Tuesday, August 31, 2010

I'm a vegetarian and I love my leather boots

My recent trip to the land that knows nothing of the existence of vegetarians (a.k.a New Orleans) made me reflect on why I was still vegetarian. I mean, it's not very easy being vegetarian. While NYC is as vegetarian friendly as an American city can possibly be, I did spend two long years in Pennsylvania, mostly ordering pancakes and fries at restaurants for dinner because I had nothing else to choose from. But I was never the least bit tempted to sway. So, I developed some grandiose notions about why I had stuck with vegetarianism while many "had strayed from the path". Clearly, they were "too weak".

Of course, the fundamental reason why I'm vegetarian is because I was raised vegetarian. But then I was raised to be a lot of (good) things that I am not today. For instance, I come from a household that set a store by keeping one's place very clean and organized, whereas I dread unannounced guests for a reason (never, ever show up unannounced at my place). So upbringing couldn't have been the only reason.

Then I thought that I was vegetarian because "it was the right thing to do". After I moved to the US, I quickly lost that notion. I stopped thinking that eating meat was some sort of sin. So I decided that I must be vegetarian because I was non-violent - I didn't want to see some innocent creature get hurt. But one day I realized, much to my horror, that I had fallen in love with a pair of lovely leather boots and had no compunction whatsoever in buying them. They're my favorite, most comfortable pair of boots I've ever owned and if I ever had to replace them, I'd do so with (gasp) the exact same pair if I can (Do you know hard it is to find a good pair of boots?). This was an eye-opener and I quickly checked off love of animals as a possible candidate.

Thus I've concluded that it is neither strength of character nor principle nor love for all things living that is keeping me vegetarian. Clearly I'm somewhat hypocritical, and I think I must generally be disgusted by meat, the same way I'm disgusted by beets and spinach and raw plantain (ugh!). Nothing great about that, but in the grand scheme of things if a chicken or two is saved, then all the better.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Shopping, these days...

Over the years, I've found that my patience with shopping has significantly waned. If I see a longish line outside a fitting room or cash register (a rather common sight in New York), I more often than not overcome my desire to own new clothes and escape almost instantly.

So today I went shopping again. I know, I know, I bought a lot lately but the weather's turning rather grey in New York which means that fall is here and somehow, yet again, I have nothing to wear! (Digressing a bit here, but how is it that one can own so many clothes and still have nothing to wear? It's a baffling phenomenon that seems to afflict only women...)Anyway, as I stood in a line outside the fitting room contemplating whether I should try a sweater on to confirm if the extra small size in GAP is really a medium or not (Have you seen what GAP calls small ?!!), I saw a visibly exhausted mother sit down to rest her tired feet after spending probably several hours shopping with her teenage daughter for back-to-school clothes. While the daughter enthusiastically tried on clothes and showed no signs of relenting, her tired, but patient mother looked on. And suddenly I was reminded of all the times when I went shopping with my mother. I would insist we survey every store in town before going back to the first store to buy the first outfit I had tried, while my mother shook her head in disbelief and indulged a daughter who never seemed to tire of shopping. It was so much fun. Mothers and daughters just have this thing, you know? I miss you mummy! :(

Friday, August 20, 2010

Off to New Orleans!

So we're going away this weekend to New Orleans! We decided around two weeks ago to make the trip and ever since then, two things have become apparent to me: (a) The anticipation of an impending vacation is one of the best payoffs of taking a vacation, (b) A woman's approach to a vacation is vastly different from that of a man.

I think (a) is self-explanatory, but let me dwell on (b) for a bit. If you're a man, your approach most likely will be - "Tickets are booked. Great. We leave at 7 for the airport". But, if you're a woman, it all begins with the quintessential pre-vacation question - "What am I going to wear?". And one thing will lead to another and before you know it, your "incidental expenses" will outweigh expenses of your trip itself. So, a new top, a new skirt, new clothes for the husband, a bag of goodies from Sephora, a new perfume, and a hair styling appointment later, we're all set to leave this evening. Will blog about New Orleans once we're back!

PS: This is for my fellow makeup junkies. My haul from Sephora consisted of a smudge-proof eye pencil from Urban Decay, liquid eye liner from Tattoo, Eye shadow in Galapagos from Nars, and a soft-pencil lip color in Walkyrie from Nars as well. Haven't tried all of them yet, so right now, I can only vouch for the lip color which I also used at my wedding two years ago. So hard to find a good shade for lip color for brown women around here somehow. If anyone knows of any, please help out :).

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Happy Independence Day!

Happy Independence Day to all my fellow Indians out there! Missing the unbridled celebration that is so characteristic of India. In fact, I miss it on all festivals too - the loud speakers, the pandals, the decorations, the singing and dancing on the streets - that vibrant, unrestrained celebration that we Indians are so fond of. Nothing holds us back when we're happy or sad, and I think it takes a certain amount of unity and love and pureness of heart to be able to express oneself so freely.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

For all the Steven Slater admirers out there..

