Lockdown diaries – Finding happiness

I thought hard and came up with a list of things that bring me happiness these days. Necessity is the mother of all invention. Lockdown is the motherf**ker (oh sorry, forgot that this is not a rap song) of all of mankind’s joys - going out, playing a game, being friends, trusting each other, eating pizza. Actually an Eminem style uncensored in-your-face frustration-busting rap feels more natural at this time. Since we need to do the right thing even if it’s harder and also since I cannot rap (not even ‘gully boy’ level, whatever it was) I’ll do what I do best. I’ll write a post. I am trying to keep the faith just like all of you. I believe everything will get better. Hope this helps you reflect on the little joys in your life.
Beet khoa froyo

Lockdown questions – Is icecream essential?

This entire pandemic is god-bestowed, say the positive souls, the Cov-evangelists. It’s a total world-reset. The Cov-evangelists are gushing over the geese coming out to the canals, the crows cawing in the balcony and the pigeons shitting the outdoor A/C unit. The earth belongs to other creatures too, not just humans. Stay at home, share the world, be humble. Lungi makers and chilli powder companies are advising us on TV. Governments around the world are busy threatening smaller countries out of their medicines, stealing masks, fudging counts and keeping people from going into full-blown panic. News channels are doing little better than the perimmas, uncles in the family in conveying totally up to the minute information but mostly useless information. They are relaying anything but hope. It is up to the individual, you and me to think of the big things, the big little things in our everyday life – like is ice cream essential or not? Somebody’s got to ask the difficult questions. What’s essential? Really someone tell me. Is ice cream essential or not? What about Kara boondi, murukku, chips, chocolate, kara sev, samosa, egg puff, pizza, milagai bajji and onion pakoda? Who is to say these are extravagant? Imagine a little girl who has to have her daily cadbury’s chocolate bar, a thatha who needs onion pakoda and chips with his rasam rice, a young man who has to have a samosa with his chai, a sweet blogger who needs murukku or kara boondhi with her lemon and honey drink. As serious as alcohol addiction is and as callous as we are about it, there’s no real hope for snack fiends like you and me. I can hear the caring, self-righteous pricks wail “How insensitive and entitled of you, you Netflix watching wretch. People are dying without food. You want ice cream?! Shame on you.” This is a classic case of the “guilty of eating your food” phenomenon. At any point there is some hungry person somewhere. Will you not eat the biryani in front of you because of that? Now that you have biryani, you’ll expect raita too. Once you’re done with the biryani, an ice cream doesn’t seem too much of a stretch. All you shameless, entitled, Netflix watching bums, I don’t know about you, but my opinion is that ice cream and kara boondi are pretty much essential.   Ugly birthday cakes and ear-infections...

Lockdown life

You suddenly realize that you don’t have much time and nothing really matters. You might as well order Tiramisu, say “I miss you”, have a drink, do the crazy stuff, wear the special dress and give away your coveted old books. I don’t have Covid-19. Don’t worry. This kind of stuff just puts things in perspective not to mention all the time your mind’s got to worry and make sense of stuff. I hope you’re all doing well at home. I am sure this is one of the strangest times we’ve inhabited in our lives. What was my normal everyday life yesterday is dangerous, irresponsible and almost illegal today. Going to the movies, playing a game of badminton, shopping, ordering a pizza, sharing a drink, going to office, meeting my friends, going out for sushi, going to the gym, going for a walk, going to the mall, going out. I knew the moment they announced that they’re closing the theatres that shit was real. To each his own. Once all the lockdown is over and the virus is gone and all is well, what’s the first thing you’d do? I’ll head to the theatre. My sister would run to the parlour to get her eyebrows done. Our mum would relax that we’re finally out of the house. It’s easy to imagine COVID-19 as one of your ultra-conservative, regressive whatsapp friends. I am sure everyone has one of these types among their family or friends. This is the type of person who sends you forwards urging you to buy from the old ladies in your neighbourhood instead of the chain stores. COVID-19 is that person. He doesn’t like all this excessive shopping and spending, malls, eating out, watching movies at the theatres. “Stay home with family and cook for yourselves.” – he seems to say. Working out at the gym is unnecessary when you can get all your exercise at home. Sweep, wipe, mop, wash and scrub. Do it yourself. I don’t think I’ll get along with this guy.   These are testing times in more ways than one. Among other things, it’s a test of if you can cook for yourself without poisoning yourself. This is it. No swiggy, no Zomato nothing. I know its bad manners to say “I told you so” especially at a time like this but I can’t resist. Cooking is the most fundamental life skill...

