Saturday, May 31, 2014

Recipe: Carrots Poriyal


Carrots Poriyal is similar to Beans Poriyal with a few different ingredients. It is a very healthy South Indian dish that is intensified by spices (but not too many!) It is a fantastic dish that can go along great with rice and/or sambhar. It is one of our household favorites!


Madh Mama's Carrots Poriyal
Serves 3 people (and a baby!)



Ingredients:
- 8 large long carrots
- 1/2 red onion
- 1 tbsp mustard seeds
- 10 fresh curry leaves (can be purchased at the Indian grocer)
- 1 tsp salt
- pinch of asafoetida
- 5 tbsp oil (either vegetable, sunflower or peanut oil works well)
- 1/2 tsp turmeric
- 1/2 tsp chilli powder


Tools:
- medium saute pan
- potato peeler (for the carrot)


Directions:


Peel the carrots and cut them lengthwise into quarters.


Then cut them into small 1 inch pieces.


Chop the onion.

Turn the pan on medium heat and let it heat up. 


Pour 2 tbsp of oil into the pan and the chopped onions.


Cook until the onions are see-through and slightly browned on the edges. Then place the onions aside.


Heat up 3 tbsp oil in the pan. Add 1 tbsp mustard seeds.


When the mustard seeds start to crackle, add the curry leaves and asafoetida. Stir for 10 seconds.


Add the chopped carrots and toss.


Put the lid on and let it steam-cook for about 7-10 minutes


Take the lid off, add the turmeric and salt, and toss.



After a few minutes, add the cooked onions, chilli powder and toss.

Turn the heat down to medium-low. Leave it for about 10-15 minutes, stirring it once every 4 minutes.


And VOILA!

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Wednesday, May 28, 2014

How I defeated my internet troll

Last week, I was mentioned in The New Indian Express newspaper, regarding the online harassment I received in the Fall. The article spoke about the kinds of different internet abuse that is faced by women globally for merely having an online presence; and how there is no legal system equipped to deal with such offenses.

I am a survivor of online abuse and I would like to share my experiences and hopefully give support and strength for those who are currently facing it.

I decided to start writing my blog in the Fall of 2012 as a means of expressing myself. I was a busy mum, quite isolated in babyland, going through our intercultural journey, and I wanted to put myself out there and see (if just maybe) there were others that could relate to our situation. I never expected my blog to get a big reader base or to get daily emails from girls all over the world needing help with their Indian boyfriends and inlaws. I didn't even know if there were other people like us...

Fast-forward a year into writing my blog, and my blog reader base had tripled in size and all my favorite bloggers who I had idolized for years were reading my blog. It was a dream come true. And I found so many other couples like us.

Then, in the midst of my growing popularity, the threats started...

It happened once at first, and I was a little disturbed but wrote it off. Then, last September, it started hard. I was getting harassed up for 4 times a day and it continued on like that for 4 months. Nasty, vile messages filled with hate for myself and my daughter, and at the end of every message there would be a link to a fake profile set up in my name with public photo albums of all my pictures stolen from my blog, defaced, with beef chop symbols all over it and branded with the word "slut" or "die bitch".

(An example of the fake profile that was set up in my name, with all my pictures degraded)

Being attacked so many times per day and having to report each one of these to different sites made it feel like a full-time job that I didn't even sign up for in the first place. I already had my hands full with my blog, being a full-time mother, my family life, and work.

Many of the sites I reported it to - for example Facebook has a "report button" to report abuse and harassment - rarely was taken down. It's all "freedom of speech", including when it is sending death threats to women and children, apparently. 

(My pictures defaced)

At first, I was determined to make it stop. To report each and every picture and profile. I asked my friends to report it too. But then, the attacks worsened. The troll could see how many picture views they were getting and literally "got off" on it and the attention they were getting.

I went to the police and I told them I was being harassed. The woman said, "You DEFINITELY have to report it." I was referred to a male officer, and when I explained the situation, he said, "Well, what exactly do you expect us to do?" I was a little shocked. Apparently, you definitely have to report harassment, except when it's online, of course. And then the police officer said, "Well that's what happens when you put your pictures online." Victim blaming at it's finest! Basically the online equivalent to "if you wear a short skirt, you may be raped".


