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Tuesday, 11 March 2014

Potions,lotions, youthful much unnecessary emotion and commotion!!!

I was sitting in front of my dresser yesterday, trying to,well, get dressed but was doing quite a poor job of it! I was looking like something from a bad horror movie with smudged eyeliner, blue, neon shimmery lids,over done blusher and too much of red lipstick. The reason for all this distraction and bad make up, was well a new line which seemed to have cropped up overnight in my under eye area. This was in spite and despite a very sought after and pricey eye serum which i had faithfully applied every night for the past bloody two years! Groan!! Sigh!! Weep!! Another wrinkle, another line!!! 

Couldn't they ( as in all those brainy scientists etc) just invent a magic eraser to wipe these god damned lines away!!! One swipe and the line is gone and you are restored to your youthful, crinkle free,wrinkle free, happy, smiling ,confident self!! 'They seem to be inventing every other nonsensical thing under the Sun but not this stupid, magical eraser,' i muttered to myself in utter disgust and dismay. Alas! Who can escape the ravages of time!

That got me thinking-why should i want to escape the ravages of time and why couldn't i just accept the natural process of aging gracefully?? I mean we all were going through it-i wasn't alone in my misery so why make such a huge deal of it?? I swear, without exaggeration, i have at least ten different  creams of differing descriptions ( some day,some night,some primers, some for going out doors,some for staying indoors) and seven different serums lying on my dresser at any given time. In addition to that, there are body butters,cleansers, make up removers,aromatic body and face oils, scrubs,masks,toning,hydrating and firming lotions,sun screens with varying u.v protection factors etc and what have you. Gosh! I feel tired just thinking of everything.Why all this clutter and all this mess and of course the bloody expense?!!

And expensive all this stuff is!!! There was a time, when travelling abroad, in the duty free section, i used to spend all my time at the cosmetic and fragrance counter. Sigh! Those days are gone! Now i spend all my time and my darling hubby's hard earned money  on  exotic anti wrinkle creams, skin caviar ( what in hell is that??), lotions and serums!! I buy them as if there is no tomorrow and horde them as if they are going out of production!!

 And when the cashier tallies up my bill, i almost faint with fright,dismay and shock because it all amounts to a small fortune!! 'There goes my shopping budget for the entire trip,' i mutter with resignation and sadness. But what to do? It seems i have become addicted to this stuff and time and time again, despite the various quarrels and showdowns with hubby dearest, the pattern is repeated!!

But now i have made a firm resolution to break free! Enough is enough! I am forty and i just have to learn and accept and embrace my looks for what they are.  No more melt downs,no more agonizing and unnecessary emotion and certainly no more wasteful expenditure on these so called miracle wonders in their alluring,gleaming pots and fancy bottles. I have trashed the men folk enough about their mid life crises and what have you but in the spirit of absolute fairness and honesty have to take a close,hard look at myself too...a woman in her forties!!!

 That seems only fair and logical. We women (with exceptions of course) too, in our forties,seem to be going through our meltdowns and crises and are quite losing it...our sense of sanity,equilibrium and sense of balance. We are yo-yoing between feeling really fantastic at one end because we feel liberated (from taking care of the kids,home, hubby,trying to please everybody etc)  and feeling really down in the dumps because that ever alluring,elusive sense of youth, infallibility and invincibility seems to be slipping away!!

 We all want to look younger,prettier,thinner, more crease free than the other. That's a fact...i accept it now. Going for a party is usually a nightmare even if one has a closet full of clothes. I can never find anything which is sexy enough, or has the right fit and cut, or makes my figure looks flattering enough. There's always a issue and always some least in my life. The constant pressure to look good is almost suffocating, debilitating and claustrophobic.

 'Am i looking fat?', 'Are my love handles showing?', 'Is the cellulite on my arms visible?',' Is my double chin prominent?', 'Can you see my laugh lines?'. These are the troubling questions which are posed regularly to my long suffering husband who still doesn't know as to what the right answer is! If he replies in the affirmative, he's dead and the rest of the evening is spent in surly silence and if he replies in the negative then he's labelled a liar and a diplomat and a hypocrite!! So there's just no winning with me...i take his trip either way!!

