life

What are you grateful for?

It has been a long time since the last post. Giving up on the A-Z challenge hit me hard. But enough said about failures, let’s move on. Today I would like to dwell on things I’m grateful for.

Mom – She is a person with extraordinary strength and resolve. A woman who had to grow up too fast, take on the unforgiving world alone.

Brother – From the day that he was born, I learnt to be responsible, share, put someone else first, deal with the fact that the world may not seem fair always and experience the joy of watching a tiny human being grow and reach the point of being happily Neanderthal-like (I love you A)

Sister – Could never call her my cousin, we hated each other’s guts when we were children, but growing up brought us closer than ever. From her I continue to learn resilience, strength and diligence

My Nephew – From the day I put out a forefinger to touch his soft skin, this little boy holds a special place in my heart. He taught me how to change a diaper with one hand while holding him from rolling away on the other. In loving him I loved myself more.

The husband – Oh where do I start… Perhaps the person I’m most grateful for in my life, my blessing, my rock. In loving him, I discover new depths of love and affection each day.

Father and Mother-in-Law – For the trust and love they have shown me in the face of overwhelming odds, I shall forever be thankful to God for giving me in-laws who continue to break every stereotype thrown my way before our wedding.

Friends – It should be high up on my list. Friends have taught me it is OK to breakdown or act crazy. It is ok to call someone up in the middle of the night because you are hungry; it is not senseless to grab a backpack, a clean pair of socks and head out on a road trip with no destination in mind, things will work out even when every single one of you is broke, life will be just as good after breakups and friends for life truly means friends for life. I pity the soul that hasn’t experienced friendship in its most sincere essence.

Gulab Jamun and Papayas – Two of the most delicious things that God decided to favor the earth with.

Bloggers – The fellow bloggers who keep kicking my butt to get back to blogging and understand my silences… if it wasn’t for them, this blog would’ve probably died.

There are many more I can talk about, but, at the risk of you withering away at your desk, I shall throw the forum open and ask you – What are you grateful for?

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A letter to my ailing Grandfather

Dear Grandfather,

Mom called to say that you are very sick.

In the five second pause, between mom saying that the doctor offered little hope and her bursting into tears, the memories of you roller-coastered around in my head.

Memories of us may not belong in the Chicken Soup for the Grandparent’s Soul. You were a busy man. Retired from the military where you were a flight engineer, you set up a cafeteria, travel agency, telephone booth… You built a home for your  family and the business generated revenue and did not go under. The house had a big garden. Grandma had coconut trees, guava, custard apple, drumstick, spinach, a whole terrace wall of jasmine, lots of hibiscus, mehandi, curry leaves and this is where my memories begin.

The fact still remains though that I never felt attached to you. A chauvinist and misanthrope, we learnt to steer well clear of you early in our childhood. You were also a contradiction of sorts, you would favour some grandkid (s) over others, son over daughters, you know. However one can’t deny that you provided for your wife and children while they lived with you. You called my brother and I to the room on the first floor of the house and opened up your old trunk to show your medals. You told us how the war was, that you didn’t have to go to the battle field but stay in the yard and work on fighter planes. You loved those medals and went ballistic when grandma lost a few of them.

You loved your scooter (Bajaj Super FE) and would let me clean it. We loved that scooter – you and I. I knew how to repair the brakes, oil the wheels and get it to start on troublesome days and you let me.

I’m lost on details but you and your son decided to tear down the house and have these builders construct an apartment complex. I was there that demolition day; I watched how you caressed a last intact portion of wall with tears in your eyes. It was obvious that you wanted your son to have the best at whatever cost. Though a lot of people criticized you that day, I felt sorry for you.

Through the years that you were sick, we used to visit you and if we stayed more than five minutes, you would get mad and say hurtful things. We kept coming back because mom made us. I felt jealous and angry that you would have a daughter who loved you so unconditionally despite everything. You had someone to shed tears over your condition. Mom loves you inspite of… inspite of… you must have done something to deserve that love. If I have children who loved me half as much as my mom loves you, I would count myself very lucky indeed.