(One of the many messages)


(The troll was pissed that I refer to my hubby affectionately as 'husband-ji'!)


I realized then that it was up to me to figure out how to deal with it. Evidently, not taking death threats "personally" is easier said than done. I was getting exhausted by being abused online and it was really taking it's toll on me. I was scared and frightened that the person would somehow find me in real life. I was scared when I went for a stroll with my daughter, when I went into parking lots, when I left work late, if someone stared at me too hard. I was scared when I looked out my window of my apartment. I bolted my door at night and put my stroller in front of it so I could hear if an intruder were to come in. I couldn't sleep. I woke up to death threats and went to bed with the death threats. I stopped answering my phone because I thought the harasser would somehow find me. 

 I asked husband-ji for advice. I said, "What do I do? Does this mean I should stop writing?" He was silent for a minute. Then he said, "No. That's exactly what you cannot do. They are trying to make you feel scared and hide. So do NOT hide. Keep writing." In that moment, he was my savior...

When I told my MIL, she was completely scared and freaked out. She is very superstitious and believes in the power of drishti (evil eye) and that it can actually cause bad things to happen. She told me not to put any pictures online and "only write about lighthearted topics like recipes". So, I tried that - I wrote my first Indian recipe post which was my famous Kheer recipe that everyone loved. I still got the threats with that recipe, and along with that, the troll said my Kheer "looked like white slut vomit" and that my "whole Indian family hates you and lied to you that they liked it, you stupid bitch". So I couldn't even write a recipe post without getting this kind of abuse.

So, there were two options for me - either STOP writing and hide/live in fear or KEEP writing and stand tall. I chose the latter. I think I chose to be fearless just because I did not want to be controlled by someone else. And also, every message of support and thanking me for help made me feel that I was doing something really worthwhile. That by sharing my story, I helped others in similar situations. Not to mention, it was a way of healing myself.

In the Fall, I got Bacterial Meningitis and was hospitalized, abandoning my blog for 10 days. And in the midst of the harassment, the abuse suddenly stopped. Why? Because I stopped posting; I "went away". It was then that I realized that what husband-ji said was true, and that the harasser literally wanted to shut down my blog. That was the end goal of this troll. And I sure as hell was not going to give them the satisfaction of that.

After I got out of the hospital, I continued writing and subsequently was harassed with every single post. Writing during that time was very healing for me. It helped me get my thoughts together and it also helped my brain recover quicker from meningitis. Coming out of meningitis and surviving, I realized that this troll's words could not and would never hurt me. That all their threats were baseless. I had already survived Meningitis - this troll was NOTHING compared to that.


(After I got out of the hospital, I received this message)

(Wishing my daughter dead after she was sick)


One of the tips people tell you when dealing with internet trolls is to "ignore" because apparently internet trolls "feed on attention". However, I was getting tired of dealing with it by myself, silently. A common trait of an abuser is that they want to isolate you. Nobody knew that I was being harassed so badly, as I deleted all the messages. Online abuse is an invisible form of terrorism that many people do not know about. I decided to reach out to some other bloggers and discovered that a bunch of them were getting harassed in the exact same way, just as badly. So, I decided to go against the advice and write about the harassment I was facing WHILE it was going on. And I got such a great response - I raised awareness, and I heard from a bunch of other women who were previously/currently going through the same thing.

Sometime during this process, I stopped reading the nasty messages. As soon as it said a profanity, I immediately stopped reading it, took a quick screenshot for my records, and deleted it. I didn't let it get to me and I somehow developed really thick skin (which was basically the only positive thing that came out of that experience!)

Then, I stopped getting harassed after New Years, and it stopped as suddenly as it began. Life returned back to normal, and it seemed calmer now that I didn't have to be receiving messages of cutting me up into pieces. The troll grew tired of me and was defeated. The troll realized that I was NOT going to shut myself down and hide. The troll gave up.

But that was just ONE troll, out of many...

Having been through online harassment and struggling to find a place to report it - I can unfortunately tell you that there is no protection for women online. People can legally leave a trail of death threats and harassing messages, and there is nobody to monitor them or shut them down. Not even when it involves threatening a minor child. Women and children are always the targets of these deranged people. Not to mention, the countless teenagers who commit suicide every year over severe online harassment.


