Free Will

This incident came to me when I was reading this post by Scribblehappy. Seriously, go read the post! It says everything I want to on the matter. 

I remember once, I was talking to this girl I went to college with about abortions. She is a religious fanatic who believes that abortion is equivalent to killing and was actually sending out mailers and getting people to sign an agreement to appeal to the govt to make abortions against the law.

My opinion was that she was allowed to have her opinion and was free to do as she pleases with her body and her beliefs, but it shouldn’t be forced upon others. It was my body and my choice as to whether to abort or not. She disagreed, told me that that was wrong, that everyone who was pro-choice was WRONG!! That they were KILLING and didn’t know any better, and shouldn’t be allowed to KILL!

“What about if a girl gets raped and she ends up pregnant?” I asked.
“If God has willed it to be, then she should accept that! If she doesn’t want the baby, there are many orphanages or adoption centers she can give the child to.”

“So, you’re saying that not only does the girl have to go through the physical and mental trauma of having been raped, she should carry her rapist’s child for 9 months inside her and undergo the emotional and physical stress that comes with being pregnant and giving birth as well? And then once a baby is actually born, give it up to an orphanage, where what? He’ll become another Oliver Twist?! ”

Had she seen any of the orphanages to India? Did she know what the population of the country was? Did she have a clue as to how many children don’t have access to even the basic necessities in life, like clean drinking water or air, or a place to live, where they can feel secure? Do you know of the atrocities being done against children, one of the reasons being because there were too many children and not enough people to care for them? So many of them don’t go to school cos they are forced to work instead, don’t have a safe place to sleep at night and are literally starving to death.

“God will care for him” she said, a bit more uncertain this time.


That was the last I spoke to her.

We weren’t really that good friends anyway!

Fancy Kitchen!

You know how you see and hear about people cooking while drinking a glass of wine? I thought I could pull that off last night. Except it wasn’t the elegant affair I had envisioned in my head.


For one thing, I wasn’t making something fancy like coq au vin or anything.  I was making bhindi fry (fried okra, Indian style)!  Which would have been fine, except, after a couple of glasses of wine, my co-ordination and judgement got a bit wonky! (you should know I have a very low tolerance for alcohol. One glass of red is usually enough to get me buzzing!)

Anyway… this is what happened.

You know how you clean veggies and then chop them right? Well, after drinking my glass of red, I decided to be a bit more conscientious and cleaner person and wash the bhindi before and after chopping them up! For those of you who don’t know any better… there’s this thing about bhindi- it’s gotta be dry! After washing, I usually (usually!) leave it in a colander so the water runs out and then stick it into the freezer for a few minutes so that the remaining water dries off.

But last night, in my wine-induced haze, I decided that the gooey-ness would be reduced if I soak it in water!  (I can see at least one person out there (hi TWC!) shaking their head at me and going tch tch tch!

So I ended up with a gooey mess of the damn thing, which I had to try and wring out before I put it on the wok to fry. And then, to steady myself for the rest of the process, I took a couple more swigs of wine and proceeded to take out some coriander seeds to crush. Like I said… hand-eye coordination went to hell!


The end result was something that looked more than baingan ka bharta  than bhindi fry! When I tasted it last night, I thought it tasted fine, though it felt and looked weird. But I’ve brought it to lunch today, and I’m worried that it won’t taste as good without the wine to help me numb my keener senses!

Maybe I’ll just order a meatball sub eh?

My Parents’ Home

For the longest time, I didn’t really see what the big deal was about visiting Kerala. When people talk about going there as if it is an exotic holiday destination I find it slightly amusing, considering it is my parents’ home and I’ve always gone there as a kid during summer vacations.

Of course, when I went as a child, it basically meant spending half my time in a white ambassador, being driven around from place to place and visiting countless relatives and giving them “gifts from the gulf” (just call me Santa Claus! :P). I was used to getting pinched on my cheeks and them asking me if I remembered them from when I was 2 yrs old (I didn’t,duh!).