2020 Outlook

It’s been more than 6 months since I wrote a post. I took a break to go away and write my book. I have to report back to you even though none of you asked. I haven’t written my book yet. I realized that I am not the writer with the discipline to sit down at my writing desk (I don’t have a designated writing desk and I blame that for everything) everyday and write away. I also realized that I missed writing my blog posts. I wanted to write a post before the end of the year because I have this tendency to clear up, reset things at the end of the year as if that makes up for the laziness of the entire year and to feel good stepping into the new year. I am not going to call these resolutions for 2020 because I am now older and I shouldn’t sound too hopeful and I need to use something more broad and vague and easy to wriggle out of. I am calling this my outlook for 2020 which sounds something like the government’s plan to link rivers – important and well-meaning and broad but not necessarily immediate or feasible. Work ‘your thing’ into your daily routine Now more than ever I feel a daily routine is of utmost importance as I see days slip by when I’ve not read or written and I feel a pain that’s part anguish, part guilt that quickly turns into self-reproach and despair. I am going to try and set aside a few hours every day to read and write. The bigger, more difficult task is convincing the family that I am doing something critical and absolutely essential and it’s not dispensable. Mommy has to read her story book. Mommy has to write her little silly stories and blog posts. She may not be disturbed when she is doing her thing. It could be listening to music, going for a walk, taking a class or watching a movie or talking to a friend. I believe all the wives and mommies and grandmothers need to set aside time everyday to do their thing when they’re not available to others. It’s ok to not be available for some time. It’s not selfish. It’s soul-sustenance.   Weight-loss goals – fun and consistency I am definitely trying to lose weight this year too. I am an optimist....
Taj Bekal

Travel guide to Bekal

Bekal is a small coastal town in northern kerala just off Mangalore. The Bekal fort is best recognized as the fort where Arvind Swamy in that iconic white and blue T-shirt sings “Uyire” against the backdrop of crashing waves and it is all you can do to not run to the screen and hug and pacify him. It is still about Bekal that we’re talking about. We travelled to Bekal earlier this year after our customary visit to Mookambika temple. It is just off the border of Mangalore, about 4 hours from Kollur, Karnataka. It was late March and it was hot. We stayed at Taj Bekal which sits just off the beach and on the sides of a lovely stretch of backwaters. This place was so charming, so tastefully done, there was little reason to venture anywhere else. We stayed busy the whole time. We ate, sat, gazed, ate, laid down, sat, watched, fell asleep, ate, sat, watched … all day. We did this out on the grass by the backwater, on the swing bed in the patio, in the pool and on the beach. The green all around soothed my eyes. I couldn’t have enough of the coconut trees, the gentle flow of the backwater, the silence interrupted only by birds and my kids. I sat there drinking in the quiet relishing the delicious prospect of doing nothing the rest of the day. I wanted to hold on to it, take it back with me. The property has lovely touches of kerala all over the place. Kerala houseboats are called Kettuvallams. These Kettuvallam style bamboo awnings adorn every entrance, veranda and roof. Little statues of elephants with the most adorable little umbrella stand guard in front of every room bearing the room number. Striking Pillayar (Vinayagar/Ganesh) sculptures greet you at every turn. People were canoeing in the backwaters, getting Ayurvedic spa treatments, making friends with other guests, dressing up for meals and broadcasting real-time to their social circles. I slept. You can try your archery skills, play cricket or stand in the pool and order cappuccino. Women had shopped specifically for this holiday. They wore tie-around the neck swimsuits, one side sleeved swimsuits and sunglasses and walked into the pool to stand and chat. They ordered cappuccino and fries. I was wearing Saroja Devi’s swimsuit with the frills at the thigh. I took in a long deep breath,...
Maggi