So, what can you do? You can SURVIVE...

DO NOT hide. DO NOT live in fear. The goal of these trolls is to stop you from living your life - it is all about control through humiliation. Don't let them control the way you live your life.

Keep documentation. Keep screenshots with dates and times of all the harassment, throw it into a file (without looking at it) and save it for later. You never know when you'll need it.

Internet trolls have very predictable patterns. They often use the same IP addresses and they often attack at certain times of the day. These timings can tell you a lot about your troll - for example, if they attack at 3pm Eastern time - that's after school time. And the more frequently they attack you - the more lazy they get in covering up their tracks.

TRY to report it to authorities. Go to your local police. If you're in the U.S.A, you can report it to the FBI's cyber crimes unit. If your pictures are being stolen and defaced, contact DCMA.

DO NOT stay silent. Tell your friends and family about what you're going through. Reach out to other bloggers and online communities for support. The goal of internet abusers is to ISOLATE you. You never know if one of your friends could know somebody who could help. And you never know if somebody has gone through a similar situation.

And above all - keep doing what you're doing. If you're a writer or a journalist - chances are the reason why you're getting targeted is because you're somehow threatening to them. There are always going to be haters. Stand tall and be fearless in your form of personal expression.


That's my two cents of what I've learned from overcoming online harassment. I hope it can help some of you who are dealing with it right now. And always remember - you are NOT alone!!!

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Dear readers, have you ever been a victim of online harassment? What tips can we give to other people who are going through it? Please share your experiences.

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Monday, May 26, 2014

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Now featured in The New Indian Express newspaper

Recently I was mentioned in The New Indian Express newspaper (Bangalore edition) on page 1. The article is also online and you can read it HERE.


They interviewed me regarding the online harassment and death threats I faced in the Fall from my awful internet troll. Any woman who has an online presence will most likely be getting these types of baseless threats, and unfortunately the law is ill-equipped to handle such offenses. The only solution that law enforcement will give is to stop being online.

As a survivor of such online abuse - please know that you CANNOT and SHOULD NOT hide. Harassers specifically target women as a means of control and humiliation, and when you do not give in to them, they eventually tire out and stop. Do not let anybody control your life by means of fear.

I will write more later on this topic, but please do check out the article and let me know what you think! It was so exciting to be mentioned in the newspaper and I hope it can raise awareness on the types of online abuse that women face, which are often unknown.

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What did you guys think of the article?

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Thursday, May 22, 2014

The epic motherhood/mango dal meltdown

It all started because of some stupid Mango Dal...and within 2 hours I ended up feeling like a bad wife, a bad mother, and a failure at everything in life.

Whenever I cook a NEW Indian recipe, it is an extremely nerve-wracking experience for me. I need serious meditative guru-like concentration (which is nearly impossible to achieve when watching a toddler). Plus, learning a new Indian recipe - as a foreigner - is like trying to teach a penguin Cantonese!

Not to mention, the pressure is immense. This is because husband-ji is basically the Indian version of Jamie Oliver. He is such a talented cook with years of expertise that he is always telling me there could be a pinch more of "this" or "that", and the vegetables could be chopped smaller. Hmmmmph!

It was just an ordinary day when I decided to try out this new recipe of Andhra Mango Dal. It was 4:30pm and I was expecting husband-ji to come home within the next hour. I figured since he would be home soon, I could handle starting this new recipe all by myself. I put Maya with her snack in front of her favorite "Dora the Explorer" cartoon whom I ONLY rely on for babysitting in special situations like these...

I found the recipe online and then I started to prepare the dish. I called both husband-ji and my MIL to double-check, and they BOTH told me different ways to cook it. CONFUSING!! I was starting to get my feathers ruffled. I decided to go with my MIL's version, just to be safe.

(Hawkins pressure cooker)
(Img via)

Then...I had to face the goddamn pressure cooker. The Hawkins pressure cooker, which is beloved to every South Indian on Earth - is a foreigner's worst nightmare. The way it hisses is just so friggin' scary - it's like an insane python with rabies!!! I am always so paranoid that the hot steam will hiss and burn my skin. Or that the entire kitchen will explode!

