
To surrender to winter. 🍃
Now all I have left to photograph
Is a lone tree in a carpeted park
That refuses to acknowledge the advent of December
Like me, it was too wrapped up in nature's magic
To notice the passage of time. 

Post-Shower Bliss

That feeling of contentment after a long, warm shower
When thoughts have settled and the mind has quietened
And the body feels lighter
And the pace of the world is
Just right.
And the silence sinks in as I lie on my bed
Listening to the sound of the traffic.
With the windows shut, it's only a low murmur
Almost a lullaby.
And if I fell asleep now, I know I would not dream
Except perhaps of a light blue sky
And thin, white clouds
Drifting along
As I drift now
Into my cocoon of post-shower bliss.

Rainy days

I do love rainy days
The way the droplets cloak my windows
In a silvery, eyelid mosaic
With the more adventurous ones careening down
To meet their watery, window-pane fate.
I like the way the sky has no gradient
An equal grey
And the sound of the raindrops means
I have no need to open my music player.
I like the way the tar roads reflect car wheels - 
Like dusty mirrors upon the earth
And the chill that stings the air
For it makes my tea feel warmer
And the day seem cosier.
Stay home, the rain seems to say
And watch me fill up the rivers.
And when you drink a glass of water,
think of me prepping for my next performance.

Not a native speaker

But I'm not a native speaker
Never mind that
The first book I
At 7 -
And smelled
Was in English.
Never mind that
The first article I
had to my name
At 8 -
A tale
Simple but true
Was in English.
Never mind that
When I dreamed
And thought
And wove realms of fantasy
I only used
Never mind that
When hope abandons
And tears beckon -
I pray
In English.

I have slowly and with some measure of bitterness realized, that Indians aren't considered 'native' English speakers. This word - 'native'; it has grated on my nerves ever since I stepped out of the country. No one owns any language, even if it's your mother tongue. Languages are so complex, products of thousands of years of evolution and innumerable additions, subtractions, borrowings, and layering. And they are like babies; anyone can adopt a tongue and make it their own. The poem above encapsulates my feelings on the "official" classification of "native" English speakers, as someone who has heard, spoken, read, and written English since she was born. I do speak four other languages (three Indian, and one European) but for better or worse, English IS my primary language.

I don't want a tribe.

You talk to the opposite sex -
They say ‘Find your tribe’
You marry outside your caste –
They say ‘Find your tribe’
You go to another city -
They say ‘Find your tribe’
You go to a different country –
They say ‘Find your tribe’
But I say -
My tribe’s the whole world
And everything that walks upon it
And all that lies between the sky and the earth
And all that lurks beyond
And if not,
I’d rather stand alone.


In German, the word 'heimat' is something akin to 'homeland'. Don't go mistaking it for nationalism - its origins and implications go much deeper than that. It's the place where you feel at home, the feeling of warmth and belonging that you carry in your heart wherever you go. Heimat could be even a person or a memory or just a fragrance that triggers a flood of sensations. But usually, when people are asked, 'what is your heimatland' - they will answer that it is the place where they were born and/or grew up in, which is normally their motherland or country of origin. Me - I've never felt satisfied with that answer.

India is not my heimat - at least not in the way that others seem to resonate with their birth countries. You see, I didn't have a lot of friends growing up. Nor was my family overtly religious or culture-conscious. My fondest memories are of going for walks in the garden with my mom and reading endlessly in the verandah on sunny afternoons. So, for me, heimat is nature. Heimat is a sunny afternoon, quiet and swollen with the fragrance of flowers. Heimat is all those countries and places and people that I read about, dreamt of, and imagined that, were perhaps living fuller lives than me.

I was never very chatty with strangers. In fact, I think, over time, I lost track of what I could possibly say to my classmates. I endured school, even if I was good at acing my subjects. College was slightly better. Working life brought with it a sense of weariness as my rose-tinted glasses were forcibly taken away. Growing up as a girl in India wasn't a bed of roses. At home, there was equality, freedom, love, and spirituality. Outside, there was noise, pollution, crowds, molestation, religious fanaticism, patriarchy, stench and squalor.

I travelled as much as I could, to escape as often as was possible. I sat alone at cafes and wrote poetry. I watched dazzling sunsets and tried to romanticise all my experiences, however little they were. But I only feel at home now that I am away from India. It is a feeling that is hard to explain to most, irrespective of whether the listener is a fellow countryman or a foreigner. But yes, my mother's voice is heimat. And now, also the embrace of my husband. Heimat is also the silly hope that someday all of humanity will rise above pettiness and self-destruction.