So, i have finally decided that to maintain my sanity,peace of mind and calm at home...i am going to abandon all the so called youthful notions that i have held on to so fiercely for the past decade or so. I am going to accept my face and body for what it is and not what i hope it to be. At forty, you can never look or feel like you did when you were in your twenties !! It's just not possible.

 Yes, we should nourish our bodies and take care of it as best as we can. We should try and eat right (most of the times), should exercise 3-4 times a week, should minimise other vices which are not so good for the skin,health etc but we should also live ,eat and enjoy ourselves without reservation  and with full abandon. After all it's our one life and a short one at that! 

So let's stop feeling guilty and miserable for every mouthful of food that we  ingest and let's meet every new wrinkle and line on our face, head on.Let's not agonise over every grey hair that we sprout-there are any number of very effective hair colours available that can disguise that pesky grey fellow or fellows, if you wish to! So worry not!! Let not the ravages of time defeat us. In fact revel in your age and wisdom and acceptance of you,yourself as YOU ARE!!!

So i will now stop apologising and making excuses. I will accept that my face and body will succumb to gravity and there's not a darn that i can do about it. I will accept that i will be a few or many pounds heavier. I will accept that the lines on my face are here to stay and tell their own story and i will stop feeling ashamed of them.  I am going to accept that after bearing two kids and the consecutive C-section surgeries my tummy will never be as flat as before ,how ever much i starve myself. In fact starving myself just seems to compounds my problems more!! 

In short, i am going to stop being such a hormonal,high maintenance, overly demanding and overly expecting, utterly self obsessed mad hatter!! I am going to live and let live! I will stop judging, criticizing, over-analyzing ME and everyone else around me!!!

 I am going to enjoy my imperfections and revel in fact isn't it said by poets and writers that true beauty lies in originality, uniqueness and imperfections and not in absolute perfection and symmetry. That could be so boring and insipid!!! So here's to a new,fuller,accepting, more wrinkled,creased and definitely a more happier ME!!! Cheers to that!!

Friday, 7 March 2014

Khao,piyo aur phir maro....exercise karo!! Sigh! Groan!!

I was born into a family of beautiful women. Now please don't get me wrong, i am not being shamelessly immodest here.Let me explain-my maternal grandfather was a very handsome and charismatic man. He was also a 'Nawab' of some non descript hamlet somewhere in Uttar Pradesh and was a very sought after and learned man. 

 Now he married thrice ( and that's perfectly legal in our religion)  and real stunners each of them were and they in Toto sired him 15 bonnie babies over a span of a decade or so. Obviously one amongst them being my darling mum. And obviously my more than a dozen aunts and uncles had their own families and kids-the result being that now i have more than 30 cousins and most of them female and each and everyone of them prettier than the other!! And what names-i love their names-Yasmeen, Sophie,Sidra,Sadaf and the list goes on. And of course my real sisters-Farah and Sumera. Candidly, have forgotten some of the names of my cousins-the ones that i don't meet so often and who are settled all across the world. My poor forty plus memory needs some serious jogging and of course the Salman Khan endorsed 'revital'!

Now above is the situation from my maternal side. The story from my paternal side is equally long and i won't bore you with all the details. The gist being that my paternal grandfather was a true blue Peshawari Pathan and quite a strapping,good looking 6 foot 3 inches tall hunk with amazing grey,blue eyes!! Gosh! I sometimes wonder where those genes disappeared to??? I am sorrowfully 5 feet 3 inches and have dark brown eyes! Nothing tall and lean or exotic about me!! Sigh!
Anyway fortunately for this story folks, my paternal grandfather turned out to be a one woman man and therefore stuck to that poor woman for the rest of his life and how he stuck to her! Man!!My poor 'daadi' was never left in peace and was constantly with child through out most of her child bearing years!! Poor soul!! Can you imagine always pregnant and nauseous and huge?? To be truly flippant-she must have looked forward to menopause and hot flushes with glee!!! Some respite from just producing kid year after year!