That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy myself ! My grandma lives in the middle of a sleepy little village, in an old house with a lovely large verandah where you can sit and watch the heavens open up during the monsoon rains! The raindrops fall thick and heavy, and I used to watch the the earth soak it up and then overflow into puddles and little rivulets of brown water that eventually get soaked up by the thirsty trees. Guess that explains why the place is so vividly green!

The front yard was shaded by huge mango and jackfruit trees  and there were lovely bushes of jungle geraniums, hibiscus and fragrant jasmine flowers bordering the yard. Beyond the border was a tangle of wild trees and bushes and I was asked to never venture out there on my own (for fear of snakes!).  The flora and fauna spilling out of the place was amazing! For a kid who lived in the desert in a tiny little apartment where the view had nothing more interesting to offer than sand coloured buildings and parked cars, this was all very fascinating!

We had all kinds of fruits and vegetables growing in our “garden”. My aunt used to pluck pineapples from the heart of the thorny shrubs and make me the most delicious pineapple juice ever!  It was thick and pulpy (yeah, I like pulp!) and sweet as honey! I used to be on a steady diet of fruits there – jackfruits, custard-apples, guavas, rose-apples, bananas, mangoes… oh! the mangoes!

My granma’s sister who lived up the hill (a 2 min climb away) from her, used to have a little vegetable garden where she used to grow fench beans and tomatoes and chillies and root vegetables like yam and tapioca. She used to potter around the garden in the mornings after breakfast, to figure out what to make for lunch! I used to follow her around, see her pluck the fresh veggies and turn it into a lovely meal in the afternoon – delicious!

We used to keep chickens and rabbits and goats and cows, not to mention dogs… and I used to “help”  take care of them by “walking the goat” and trying to milk the cow (didn’t work!).

It doesn’t feel like that anymore when I go to Kerala. I feel quite the outsider – the stubbornly-single, independent(said in a bad way) girl whom everyone immediately places as ” not from around here”.  The endless questions that intrude on my personal space and defy the bounds of social norms – Why are you not married? Why is your hair brown? (! ! Born that way?!) When are you buying a car for your mother? (Why the hell would I wanna do that after the way she drove here?!)

We have a flat in the city now, which is where I spent most of my annual 2-week long trips there. Things are very different now.

But I get why people want to go there I guess. The place is beautiful, in a wild, untamed way. The beaches are still lovely,  the weather is balmy, the food is as amazing as ever. And the monsoons still beat down on us like it always used to.

I guess the major change then, is me.

monsoon in kerala

The Good Quiet

I know this I meant this to largely be a travel-blog, but since the only kind of travel happening in my life right now is all in my head, I’m gonna talk to you about my trip to the supermarket instead! (Yes, really!)

This weekend (fri-sat weekend for us folk in the Middle East btw), was a bust! My shoulder and neck problem resurfaced by Thursday afternoon, and by the time I left work the pain had developed into a nasty headache and I knew it would get steadily worse if I didn’t see my chiropractor and get it fixed. I couldn’t of course, cos she closes up by 6 and I’d have had to leave work early, which, I didn’t want to do on account of some stuff that happened that kept me away from office earlier that day for over 2 hours! (I’ll explain later, cos this is not about that, but if it makes you any happier, it kinda involves more car trouble, among other things!). So I decided to see her on Saturday, when she opens for business again.

I went out on Thursday night with the gang and tried to ignore the pain as much as possible. But by Friday, it was so bad that I could barely get out of bed. I iced my shoulder, took medicines for the pain, and slept for a very long time (when I’m asleep, I don’t feel the pain).

I woke up early today, and was feeling much better, but my shoulders were still tender and I was sick from stagnating at home all of Friday. I decided to go for a walk, get some fresh air, get the blood flowing! I had just started walking when TWC called and we chatted for 40 mins and I completely forgot about my walk! :D

However, fresh air and good conversation does wonders for the body and mind… and appetite! I headed to the supermarket to shop for groceries (as all I had at home was cheese and orange juice).