We are a blessed generation

The human race -
We bear the burden of many sins,
But also the gift of creation.
So much pain,
Yet so much beauty.
We are a blessed generation.
Not forsaken -
But drowning in the bounty
Of limitless possibility.

A Plan For My Old Age

There was a time when the average lifespan for human beings was not more than 60 years. In some ways, it was a blessing. One did not have to reckon with 30-40 years of old age, often compounded by poor health, dwindling finances, and inevitable dependence on one's offspring. Of course, life is like a drug, and we can never have enough of it. On the positive side, post-retirement life is an opportunity to sit back and relax, unimpeded by the stress of a 9-to-5 job, child rearing, and the indefatigable ambitions of youth.

There are inspiring stories (and I personally know many) of senior citizens travelling the world, giving back to society, and living to the fullest until the very end. But equally, there is the problem of elderly people unable to pay mounting medical bills, being hoodwinked by children who sometimes strip them of their houses, and conversely, throttling their offspring and children in law with their own desires, unending demands, and need for control.

Take a look at the number of Indians contending with the problem of joint families, an unpalatable concept for many women (and men, though they rarely seem to voice it) used to independence, free will, and the joys of living on one's own terms. After all, how can one be expected to make a living, tend to one's children, find time for recreation, and also manage to look after elderly parents with psychological and/or physical ailments? Life is not meant to be so punishing. And so, here's what I plan for my old age.

1. I will not live with my children or force them to live with me once they get married. In fact, I might have a problem if they wanted to do so. I value my lifestyle and in my sunset years, I imagine that I'd want a quiet life with much contemplation. Why would I want to put up with their busy schedules and babysit their children even when I didn't have the energy? I would love, however, to get to know my son/daughter-in-law as a friend, be there for my children always, and live close by, so I could spend time with my grandchildren occasionally.

2. I would try my best to be as fit and healthy as possible. This of course must begin now, with regular exercise and a nutritious diet that will keep diseases at bay when old age weakens my immunity. I will ensure I have health insurance, walk regularly, get sunlight daily, and solve crosswords and learn new skills to avoid mental degeneration. I will try my best to keep up with technology, although I promise not to intrude into the lives of those who matter to me. If it happens that despite my best efforts I need constant care and attention, I would be more than willing to live in a nursing home, which brings me to my next point.

3. I will save enough for my sunset years. I will make sure I am dependent on no one, and have enough equity and investments to see me through my post-retirement life. I want to be able to finance my stay in a nursing home if required. I would also want to travel, and not be a burden on my children as far as possible.

4. I promise never to have a superiority complex because of my age alone. Everyone grows old - what's the achievement in that? Everyone deserves to be respected and heard - young and old. And in fact, each decade ushers in changes that requires us to evolve. Hanging on to the past and expecting the new generation to adhere to outdated customs - what satisfaction would that bring me?

5. If in spite of everything, I end up living under the same roof as my child, I would never try to assert myself as the head of the house or interfere in their decisions. I would give them the privacy they needed, and expect the same for myself. Young children can be noisy, and if that bothered me, I'd go for a walk in the park instead of asking them to stop enjoying their lives.

Tell me, what, in any of the points mentioned above is unethical, immoral, or evil-natured? Yet, I don't see anyone reflecting such opinions in today's India - be it the parents who seem to find illogical pleasure in poking their noses into their children's marriages, or the sons who fervently condemn 'western ideals' of living alone. Here is some food for thought - life is short, and love can exist even with some space. In fact, relationships flourish when there is room to breathe. What do you think?

India: Is It Really Unity in Diversity?

I am critical of my country because I know it well. I am not anti-national, nor am I nationalistic. On an intellectual level, I don't believe in divisive concepts like countries, religions, or sub-communities. But on a practical level, I know such demarcation is necessary for the smooth functioning of society, and the administration of territories. What irks me is how emotional we get about these things. The place you were born, the religion you were born into, the sex you were granted - ALL of these are matters of chance. They do not make you. They only give you a framework to operate in.

India is actually a shining example of oneness over differences, with its numerous languages, customs, and states. So when I see the subtle imposition of North Indian ideals on the whole of the country, I can't help but be appalled. Whether you look at movies in popular culture or the agenda pursued by the current government, it seems that they would want all of us to become "Sanskaari" sari/dhoti-clad, temple-going, joint family-respecting, women-subjugating Hindu nationalists. But why?

