Lyrical relapse

A picnic afternoon with friends while social distancing, a new rasam recipe that absolutely rocked our senses, fresh orange juice from our friends’ garden, amarettis and matcha cookies dropped off by our Ninja friend, sunshine, backyard tent time, birthday wishes for a 96yr old neighbor, binged on season #1 of Money Heist, chit chat with in-laws and my sister about the various things under the sun, and deep cleaning our bathrooms. Just a few of the things that made this weekend epic.

We’ve started spending more time on the deck under the shade of our giant pine trees. Tara and I go over in the morning and close our eyes and listen to the birds. And then we drink our milk and coffee and chit chat about the day. We do the same thing in the evening while Agam wraps up work and we wait for him to go for soccer with us. I got the deck done by sheer persistence. Agam was skeptical, as always ;), but I somehow clearly saw what that deck will provide for us. A quiet and shaded respite on summer days. And it delivers! As a bonus it also serves as my lyrical inspiration. Here’s something that took shape this morning, on the deck.

Give me the storm

And I’ll learn to sail through

Give me unrest

And I’ll find my peace

Give me the challenge

And I’ll cultivate the will

Give me a reason

And I’ll find purpose

Give me a dream

And I’ll make it come true

Just trust my word

Today, that is all I can give to you.

Flavor Bomb Rasam!

You know that feeling when you create something with a lot of love and it comes out to be BOmb! Yep that’s what happened today. Won’t waste time in trying to explain the bombastic flavors this leaves in my mouth. Let’s get to the steps

3 medium tomatoes – puréed in a blender

2 tbsp tamarind paste diluted in 2 cups water

8-10 curry leaves

2-3 dry red chilies

A bunch of coriander – with stems coarsely chopped

1 cups water

24Mantra Rasam powder

1tbsp black peppercorns whole

6-8 garlic cloves

1 tbsp cumin

Salt

1 tbsp sugar

In a mortar and pestle coarsely mince black pepper corn, garlic and cumin. Don’t worry about a fine paste, just crush each pod to release the flavors

Grind 3 tomatoes in a purée

Heat 1/2 tbsp oil in instant pot

Add 1 tsp turmeric, 1 tbsp mustard seeds and let the seeds splutter, add 2 red chilies 🌶

Add tomatoes and cook until they are mushy l. Don’t need to wait till they are full cooked

Add tamarind juice (2tbsp tamarind paste into 2 cups of water)

Add another 1 cup of water to make the consistency thinner

Add curry leaves and coriander

Add 2 tsp rasam powder

Add the coarsely minced pepper corns garlic and cumin

Add salt to taste. I liked 1/2 tbsp sugar in it. Up to you if you want to.

Seal the lid and pressure cook on high for 5min

When done, taste and adjust the salt/sugar and enjoy a flavor bomb rasam!

My bougainvillea & me

My bougainvillea is showing signs of life. To celebrate that I made a cup of tea for myself this afternoon. The bougainvillea represents me. We win despite odds. We survive. We bloom because we must, and we know the world is a better place because of us, and our actions and our intentions. We don’t wait for anyone to water our soil. We maximize resources and put them to use.

I love my bougainvillea. It is not perfect. It does not need to be. It does not grow as fast, and that’s ok. It also does not add much color to my garden. It just stays alive, and keeps coming back year after year. It is loyal. It is a survivor. And it doesn’t succumb under the pressure of the surrounding world. It has its goals, it’s journey, and it’s milestones and as long as nothing comes in the way, it blooms, reliably, every spring!

Spring initiates, and the rest of the year follows. I too am initiating, and hope that all else will follow. Just like my bougainvillea, the first flower takes time, but the bunches – follow!

A real weekend :)

A delightful weekend comes to an end. We swapped Sunday chore day with Monday since I am OOO on Mondays. And planned a weekend that really felt like one 🙂

Impromptu global cousin hangout and an extended hangout with Dadu and Dadi watching Kiaan and Tara’s activities. A Bollywood music morning with Chole Kulche and Shikanji (lemonade), a lovely afternoon nap, an evening spent in the yard cleaning, planting and claiming it back from our non resident cats. Followed by a walk in the neighborhood and a quick dinner. And then – Money Heist!! Binged till midnight and then a peaceful sleep. Oh not to forget some tulips for the vases.

Sunday was special with another global cousin hangout, and a hearty dosa with Sri Lankan curry meal. I learnt how to make the curry powder and made it with Jackfruit. Finger linking yummy 😋. An afternoon siesta and then a drive to Santa Cruz and some beach time at Twin Lakes beach. Of course I teared up just looking at the water and the waves and the wide expanse of the ocean. It was a much needed tete-a-tete with the ocean. The crabby was missing the water too much. Oh was she delighted or what! And watching Tara play with the waves and the sand reminded me that life will be back soon.

After coming back home I left again for an hour long walk. Went to Ava’a and brought some strawberries and coriander. Whimsical shopping for a strawberry salsa that’s been on my mind. The walk left me tired and Agam proposed Thai for dinner. So we ordered in, and watched Scooby Doo while we ate.