You asked me to forgive you and I asked if you would bless me instead. It was so hard to answer you. It is not hard to fathom why you are terrified to look at yourself. Now you are a mere shadow of your former self. Your eyes are like haunted pools of fear and confusion. It is hard to look into them. You are afraid to pray.

Grandfather, you may be scared, but we are not. We are praying for you – your grandchildren and children. We know that behind that terrifying veil, there is no pain. We believe in God and that when you meet him, life would not have ravaged you. Raising children, building a home, loosing things in life would all be behind you.

I’d like to think that you would be just a little boy to God, who would envelop you with his wide arms. He would guide you to streams of sparkling water like then ones you would bathe in as a child. You would look in and see your eyes glistening with merriment. There are no lines on your face, no scars that the world gave you. Maybe there would be juicy mangoes that you love there. You could eat them whole, the juices running down your hand and dripping down from your elbow.

Maybe God would pick you up and throw you into the air like your dad used to when you were a little boy and punctuate the air with your laugh that the world hasn’t heard in a long time. Don’t be scared grandpa, we are praying for you. We know that there is no darkness behind the veil, just God waiting to say “Michael, welcome home”

Love,

Archie

sex vijay poope

Bloggers of the universe… we all know that regardless of the platforms we use, our blogs give a list of Search Engine Terms that readers used in their process of discovering our blogs. We’ve seen the usual key words on our post titles and then some. This one takes the cake.

sex vijay poope

I’m from India and recently wrote a movie review about a movie starring Vijay (pronounced VJ) a Tamil Actor. He is a master of dance, action, stealing girl’s hearts and practically an all round sensation. Did I mention he always always wins – like Bruce Willis…

Vijay… he’s coming for you weirdo and no he will not poop for you!

Now this individual searching for sex vijay poope, apparently thinks that Vijay has some sex appeal. However I fail to understand how poope figures into the equation.

Is this some kind of fantasy? Somehow I can never imagine saying ‘bowel movements and love making’ in the same sentence, let alone Google it. There was this episode on Oprah where a celeb stated that they had cast their child’s first poop in bronze or some metal. Does anyone remember that episode? The absurdity of it must have burnt the image into my brain. But this is so beyond the line that the line looks like a dot to me.

What hurts me most about it is… I’ve written about sex, vijay and poope in my blog. It took a crazy person to show me that.

How about you? What was the craziest, weirdest search term that landed someone on your blog?

Photo Courtesy: Courtesy: vellapanti dot org

Three Blogging Pitfalls

1. One Topic Wonder Blog

When we hear Macaulay Culkin, our mind immediately flashes to an adorable Kevin McCallister and his adventures, hardly ever to the marijuana conviction and the fact that he is well 34. Many blogs are advised to stick strictly to one topic. Sticking to one rote topic may give your blog good branding initially, but feel free to explore different tangents to keep your reader interested.

People Change... Blogs do too... Grow up and deal with it!

People Change… Blogs do too… Grow up and deal with it!

I love blogs that keep it real. It gives authenticity and engenders connection between the reader and author. Blogs which are only about one topic and unwilling to budge – much like a Politician elected into power – fail to keep me hooked. Don’t be afraid to put yourselves in your blog, your perspectives, your views, your stands. We welcome them because it gives a warmth to the articles, makes the experience a tad more human, brings a little more rapport. Makes us actually care to read.

2. Quantity over Quality

Like food and sex, people who value quantity over quality, will end up bored and distracted. Well timed posts of good material will attract and retain readership. One blogger advocated that one
should post no less than three times a day to gain regular visitors. Unless you are running a business blog or benefiting monetarily by the ‘number of views’, readers tend to value ‘quality content’.

Atleast like with food and sex, people with good taste value quality. These are the readers you want to interact with. Now, as with Facebook, there are people who would ‘value the worth of the
blog’ through ‘likes’ and ‘ratings’ and ‘comments’. As in WordPress free hosting, you’d have to have an account to ‘like’ and give your details to ‘comment’. Hundreds of readers don’t have WordPress accounts or just do not comment. Never loose heart. You write for YOU.