I could just imagine the front page of the newspapers: "PITIFUL FIRANGI BAHU SETS HOUSE ON FIRE DUE TO LACK OF PRESSURE COOKER KNOWLEDGE"....

The original recipe called for the dal to be served with a vepudu (stir fry side dish). So me, being an overachieving perfectionist, decided to make Aloo Jeera to go along with it. The whole thing overwhelmed me to the millionth degree. It was stressful enough doing one new recipe, and then I had to make sure the Aloo Jeera didn't burn, (not to mention I also had to keep an eye on the baby, who was bouncing off the walls at this point).

I was sweating, I kept losing concentration, I forgot how many whistles the pressure cooker made (apparently the side-effects of my mommy-brain make me unable to count as well), Maya wanted my attention, I was getting HANGRY (hungry + angry), and to make it all worse - I mistakenly put SUGAR instead of salt in the dal!!!

Then I looked up at the clock and realized that husband-ji was supposed to be home TWO hours ago and that Maya had been watching cartoons for TWO hours (which is 3 episodes past her daily limit). I myself was like a pressure cooker...about to explode...

I angrily phoned husband-ji and demanded "WHERE ARE YOU? Do you understand how overwhelmed I am?

(Of course he didn't...)

Husband-ji was at my parents' place walking the dog and the dog was constipated, unable to poo. So husband-ji decided to WAIT for the dog to take a crap!!!

Hearing that really sent me over the edge...

"Why couldn't you bring the dog to the apartment and WAIT for hours for him to poo over HERE?!?!" I screamed. 

Poor husband-ji. In that moment I felt like a bad wife and a bad mum. Mom guilt on steroids...

Then I phoned my MIL to update her on my dal and ended up crying my eyes out. I feel so overwhelmed. I have no help with the baby all day. I am the worst wife. I don't know how to cook this stupid thing. I'm tired and hungry and my hips hurt from standing so long. I'm a bad mother. Maya is watching too much TV today. I'm not able to lose any more weight. I want another baby but I can hardly handle this one. Why can't your son just be home on time? He doesn't know how hard it is to be a mum.

Yes, it all just came pouring out, like the Ganges river... By the end of the conversation, I felt like a lunatic and my MIL was getting worried we were having marital problems.

Then husband-ji comes home and we fight, which is basically me screaming at him and him responding by giving me "suggestions" and "solutions", like a typical guy! It irritates me even more, because I just wanted him to listen and understand.

"I feel so overwhelmed," I cry to him.

"Well, what do you want to do about it? I'll stay home and you can work, if that is what you want," he says.

It pisses me off even more. "I can't just leave my daughter! I'd miss her too much!" I say, shocked that he even brought up this solution.

And that is exactly the complicated nature of motherhood that many men often do not understand. I get overwhelmed all the time, but at the same time I wouldn't want to be anywhere else. I am as attached to my child as she is to me. It is like now she is growing outside my body with the umbilical cord still attached. Motherhood is like a double-edged sword wherein it is simultaneously joyous and stressful at the same time. And how COULD he understand? He's a dad and he doesn't get mom guilt!! And can I even blame him?

Sometimes husband-ji makes everything look so effortless. He cooks flawlessly, Maya is not so clingy to him and she plays independently (a.k.a. she is way easier to handle), he is always cool and calm, not to mention, he looks perfect - all the time. Meanwhile, I am a total Bridget Jones-mess!

But maybe...he is less stressed because he just doesn't put so much damn PRESSURE on himself, like I do. Maybe I should just stop putting unreasonable pressure on myself to do everything perfectly. Maybe that would make my life easier...

So we fought and I cried. I speak to MIL on the phone again. She tells us just to stop, that she will "scold him later for not coming home on time" and for us have dinner together already.

So, we finally sit down to have the Mango Dal...and it turned out fantastic (despite the sugar mistake). Husband-ji loved it so much that he had three helpings and we forgot about our fight. It's funny how a full stomach solves nearly all of one's perceived problems...


Husband-ji started teasing me playfully about how the sour mangoes from the dal must have made me go crazy.

I read later online that it was a full moon. I swear...sometimes the full moon is like PMS for me!!!