India is a free land; a democracy, that is veritably on the path to becoming a global superpower. What place do such petty politics have in a nation backed by rich spiritual history and a tradition of tolerance espoused by Mahatma Gandhi, purportedly the Father of the Nation (yes, he was not perfect, but his contribution to India and the world is unparalleled)? I used to believe that the current generation would embrace open-mindedness and egalitarianism. But I see the same conversations that have always polluted our thinking - caste, religion, blind following of traditions, and unfair expectations from women.

I was once an idealist but I don't really know where the country will go from here. Here's praying for a better, wiser future, with less communal fanaticism and more focus on crime and poverty reduction, afforestation and wildlife preservation, cleanliness, and regard for personal space and choices. No country in the world is perfect, but the Scandinavian countries have consistently topped happiness indexes. And you know what - the reasons include good social support, financial and job security, affinity for the outdoors, work-life balance, trust, gratitude, and community spirit. Nothing to do with grating nationalism or changing city names to reflect a twisted image of what certain groups believe a country should be. 

Finally, A Dating App That Knows You’re More Than Just A Picture

Courtesy: Pixabay
A good selfie, a bunch of hobbies, your age, sex, and location – is that all you are, really? And would you want someone to like, and eventually love you on that basis? If you answered a big fat NO, then you should probably give OkCupid a try.

We can all agree that finding a suitable partner in today’s times can be very, very difficult. #ForeverSingle might seem comical on social media but for many of us, it’s a depressing truth. We trudge to work, oversleep on weekends, and perhaps go on the occasional blind date on the recommendation of a family member or friend. And yet, the years go by, and true love remains a distant dream. Not everyone wants to jump into an arranged marriage with someone who probably comes with tons of baggage you never wanted or asked for. Nor are we all Carrie Bradshaw from Sex and the City, willing to ‘experiment’ and have crazy one-night-stands in the quest for a real, fulfilling relationship.

Enter the much-disputed world of dating apps. Love them or hate them, you can’t really do without them when Mr/Ms Right isn’t crossing your path in real life. But the fact of the matter is, most of the platforms out there are either matrimonial sites or hook-up apps without a conscience. Navigating either can feel like a desperate exercise for those who’d like the luxury of exploring a serious relationship at leisure – you know, get to know someone slowly, so that perhaps one day, you might do that thing that your parents are dying for. #OkCupid has been designed for people like that.

OkCupid gets to know you the way you’d want to be known.


There are a million things that make you ‘you’. Maybe it’s the way you purse your lips when you’re worried. Or the fact that you sometimes like your Maggi cold. Your most precious moments and the most embarrassing ones, the times you danced and the times you wept, the people who made you and the ones that broke you (for a while), the days that life seemed perfect, and the days when the sun just wouldn’t shine – what if an app wanted to know all of it?And that means, so would your potential life partner. Imagine the ocean of things you’d have to talk about on a first date when you’ve been privy to such intimate details about each other. When you sign up on OkCupid, chances are, you’d go on a journey of self-discovery, because the app asks you so many quirky, interesting, and exhaustive questions in the course of setting up your profile. So no, you aren’t just your height, weight, and vital statistics. You’re a living, breathing human with a gamut of passions inside you. You are #SubstanceoverSelfies.

Of course, the app does cover basics like political and religious beliefs, and expectations such as a long-term or short-term relationship. And for every question you answer about yourself, you also submit your preferences in your partner on the same subject. A few examples:
  • ·       How would you describe yourself: Intense or Carefree?
  • ·       Would you rather be: Normal or Weird?
  • ·       Would you date someone who was really messy?
  • ·       Would you date someone who was in debt?
  • ·       Choose the better romantic activity: Kissing in Paris or Kissing in a Tent, in the Woods
  • ·       Is jealousy healthy in a relationship?

Courtesy: OkCupid App
And to the developers of OkCupid, here are a few suggestions from my side (feel free to add your own in the comments, and we’ll hope our genius is heard!):
  • ·       If you could travel with only one thing, would it be your: Phone or Camera?
  • ·       How long could you survive with just food and water in an empty room? One day, one week, one hour
  • ·       Which one would you prefer: A Cloudy Day or A Snowy Day?
Once you’ve answered a few questions, you can view profiles and swipe left or right, depending on whether they appeal to you or not. You get a notification only if someone liked you as well (termed a “Double Take”). And after that, well, the ball’s in your court!
OkCupid believes in mutual trust and kindness.