Checking in

It’s been a long long time since I wrote but I’ve been worrying all along that I am not writing. I don’t do and I worry that I don’t do. I don’t exercise for a week and I feel lousy all week that I am not exercising. Somehow it is easier to continue to feel lousy about something, than to do it. I’ve made my laziest meals the past few months upcycling old chappathis into kothu chappathis, making back-to-back idli-dosai-dosai meals, skipping chutney and dishing out milagai podi every possible instance (so much so that my milagai podi is nearly over and I need to make it again), making maggi a regular weekday dinner, running through eggs and bread and letting the veggies get old. I’ve not cooked a meal worthy of being blogged about. I’ve been engulfed in work. View this post on Instagram When I am anxious, overwhelmed, time pressed and going mad, I go out and stock up on Maggi. For backup. For comfort. For solace. #maggi #foodbetterbegood #food #foodtalkindia #noodles #instant #instantfood #foodie #comfortfood #foodblogger #comfort #chennai A post shared by jayanthi (@jayanthi.padmanabhan) on Mar 17, 2018 at 3:42am PDT In between I managed to go on a family vacation-cum-pilgrimage to Mookambika, Kollur and Bekal (travel post coming soon). View this post on Instagram Exclusive action shots from my vacation at Bekal, Kerala. People around me were canoeing in the backwaters, swimming, cycling, making sand castles on the beach, dressing up for meal times, making friends with other guests.. I was doing this. 😴😴😴 #vacation #bekal #hotel #kerala #holiday #sleeping #indiatravel #trip #instatravel #familytrip #southindia #foodbetterbegood A post shared by jayanthi (@jayanthi.padmanabhan) on Apr 18, 2018 at 12:40pm PDT On vacations I like to take my planner and make bucket lists. I saw the bucket list that I’d made on last year’s vacation. I wanted to learn swimming Lose 18 kilos with an additional if-clause item that IF I lose that weight I get to buy new clothes Blog 5 times a week and Reach a 100000 followers. I had 1340 followers then. View this post on Instagram 2018 Planner, Tabbed sticky notes and Norpro classic popsicle mould brought with love from USA by my dear friend lakshmi. These are exactly what i want. How can a friend know so well? She won't. That is why I get her mailing address as soon as she reaches...
How to be kind to fat people, Kindness challenge

How to be kind to fat people

I started the kindness series a while back with the intention of sharing stories of kindness. I was hoping it would spread some positivity and set off a chain of kindness. If you have a story of kindness whether given or received that you’d like to share with the world, please write to me: jayanthi.padmanabhan@gmail.com. It need not be Nobel peace worthy. I am talking about little everyday acts of thoughtfulness, sensitivity and kindness. I’d love to highlight your story on foodbetterbegood. While I wait for these stories, I thought it might be a good idea to intersperse it with short “How to be kind to X” posts. Last month it was about “How to be kind to hung over people“. Today it is all about being kind to fat people. Feel free to share this post with friends who need this. I’d love to hear your ideas on how to be kind to fat people or anybody else. Who else could do with some kindness? Your comments, feedback are most appreciated. Thank you! Stay happy, stay kind!  
hung over clipart

How to be kind to hung over people

Wish you a very happy new year! May all your dreams come true this year! Wish we all show more kindness to each other this year. I received exactly one email from a dear reader – Aarthi about my kindness challenge who rightly pointed out that people might not be comfortable sharing their stories of kindness, in blowing their own trumpet. She also suggested that it might be easier instead to share stories of kindness that they have experienced from others. I think that’s a great idea too. I am still open to highlighting stories of kindness in this space, whether given or experienced. So please feel free to share your stories with me; you can mail me at Jayanthi.padmanabhan@gmail.com. In the meantime until the kindness stories start pouring in, I thought I’d pepper the series with a “How to be kind to x” post each week. This week it is all about being kind to hung over people. Let’s jump right in: How to be kind to hung over people Hung over people are in a bad state. They’re already regretting the previous night. Harder than being hung over is pretending not to be. So please make it a little easier and save the sermon for later.  If you’re the spouse, parent, child or sibling please wait for the next day to say anything. If you’re anybody else, it’s not your business. Avoid judging them by way of innocent sounding questions about their family, kids, drinking habits and such. You need not approve of any of those. If the hungover person is a woman, avoid snide remarks trying to shame her. It is still not your business. Avoid judging her by way of innocent sounding questions about her family, kids, drinking habits and such. You need not approve of any of those. Draw the blinds. Provide some food, a big jug of water, a combiflam or the preferred tablet for headache and let them sleep in. Give them their sunglasses if they find it too bright when moving around the house. If possible, cover for them. Try to take care of their chores or commitments for the day. Lend a patient ear if they want to explain or talk about the previous day. Hear completely and try not to say what you would have done in the situation. When they’ve recovered, objectively list out your problems, your expectations and a...
light diet

