It’s time I told you about it

Alright guys, sit back. We have some catching up to do. Warning this might be a longer post than usual. It’s been awfully long that I haven’t updated you about what I have been up to. I have been lurking around your blogs and finding out what each one of you is up to, reading things on the go. But I haven’t always been able to leave my comments. Being a full time worker, homemaker, writer, cook, and a cleaner is not an easy ride. When you are juggling one too many balls at once, one or two are bound to fall. To top it all, living in a new country, doing everything on your own, having no help, building your world (your home) from scratch one small thing at a time does take copious amounts of time.

To start with I have some good news and some bad news. Good news is that I have a new job now. My first six-month-contract job in NZ came to an end last week and my new job in a big company starts next week. Yay! Which also means I get two full weeks off to do my thing. Finally after months of worrying about which way my career was going, I finally got a new contract which might not exactly be what I want to do, but at least it’s a step in the right direction. So this is more like getting my foot-in-the-door kind of an opportunity. Knowing that I landed this job after competing against the locals felt so good. Felt like a small victory. It’s amazing how much living in a new country can teach you. Not wanting to sound very clichéd, but it is indeed like being born all over again. Starting afresh. Learning new ways of life. And most importantly, unlearning so many old ways. Stepping out of your comfort zone and stretching your mental and emotional boundaries. Fighting status quo and adapting to the new life. Inadvertently during this phase, you begin to question your beliefs, your convictions, and also your self-worth. In the end, you emerge much stronger and a little wiser. Your paradigm shifts and you are able to see the world around you with new lens.

Now the good news is related to the bad news. They are complementary. TCG and I had agreed that if I do not get a new job by 11th October (the last day of my first job), I would go to India a few weeks earlier than originally planned and spend a longer time off with my family and friends. Come back refreshed and rejuvenated in January and start looking for work again. Till the last day of my previous job, the new job was not confirmed and I was almost convinced that I am flying to India earlier than decided. In fact, I began looking forward to that, planning things I wanted to do in my head. But I wanted the new job more badly than I wanted to go home earlier. My logic was simple; I didn’t want to go home while worrying about not having a job or what would happen after I come back, how soon I will get a job and so on and so forth. Even if that meant a shorter holiday, I wanted to enjoy it to the fullest. That was only possible if I didn’t have the fear of work (or absence of it) dangling over my head at all times. And as luck would have it, I got my offer letter on the 11th of October. I love how God plan things out for us so seamlessly. Things I am grateful for: Reason #25.

So ya, while the good news is that I have a good job now (which is great considering how much immigrants struggle with these things in the beginning), the slightly off-putting news is that my holiday is trimmed short by three weeks. But that’s OK really.

Moving on.

When I was not worrying about job, or applying for jobs, or working on cover letters and CVs, I was trying out things in the kitchen. I remember I have randomly mentioned my love for cooking on this blog a few times here and there, but nothing in a way that will lead you to think just how much I really do enjoy cooking. Let me tell you that now, because now is as good a time as any. I come from a family where you’d initiate your girls into cooking in their teenage years. So I was introduced to cooking at the age of 13. And I am so glad that it happened. That means I have over 13 years of experience cooking now and I have had a long time to hone my skills. I have always loved food and until very recently I didn’t realize how I could turn my love in to passion. My real love affair with cooking didn’t really start till 3 years back when I started taking ‘this thing that I was good at’ seriously. By this time I had learnt all the basics and not so basic of Indian Cooking from my mum and thought it was now time to step out. And step out I did. I learnt a bit of Chinese, Mexican and Italian cuisine.  Every now and then I would make things and feel the satisfaction of creating or making that can only come with doing things you really, really like.

Then I moved to NZ this year. And that could well be best thing that could have happened to my cooking. With not much to do apart from applying for jobs and pleasing TCG, I started experimenting a little more actively. Trying out new recipes almost every single day and feeding them to my guinea pig that TCG is. It helps that TCG loves food too. And it so helps that he is so open to all kinds of foods and tests. It gave my experiments a new vigor. And just because he is such a sport, I love to do it more so from him. So the past 9 months here have been filled with cooking frenzy. Breads, soups, dips, pizzas, pastas, lasagna, noodles, cakes, cookies, pastries, snacks – sweet and savory, and the whole length and depth of Indian cooking…I find myself unable to stop. Every weekend I would try my hands at something new, fancy and elaborate and results have been supremely satisfying more than once. And thanks to the many thousand dishes there are to try, I can go without repeating a dish for months.