The world of online dating can sometimes be really unkind. After all, anonymity and the protection of a computer screen let you get away with much more than you would in real life. While no app can control the behaviour of users a 100%, OkCupid does place a very important emphasis on being respectful. In fact, users have to “pledge” to follow a certain code of conduct before they chat with someone for the first time. When you meet someone new, things may not always work out, but it’s always better to part with dignity, right? ‘Hide’ and ‘block’ functions are also available to help you avoid certain profiles.

How do you find matches?

The app shows you best matches based on the answers you submit in your initial questionnaire. But you could also search for people by interests or factors like owning a pet. When someone likes you back, you both receive a notification, allowing you to take things ahead. And because profiles on OkCupid are so much more rounded than a conventional dating bio, you’ll have tons of conversation starters to choose from.

Is the app free?

Yes, it’s absolutely free to install and use OkCupid. However, there are some additional features that can only be unlocked with a paid subscription. It’s up to you whether to upgrade or not.

You can:

·       Find OkCupid India on Instagram
·       Download OkCupid for Android
·       Download OkCupid for iOS

Every week, 50,000 people in 113 countries find a date thanks to OkCupid. And for the evolved urban man or woman, it is probably the most discerning dating app in the Indian (and international) market. Here’s hoping you find true love before the next monsoon – because who wouldn’t like a rain dance with a special someone?

I just want to breathe.

Don't want no gold. No diamonds.
Just my peace. My privacy.
My little piece of sweet paradise.
Don't want to pretend. No fake smiles.
No small-talk. No cognitive dissonance.
Just silence, punctuated by bird song
And the stillness of untouched forests.
No complication. Just simplicity. Purity.
Don't want to navigate
The quagmire of human expectations.
I just want to breathe
And write the story of my heart.

We're all Cocktails.

Your neighbour might not look it
But she's as much a cocktail
As I am, in this foreign land.
She's white, like you 
And I'm brown
But we're both of so many hues

We're both streaked
With the trails of our experiences
Changed unalterably
By all we've been through.

I might not look like you
But on some days, we might be more alike
Than you could ever imagine.

I sound different
But maybe my words resonate with you
I smell different
But perhaps, my thoughts have a familiar fragrance
We do share 99.9% of our DNA after all.

We're all cocktails
Shaken and stirred by a million things
But I'd like to think -
We're all someone's signature drink.

(Note: Living in a foreign country makes you think about the vast differences in our appearances and cultural backgrounds. So this isn't about racism, per se, but rather a commentary on why it's so hard to think of common ground between, say, a 45-year-old Tunisian mother, and a 19-year-old American teenager.)

Summer Storm

The sky roars,
           like a jungle suspended in the cloudy air

While unseen lions roam
           among its thunderous depths

Trees wave,
           in protest or glee, it's hard to say

But one thing's for sure -
           this summer storm has us all in its ancient sway.

(Written in Bonn, Germany)

To be young again

There's a bittersweet ache in my heart
When I encounter the innocent joyousness of youth
The music they sing along to -
Was once mine
And the possibilities too.
I'm not old but I do feel -
The poignant aftertaste of life passing by.
Like a river whose flow
I cannot stem.
Then again, stationery, it wouldn't be the thing of feisty beauty
It now is.

Sorry Sabyasachi, but the Sari is Not all it's Cracked up to Be

An Open Letter to the Esteemed Saybasachi.

Sorry Sabyasachi, but the sari isn't the glorious symbol of fine Indian culture that you make it out to be. And if you think less of an Indian woman if she doesn't know how to drape one, you are as rotten as the archaic, unfair and oppressive system that imposes this garment upon married women even as married men are free to don any outfit of their choice.

As a teenager, I always viewed the sari with a mixture of disquiet and longing. Longing, because of course it's a beautiful garment, and disquiet because it seemed unnecessarily complicated to wear and even more difficult to manage. Now as a grown woman, I can confirm that my disquiet was quite justified.

Yes, I can drape a sari but it is still the most uncomfortable outfit I have ever worn. And given a choice, I would probably never wear it. But you know what, Mr. Sabyasachi, I don't have an option. Like many other Indian woman, I am expected, nae, compelled to drape this tedious outfit on every festival, wedding, social function and even when older relatives come home. It is as though my modesty and virtue are concealed somewhere within the folds of the sari's pleats. And if I were to commit the blasphemy of wearing a salwar kameez (let's not even get into western wear), I would somehow be bringing shame on myself and the entire family.