 Anyway, the end result of all this amorous action being that my 'daadi' had 12 kids too and those 12 kids produced me at least 20 cousins and no, i don't remember their names nor do i wish too!! My dad's family was exceedingly mean to us when he passed away and i have no contact with them. I was just trying to explain the enviable gene pool that i have. But i do know for a fact that all of them are blessed with great skin and very sharp features which ahem! ahem! i seem to share!! Chalo, at least kuch toh achchey genes mujhey bhi miley! Height aur grey blue eyes nahin toh at least 'doodh malai' complexion!!! Hahaha!!! Wink!Wink!

Now to progress further and to get  to the main point in this story and to high light my particular plight....most of us cousins (from my maternal side) are extremely close and get together at least 2 -3 times a year during the holidays. So then it's non stop partying and socializing and merry making and even more eating!!! Oh! How much we eat and eat and eat!! We could put Sumo wrestlers to shame! So naturally, all this binge eating can't be too good for the waistline at least my god damned waistline! My qamar becomes a bloody qamra and a large qamra at that!

 I land up looking and feeling like a bloated balloon or a giant beach whale but curiously this phenomenon only happens with me!! Why oh why??? Allahmia!! Mujhi par itna zulm kyon?? Everyone else is looking as lean,trim and gorgeous as ever-no bloating,no expanding waist line,no puffy eyes...nothing! All of them are wearing slinky dresses and showing off their flat tummy's and tiny waists  whereas I am the only one grappling with those torturous,form fitting,utterly uncomfortable tummy tuckers and waist restraints and what have you to camouflage and disguise my ample love handles and wobbly belly!!!

Most bloody unfair! But i guess all in all, worth it for the amount of closeness,bonding and fun that we have during such times. I feel loved,blessed and grateful to God for having such a loving,supportive family who always rallies together in the good and especially not so good times. Amen!

Donning my god damned sneakers to go and kill myself on the treadmill...yet again!! Such is life! Khao,piyo aur phir maro... exercise karo!!Sigh!

Wednesday, 5 March 2014

Truth, honesty, integrity, friendship,loyality....and other such inconvenient stuff!!

Relationships are so transient now-a-days. Here today and gone tomorrow. Does anything have any real meaning or is it just a figment of our imagination? Are we increasingly living in a more and more morally bankrupt society where nothing really matters excepting money,material possessions and the physical manifestation of the same? Where  words like loyalty, integrity,truth,togetherness are all malleable and easily shoved under the rug depending on the situation and circumstances. Is it  just about fancy homes, fancy cars,exotic vacations,pricey jewels or do real relationships count? 

Or do we just indulge ourselves and our collective conscience by thinking that we have solid and enduring relationships with people who matter to us? Do we really? Will those relationships stand the test of time,the burden of expectations,sticking with each other through thick and thin? Till death do us apart? I don't think so! Not even when you are related by blood! Even there, one keeps hearing about brothers cheating each other, in extreme cases killing each other, families locked in disputes for decades over property, jewellery,bank balances and what have you.

All this and more is making me feel increasingly more disillusioned and sad and i am doing a lot of introspection and soul searching.  What is really important to us anymore? Everything now is really about convenience and nothing more. Today you are in my life because i am convenient to you, i make your life easier, comfortable and enjoyable and vice versa. The day i become inconvenient and start making demands or have expectations from you-you will be gone-poof! into thin air!!! And i am not just talking about a marriage here-i am talking about friendships as well. As long as a mutual purpose is served, a common goal is being achieved, a friendship/relationship survives. The moment the balance tilts there's acrimony and bitterness. There are very few exceptions. That's a hard fact that we all have to accept however painful it might be!!

 There's no escaping it. In today's fast paced lifestyle we barely make time for our kids. Kids that we brought into this world voluntarily and usually as a result of a loving act. There's always something more important to do than to be really and i mean really be with them in the sense when they have our full attention and focus. We always have a meeting to attend, an important email to send,urgent face booking or blogging to do or a kitty party to go to, a juicy phone conversation to have,sometimes even a goddamn 'saas bahu' serial on the idiot box to watch. So we detract and distract. But is that fair and what are teaching our children -that every thing else is more important than that human connection! What will they really learn and imbibe from us?