Visit like minded blogs, participate in discussions, dive headlong into civilised debates, encourage others freely, criticise gently and accept feedback humbly. My suggestion for sustainable successful blogging would be to focus on what you put out there not how much.

3. Never back down

Every blogger faces this dilemma. You blog about something close to your heart. A reader expresses a difference of opinion. This can go down three different routes:

Route A:
  • You point out how wrong and uninformed the dissenter isDont feed trolls
  • Reader stands his ground and calls your intellect to question
  • You point out that he better back off if he is not interested and call his parents’ marital status during his conception/birth into question
  • Reader posts sarcastic comment calling your sexual orientation into question and adding LOL
  • Other readers are torn between supporting you, educating the ‘individual’ and wishing this would continue for some more time because the microwave popcorn is not quite ready yet
  • You join your supporters and have a rare ‘jock’ moment, bullying the lone wolf
  • Lone wolf posts a bitter message, punctuating it with pointy innuendos and deems that you are a rotten egg
  • You call him a misanthrope, remind him that this is ‘YOUR blog’ therefore you shall write what you please and block him
  • Other readers pause with mouth open – pop corn en route –  then proceed to congratualte you for your ‘bravery’. You go to bed feeling like a pile of steaming…
Route B
  • You invite the reader for a civil debate as you value their opinion and thank them for reading your blog
  • Other readers forget the popcorn and chime in with your two – cents
  • People congratulate you for the open yet civil platform you’ve managed to create where ideas and opinions can be shared
  • You go to bed happy, feeling accomplished and your spouse is probably wondering why it is such a ‘lucky’ night 😉
Route C
  • Your comments section reads ‘Comments are closed’
  • You are asleep on the couch the laptop balanced on your stomach
  • No one made popcorn that night
Remember, no one forces us to share something online. It is unfair to expect everyone to perceive something the exact same way that we do . Something that may be super cute to me, may be just dull and dreary to someone else. Be open to suggestions, feedback, difference of opinion. No one will think any less of you 🙂

Don’t just have a blog… have a voice!

Photo Courtesy: stereotypex dot com , sceptisemia dot com

It’s all relative

This is an extract from a Whatsapp conversation with my brother this morning:

Me:       Good Morning! It’s Thursday, the slowest day of the week in UAE. It takes 5 hours for 3pm to become 4pm

Bro:       Morning! What did one ocean say to another ocean?

Me:         I sea you?

Bro:       Nothing… it just waved.

Me:          Damn! Ha ha ha. Tell me jokes everyday ok?download

Bro:       Shore! I’ll tell you jokes everyday. Sea what I did there?

Me:          Buoy… Sea you then!

Bro:        Sea you. Boat text when you get a chance. I sail wait for you

Me:          Ship! I should’ve sean that coming. Boat I gotto run to [get office transport] lest I let my car-go.

Bro:        I just came to office and no one is here yet! What the deck is wrong with me?

Me:          Maybe you shouldn’t gulf your coffee so early in the morning. Stay in s’bed a little late.

And we are swell in this game!

Test and see how creative you can be. Nothing is lame in the game of ‘It’s all relative’

 Just leave it in the comment or e-mail me: archanajoyce at gmail dot com (Subject: It’s all relative).  

5 things I learnt from my fish

1. We all die

Our first Beta named Vishnu, lived with us for over a year. He was the lord of his little bowl fish heavenkingdom. He swam with a purpose and flashed his royal blue fins at us whenever we dared enter his field of vision without his permission. He ate heartily and pooped earnestly. One day we found his highness floating like a common dead fish stripped of his glory. We gave him a royal flush and said our good byes humbled.
Life is short and we realise the value of important things often only when they are taken away from us. We resolved to take stock of people and things that make us really happy and spend time with them.