Slater's got style. The man is now famous for calling it quits. An overnight celebrity of sorts for not being able to take it any more. So, while I've given Susan Boyle and Octomom a miss, Slater gets a place in my blog. Why? Because, you see, Slater hasn't really done anything that remarkable. He neither wowed millions with a dramatic singing performance, nor did he push 8 babies out of his uterus and live to tell the story. He simply had a meltdown at work. Anyone thinking so what's the big deal? Well, it's just that thousands, perhaps even millions, of people gazing out the office window on a Wednesday afternoon wondering how much longer for the weekend to arrive, will now have the comfort of drawing a mental picture of escaping to freedom via an emergency chute, beers in hand, no less. That sort of thing can change lives. If that's not a big deal, then what is?

Now, I'm no legal expert, nor do I know anything about airline safety, but all I have to say is this. Give the guy a reality show already! Move over, Fly Girls (yes, someone actually thought of a show on flight attendants even before this exciting event) The most famous flight attendant in history is here!

Monday, August 9, 2010

Anniversary Present

Every year, for our parents' wedding anniversary, my brother and I rack our brains trying to come up with an idea for something nice to surprise them with, and almost every year we end up sending them flowers from one website or another - flower arrangements that look nothing like the picture online. Having done this year after year, my brother came up with a new idea this year. Rather than squander money on roses or jewelery (I know, no self-respecting South-Indian woman speaks of jewelery so condescendingly), we decided to donate to charity in our parents' name this year.

Since we're from India and supporting a cause in India is closer to our hearts, we picked the following charities to donate to:
*Sankara Netralaya - A philanthropic eye hospital in Chennai, India that performs thousands of eye surgeries, free of cost every year, for those who cannot afford it. We donated to have a free cataract operation performed the date of our parents' anniversary. What could be a better present than to prevent blindness?
*Akshaya Patra - An NGO in Karnataka, India, that provides free, nutritious mid-day meals for over a million schoolchildren in India so that they don't drop out of school because of hunger.
*Sphoorti - An NGO in Hyderabad, India that helps support basic needs such as education and healthcare for poor, orphaned children.

Our parents greatly approve of our choice of 'anniversary presents' this year. What better feeling than to help a fellow human being, knowing that you could make a difference with even as little as it takes to send flowers or a box of Swiss chocolates? If anyone reading this post is looking for ideas for a good present, well here's one, that's not only a great value for the money, but good for your soul too.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

On Nutritious Cooking

So, the girl who spent the first two decades of her life eating pretty much rice, rasam and fried potatoes and absolutely, stubbornly refusing anything else at the dinner table, has finally started to pay attention to what she eats. And, she is amazed at how much she never knew and never bothered to find out until now. She first had her epiphany when she realized one day that she was no longer 20 and eating tubs of ice cream in bed would have it's consequences. But soon enough, she also understood that looking good was just a visible confirmation of the fact that eating right == being healthy.

However, much to her chagrin, she also learned that epiphanies do not have a ripple effect. Spouses, families, roommates will resist changing their eating habits, and while one can have a positive influence, it is a hard sell to get people to suddenly switch to soy and whole wheat. And she felt the frustration that her loving mother must have once felt when her daughter refused to eat her greens. So, she thought, what is one to do to help everyone at home eat healthy? And then it struck her. Sneak in the good, nutritious stuff, so that nobody notices! So here are a few tricks she found useful in making carb-loaded Indian food, or perhaps any cuisine for that matter, a little healthier.

Oatmeal Rava Dosa

Inspired from this blog, but adapted to my mother's recipe and tried and tested successfully on the experimental subject (a.k.a. unsuspecting husband).
For breakfast for two, you'll need:
1/2 cup sooji
2 cup rolled oats
1/4 cup rice flour
Green chillis (around 4, finely chopped should be good)
1/2 tbsp salt
1/2 tbsp red chilli powder

Dry roast the rolled oats for a 3-4 minutes. Then grind to a fine powder. Mix all the above ingredients together along with 3 cups of water and let sit for 15-30 minutes. After that make dosas using olive oil pam cooking spray (my new best friend). These turned out perfect - crisp, virtually oil-free, and with all the goodness of heart-healthy, soluble oat fiber no less.

One can substitute (at least partially) processed or wheat flour with oat flour in many recipes. Check out recipes for rolled oats rotis or oatmeal muffins. Tried these too. Tasted great.

Flaxseed ... in almost anything

Omega-3 rich flax seeds must be the easiest-to-hide healthy ingredient you can ever find. They really don't have any detectable flavor or taste (when ground; always grind for maximum absorption in your body) and you could sprinkle flaxseed meal in just about anything, curries, raita, roti dough, etc. without an iota of difference in taste. They are also a substitute for eggs in eggless baking. Here's a tried and tested recipe for flaxseed dosa podi (who would've thought?!)

The net is abound with many, many such healthy recipes, and the girl discovered that trying to adapt what she and her family enjoys eating into healthier versions will ensure that eating right does not feel like a punishment.

Note: Flaxseed must be consumed in moderation, not more than a teaspoon or two per day.