What about our parents? Tell me honestly how many of us call them everyday to chat with them and find out how they are? All that it takes is two minutes but how many of us actually make that effort? I bet less than twenty percent of us. That's pathetic,really pathetic because in the end what do our parents really want from us-some time,a little attention and a dollop of caring. Do we remember the little and big sacrifices they made for us or has all that dimmed and faded with the passage of time? But who really cares? We are too busy,too stressed making that extra buck or getting that promotion or trying to acquire a more lucrative contract or competing with the neighbouring Mrs Gupta or Mrs Mehta to be younger,slimmer,richer,more popular!!! 

Why are divorces, extra marital affairs,break up of partner-ship businesses,attrition in corporate jobs so rampant and common place today? Why has it become so 'ho hum' and acceptable to us as a society that we don't even react to it anymore? Because we have stopped caring-we have become a selfish,self centric society where instant gratification matters the most. Nobody has the time or the energy or even the inclination to be patient anymore or be kind or even listen. We have lost all the gentleness of yesteryear's-we have become a harsh,crude,crass,unruly,in disciplined  people who just want it and want it all and want it now and want it at any cost!! And the cost is usually our relationships that completely go down the tube.

 But the universal truth of life is that we cant have it all-however much we try or strive or focus. We usually have to give up something,let go off something. We have to sacrifice or compromise somewhere.And by being willing every time to just sacrifice our most important human relationships we are not only doing a grave injustice to people most important to us but we are doing a graver injustice to ourselves as a whole!!

  To quote Ghalib, "kabhi kisiko mukkamal jahan nahi milta....kahin zameen nahin to kahin aasman nahi milta." That is self explanatory but another one of his which i really love "lest we forget:it is easy to be human, very hard to be humane". So let's try to be more humane in everything that we do. Let's just pause and give that smile or that gentle touch or that listening ear or sometimes just eye contact is enough. Let's try to be more compassionate and accepting of each others follies and failings and to QUIT THE RAT RACE!!!  Even if you win the goddamn race, you will still be a rat!!!!

Tuesday, 4 March 2014

My doggy is gay!!!

I think my doggy is gay! And please let me clarify, before some of you claw my eyes out-i have nothing against gay people apart from the obvious impediments to procreation that their gayness presents. I am also not talking about the proverbial doggies in my life. Sigh! there are so many of them that i can actually label them- naughty doggy number 1, wicked doggy number 2,maddening doggy number 3 and so on and so forth!!

I am talking about Romeo-my real life, best doggy of all!! Even now, as i furiously type away on the key board he lies curled up at my feet like a giant ,soft ,cuddly hot water bottle-really lovely and comforting on this slightly nippy morning- giving me an occasional lick and lightly snoozing away emitting gentle snores !! Yes, he snores and farts!! But that's a different story altogether and not entirely pleasant.

Romeo is my golden Labrador with melting hazel brown eyes and the most silky,floppy ears ever. He is slightly pudgy,clumsy,insanely lazy, impossibly greedy and alarmingly wobbly-very much like his mistress which is me, but he's totally and completely adorable-again like his mistress! Ahem! I know modesty is not one of my strong points but then i have so many other strengths that it wouldn't be fair if i was modest too. After all one has to leave some noble virtues for other lesser mortals to imbibe !!

Anyway, as usual digressing, now Romeo is in the prime of his doggy years. His virility should be at his peak but for some strange reason he evinces no interest at all, in the numerous Juliet's that i parade before him! It's most puzzling and confounding! I have done my motherly duties as best as i could. I have tried to fix him up with every single,eligible female doggy that i could find in my neighborhood and beyond!! I have begged and pleaded and match made! I have connived and manipulated to fix him up with the best of the best! I have charmed and pleaded!!! I have tolerated and endured some very obnoxious doggie owners. But all in vain!!

The pricey punk shows no interest at all in the fulsome,voluptuous,splendid girlie doggies that i spring forth with clockwork regularity for his kind approval!! He just sniffs them disdainfully then literally turns up his nose, let's out a few pathetic growls, turns his ample bottom to them, stretches, yawns a looooong,wide one and then flops on the floor in a heap for his customary 100 th nap of the day !!! 

