My love affair with Peanut Butter

As love affairs go, this one might not seem so scandalous. I mean, its just peanut butter after all.

But then, its not JUST peanut butter. It is PEANUT BUTTER.

I wonder how I went so many years without peanut butter. I started relishing this sinful spread only about a couple of years back and ever since, there has been no looking back. And I am so addicted to this versatile spread, that now; I can not go a day without having my peanut butter fix each morning. Peanut butter on a toast is how mornings kick start around here. Creamy and crunchy, I love them both. And people who don’t like it, I feel sorry for you.

I love it so much that I dread to think of a world where peanut butter doesn’t exist. Yes, I get those kinds of thoughts. I also want to take it along on holidays, just in case you know 🙂

Breakfast, lunch or dinner…every time is right for indulging in some peanut butter. Every time I come eye to eye with PB jar, I have to practically stop myself from dunking a finger in this gooey goodness.

Health wise, they say it is in fact good. It has healthy kind of fat and all that jazz. So I have stopped feeling too guilty about consuming it. But then of course, eating in moderation would be logical. Not more than couple of table spoons a day. DAMN it’s hard.

 

Too much peanut butter

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The Shoe Story

If you thought shopping for shoes was an easy-breezy task, you definitely haven’t been in a girl’s shoes (pun intended).

A girls wardrobe is not complete without a couple of pairs of heels, formal black shoes, a pair or few of pumps, a pair of sports shoes, flip flops, a pair of sandals may be, one pair of converse shoes and at least a pair of knee length boots.  Oh yes, and those quintessential house slippers! This means that every couple of months you are either buying a new pair or replacing that old, tattered one. No sooner than you think that you are well stocked, and that you won’t need to buy any more shoes for a year now (hah! like that is possible), a heel decides to snap or you happen to spill soup on your suede shoes (oh yeah, that happens!) or the leather on the boots starts wearing off or something of that sort happens and you are queuing the mall yet again.

A new expenditure is staring in your face. You reason, you argue with yourself for a wee while; thinking to yourself: do I really need a new pair right now, can I manage without that for now, don’t I have many others to fill the gap; can I postpone this for a few months? You realise you are being frivolous and scold yourself for being so shallow. You remind yourself that this is not the end of the world and there are less fortunate people who don’t have even a single pair. You decide to put off that purchase for now. You momentarily feel better about yourself.

A day or two after, the thought of ‘that missing pair’ hasn’t left your mind for a second. It haunts you.  You find yourself staring at other peoples’ shoes in the office and pitying yourself for not having ‘that particular’ type of shoe in your wardrobe.  You feel that your life will be perfect, if only you have that type in your wardrobe.

You are not able to decide on your own, so you seek your husband’s approval. It costs money after all. You want him to tell you that you deserve another pair. That it is only right, that the broken pair of black heels be replaced immediately. He knows too well from experience that he shouldn’t try reasoning with you and telling you that you have enough pairs of shoes. And he definitely doesn’t want to be given a guilt trip yet again for denying you another justified pair of shoes. You somehow trick him into saying yes.

But if only the story ended there! Finding a perfect pair is never easy. Sizes vary from company to company. The shoe is always a little too big or a little too small. And then, there ALWAYS are those painful, and ugly shoe bites to deal with. And it takes a pro to walk in those heels. It is no mean task. They hurt, they pinch, they bite but you can let none of that show on your face. After a lot of practice, you will perfect the expression. The one that says that the heel is a natural extension of your feet and it feels no different. That you can walk, run and dance in your heels just like you would in your bare feet.

Finally, when you do find a pair that fits like a glove, it feels like winning a battle. You come home feeling you found the perfect ones, only to realise after struggling in them a day or two that they don’t fit well at all. They gather dust in the back of your wardrobe, as you let your feet sink yet again in your old, comfortable shoes. The husband is snapped at for asking why you don’t wear your new shoes. You tell him that the sales guy tricked you in to buying a pair that obviously no one else was interested in. After a few days, out of your own guilt, you confess that those new ones hurt a lot and that this time you would buy a more practical, sensible and a comfortable pair. He knows better than to argue.

And thus, the story starts again. The cycle never ends.

Living abroad

Each one of you, who thinks that living abroad is glamorous, let me put it out there. Living in a foreign country is certainly not easy. It sure has its own perks, mainly depending on which country you live in, but it also has many downs. It really brings out those hibernating aspects of your personality that you thought didn’t exist. It tests your endurance and it tests your willingness to change and adapt.

Living abroad:

Means that you find yourself to be in a socially awkward place very often.

Means you don’t get their local jokes and you have to take cue of other people’s laughter and laugh along in order to not look like a fool.