Today, for me, the sari has become a symbol of oppression and subjugation. I am a modern Indian woman, born and brought up in Mumbai. But now I notice how in so many pockets of the city and beyond, women wear nothing but a sari. If you think that's because they are in love with this traditional Indian garment, I weep for your foolishness and naivete. Try and observe the envy with which they see girls skipping around in jeans, skirts and dresses. For them, these garments are as distant and unreachable as the shores of a foreign country.

Even in villages, you will see men strutting around in trousers and shirts. But no, married women must have their heads covered by a sari pallu. What gives society or any individual the right to dictate what another adult should wear? Perhaps men like you, who put mere clothing on a pedestal, even as that very item of clothing becomes a compulsion - inextricable from the role of a 'cultured' Indian woman.

Let me put it very frankly - a sari is inconvenient and uncomfortable. Yes, it is graceful and alluring. But maybe you should try spending a day and night in a sari before making the kind of judgmental, unfair statement that you did. How women cook and sleep in a sari day in and day out is beyond me. Even if it's made of cotton, a sari is just too much fabric to handle in the sweltering Indian weather. In your high society, women don saris for an hour or two during a party, and then go back to their comfy westerns. Not all women have that privilege.

Words like 'heritage' and 'culture' don't sound good coming from a privileged man who never has to put up with the dark and repressive side of Indian culture. Even today, women are expected not to speak up, to not cosy up to their husbands in public, to be demure, religious, great cooks, housekeepers and care-givers. Any other talent is immaterial and inconsequential. Any inclination towards atheism or tomboyishness is to be nipped in the bud. Kyunki log kya kahenge?

Lastly, to learn how to wear or not to wear a sari, to do anything or not to do it, is a woman's choice. And we couldn't care less what you think of it. So please keep your entitled and insensitive comments to yourself.

P.S.: I notice in your apology that you wanted to "call out women who say the sari makes them look older". You know what? Many kinds of saris do make us look older. And being a woman, I hate it. In a typical middle-class Indian family, married women cannot don strappy blouses and show off their busts the way celebrities do. The kind of saris they drape and the way they have to drape them - it IS boring. And just because you owe your livelihood and your renown to saris, it doesn't let you walk away from this reality. My own mother dislikes wearing a sari. And no, she has never worn a western outfit in her life.

Why just saris, I'd say CULTURE is not all it's cracked up to be. Some things are best left behind. And old is NOT always gold.


Hassle-free Savaari for all your travels

Finding cabs has to be the biggest hassle for a frequent traveller. Whether it's to reach the airport, get around within a new city or make it to your own home, you just can't do without vehicle rentals and good taxi services. Savaari Car Rentals, an online cab booking aggregator, convenient airport taxi to get you to and from your city’s airport, and an extended local 12 hr/120 km taxi package. And now it has expanded its services to 98 cities across India - to help you travel to wherever your heart desires.

Airport taxi: Pre-book your pickup or drop to an airport near you
For those returning from a vacation or business trip, Savaari will get you home from the airport in no time. Need to head to the airport to catch your flight? Just give them a call on +91 9045450000 and they’ll send you a cab! Did your flight just land at an airport or did you get off a train at the railway station closest to your destination? You can use their airport taxi, the transit pick up service to cover the last mile. They’ll get you to your destination and show you some of the best sights along the way.

Local taxi: Engage Cabs for your half day, full day or extended requirements
For travelers looking for a car on standby when you’re out and about in the city, they’ve got you covered. Whether you've decided to explore the city in solitude, attend a business meeting or two, or take the family out on a shopping spree. They offer Indica, Etios and Innova cabs so you can choose which type of car you’ll be comfortable with. When you book a local taxi service for the whole day, you won't have to worry about getting from place to place. Head out and spend the day shopping, exploring and rediscovering a new city. Go ahead and book a cab for 4 hours/ 40 km, 8 hours/ 80 km or 12 hours/ 120 km, depending on your plan for the day. They’ll pick you up from the location of your choice and drop you back.