While he blissfully snores away, i wring my hands in embarrassment and dismay and mumble some pathetic excuses to the other angry, rebuffed,rejected doggie owner!! He has completely shamed me-i can't lift my head high anymore when i take him for his evening walk in our neighborhood garden!We just skulk around on the fringes of the park and the moment his smelly job is done, we rush home. So regretfully, no more long walks and exchange of doggy trivia with other equally devoted doggy owners .We are just glared at and whispered about. We are the Pariahs now and he has been sadly labelled queer! Sigh! Most heart breaking and disappointing!

 I expected him to do me proud and sire me at least a half dozen pups!! But i guess it's not to be!! It's just gonna be me and my gay doggy for a long time to come!! Sigh!!Grrrr-i want puppies, i need puppies!

 I seriously sometimes wonder, if like for the other two legged doggies, there are  ahem! magic pills available- there should be the same pills available for the four legged ones as well  to help them in their ahem! erectile dysfunction?? If anything ,the four legged doggies deserve them (the magic pills) more. At least they show you unconditional love, loyalty, affection and warmth. Yes! That's next on my agenda-research on Viagra doggy substitutes for my beloved Romeo!!

Naughty at 'forty' or should i say 'dotty' at forty!!!! Men!!!

I have come to the profound conclusion that sometimes, i really hate men ( with a few exceptions of course)!!!! Especially men in their forties, what with their mid life crises, roving eyes, wandering hands,expanding bellies,receding hairlines and most of all their superior, condescending attitudes!! They think they are God's gift to woman kind!! Well i have news for you guys!!!! You aren't!! 

Most of you (again of course there are exceptions)  are a royal pain in the butt where we, the poor women, have to constantly molly coddle you, cootchie coo you and pander to your fragile egos all for the sake of marital happiness and family peace!! But do you men ever appreciate that???? No!!! You are too self possessed  and self centric to ever realize that. We the women, especially here in this regressive country of ours were just born to serve and please you. All talk about emancipation and feminism is just that-Talk!!!! We are treated as lesser than men and it is a man's world!!

Let me illustrate by citing an example-if a man today goes out and has an affair, he's secretly envied by all his buddies and regarded as a real stud and playboy and hero worshiped. His poor wife is left with no choice but to grimace and bear all the accompanying pain and embarrassment  for the sake of the kids,family,home,security,societal obligations etc. Whereas on the other hand if the woman has an affair, she's immediately labelled a slut, an adulteress,an unfit mother. She's shunned,shamed,labelled and rejected by everyone around her!!! She's pointed at and gossiped about!!Why these double standards, i ask?? Why this hypocrisy?? What's good for the gander should be good for the goose!!! Don't you agree??

The age old adage of men getting naughty at forty is so bloody true excepting that 'naughty' is the bloody under statement of the century!!! They definitely don't get just naughty, most men get 'dotty' (as in lose their brains) at forty!! All their substantial grey matter sinks to their nether regions and their craniums get filled with erotic fantasies of twenty something nubile nymphets wearing skimpy bikinis feeding them grapes and wine and bathing them with milk and honey and whispering sweet nothings into their ears!!!

Get real dude!! That twenty something nubile nymphet (if even that) is with you for a reason!!! And that reason you dim wit, is your fat wallet and the fancy set of wheels you drive!!! That's it!!! She's not in love with you for your sharp brains or your kind(???) heart or your fabulous (in your opinion) body or your ever pleasing personality!!! She wants to hang with you because you can show her a good time!! That"s it!! So all this bullshit crap of finding your true soul mate etc is just that!! Crap and bull!!!

Wake up and smell the coffee or kerosene or whatever you prefer!! This is as good as it gets!! It cant get any better!! Learn to value what you have-the woman who has stood by you for decades, through thick and thin, who has been there as your guiding force and pillar of strength, who has been your partner in every sense of the word, who has borne you children,who has endured and tolerated all your various idiosyncrasies and eccentricities and who above all has tolerated and been kind to the important people in your life who have never returned her the same favor!!!

Shape up or ship a galaxy far,far,far away!!!! It's only your loss-really!!!

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Shame,shame, shame......on us!!!

The more newspapers i read or the more television coverage i watch about the rape in Delhi(on the night of16 December,2012)-the capital city of India-India,the next super power,the land of revered Goddesses like Durga,Lakshmi,Saraswati,Parvati etc...the angrier i get!! Angry to the point of my blood boiling and my mouth frothing!!! Angry to the point where i just want to get a cleaver and chop off the offending "dicks" literally, and then hang the "dicks" figuratively by their balls publicly sans any clothes and stone them to death!!!