Means struggling with their accents. Here in NZ, for example, ‘a’ is pronounced like ‘e’ and ‘e’ like ‘i’. ‘Later’ sounds like ‘Laiter’, ‘ladies’ sounds like ‘laidies’, ‘Jenna’ is ‘Jinna’ and ‘yes’ sounds like ‘yis’. Dear Lord, it’s difficult. These are the things you only begin to understand after a while.

Means dreading phone calls because you just don’t get their accents right. It means having to use phonetics even to get their names right. It means asking them to repeat more than a couple of times and imagining their sighing faces on the other end.  It means losing out the main bits of the conversations.

Means trying too hard to make new friends only to realise that it’s too much of an effort to actually start developing a bond with them. You realise too soon that finding like-minded people is not easy. And you soon start preferring staying at home than making forced attempts at friendships with people you share little in common with. It takes a loooonng while before you really can find company that you would like to keep.

Means sleeping on ultra-soft beds that give you a sore body each morning. You start missing your bed back home terribly.

Once the novelty dies down, the sudden realization one fine morning that your parents are miles away hits you hard. You miss them. You miss your dad’s constant nagging. You miss you ma’s dal chawaal.

Means missing your friends, their weddings and feeling helpless and miserable.

Means missing the general buzz around the city you grew up in.

It means fighting the sudden craving for a samosa or a wada pav, and making do with a sad burger.

It means missing out on Bollywood movies.

It means not being able to watch ‘Comedy nights with Kapil’ in real time.

It means *sob, sob* missing alphanso mangoes.

It means having to answer all your new acquaintances in the foreign land questions like:

Is India really how it is shown in Slumdog millionaire?

Are there camels and elephants on the roads?

Does everyone in India practice Yoga?

Have you met all the Bollywood stars?

Do they really have arranged marriages in India?

Do you have internet in India? Seriously??!

Do you have wifi then?

Do you use curry powder in all your dishes? Can someone please tell them there is no such thing as curry powder. Who invented this term curry powder? What they know as ‘Curry Powder’ is essentially just a mix of all the spices. That people don’t use curry powder in India. Can someone please also tell them that every Indian dish they eat is not called a curry? And while we are on the topic, can someone please tell them that there really is a world beyond chicken curry. They might not believe you, but still try you can!

And the clichéd:

It obviously means doing your own cooking. There is no mom to pack your lunchbox or to make your meals or to run behind you with your handkerchief and your wallet and your socks and your water bottle. I know many adults who are guilty of this. And I also know that many moms usually don’t mind this, no matter what your age. It’s a very Indian way for moms to show their love. REGARDLESS of your age.

You obviously know about doing your own dishes, cleaning, your laundry, and the dreadfully boring task of ironing on a regular basis.

Grass is always greener on the other side, my friend!

Candy Crush Addiction

I have a small confession to make. Lately, I have been spending an awful lot of time glued to my phone. Not texting, flirting or any such meanderings. Not facebooking, tweeting or whats-apping. Not instagraming either.

I am addicted to a game. Yes, you heard it right. Candy Crush has me glued to my phone…at all possible times…on my way to work, in between work, on my way back from work, in the loo, between meals, before bed time. I keep playing till I run out of lives, which is very irritating really. You have to wait for several minutes, hours or in some cases even days to get credited with new lives. The only exasperating part about this game.

Very, very unlikely me. I thought I would be the last person to ever take liking to a game. I often patronized people who played games all the time. How could you let a game consume you so wholly? You are not even paying attention to what I am saying. My words are coming back to bite me.

And I have some severe competition. My mother in law is at level 65 and am at level 32. In my defence, I started much later. But I have a lot of catching up to do.

Poor TCG is bearing the brunt. While I am at it, he is often snapped at for no good reason at all, but just for trying to talk or ask something or for wanting some normal human interaction. The good, patient guy that he is, he rarely interrupts me while I am crushing candies. He is one of those types who would sit patiently and wait for others to finish whatever they are doing, even if that is just a silly game. Let’s just say he is epitome of patience. I, on the other hand, would lose my mind if he were engrossed in a game at all times and didn’t give me the momentary attention I needed. Yes, we are very different that way. The more I know him, the more I realise the qualities that I lack, compared to him. Sigh.

Anyway, coming back to the point. You know you are badly addicted when all you can think of is finishing all work quickly and going back to the game. You know you are badly addicted when your reading, writing, blogging comes to a grinding halt because in your free time all you want to do is crush candies. You know you are badly addicted when after repeated attempts; you still keep failing at a particularly tough level and start thinking of ways to cheat. You know you are fighting a lost case, when you actually Google how to cheat at a game. You know your addiction is getting out of control when you feel like you hit the jackpot on finding that there actually are tips available to pass a level.

And you know that your addiction is reaching annoying levels (to others of course) when you send Facebook requests to your friends for extra lives!

Ok…I got my lives back on Candy Crush…so gotta go now!