Outstation taxi: For memorable road trips
Head to over 6,500 destinations from 98 cities, whenever you like. They have a chauffeur driven car for your every road trip need. Pack your bags every weekend, rent a car and explore everything there is to see around you. Whether you're on a road trip with just your family or a large group of friends, they have a car to suit your needs. When you book an outstation cab, you can choose between an Etios for your small family, and an Innova for your large travel group. They’ll send you a travel kit to help you plan your trip, send you recommendations throughout your journey and ensure that our expert drivers guide you and give you a taste of the local flavour.


Fading henna - 
Still beautiful,
Like the
Dregs of a striking sunset.
Birds by the poolside
A lingering melody
Even when
The shehnais have died down.
Bedecked and bejeweled
We try,
And fail
To match the bride's glow.

Sustenance Granola: Delish Breakfast or Power Snack

I've never been keen on cooked breakfasts - for one, I just don't feel hungry enough and second, where is the time to cook when one is rushing off to work? Enter modern cereal-based breakfasts like rolled oats and muesli. But a while ago, Sustenance Foods, a boutique gifting studio by Richa and Neha, sent me something even better - granola.

Rather like energy bars, granola is chunkier and tastier than plain cereal. Sustenance Granola comes in three variants and all are gluten free, vegan, packed with nuts & seeds, 100% natural and sweetened with locally sourced organic honey. Besides, each batch is hand mixed and baked in small batches at low temperatures to give it a nice crunch and toasty flavour. Here is my detailed review of their three granola variants.

Chocolate and Hazelnut 

Super chocolatey and replete with large hazelnuts, I tried this first (but of course) and loved it the most. It was all right with milk but the best match was thick yoghurt. If you have Greek yoghurt, that's even better. I also loved the fragrance of cinnamon and the dark chocolate chips.

Cranberry and Pistachio

The folks at Sustenance Foods don't believe in skimping on the good stuff at all - the granola had ample chunks of dried cranberry and crunchy pistachios. They often stuck together with the oats and seeds to form delectable clusters. This variety is quite sweet because of the cranberries.

Figs and Walnut

Walnuts are great brain food and figs are very fibre-rich, making this granola very good for you. The dried figs stand out a little but the granola is still quite tasty. However, out of the three, I preferred this least. But it's all about personal taste and if you want to keep your breakfasts healthy, you should ideally have all three variants in rotation.

The granola comes in high-quality glass bottles that could be reused later for storing nuts or dried fruits. However, if you store them for too long, the granola sticks to the bottom. The three bottles I received were 230 gms each and it took me a month to get through all of them.

The founders suggest spooning the granola over ice-creams and fruit salads as well. But honestly, it is so delicious on its own, you can easily replace unhealthy snacks like chips and biscuits with a handful of granola.

The story doesn't end here. They also make excellent preserves & jam, organic coffee, cookies, biscotti, honey, tea cake, flavoured nuts, crackers and indulgent treats. These come packaged in attractive gift hampers. For more information (and a great granola recipe), visit

The tastiest cabbage or patta gobhi sabzi recipe

This is the tastiest Indian cabbage (patta gobhi) sabzi, to be enjoyed with roti or dal rice. I've made it many times in the past but it never turned out this well. The key is to increase the ratio of capsicum (bell peppers or shimla mirch), peas and potatoes. Also, ginger garlic and chillies add much needed spice and flavour.

Cabbage Sabzi Recipe
Serves: 4-6
Preparation time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 20 minutes

1 small or 1/2 big cabbage
1 tomato
1 plate of peas
1 big capsicum
2 small potatoes
2 green chillies
Ginger garlic paste
Turmeric powder
Red chilli powder
Dhania powder
Pinch of asafoetida
Masala of choice
Salt to taste
3 tablespoons oil/ghee
Cumin seeds
Mustard seeds
Handful of coriander leaves
1 tablespoon lemon juice

1. Heat oil or ghee in a pan. Add mustard seeds. When they stop crackling, add cumin seeds.
2. Add chopped cabbage, capsicum, potatoes and chillies.
3. Season with salt, asafoetida and turmeric. Mix well and cook under closed lid for a few minutes.
4. When half done, add chopped tomatoes, peas, red chilli and dhania powder and masala of choice (I used chole masala). Mix well and cook under closed lid and slow flame for 10min.
5. Garnish with chopped coriander and lemon juice. Serve hot with roti or rice.

Notes: Decrease oil at the start and add some water when the veggies are half done for a healthier version. If using fresh ginger garlic, saute them at the start until the raw smell goes away. Add aamchur powder with the masala in step 4 if you don't have lemons.