2. The world is oddly misshapen

Ill and confined to the couch, I found myself wondering one day, how does little Fawkes experience the world. Now Fawkes is our current betta. Bright red and feisty, he lacks the regal air (or water) around him, but makes up for it by being cheery and active.

watching fishbowl

We had washed his bowl and set it out to dry. So I dragged by feet to the balcony, picked up the bowl and angled it so I could see what Fawkes saw. It felt like I was in the house of mirrors – strange shapes and colours with no semblance of order.
Life is like that in many ways. People and things may not be clear or make sense but that doesn’t mean life is as lopsided as we sometimes think it is. Things might look stretched beyond our field of vision and overwhelming in reality it might just be a trivial thing if you break it down. So yeah I learnt to live with the quirks and that made my days much more productive.

3. You don’t need a lot to be happy

Vishnu seemed infinitely happy in the little bowl. He swam round and round. He surveyed the land and took stock of the jokers outside. He picked a spot to rest his sapphire head for a while and

Courtesy:pininterest pattie's passion

Courtesy:pininterest pattie’s passion

then resumed lording over his land.
Fawkes on the other had is always exploring. He puts his head between the stones and tries to move them around. You could hear him click clicking away. I felt that maybe he wasn’t being fed enough, but well he just was content rearranging stones and making himself a nice bed to curl over and snooze.
Learning to live with what we got has become more of a challenge to our generation than it has ever been in the history of evolution. Social Media is full of people trying to prove how their life is flashier than others, threatening non ‘likers’ with dire consequences and others decide that we need to offer opinion on their bowel movements updated on the status. Credit culture has turned households into little sweat shops. We’re not the epitome of perfection.

But when I hear click click click I tell myself – We have everything we need and more 🙂 Eventually it should help!

4. Don’t poop where you feed

Courtesy: groupthink.jezebel

Courtesy: groupthink.jezebel

Well when you come home tired and see the bowl decorated with party streamers, you know someone’s been in a feeding frenzy.

While Vishnu used to merrily swim around in filth, Fawkes tries to shimmy away in embarrassment perhaps.

Whether it is work or family, leave the bullshit elsewhere. I can’t stress this enough don’t hang your dirty diapers all over social media for everyone to shake their heads at.

5. The glass is cleaner on the other side

Unequivocally true. The glass is cleaner on the inside or so it seems… and the glass looks cleaner on the outside, so it must seem to the betta.
Cell phones, gadgets, cars, spouses, ice cream, in-laws, cocktails, hairstyles, shoes… there are grass is greeneralways things we wish we had, the could’ve beens and should’ve beens. It’s tough but possible to live without coveting and being happy for others and their success. If it gets too tough, I should learn to shut my gob and move on.
Fishes are fishy in their own way. They seem stupid and unassuming; rolling their eyes around in chlorine induced vacant haze, much like I do during Trigonometry finals. However, they are silently teaching you, sending out their message, a silent presence in your living room, swimming around when you are asleep, watching your convex movements with practised ease… you know what I’m a little creeped out.

To sum it up:

Learn from betta
Fishes can be creepy

How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard

Sunday mornings all over the world are meant for leisure and absolute abandonment. But here in the Middle East, it is the first day of the week for the public sector employees. Our weekend falls in Friday and Saturday. Not that I’m complaining, my husband who works for the private sector gets just Friday off.

So here I am on a cold Sunday morning at crossroads, ‘To snooze or not to snooze’. If I snooze and miss transport, there is no way I can get to office on time. Annoyed at the prospect I toss the sheet and stop dead at the unfamiliar sight. This is not our bedroom… The haze lifts and I realise we have fallen asleep on our couch. Kooorumpf…kaar…kaar. Hmmm. He is asleep. He sounds like he is on the set of The Fast and the Furious movie, but he is most definitely asleep right here on our couch.

My Ji is from a small hill town in India. Absolutely gorgeous, just fresh

Photo Courtesy: Arun Joseph - thatphotocompany

Photo Courtesy: Arun Joseph 

air and greenery all round. Nice people, small town gossip, loyal friends and a cozy family. Moving to the Middle East was a big step for him. The scorching heat and culture shock was monumental. They say big challenges can either make a man wiser or send him away shallow. If you get to know him, there are three things that would stand out. He is painfully honest, passionate in love and unbelievably patient.