So why don’t I blog about food? Hmm … not a point that hasn’t crossed my mind a few hundred times. But something is stopping me. There are so many amazing food blogs out there (with not just amazing food recipes and techniques, but more than that… beautiful photos and videos too), I don’t want to be just another person to do that. May be I am not quite there. May be I don’t want to start until I feel a compelling need to start. May be I don’t want to start just because I have a network now which I can use. May be cooking for me is too personal. May be it is more about enjoying the process of cooking than about taking pictures so that I can blog. I can’t place my finger on what is holding me back. But something is. And by this point in life, I increasingly want to do only those things that I will be highly committed about. Someday perhaps…

So then what else? Apart from that we are slowly gearing up for the big visit to India in December. The countdown has literally begun.

That’s about it from me for now. What have you all been up to? Leave your comments and let me know how life is panning out for you all.

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Fighting Monday Morning Blues

I am having Monday Morning Blues of a slightly different sort. And my Monday Morning Blues don’t start on Mondays but way before that, on Sunday evenings.

Weird you might think, considering I am not even working at the moment. Every day is like a weekend to me. How is a Monday then different from any other day? And I agree, these are not illogical questions to ask.

But you see, though I am not working, TCG vey much is. We spent the2 whole days together going out, shopping, watching movies, cooking, eating and relaxing.  After spending the whole weekend together starting Friday evening, I started to feel a little low and restless as Sunday night closed in on us, thinking how I will be left alone once again once TCG is off to work. So if my behavior over last two weeks is analyzed, I would say, I am the happiest on Fridays and a lot sadder on Sundays.

Sidenote: I hate, hate, hate when the alarm goes off on Mondays. Figuratively, that alarms is the cue for me to come out of my weekend reverie and get that ass up and moving. And annoying that TCG sometimes is, he lets it snooze for one whole hour at regular intervals of ten minutes before I finally kick him out of the bed. Everyday.

Coming back to the point, the silver lining on the cloud is that I now have soooo much free time on hand to do whatever I please. And I am really grateful for this. (Things I am grateful for: Reason #3). Things that I always wanted to do back in India but couldn’t ever do because I was always so caught up in the routine.  I say, routines are the worst things that can happen to anybody, they viciously entangle you and, oddly enough, put you in such a comfort zone that you often find yourself becoming  such a big, sluggish procrastinator, one who has to strongly fight inertia to get anything-out-of-routine done.

Today I woke up to a rainy and gloomy day.  I decided I will not let it puncture my mood and will make the most of my day. Quickly finishing my morning ablutions, I fired up my computer and logged onto Google, “How to bake an eggless cake?”

Baking… I am trying to avoid you and run away from you for the longest time now. No longer will I let you intimidate me. Enough is enough. I am going to take you heads-on and conquer you. And I promise, not too long away from now, you and I, we are going to be sort of thick friends.

I have been afraid of baking for so long now, it seems ridiculous. After all, how difficult can it be?  So I decided that either it will happen today or it will never happen. And it did.

So the ‘Mission Baking’ started and I got down to work. I read up a few basic recipes, saw a couple of videos and realized the following:

  • That only tin or glass moulds (specifically for oven) can be used.
  • That I don’t have the measuring cups or the spoons (but I will not let that dampen my spirits, I will resort to crude ways of measurement)
  • That I don’t have a good enough round or a square tin mould to stick in to the oven
  • That it’s possible to bake without eggs (Really)
  • That I don’t have either the cocoa powder or the chocolate chips (So what, I will bake a plain cake…vanilla is fun too)
  • That microwave with convection mode can also be used for baking (Sigh…and all this while I was putting off baking because we didn’t have a oven at home back in India, only microwave)
  • And where there is a will, there is a way (Even without so many things, I will at least know how a cake bakes, fluffs and rises)

After 20 minutes of search and knowledge gathering, I set to work. And in about an hour, my first cake was ready. How did it turn out? Not bad for the first time, considering I didn’t have half the ingredients and I didn’t know the ‘B’ of baking. It was fun and worth the trial. May be I should have baked for 5 more minutes. It was a little tender inside. But I am a little more confident now that I have extended an olive branch to my hitherto enemy that oven was. I am telling you guys, ‘Oven’ is not as monstrous as it’s made out to be.  It can actually be our friend.

Here’s my first cake, prepared and baked by me… from scratch.

First Cake

First Cake

2013-03-18 12.59.10

Are you mocking the heart shape mould? 😦  Oh come on, it’s not all that bad 😛