Extreme you might say but then what about the brutal extremities that the young 23 year old girl suffered at the hands of the savages!!!What the hell is wrong with us?? How have we as a society become so depraved and barbaric that a young girl is pinned down by at least five men ,brutally gang raped, almost beaten to death ,has iron rods thrust into her private parts where her intestines are gouged out and then thrown naked on the road to die??? It is beyond fills you with horror,fear,dread and a total loss of faith in humanity!!!

And i am sick to death of being afraid...afraid of being a woman,afraid of being attractive,afraid of wearing a dress,afraid of wearing lipstick,afraid of being noticed,afraid of stepping out!!!AFRAID,AFRAID,AFRAID!!!!! I AM SICK TO DEATH OF THE WORD AFRAID,OF THE EMOTION AFRAID!!! I want to reclaim my life, i want to reclaim my confidence,i want to have belief and faith in the law of the land,i want to hold my head high and live and work and play with DIGNITY,CONFIDENCE AND RESPECT!!! Is that really too much to ask and aspire for?? Should that not be taken for granted when you live in a free,secular,democratic country with an elected government in place???

What the shit did we vote for them for anyway?? Forget about the mundane bijlee,paani,rozi,roti crap etc..what about a frigging right to live,to enjoy,to maybe go to a mall to watch "The life of Pi" with your boyfriend and not get assaulted,gang raped and thrown naked on the road to die!!!!What about that??? We need answers and yes high time now that we as the so called responsible and educated citizens of India ask the right questions!!!!

We as a people have to get off our lazy,hypocritical arses and introspect and fight!! Fight this apathy,fight this fucked up "chalta hain" attitude,fight this air of complacence that it can never happen to us or our loved ones and fight with the powers to be, to protect us,to safe guard our honor and to come down really heavy on the offenders that no one in his right mind ever even dare to conjure up such a sick scenario in his dreams!!!!

Enough with the sympathy and drawing room discussions. Let's do something. Let's come together as a people and voice our utter disgust and loathing.Let them know that enough is enough and we shall take no more.Let's fight back.....lets have public debates and discussions and marches and protests. Let them not forget. Let that poor girl not just become another statistic in the hall of shame. Let her excruciating pain,humiliation and loss of humanity not go in vain!! Let her be a lesson...a lesson to all of us to shake of our sense of complacency to now finally Act and React!!!!!! 

And you woman out there learn to react...stop tolerating the harassment that we as the fairer sex suffer on an almost daily basis. Let's kick some butt!! Let us all learn basic self defense,let's start carrying the pepper spray in our bag and let's finally learn to stare down a bully or slap a man who shoves his elbow in our chest. Let's stop being afraid and let's prepare to do battle. A battle which may one day save our lives or our humanity or our sense of self.

Last but not the least my heart felt sympathies to that unfortunate girl and her family members and loved ones. I don't know her personally but have followed her progress in the hospital, i have wept bitter tears for her, i have raged for her and prayed for her and hope against hope that she does turn out to be the fighter that the doctors are saying  that she is and that she emerges from this night mare like a Phoenix from the ashes,ready to soar again!!! All the best and God's speed to her recovery and God bless!!!

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

My naani ma's delicious 'Nihari'!

Some of my happiest childhood memories are associated with the time i used to spend with my maternal grandparents and cousins during the summer holidays. All ten of us-the cousins-from different parts of the country use to descend annually on to this huge,sprawling house, where my beloved naana and naani ma used to live  in Darya Ganj-in Old Delhi. This house was very typical of the olden days and had a huge,open central courtyard with fountains, a variety of birds in their cages,low seating areas with lots of colourful cushions and all kinds of trees like Jamun,Mango,Banyan from which swings and hammocks dangled. This courtyard was surrounded by a maze of large,spacious,airy rooms with high ceilings which were all interconnected and where we used to play hide and seek,'chor sipahi','dark room' etc hiding behind and under the heavy,antiquated teak furniture.