Stumped-ness

I am always stumped when someone asks me, “Which is the happiest day/moment of your life?” I am never able to come up with a convincing answer. I dismiss the question with some incoherent rambling.

There could be two reasons for this stumped-ness

1)      Either I haven’t had a day/moment till date that umm…blew my mind.

2)      Or I don’t know quite how to pick up a moment or a day from the deep trenches of my memory that could truly qualify to be the happiest.

So, does that mean that I have never had overwhelmingly-happy moments? It makes me sad to think that way. I have sure had happy moments. But that still doesn’t change the fact that I am not able to pick one.

May be that moment will come when I get something that I truly, truly desire. May be it is just an illusion. May be it is not.

How come some people (celebrities for example) have the perfect-sounding answers to this question? How do they choose one day or one moment from so many days or moments that they might have lived? I don’t know. May be when you achieve a certain level of success (a level that is a benchmark in your mind); you are the happiest you have ever been till that day. Someone may argue that success and happiness are not necessarily related. They can be mutually exclusive. May be. I don’t know.

May be, with time, I will have these answers. Doesn’t time have all the answers?

And in my defence:

When asked which my favourite colour is, I am never able to pick one colour over other either. I feel if I pick one colour, other colours feel left out.

So then does it just boil down to my deformed decision-making skills? If yes, this is definitely not a very flattering discovery.

Password Pet Peeve

I would say that remembering passwords is my biggest pet peeve of the latest times, followed by another pet peeve – waiting forever on customer care helplines and talking to the stupid machine. But that story is for another time.

Today I only want to just give a vent to my frustration about having to remember a zillion User Ids and Passwords. In an age when everything has gone the ‘e’ way, from dating to chatting, from learning to doing, from socializing to working, from banking to ticketing, from shopping to gaming…every little thing is just at the tip of our finger. So easy, so quick! Indeed a blessing!

But remember that old saying, every coin has two sides??! So like everything else, this convenience also comes with its own set of problems. New age world has its own ‘very’ new age, ‘first world’ problems.

For every little thing we do online, we are required to make a new account. Not only is this time consuming, but it also very repetitive and very boring. Gives you a real test in patience. And not to forget, it never gets done right the first time. You always miss out on some ‘important’ question that is asterisk marked, or end up punching a wrong password in your ‘Confirm your password’ section, and end up filling those blocks of information all over again, cursing under your breath all the time. Or worse, when you are just about to hit “Submit”, something goes wrong. Either you lose internet connectivity or the laptop conks out or you accidently press the ‘Backspace’ key and lose all the data. And then, you have to redo from scratch. I don’t know about you, but happens with me 4 out of 10 times at least. Frustrating!

If only the story ended there.

A dialog box pops up that says that your password is not ‘strong’ enough. There you go again. You thought you can have same password for all the sites and get away with it? Hah! You thought you were very smart to come up with that kind of a ‘virgin’ idea of having a common password, and save yourself the trouble of remembering the zillion passwords, didn’t you?

Yes, why not?? In an ideal world…

But, we do not live in an ideal world.

So you start thinking of a ‘stronger’ password, one that you will recall easily, yet one that is not too easy to hack, yet one that is a tab bit complex.

Hmm…so now you enter a ‘stronger’ password, scribbling it on a sticky note or on the back of your diary or on some parchment to save it for future reference.

And then you hit ‘submit’ once again and wait for the system to accept it. You have your fingers crossed and wait with bated breath.

There pops open a dialog box once again and asks you to have an ‘alphanumeric password’ that includes ‘Special characters’ and a ‘Combination of upper and lower case’ or something irritating like that.

Hah! And you thought you can get away with a password that is a combination of your first name, last name and birth of date? You thought that would be easy to remember, didn’t you?

How you wish! But, we do not live in an ideal world. The system makers are always thinking one step ahead of the system users. You proceed to tear your sticky notes and parchments. Useless they are now.

You put on your thinking hat and try to come up with a very, very complex password, one that will have all the required features and one that will ‘have’ to be accepted.

You note it down somewhere, because it’s so complex that you won’t remember it yourself for ‘Confirm your Password’ section if you don’t. This time you pray it gets accepted.

And finally it does. Prayers work. You feel victorious. You heave a big sigh of relief that it’s all over, the agony, the frustration, the irritation. You feel triumphant.

Once you are past that jubliant stage, you are expected to answer few memory recall questions, in case you forget your password.

–          What was your first telephone no?

–          What is the name of your first school?

–          What was the number of the first car you owned?

–          What was the city you first lived in?

And you wish, at least these questions were standard throughout. But again, this is not an ideal world. How many times do I have to repeat myself?

You think you are finally sorted. Only till you realise that what you ended up finally making is so complex a password that it almost always takes 2-3 failed attempts (thanks to typos) before you are able log in, after punching in really slowly and correctly. Sigh.