For these very same reasons he has been hurt unfairly by shallow pretentious jerks who hide behind a veil of lies and deceit. Every time I ask Ji to expose these frauds, he merely states, ‘That is not for me to do. It is for people to find out’ and I cry in frustration ‘It is ok to be a jerk to other jerks’ and he calmly replies ‘People who love you will stick by your side no matter what. People who don’t are not worth fighting again and again for!’ Argh!

On the other hand, there is still the child in him. Like all other men I suppose. Remote controlled cars, Ferrari Racer on I pad, 45 mins to use the toilet… the whole deal.

What makes me want to wake up next to him for the rest of my life is the fact that I will never get tired of aspiring to be like him. Like a strong oak that is patient, generous, wise, playful and always watching over you; I know his love for his family will stay firmly rooted for ages to come.

Watching him sleep, my mind flashes back to last week’s party where our eyes met across the room, Ji picking up three squealing little nieces all the same time, the girls shrieking in delight, their hair ticking his nose, he was happiest to love, to be loved and at his happiest he looked for me.

Padding slowly to the bathroom, I hear him stumble straight to the kitchen not wanting me to miss breakfast. Can we just take the day off and go back to the couch… maybe turn back time? My job is interesting and I like going to work, but, just need more ‘Ji’ time.

He looks at me and sees his soul mate, a friend, a fellow traveller. He thinks I’m beautiful and likes my crazy incoherent blog. Ji is proud of my talents and interests (which are limited to being a good language coach, cooking the perfect steak and trying to make a difference in the world). He makes me happy, he makes me blush; he makes my heart race and stop. He simply takes my breath away.

I wonder if I’m selfish to love him because I know that all the happiness in the world could be squeezed into the small hazel pool of his eyes and my reflection in them.

Thank you for the prompt WordPress!

7 Step Fried Ice Cream Delight!

Fried Ice Cream… the concept wooed me. Contrary to popular belief, fried ice cream is not an ‘innovation’. It has been around for quite sometime. 

Ok… the number one thing you need for making fried ice cream is -TIME. You’ve got to plan ahead. 

Image

Here are the ingredients you will need:

  1. Ice cream – Start with a 1/2 litre tub of your favourite flavour. I used London Dairy’s Vanilla. Classic and open to a world of combinations.
  2. Plain Corn Flakes – One standard box or two small boxes
  3. 2 large eggs 
  4. Oil for deep frying
  5. Topping – Chocolate sauce or honey or whipped cream

Let’s get down to business:

  1. Using an ice cream scoop or spoon drop 5-6 dollops of ice cream on to a tray lined with baking sheet.Don’t bother if they are not round 
  2. Put it in the freezer to firm up for a minimum of 2 hrs. (I put it in the fridge before heading off to work in the morning)
  3. Put 2 cups of corm flakes into a zip lock back and go at it like you’ve seen a roach making a beeline toward your Christmas pie. I did this after work and is a good stress buster! Reserve the rest or make another batch to use later. 
  4. Take the ice cream out (one at a time) coat it in the corn flakes (shape them as you go and do it fast) and return to the freezer. Go to bed feeling excited and anxious about your treat for tomorrow evening.
  5. After they have firmed up overnight, crack two eggs, still cold from the fridge, into a bowl, whisk lightly. Drop the ice cream balls one by one in the egg mixture, immediately roll them in the reserved cornflakes (coat them well) and return to the freezer. 
  6. When  they have firmed up, heat oil to medium high. Remove them one at a time from the freezer, deep fry for about 10 seconds, drain for less than 5 seconds on a paper towel and serve immediately with topping.
  7. Topping can be chocolate sauce, warm honey with some berries, whipped cream… just about anything you like.

This is a fry-and-eat-as-it-come- out-of-the-kitchen-recipe. Your guests will probably have to line up 🙂

Watch the magic as it disappears in seconds!

Image

 

 

Stuffes Peppers quick Dinner

10 Step Easy Stuffed Peppers Recipe

Here’s the thing. There are days at work where you get so frustrated that all you want to do is just come home and snuggle up with your beau on the couch. Unfortunately in the muggle world, making dinner is a tad more complicated than waving a wand.