I didn’t bake this weekend, but a friend has been baking and dropping off delicious treats at our door last few weeks. And today we were spoilt again with a delicious loaf of olive oil cake with lemon and poppy seeds. Our breakfasts are a treat thanks to her. 🙂

Told ya we have plans for the weekend! Those were all our plans and impromptus, and we enjoyed a real weekend with a lot of real fun 🙂

Let’s hope the week is also as fun 🙂 It’s been a while.

Oh what a wonderful 🌎

Spring has been stolen from us this year 
We live in malaise, gratification  and fear 
Yet the flowers 🌸  don’t fail to cheer 
Oh what a wonderful world 🌎 
The kids are home and shops are shut
The grass in the parks is left uncut 
Yet the roses 🌹  bloom in this rut 

Oh what a wonderful world 🌎 

Nature has stopped us in our tracks
It will be a while before we pick up our backpacks 🎒 
Yet the fields are full of poppy and lilacs 
Oh what a wonderful world 🌎 
No cure, no relief and no end in sight
In Zoom and Meet we find delight
Yet the sun ☀️ doesn’t fail to shine so bright
Oh what a wonderful world 🌎 

Plans for the weekend?

Agam bought me a very pretty Sudoku book. I cannot wait to begin scribbling 🙂 I’ve been playing a few games a day, and my app has decided I can play expert level which I keep failing at. Unfortunately it does not downgrade me to the lower level so I can get some wins and confidence. It prefers that I keep failing at the expert level. Rough love! But I’m up for the challenge. The book was a surprise. It brought me so much joy to see how despite these times he took the time to find a way to surprise me.

I feel like although we are all going through the same pandemic. Each of us are experiencing it in very different ways. And that makes this situation a bit worse. No one knows how personal this situation is for the other person, and yet we are empathizing with each other in the best way we can. Interesting challenge. Although I get really depressed seeing people being unkind to each other. Instead of being thankful for each breathe we are taking, why waste that breathe in contempt?

We swing between extreme exhaustion and sighs of relief on an hourly basis. Everything is being experienced more intensely. There is doubt, fear, disbelief, and gratitude all mixed in. There is also a certain fear of the future. It will never be the same again. But what will it be? Some want to know all the answers. I have switched my perspective. I am emotionally ready to do this for the entire year. I like my home cooked meals and catching up on Tara every hour and our board games, daily wine, and daily walks and family fun time.

I wish situation was a little more stable at work. I am not fulfilled. My friend called is mid career malaise and sent me an insightful article. It was fun to read and realize I am not the only one who seeks fulfillment in my work and fails to find it. Especially given the environment.

But I am seeing some good outcomes. Looks like I stayed long enough for this, at least this time. I was telling a friend that a good program manager is self combustible. You work your way out of your job. I have a strong team. They don’t need me in the same way as they did before. So each day is a little less challenging. Those who I can grow are growing. Those who don’t want to, are doing fine too. As V once said, not everyone wants to be Van Gogh. Some find joy in coloring within the lines. And you cannot make a Van Gogh no matter how much you invest. I loved that analogy. Truth is I am no Van Gogh so I don’t expect anyone to be. But people should always try to be the best version of themselves. They will find joy in that. But joy is also relative. I find joy in creating. Others in maintaining. And some in just floating. Each of us are worthy of our own joy. And if it is not joyful, we should quit. That’s my philosophy anyways.

It’s Friday already! Can’t wait for the weekend! No really 🙂 I have plans. Different plans – but they are plans nevertheless.

Joy is a simple dal

Oh what joy this Chana dal brought me today. A turbulent day ended in an hour of outdoor fun and coming home to make a simple Chana dal and appams that were a hit.

Chana Dal is my favorite. I like it both the punju style and being style. Today’s tadka was simple – onion, tomatoes, green chilies and jeera. And a lot of coriander on top.

I’ve done the same tadka with small minced ginger and that’s delicious too.

In the Beng version, the tadka is cardamom, cumin and cinnamon powder roasted in ghee.

Hearty and delicious 😋 Chana Dal was the highlight of the day.

In other news a half baked perf came out. Some really solid feedback. Exactly how I like it. Some was still fluffy, and some was more specific. I love it when it’s specific. Of course some of it is subjective and it’s amazing how that stands out. But it helps me see through the other person and their framework and sometimes their insecurities.

As a manager my goal is to maximize my teams output and give them a environment and resources that helps them deliver that output. I need to emphasize that goal more. Also sometimes I like becoming a life coach which I am not. I am to my friends, but not to this team. So drawing that line is very essential. And I will be doing a lot more of that moving forward. That’s where interpretations and perceptions come forth.

It was a rewarding cycle in terms of constructive feedback. In terms of positive feedback, I don’t have a good relationship with that. I should do something about it. Some day I will. I don’t trust anyone giving me positive feedback. They have some motivation behind it. Only my father could deliver that as convincingly as I like it. And that’s not an option anymore. Rest, just keep delivering the bad news. I am OK with it. As long as it is actionable.