It being still early on a Saturday morning, the place was almost empty. The freshly stacked fruits and veggies looked so tempting that I felt like buying a bit of everything!

I ambled by in leisure, enjoying the oddly serene atmosphere, picking a vegetable here, smelling the odd fruit there, adding to my basket slowly- a fresh loaf of multi-grain bread, still warm from the oven, fresh lamb sausages, milk,  fruit- strawberries, cherries, rambuttan, blueberries.

I got home and downed a handful of berries while the sausages and eggs were cooking.

berries for breakfast!

Yes, I made quite a pig of myself I know! But I’m recuperating! ;)

I met with my chiropractor later in the afternoon, and she fixed me up in a jiffy. That woman has magic fingers, I tell you! I took it easy the rest of the day, just spent my time reading and chatting with friends on the phone.

I guess we need some days like this, and though it was my shoulder pain that brought it on, I quite enjoyed my quiet Saturday spent at home!

Hmm… I guess this weekend wasn’t a total bust after all! :)

Desperately Seeking a Silver Lining!

So you know about how I’m car-less now right?

Okay… so the insurance company gave me a replacement vehicle to use for while my car was recuperating – a zippy little hatchback tiida.

Two days ago, I was driving out of a crowded parking lot (what is with me and parking lots?!) when this dude in a land cruiser  backed into my car.

Yup! There I was… in another accident! I couldn’t believe my luck! I mean… I’d just gotten this car!

I was so angry that I started crying! I just sat in the car and bawled like a baby till the cops came! I then morosely explained to the cops what happened (it was the other guy’s fault obviously, so he’ll have to pay for repairs) and just waited for them to write up the report and give me my green paper ( I get a red one if it’s my fault).

I was an hour late for a meeting, but didn’t want to cancel. I hadn’t had lunch, and was famished after my sobbing episode. So on the way, I stopped by Starbucks and wolfed down a four-cheese melt with roasted tomatoes and a toffee-nut latte. I think I ODed on the cheese thing… felt a little sick afterwards… but that didn’t stop me from eating a bar of kit-kat later that evening and dining at Ping Pong with the gang!)

Okay… I think we’ve established from the above paragraph that I’m a stress-eater! :P

Anyway… I’ve been feeling a bit wary about this year, which is no surprise, considering all that has happened (a lot of which has not been mentioned here!) and I’m trying  to come to terms with the fact that this is just the beginning!

Earlier today, I read a line somewhere about how people who pray are fundamentally optimistic, and hence, happier people. I can’t remember exactly when, but I’ve stopped praying for a while now. I’m not sure if that means I’m any less optimistic ( not sure how optimistic I was to start with!) but I think it makes sense to leave things with a higher power. If I can’t control it, I’ll leave it to the Big Guy to deal with! So, less things for me to worry about… and my shoulders will eventually thank me for relieving them of the unnecessary burden. At least, that’s what I took back from the article.

And it makes more sense than the traditional methods of prayer I’ve seen many people do where they’re like ” God, I will pray to you for an hour everyday and offer the temple/church/mosque half my salary/an arm and a leg/my kidney etc if you do this for me”.

There are no conditions with prayer! There are no bribes or threats! You pray for yourself! For your relief. For strength to get you through the crap that the Good One has decided to dump on you for whatever reasons. In the hope that someday you will be able to look back, connect the dots, smile and say ” Duuuuude! You da Man!” :P

Let’s see how this works shall we?!

The title for this post was inspired by this book

It’s a Car Story

My first car was a second-hand ’98 Rav4 that was an American export, so the AC never worked as well as the Middle East spec cars did. Also, it didn’t tune into all the stations cos some of the frequencies were not allowed in the US.

