Friday, June 11, 2010

Helloooo!


I have been missing from the blogging scene for a very long time. But so many things have been happening. I have been very busy, planning, fretting, packing, un-packing, re-packing, arranging I have been missing from the blogging scene for a very long time. But so many things have been happening. I have been very busy, planning, fretting, packing, un-packing, re-packing, arranging, donating stuff! Phew!
It wasn't much but somehow it all descended on me all at once and I was slightly overwhelmed. But now, now, I am relaxed and let me fill you in.
I am in India! After a huge gap of 4 years.
So you see, all that planning, fretting, packing, un-packing, re-packing, arranging, donating stuff was pre- India.
We came down almost 4 weeks ago. The first 2 weeks were dedicated to getting all our paper work done for VISA stamping ( the real purpose of our visit) and adjusting to the scorching summer. We were just not ready for that. We were warned, but hearing of things and actually facing, let me put it this way, suffering the reality is completely a different story. The heat was intolerable. Poor little S has small heat boils erupting every few days and the baby will show it to us and signal us to apply calamine lotion and blow on it.
Meeting family and eating mangoes, these were the only reason why we had the strength to endure it all.
What is different here after 4 years? Mumbai is as crowded as ever, more if at all. There is roadwork everywhere. Sky walks, Metro , Mono rail all seem to be invading the city at the same time. There is a tremendous rise in the number of small cars, everyone seems to have a car and is zipping in it. Road sense is worse than it was. There is nothing like lane discipline, now that I think back, there wasn't much of it 4 years ago, but just that the small cars were not so abundant.
Prices of all commodities have shot up. A visit to the vegetable market can make your purse lighter, way lighter. 

The first week we were rather careful of food and water. Well, almost. Water we were extra careful, but M and I could not resist the call of Mumbai street food. If M and I looked down from our bedroom window, every evening, there was a 'Bhel-Puri Wallah' setting up his temporary stall and people milling around him eating bhel or taking it to-go. If we went down to the photocopier stall we could smell vada pav and our mouth would water, but we came home with just photocopies.
And one evening (3 days later) we sneaked downstairs and went to the street corner 'Vada Pav' stall. Enough was enough. How much torture can a soul endure? Coming home with the HOT batata Vada and soft laadi pav with 'bhuga chutni' all wrapped in a day old news paper were the test of our patience. We were ready to listen to my in-laws admonishing us for behaving like 3 year olds only to eat that vada-pav. OH!! Heaven! uuummmmmmm! Vada-pav NEVER tasted SO good. Honest!
The next on our list was Pav-Bhaji, what Mumbai is famous for. We paid our respects to Achija, M's favorite pav-bhaji stop in all Mumbai. The Bhaji is truly phenomenal! Soft buttery pav and hot bhaji with another layer of butter on top! Heaven! If you count your calories, just delete from your memory what you read. just imagine 2 hungry souls tucking in with a religious fervour.
Poor M had to return to the USA after 3 short weeks but not before a small celebration!
Guess who turned 2 last week?!
Little S  is 2! seems like yesterday that I first held him in my arms, eyes brimming over with happy tears and feeling like the luckiest girl in the universe! I love,love love my li'll guy and was so happy that I got to share his ( and our) special day with all my family!  God Bless my hero! 

My parents had organised a small get together for little S's second birthday. Everyone, including Birthday Boy had a fabulous time.
The real break, in terms of the tortuous heat came on the 7th. of June. Rain! Sudden showers hit the city and brought the much sought after relief.
Watching rain pour steadily (even if it is a brief spell) from the window with a cup of steaming masala chai and a good book and spying kids splashing in the collected rain water is relaxing, at least to this Mumbai girl.
Masala Chai: (1 cup)

3/4 Cup Water
1/4 Cup Milk
1 1/4 tsp. Sugar
A spoonful  of Lemon Grass or gavati chaha ( one or two strands, cut into pieces)
A small knob of Fresh Ginger ( washed peeled and lightly pounded or thinly sliced)
1 tsp. Tea

Mix water and milk and set it on the gas on medium high heat. Add sugar, lemon grass, ginger and let it come to a boil. Add the tea powder and boil very briefly ( depending on how strong you like your tea). Switch off the heat. Cover the tea and let the tea leaves 'sit' at the bottom.
Strain the tea in your cup. Put up your feet and sip!

* Everyone has their own way of making tea, some make black tea and add boiled milk later while some like me save on that effort and washing two separate utensils combine milk and water.
The proportion of milk: water is also subjective. I like this proportion, where as some like the 1/2 : 1/2 milk: water type and then some like tea made in 100% milk.

This scene literally brought back memories of my childhood flooding ! When in all innocence my friends and I would run out to welcome the first rain of the season.  Jump in the small puddles and  tilt our heads heavenwards and put out our tongues and let the sweet  rain water fall on us and quench out thirst! All  I can say is , 'this happens only in India!'
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