Facebook, Gmail, Yahoo, LinkedIn, WordPress, Banks, Amazon, Ebay, Flipkart, Other online shopping portals, Travel sites,  a dozen or so job search portals’ user ids and passwords, Android, Apple id, Skype, Yousendit, Twitter, work email, database access passwords……the list is growing everyday.

I am getting lost in this maze. I am not able to keep up with this. I feel bogged down. I have to do something to bring a sense of order into this disorder.

I am making an excel sheet of all the ids and passwords. RIGHTNOW.  Before I reach a nervous breakdown.

Story of a sleepless night

I am up since 4. Try as I might, I couldn’t sleep. Strange, considering I did feel sleepy. I tossed and turned in bed, tried all positions, various angles, tried sleeping on my stomach, then on my back, then on side, then on the other side, couldn’t sleep. Tried counting sheep, didn’t work. Blamed it on coffee that was had late in the night. Nudged TCG softly, afraid not to turn too much or move too much, lest he should also wake. But he was sleeping like a log. Then I thought to myself, what the heck, let me just wake him. As if he could magically bring back my sleep to me! Nudged a little harder. TCG mumbled something incoherent in sleep, “You are a good girl na? Sleep”. LOL. What??!!

“I guess it’s the coffee”, said I.

“Don’t blame coffee; you were sleeping perfectly well till now. Try sleeping”.

“Ya, what do you think I am doing?”

Mumbles something again, snuggles closer and drifts apart once again.

I picked up my newly acquired iPhone. Checked my what’s app, no messages really from anyone.

“Can you put your phone on Silent please?”

Oh.

But smiled at the choice of his words. Please??!! Even in sleep??! Not bad 🙂

Checked Facebook, no notification apart from one silly request for some Texas Poker-something (Really people stop sending me these FB game requests, please, will you?) Browsed through the photo gallery, checking pictures, reminiscing moments, mentally making note of which pictures make me look fat, and which pictures are hot enough to go as what’s app display pictures.  Very shallow I know.

Still just 5.

Now what?

Checked my Gmail for mails from any of the prospective employers. No luck there either. Thought briefly of the new exciting way I have figured out of approaching prospective employers. More on that, later, if it works. Promise. Filled my mind with beautiful images of me having a job I love, going to work dressed in coats, scarves, boots and all those wonderful winter clothes. You see, in Mumbai you never really get a chance to wear winter clothes, even in winters. Wondered how I would make time for exercise once I have a job? That thought was too uncomfortable for so early in the morning. Pushed it aside, and for once, didn’t let it drag me in to a guilt trap so much in advance.  My friends will be proud of me for doing this.

Proceeded to delete junk mail. Philosophically, wished it was that easy to delete junk from life.  Sigh!

Saw some email notifications of new posts from fellow bloggers, whose posts I simply love reading. Thinking that reading will surely make me drowsy, clicked on the link. Marvelled at how awesome iPhone really, really is. It gave me an option to read in a reading pane, where I could increase the font to conveniently suit me. Have I told you before how strained my eyes are by this overuse of computers, smart phones and the likes? I have started using eye drops to keep my eyes from drying. Anyway, placed a swift kiss on TCG’s forehead for the awesome gift that iPhone is.

Read some awesome blogs for a good 40 minutes. And still 5.45 only.

Rebuked myself for not making enough time to read more. My reading list has been increasing at an alarming pace. Since the wedding, I am really slacking and thinking of this makes me miserable. This is one of my many self inflicted miseries.

Reading food blogs got my brain ticking. I started conjuring recipes and things that I wanted to whip up in the kitchen. I am neck deep into baking, cooking and all things kitchen these days. BIG MISTAKE.  Because there is no one way I could sleep then. I thought of all the exciting ways in which I could bake; mix, match, mash, whip, and add. I got a big adrenaline rush. There was no way I could sleep now.

Thought today I will take a break from crazy job application spree that I am on and made a bulleted list in my mind of things I want to try in kitchen today. Yes, I am pretty systematic that way. Things like lists, plans, new stationery, new pens, superior quality paper excite me. Nerdy, I know. Here’s the list that was decided upon at dawn:

  • Simple tea time cake
  • Choco-chip cookies
  • Hummus
  • Dosa Batter
  • And snack crackers
  • Rawa Dosa

Saw the cool, early rays of sun make their way into the room through the folds of the curtain. Thought it should me more than 6 o’clock but less than 7, because TCG’s alarm hadn’t gone off yet. I was filled with this unspent energy, God knows from where.

Finally, I got tired of cajoling myself to sleep and thought of getting out of the bed; rushing to the kitchen to try out all the exciting things I had in mind. And just as I was thinking to get up, the alarm went off. I sprung out of the bed like some untamed pet who has been let off the leash. And TCG, like everyday, snoozed the alarm and went back to sleep.