He was my baby and took me through the initial years of minor accidents that most first-time drivers go through. I named him Joe Black (cos he was an average American export- Joe, and black! :P) and whenever I introduced him to my friends I’d say “Meet Joe Black!” (get it? Okay… I know it’s cheesy!)

Then one day, I was driving home from work and at a roundabout, looking left to see if the road was clear, which it was. But I failed to look in front and wound up rear-ending a BUS! *sigh*

Things went downhill from there. Joe was patched up, but never fully recovered. It didn’t help that by then my mom had also gotten her license and celebrated by having Joe kiss the bumper of a BMW with a 3 digit license plate (VIP) and have her license revoked on her very first ride!

My mother, while awesome in a lot of ways, is a terrible driver, and her confidence was shaken from the very first drive. She used to shiver and shake every time she had to drive and used to sweat buckets at the prospect of parallel parking. She had so many accidents that Joe spent most of his time in and out of garages. The icing on the sorry cake was that one time she took the car out of the garage after repair and ended up having an accident on the ride home!

When my mum wasn’t rear-ending Joe on parked cars or building corners, I was driving it at 140 kmph, with Joe wheezing and shuddering in protest. Once, I drove my boss home and he literally held on to the safety handle throughout the ride, and at the end of it he told me ” Sanjana, I think it’s time you bought a new car”.

I ended up selling Joe to a scraps guy (no one else would buy it!) and then rode a rent-a-car for over a year before finally buying my current car- a SWB Pajero. She’s a girl, this one. I named her Red. Red Pepper. She ran like a dream. No smoky coughs from the exhaust, no shuddering, no problems at all. Uncomplaining , ever smiling, always ready for adventure… until today!

It’s my fault really. I’ve been ingoring the std  service-every-5000kms mantra for a while now. I’d also had a minor fender bender a few weeks ago…. while I was driving at just 20kmph… in a parking lot! (how embarrassing no?!)

The car seemed okay then, but today, it took me quite a while to get it started, and then when I drove it to the nearest service station at ENOC, I found out that the accident had jammed the hood so it wouldn’t pop open, so I couldn’t even find out what’s wrong!

I got her towed to the Mitsubishi guys today, and apparently I won’t see her again for at least a week. :(

Towed away

This is the first picture I’ve taken of the car since I got it! It’s a cellphone pic, taken right before it was being towed away.  I actually stopped the tow truck guy from driving away and made him wait a minute so I could take the pic.  He was very amused, but what does he know! *sniff*

Hoping Red’s back soon, and hoping the repairs won’t put a major dent in my already stretched wallet!

Stranded-ly Yours,


Be nice, 2012!

I spent NYE at the Coldplay concert with my friends.

Para...Para... Paradise!

When they played Yellow!

Coldplay was awesome, I was crying when they played Fix You.  But they only played for like an hour and 20 mins and the concert ended very abruptly right after the countdown to midnight.

The organizers also didn’t put any thought into how people would go home afterwards, so we had no buses or taxis to go back home and ended up walking  to the nearest Rotana (about 3 kms away, which is no mean task when you’re tired and cold and have a hyperactive almost 2 yr old in tow), and planted our butts there till they provided us with transportation to the other Rotana (where we were staying).

It’s pretty outrageous to expect one chain of a hotel to help us out cos we were staying at another of their chains, but we were desperate and didn’t know what else to do! This wasn’t our city, and there was no public transportation available! After waiting for a while, they thankfully provided us with their hotel car (at a price obviously, and we gladly paid!) to take us to our hotel at Yas Island.

On the plus side though, I did come across a few photo-worthy scenes on my trek back to the hotel.

fireworks display at the concert

giant balloon on a car

I wanted to hitch a ride on this one, but couldn't find the owner! ;P

Maybe it belonged to the horse? (ok lame joke, I know)

All in all, I guess it was an interesting end to a year that was mostly disappointing. So good riddance to 2011, hello 2012!

2012, you need to be better than 2011. Let’s work together and make some good things happen alright?

Okay then! :)