Paneer Bhurji Recipe

I love paneer bhurji because there's paneer in every spoonful, unlike a paneer makhani or palak paneer, where chunks of paneer are used. It's semi-dry and thus, lighter, but goes very well with plain pav. I prepared it the other day for dinner and my husband loved it. I used a dash of ghee in the end to give it a buttery flavour and add moistness. I also like adding hing or asafoetida in all my dishes as it adds flavour, aids digestion and curbs flatulence. Right from the chopping to the garnishing, this recipe took me only 30 minutes.

Paneer Bhurji Recipe
Serves: 2
Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 15 minutes

150gm paneer
1 onion, chopped
1 tomato, chopped
1/2 bell pepper, chopped
1 green chilli, chopped
4 garlic cloves, chopped
Handful of green peas
Handful of coriander leaves or cilantro, chopped
A dash of lemon (optional)
Salt to taste
Two tablespoons oil/ghee
Mustard and cumin seeds
Red chilli powder
Dhania powder
Turmeric powder
Garam masala 

Pinch of asafoetida (optional)

1. Pour two tablespoons oil or ghee in a pan. When it gets hot, add mustard seeds. When they stop bursting, add cumin seeds.
2. Saute the garlic, followed by onions.
3. Add the tomatoes, peas, capsicum and chillies. Add salt, turmeric powder, red chilli powder, dhania powder and garam masala. Cook for a minute.
4. Crumble the paneer into the pan and stir well. Cook for a few minutes.
5. Garnish with chopped coriander and a dash of lemon (if required).
Serve hot with pao or bread.

Dusk till dawn

 I listen to Zayn and Sia's "Dusk till dawn" over and over and keep hoping that the next replay will tell me how I'm going to get through this period in my life. I think I've been this miserable before too, but this time, it feels like things may never change. I live my life from dusk till dawn, waiting for the love of my life to come home and help me stop acting. For that's what I do in my current role as daughter in law. I act. I act like I'm a happy cook, housekeeper and companion for my mother in law when I'd rather be watching the trees, walking among busy streets, sitting at a wayside cafe or penning a monumental poem or two. Come Monday, I'll be taking a chance and finally introducing some colour into the drab canvas that my life has become. But what I really want is a gargantuan rainbow to overtake all the shadows in my past, present and future.

No two days are exactly the same.

No two days are exactly the same. Sometimes, there’s a difference in the way the sunshine scatters the dust on the window ledge. And sometimes, it’s the stare of a passer-by on the street that hadn’t pierced my home yesterday. Today, I spotted a beautiful coppersmith barbet in the overgrowth surrounding the ruins of a building that never saw the light of day. The one other time I saw this little green bird with black markings and a bright red forehead was outside the bedroom window of my mother’s home. Back then, tall trees had their own wild way with our courtyard. Today, they’ve all been hewn and the rare birds have become rarer still, rather like the moments of euphoria in my home-bound life.

If there’s one thing I always look forward to, it’s making tea. The way the froth bubbles over the rim of the saucepan, emanating an intoxicating aroma of cardamom and masala infused in tea – it never fails to press a refresh button on my senses. I like the taste of tea too, but it doesn’t come close to the magic of experiencing its preparation. The process of tea being prepared is like the unfurling of a new day – I know the day will never live up to the promise of its glorious morning and yet, that doesn’t stop me from revelling in the promise itself. Seated on the very same window ledge we discussed earlier, I romance the cool morning air and imbibe the sight of fluttering leaves and the sound of twittering birds into my thirsty soul. My spirit doesn’t seem to thrive on things that enliven many of my peers – events, chatter and religion. Rather, it seeks the peace of unfettered nature, the freedom of religion-free godliness and the perfection of silence and solitude. These aspirations don’t exactly endear me to other people but what can I do – I shrivel when placed in the glare of social and cultural demands.

Sometimes I think that all of my soul resides in a mug of coffee had on a quiet, solitary evening enhanced by golden sunshine and pre-dusk birdsong. And at other trying times, my spirit hides inside me, in a phantom mug of coffee on an evening I cannot reach. I love art and good music and to dance but I love stillness most of all. The raucousness of parties and celebration, the strange and inescapable requirements of being an Indian, a woman and a daughter-in-law – they feel like echoes of a world that doesn’t really exist. All I know, is that I’m alive in a moment that is perfect, if only it was untainted by the illusory trappings of an unfair and rigid society.