Diet Plan for weightloss

I hope you’re doing great. How is weight-loss journey shaping up? Do you have any goals you want to achieve before the end of the year? I was thinking of setting a mini-goal for end of the year within my project 50k. End of the year is a little over a month away. But there’s a lot you can do in a month. I am going to be sharing a diet plan for weightloss today to help you stay on track. Truth be told, I’ve barely stepped in the gym the last few weeks. I spent the past few weeks hugging a hot water bag, a pain relief spray in one hand and popping tablets every now and then. I’ve been plagued by a persistent back-ache that still hasn’t gone away. I know now how it feels to not be able to bend at all. I also realized that I bend only when I am putting on my shoes or photographing food. I lower myself gradually into the chair and get up even slower. Nobody dare hustle grandmas and grandpas for being slow! It is easy to slip off the diet when you are not exercising. There just isn’t that motivation. But it is so important to stick to your diet to stay where you are, to not ruin the work you’ve done all along. I had a few readers ask me about the diet to follow for weightloss. So I decided to put together a couple of diet charts for the benefit of those who wish to lose weight. There are two versions of these diet plans – the light version is for beginners and anyone who doesn’t want to make too many drastic changes to their daily diet. The Advanced version is for the seriously disciplined kind who are up for a challenge. I have the vegetarian and non-vegetarian options for both diet versions. Feel free to use the diet plan that suits your goals best. I am no expert, far from it. I have lost weight in the past with the “light diet” and regular exercise (5-6 days a week). Jagan follows the advanced version of the diet plan and has seen impressive results. He works out 5 days at the gym in addition to a cross-fit class he attends 3 days a week. These are also some of the things that I’ve heard from dieticians. This...
10 things we do on whatsapp

10 things we do on Whatsapp

I’ve been toying with the idea of this post for quite some time now. I wasn’t sure I could come up with a big enough list. I didn’t want to offend the Whatsapp folks I know of. But then I realized I’d exited most Whatsapp groups that I was part of. Also I don’t expect the serious Whatsapp-y folks to have enough patience or attention span to read this 900 word article. A video or meme may have stood out but not this one. So here goes. Let me know your experience with Whatsapp. I’d love to hear. HBD We never remembered birthdays and anniversaries of cousins, cousin’s wives, their kids, uncles and aunts. And rightfully we did not wish all these people either. Things seemed real. With Whatsapp when all these extended family members are cloistered together in a Whatsapp group just a tap away, every day is somebody’s birthday, somebody’s anniversary. The cousin’s wife or brother or sister gives the cue usually by changing the title of the group. Changing the title is the red carpet treatment of Whatsapp. Everybody else follows suit with their own “HBD” wishes. The more cake, balloon and confetti emojis you add, the greater your effort and therefore the heartier your wishes. Easy, quick and empty. Not wishing would make you a mean person. Vaguely texting a bunch of emojis would make you a vacuous but sensitive person. Choose.  There are the groups within groups. This is going to look like an analytical reasoning problem in CAT paper, but bear with me. There is a Whatsapp group (group 1) that has A, B, C, D and E. There is another group (group 2) that has just A, B and C. D and E don’t know about this group. Another group (group 3) has A, B, E and F. C and D don’t know about this group. A also talks to D one on one. A talks to everyone within the group and outside too. People need to keep track of the group overlaps when forwarding messages. You don’t want to send what was sent in group 1 to group 2 or group 3 because some of them have already seen it. You need to look up to see which group you’re texting in to make sure you’re not talking about D in the group that has D. Not easy. There are the office...
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