But my favourite room,if it could be called a room, in this house was the mammoth, old  'Rasoi' or kitchen with the olden style 'chulas',full scale tandoor,an ancient wood fired oven where rusks and biscuits were baked and an open fire where the pit roasting was done. This room was completely redolent with the most divine aromas where the 'khansama' or the cook who had been with the family for decades,churned out delicacy after delicacy to feed ten very hungry mouths! And my God what insatiable appetites we had!!! We would barely finish a hearty breakfast and then wanted our mid morning snack and when that was done, would start enquiring as to what's cooking for lunch and then once lunch was done would start requesting for Pakoras,Samosas,Jalebis and Sandwiches for tea!!! Gosh! It was never ending and i really pitied the old man and his assistant in the kitchen! They really earned their keep when we were around during the holidays!! But the best bit was when my naani ma used to step into the kitchen and weave her magic with her 'karchi' (ladle) and 'kadhai' (frying pan)!

I still remember the thrill of anticipation that used to run down our spines when we were told that naani ma was making something special for us for the next meal. She was the most awesome cook ever and transformed the simplest of dishes into the most divine creations. For example let's take the humble 'daliya' (porridge) which we used to have for breakfast everyday,she would cook it with raisins,pistachios and milk on a very low flame and once done instead of adding sugar,she which would mix jaggery into it and top it off with thick,clotted cream.The end result would be a breakfast dish fit for a king!! It would be that delicious and wholesome.

She was also a fabulous non vegetarian cook and made the most delicious aromatic 'Dum' Biryanis, tender,spicy,floating in 'asli ghee' Roghan Josh,fragrant,hearty, broth like Haleem with the over riding smell of freshly roasted Garam masala and Adrak, Raan which would be marinated a good twenty four hours with all kinds of exotic masalas and spices and then cooked over an open flame till the tender meat actually fell off the bone,melt in the mouth,buttery,velvety Kakori kebabs and the list goes on and on!! I can feel the drool in my mouth as i recount all this but her all time popular speciality was undoubtedly a superlative curried mutton creation called 'Nihari'!!!

Now without further ado, let me explain to the uninitiated as to what this dish is all about!!! It's basically mutton-the best,most tender pieces preferably taken from a kid not a full grown goat(as that meat can tend to be a bit tough)-which is  'bhunaoed' lovingly and painstakingly in 'asli ghee' with ginger,garlic,onions,'besan' (gram flour) and to which then a whole variety of  'khada' (whole) and ground spices are added ,some water and then it's sealed and left to simmer overnight on a very low flame. It is the best example of slow cooking that there is in Indian cooking and believe me it's worth the effort and toil!!

It's not an exaggeration to say that when my naani ma used to unseal the 'haandi' in the morning and add the juliennes of ginger and slit green chillies, bits of coriander and lemon juice as garninshing to the pot,the entire street or 'gali' used to get infused by the aroma and we had hungry,greedy neighbours knocking on the door to partake of the feast. 'Nihari' surprisingly is a typical breakfast dish and so obviously consumed in the morning (which is a good idea since it's so heavy and rich and you actually need the whole day to digest it). It's usually paired with a kind of sweet,salty,buttery ,flat,round bread called 'Sheer Mal' which are cooked with milk,sugar and saffron!! This combination is worth dying for and is part of our family's most treasured food folk lore!!

But alas!! We don't get to taste such heavenly delights anymore because my naani ma is now unfortunately very sick and ailing. She's suffering from severe diabetes, cardiac problems, has a steel ball in her shoulder from an accident that she had, has had pelvic surgery and needs urgent knee replacement surgery as well .She's barely hanging in there but i still admire her never say die spirit,independent nature and devoutness!

She still offers 'Namaaz' five times a day and reads the 'Koran' and fasts all through the entire month of 'Ramazan' even though she has been firmly advised by her doctors not to do so but she refuses to listen and does not abandon her beliefs and the routine that she has been practising all her life. She stoically and steadfastly holds on to her pride and dignity and is stubborn and obstinate as hell.May Allah bless her and take care of her. However old,weak,sickly and frail she might become, i will always remember her as this alive,super energetic, supremely efficient,radiant,potent figure always bustling  around in the kitchen and giving ten instructions simultaneously to the minions around her and preparing feasts for ten very greedy,rowdy and hungry mouths!!!