And it came to be at the end of one such day, I found myself in the cereal aisle without realising how I got there. No, dinner can’t be cereal… I mean there must be something simpler. My thoughts flashed back to what was available at home. Left over brown rice, uncooked baby button mushrooms, one questionable onion and white wine… er mom that’s white COOKING wine (Aside: it isn’t).

I picked up a pack of coloured peppers and sliced brown bread and hightailed it out of there.

Dinner was ready in a flash. Here’s how:

Turn the oven on to preheat.

  1. Peel three to four cloves of garlic and roughly chop the questionable onion checking if it is good to eat.
  2. Make a thin slice out of the pepper’s bottom so it can sit upright in the baking pan
  3. Take the top off and dig the seeds out turning the peppers into colourful holding vessels
  4. Meanwhile, throw a pan on the stove and pour one or two tablespoons of olive oil in it.
  5. When it is warm, add garlic, sauté and then add onions and sauté
  6. Add mushrooms (whole or sliced) and sauté at high heat
  7. Once all the water has evaporated, add two tablespoons of dry white wine (skip this step if you don’t have it) to deglaze the pan
  8. The wine will cook off in a couple of minutes, turn off the stove, add the rice and toss with salt and pepper (Cumin powder is an alternative for an asian touch – goes well with feta cheese!)
  9. Fill the mixture into the prepared capsicum and Crumble feta cheese on top, (low fat mozzarella will do as well, but I recommend feta) and place in lightly oiled baking tray
  10. Season on top and put it in the oven for 15 -20 mins depending on the oven temperature and how you like your peppers (capsicum). Longer time in the oven would mean overcooked rice and capsicum/peppers

Serve with toast or soup or whatever else you can whip up in a jiffy. If you don’t have rice, just use more mushrooms. Bacon, shredded chicken – basically if you feel something would taste good with peppers, stick them in and bake the pepper!

Make your starry eyed husband take off his shirt and use it as a backdrop for a quick picture 😉

Stuffes Peppers quick Dinner

Stuffed Peppers with mushroom, brown rice and feta

Cricinfo Crazy? Not me!

Dhawan flattens WI in decider

Pakistan win series in thrilling finish

Scream the headlines On ESPN Cricinfo. Dressed up in smart blue, cricinfo is more than just an average cricket information site. Live scores, blogs, videos, opinions and  diary entries ensure that there is something for everyone. ESPN even has other games like Fantasy Cricket and Jigsaw that you can play on this site. No, I’m not cricinfo crazy, but I visit the site now and then. Let me tell you why

Growing up, my uncle used to round up the kids and play cricket. That means we had to bowl, field, get water, refreshments and endure the wrath of aunties next door whose vegetable gardens the ball landed; all this while uncle practiced his batting skills. When he got tired we could go home and lick our wounds. We dreaded days when all we had to do was chase a ball around. My brother and I were quite creative making fortresses, pirate ships, flying carpets etc… cricket- we never related to because we hated playing it. Yet, it was hard not to get caught up in the excitement of the world cup and other series. It is easy to enjoy matches in the company of family or friends through we do not care about it at all.

Cricket has evolved into something that brings people together on a

Cricket Lovers

Pic Courtesy Amsentil dot com

common turf. A neighbour’s house (who hosts some of the most violent inter family shouting matches in the city) fills with shouts of encouragement and disappointment and cheers when Chennai Super Kings play. We celebrated and grieved for Sachin, cricket lovers and non-enthusiasts alike. We were invited to cricket parties even when India or our IPL teams were not playing. We watched cricket finals in neighbourhood parks projected on giant screens.

On days when I miss that part of my childhood, mostly spent spinning vain plots to hide from our cricket crazy uncle… I visit cricinfo and immerse myself in a world that I love to hate as a child. I may not be a fan of the sport, but love the spirit of what Cricket stands for from a common person’s perspective in India -Camaraderie, a lot of shouting, leaving office early, crowds in front of TV showrooms and barber shops, impromptu parties in roadside tea stalls… ah! Time to visit crickinfo again!