Needless to say, I think I probably frightened him so badly with my lunacy that he will never be coming home late for a very long time...!!!


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Monday, May 19, 2014

Tattoos and my Indian Mother-in-law

(Getting his Dancing Shiva tattoo)

Husband-ji is planning on getting another full arm sleeve tattoo this Summer, and of course my dear MIL hates the idea. He already has a full arm sleeve of a dancing Shiva on his right arm, which extends from shoulder to wrist. The tattoo artist he did it with is so talented that he is totally booked up until the Summer.

"I want to get another tattoo," husband-ji said to me, a few weeks ago. I said okay.

He said, "I feel like it looks uneven. I want to get another sleeve."

Good thing I love tattoos, right? 

Husband-ji has a dream of having Shiva on one arm, Vishnu on the other arm, and Brahma (the creator) on his back. The holy Hindu trinity...

My MIL recently returned from a 3 month long stay in India, so she phoned me and we had a nice hour long chat. When she was in India we hardly got to talk because she was surrounded by relatives, at ALL times. So naturally, like BFFs Forever, we got caught up on all the gossip.

I mistakenly told her that husband-ji was planning on getting another tattoo. (You see, I can't lie to my MIL....somehow her voice is like a hypnotist and she is always getting information out of me!) She totally thought it was the worst thing in the world. 

"BAH!" She said. "Why he has to get ANOTHER tattoo, why he can't be satisfied with one only?"

"Oh, Sandhya, don't worry," I said, "It's going to be a tattoo of Vishnu! It's devotional!"

"AIYOOO RAMA!" She said, frustrated. "Fine, let him be covered in tattoos then! Let him have it on his whole body then!" She knew how stubborn her son was...

"Well, actually, now that you mention it, he was also planning on getting Brahma on his back someday too...

I could almost hear her stomping on the floor in frustration.

OOPS!!! Well anyways, she was going to find out eventually, right?

I remember when husband-ji got his tattoo sleeve of Shiva, several years ago. My MIL had come to stay with us for the Summer and it was her first trip to Canada.

(Sketch of Shiva, pre-tattoo)

Coming from a conservative, middle class South Indian family, she was completely unaware of the tattoo culture in the West and had only seen tattoos on "uneducated rural villagers". She said these rural people sometimes they would get their family name tattooed on them for identification purposes. So seeing a tattoo that is a piece of art and is a form of artistic expression - was a completely foreign concept to her.


On my first trip to India, I think she knew I was going to be a bad influence in this particular area. I was the first one to have a tattoo, after all...oh, the horror....not only a foreign girlfriend, but one that has tattoos! How mysteriously alluring...

When we left for the airport, she said, "MADHAVAA, DON'T GET A TATTOO! YOU'LL GET HIV!!!" I think everybody in the check-in line heard her - she said it so loudly! Husband-ji said "Seri, seri, ma!!!!" We laughed so hard after, and sometimes we still joke about it.

(Husband-ji had to sit for twelve hours)

My MIL has this belief that tattoos are unhygienic and are done with infected needles...in rural villages!!! I wanted to take her to our neighbourhood tattoo shop while husband-ji got his tattoo done - just to show her that it was totally safe, and similar to going to a dentist (except of course, for the booming rap music that was playing). But she refused - as a way for letting us know that she would not support it.

When I pressed her further, she said, "AIIYOO RAMA! What if some Indian sees me, going into a tattoo shop wearing my saree! What all will they think?!?!"

(Ink drawing before tattoo)

Then, I tried the next best thing. I made her watch all these tattoo shows on the TLC channel - like "L.A. Ink" with Kat Von D. Watching the episodes was a constant "AIIYOO RAMA", as she squinted her eyes in pure horror watching kids get pierced with needles for the sake of an art that she didn't understand. She was both disgusted and enthralled. Some of the tattoos she liked, and some of them she hated - but it opened up the dialogue and the understanding of Western tattoo culture. She began to understand why people got tattoos, by watching each youngster explain the deep and meaningful reasons they got theirs. In a way, she liked the symbolism behind it.

(Halfway done - without the background)

(The finished sleeve)

As always, my MIL was a bit concerned that whatever we do will affect the youngsters in our family who look up to us. Will everybody go get tattoos now?

Husband-ji was the first one in his entire family to have a tattoo...on both sides...in the entire family tree. Surprisingly, a lot of his relatives really liked it. It was something that so many had not seen before - having a permanent devotional art. His thatha, being an artist himself, loved it.

But alas, he was not the last! Now one of his little cousin brothers has also got a Shiva tattoo....

We are SUCH a bad influence trendsetters. Hee hee!

Hmmmm....now if only there can be hope of another Firangi Bahu!

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Dear readers, do you have tattoos? Have you ever tried to explain tattoo culture to your conservative Indian elders?


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Sunday, May 18, 2014

Recipe: Beans Poriyal


Beans Poriyal is a quick and easy South Indian veppudu (side dish) that I like to make when I'm in a mood for a green vegetable. This dish would go along with chapati; or in true South Indian style - rice and pick one: dal/sambhar/rasam.


Madh Mama's Beans Poriyal
Serves 3 people (and a baby!)


Ingredients:
- 2 large handfuls of french beans
- 1 tbsp mustard seeds
- 1 tsp urad dal
- 1 tsp salt
- 3 dry red chillies
- pinch of asafoetida
- 3 tbsp oil (either vegetable, sunflower or peanut oil works well)
- 1/2 tsp turmeric

Tools:
- medium saute pan

Directions:


Wash the beans, cut the ends off, and cut the body of the bean into small pieces.



Heat the oil up in the pan on medium heat and add the mustard seeds first, until they start to sputter.



When they start to sputter, add the urad dal. 


Monitor it closely - you want to get the urad dal to a light maroon color but you do not want to burn it.




Add the asafoetida, turmeric, dry red chillies and let it sit quickly, for about 10 seconds.


Add the beans and toss, leaving it for a minute on the heat.


Add salt, and 1/2 cup of water.


Cover the beans while they cook (about 7-10 mins).

When the beans are cooked nicely (check it by piercing it with a fork) you can take the lid off and let it sit for a few minutes. The beans can be charred a little bit.



And VOILA!


*this dish can also be made with fresh grated coconut. You can add coconut at the very last step*


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Friday, May 16, 2014

TO GO or NOT GO ... to India


At the end of this year, we have our little cousin-sister's marriage that we have been asked to come to. And although IDEALLY I would like to return to India for a visit, there are so many factors that we need to think about first...

My main feeling is apprehension. I mean, we do have an active toddler to take into account here. Traveling 16+ hours by flight is hard enough for an adult, never mind a small child who has stranger anxiety. And I wonder, is this really the right time to go?

And then there is the COST. The Fall and Winter are the high season to go to India (because of lower temperatures, and every single friggin' Firangi guidebook instructs tourists to visit during that time) so the flight tickets are really expensive. Not to mention, we will have to pay for THREE seats, so that's several thousand dollars. Which honestly, I would rather put into her college education savings account....

None of our relatives or friends (besides my inlaws and a few NRI cousins) have ever visited us here. We have gone to India countless times over the last decade, spending thousands of dollars. Some have promised to come, others have not. Some did not even attend our wedding, despite us sending the proper documentation for visa applications (including our bank statements, which I would have preferred NOT to be public knowledge!) Sometimes I think people think just because we live abroad, we are made of money, and can just hop on a plane and go anywhere. And I also don't like how some people constantly ask for us to bring expensive electronics like iPad, iPhone - when just coming to India is costly enough for us. Can't people just be happy and appreciative to see us? Or are we just a FedEx vehicle to bring their latest electronics?

With my inlaws living abroad, and with thatha gone now - is there any reason for us to rush back to India...?

But, at the same time, I would really like to see my little cousin-sister's marriage. It will be a traditional Telugu wedding, which I've never seen before. This cousin is one of my favorite girls in the family - she is so sweet. And they want their brother (husband-ji) to come so badly.

I traveled a lot when I was younger, but my parents never took me to Asia until I was 8 years old - for the main reason that I was just too young for the flight.

Not to mention, if we do take her, so that everyone can "see" her, what will she remember? Wouldn't it be better to take her when she is older - when she can appreciate History?

But then, in January, Maya will probably start preschool. And we would like to have another baby at some point next year. So if we don't go this year, we may not get the chance to go for several more years.

I am really undecided on this. Ideally, I would love to go. But in reality, it is going to be expensive, we will have to take off work, and who knows if the traveling will be stressful for her (and us!), being a small child. But on the other hand, tons of people take their kids to India, even when they are babies (but that is usually to see their parents).

Before having children, it would have been an absolute YES. But after having children and having more work responsibilities, we need to do what is convenient for us. Not what is convenient for everybody else. 

Pros
- attending the wedding
- seeing relatives and Maya meeting everyone
- Maya would love the food (since she prefers Indian food)
- keeps both my daughter & husband-ji's connection to their culture
- good memories of the trip
- we can do all our Christmas shopping there

Cons
- COST!!!
- safety...?
- All of us may get sick 
- jet-lag
- Maya may have no memory of this trip
- inconvenient to take off work - timing
- Maya may have stranger anxiety and may get scared (like she did in Hawaii)
- seeing relatives that I do not like & dealing with crappy comments
- thatha is not there anymore
- could be years before our next visit


Who knows what we will decide.... We are going to Europe soon which will be like a "trial run" for traveling. She did great on the flight to Hawaii (which was 5.5 hours), but a 9 hour flight is another story...

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What do you think, dear readers? Have you ever felt apprehensive traveling SO FAR with a young child? For those of you who have settled abroad, do you often face this dilemma of when is the right time to visit your homeland?


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Thursday, May 15, 2014

Now featured on "Southern Life, Indian Wife"


I recently did a guest post on one of my favorite bloggers sites - Sheryl of "Southern Life, Indian Wife". She is an amazing inspiration to all of us intercultural couples, having been married for 25 years and having 5 children. She also lives in Georgia - so we have that special Georgian connection!

In my guest post, I talk more about our love story and about our time in Savannah, GA - and what it was really like for two intercultural students to find love in the Deep South.

Click HERE to read it!
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Wednesday, May 14, 2014

A Mother's Day of perfection

This year was the second time I got to celebrate Mother's Day, and it turned out to be the most perfect day!

I started the day by going to my weekly Sunday yoga class - only this time, I brought my mum with me! The class is taught by an Indian lady (somehow it almost makes it more authentic that way! Hahaha) and at the end of the class, she does a little speech of enlightenment. I like to call it....my yoga church sermon! 

I am so happy that I've started to do yoga again. I have been trying to go for ages, but it is so important to find a good teacher - it really makes all the difference. After I leave the class, I feel refreshed, grateful and calm - like it started the week off on a good foot.

After the class was over, we went back to my mum's place and husband-ji and Maya were already there. She made us a nice brunch of pancakes. YUM! Somehow a mother's pancakes just taste the best!


(Mum's Sunday pancakes)

It was a beautiful day outside, so we decided to take Maya swimming (because it's her favorite thing to do) It was so much fun seeing her splash around in the water. Our doggie Ziggy joined in on the fun by chasing her around the pool.

(Maya getting ready to swim!)

In the afternoon, we walked to my favorite neighborhood ice cream shop - because what the heck, it's Mother's Day, right?

(My favorite flavor - "Brown Butter Snickerdoodle")

In the evening, I took my mother to a Moroccan Hamaam - which is like a spa with a steam bath. First you start off in a private steam room filled with white marble, then you get scrubbed down, then you have a massage, and then you sit on a large Moroccan-style bed and have Mint tea and Baklava sweets. Needless to say, it was A-M-A-Z-I-N-G! I'd like to take my MIL when she comes for her next visit, but she is a little uncomfortable with nudity, though.

(Hamaam spa)

And after all that, I came home to a nice home-cooked meal by darling husband-ji! He also got me a sweet little gift of bath products that Maya & I are enjoying for our evening bath.

(Husband-ji's present - bath stuff I always love!)

The whole day was so special and I hope I can do the exact same thing next year. I'm hoping my MIL will come and stay with us next Spring so we can celebrate it all together.

I had such a good day that after it was all over, I thought, I should do this every month! Why wait for Mother's Day?

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Dear readers, how did you celebrate Mother's Day?
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