Mission Biryani!

Have serving sizes changed or do we eat less than recommended?

One regular Sunday, and husband decided to get lunch delivered. The reason behind this was to make use of a coupon that would expire in a couple of day. Yeah, I know, we base our decisions on some weird reasons. Anyway, back to coupon and food.

The question was what to order. It had to be from a specific food delivery app so at least the ordering platform was finalized. No hopping between apps. After a lot of consideration, the final decision was chicken biryani. Being a mix of rice and chicken there were likely chances that mother-in-law would also find is palatable. So, three servings of biryani ordered from a popular restaurant. After all, three servings should be enough for three people. Sounds logical? Of course.

Turns out that our estimates were wrong. We ended up finishing merely one and half plates between the three of us. And we were FULL! 

Ordered food usually does not last beyond a day (I have observed and experienced this a couple of times) so we had to finish this the same day and so a normal Sunday turned out to be a Mission Biryani day. Husband and I ended up having the biryani for dinner as well. And DID we finish it? 

This, however, made me wonder if people are really able to have so much food in one meal? To think of it, there have been multiple occasions when we have struggled to finish what we order. Are restaurants serving more or are we eating less? Thankfully, Google has answers for everything and some answers I got.

It so turns out that serving sizes have increased over the years. Browsed for some time and came across some facts. 

No, I won’t recycle those facts here. The bottom line is that serving sizes have multiplied over the decades for multiple reasons. Result is that we are being served more food than we actually need and in the process our diet is going for a toss, which in turn means rising health concerns, and added medical expenses . . . it’s a rabbit’s hole. 

When the Mind and Legs Battle . . .

I am thankful my leg was in control or else she would have been the recipient of a kick right in the face.

I am not suited for luxuries, so tells my body, if a food massage can qualify for luxury. It so happens that in eons of time I, in fact we, decided to go for a foot massage, husband and myself. A thirty-minute massage. 

Thirty long minutes? What was the rest of my body going to do in all that time? Oh yes, I could read my book and so along went my book with me. Bad luck, this was not to be. A room with dim lights, the aroma of essential oils and a reclining sofa. How was I ever going to read? No, even a Kindle was not going to work. 

Dosing off was the only other option. Looking to my left I could see husband peacefully reclined with eyes closed and enjoying his massage. I should I also try to do the same. This is where the trouble started.

When my mind decides to sleep my legs decide to wake up.

When my mind decides to sleep my legs decide to wake up. Unlike normal people, my legs do not listen to my mind when it is time to switch off the senses. On the contrary, this is the exact time that my legs decide to take charge of themselves – it is called restless leg syndrome.

Right when the masseuse was getting into the groove my feet started twitching. First the left and then the right. “Stay there, stay there,” went my brains. Twitch, twitch went my legs. With eyes squeezed shut, hands clasping each other and all the will power channeled in controlling my legs I finally succeeded. While my feet got a good massage my mind and brains got a workout of their own.

For once my legs listened and saved me from a great deal of embarrassment . . . and a possible ban from a massage parlour. 

Would I be going for a foot massage again? Doubtful.

Seeing by Jose Saramago

This is not a book review but my personal experience and opinion with some spoilers.

“So that means you liked the book?”

This is a tough one to answer. Recently finished reading Seeing by Jose Saramago, a book I received as a gift from a friend. 

What is the book about? It is about a city, the capital city, being abandoned by its government after 83 percent of the votes cast turned out to be blank votes. ‘Blankers’ is what the government names those who cast the blank votes. No one knows the specific identities of the blankers since it was a secret ballot but with such a huge percent every second person could be one of them. 

The government, in an attempt to ‘teach the city people a lesson,’ abandons the city and shifts the capital to a new location. The city is left government-less and police-less and the borders are guarded by the military to prevent any citizen from leaving the city. After all there is the fear of this ‘pollution’ spreading to other cities as well. Nameless characters in a nameless city in a nameless country comprise this book. This could be the story of any ‘democracy’ and brings the reader face to face with reality. Yes, what we see in this book is reality. 

Being so used to reading fiction, this reality was a bit to too much for me. Left me with a feeling of “wasn’t reality enough that I have to read about it in ‘fiction’ as well?”

Nameless characters in a nameless city in a nameless country. This could be the story of any ‘democracy’.

What I must say is that Seeing is an absolutely new experience for me in terms of the kinds of books I have read. The writing style is also different with sentences going on and on and on calling upon the reader to keep track of the thoughts being packed into every sentence. It requires a lot more attention and engagement compared to regular books and takes some time to get used to. 

Compelled by habit and owing to my regular reading stuff, I continue to look forward to a hopeful twist of events, a time when everything falls in place and the actions of the characters achieve their desired results. However, as I mentioned earlier, this is reality in the form of fiction and not everything turns out to be as expected. 

And if this was enough, towards the end of the book I realized that Seeing happens to be the sequel to Blindness, one of Saramago’s best books. 

Saramago was a Portuguese writer and the recipient of the 1998 Nobel Prize in Literature. Blindness was published in 1995 and Seeing in 2004, both originally published in Portuguese and later translated to English. Saramago’s works have been translated in 25 languages.

Had I read up about Seeing I would have found out that it was a sequel, but who knew that a friend would gift be me the sequel instead of the first one. My fault that I never made an attempt to know more about the book before diving in. Anyway, I had taken the plunge and was almost ashore when I realized that I needed to once again swim back into deep waters to know more about the shore.

Blindness is on its way. From Seeing I will have to go back to darkness and emerge enlightened.

So, did I like the book? Good for a change to break the routine reading pattern but I would prefer to keep it as an occasional subject to delve into. Too much of reality can be depressing.

Can the Present Ruin the Past?

Ever since Mummy mentioned her plans to visit Darjeeling, past images have been floating in my mind. Hazy and crisp at the same time; memories all the same. Not sure how accurate those images are but they are parts of my life, close to three years of my infancy that I spent there.

The first three years of my schooling, kindergarten to Grade 2 Mount Hermon in Darjeeling was my school. Yes, I was a boarder. “Didn’t your mother have a heart?” was the question a friend put to me recently when I mentioned this phase of my life. 

What a weird question to ask. Or was it weird? Cannot speak for my mother. Apparently circumstances at home compelled her to do so. Whatever be the reason, the days I spent there have lived with me since then. It’s been over three decades that I left those hills and never got an opportunity to go back, not even a brief visit but those three years are nestled deep within me, a treasure I value immensely. 

Why is it so that I remember more of those three years and not the years that followed? Have lived a life spanning more than four decades but those three years keep coming back. One post will not be enough to pack in those years of innumerable moments. The heart continues to revisit places, people and incidents.

At the same time, I do not want to visit Darjeeling now because if I do so I will lose these memories. 

The present will ruin my past. 

Looking beyond “back in our days”

“You might feel that I am missing out … but I do not feel so. I love the way I am living and I may say that maybe you missed out on living the kind of life I enjoy.”

I have grown up in a joint family – grandparents, uncles, aunts and cousins. And if that was not enough there were relatives popping in every now and then. Some would stay over for a meal, some would stay for the day and some would put up camp for a couple of days. In short, there was no dearth of people. We longed to have some quiet and solitary days. We could not leave any of our stuff lying around the house just casually because there were people visiting so everything had to go back to where it belonged, immediately. Good practice in a way. And then there were things that had to be ‘hidden’ away before anyone came and saw it. Like that saree my mother got custom made for a wedding. More on that later. This is about something else. 

Contrary to this is the way I live now. Holed up in my own home on the 9th floor of a high rise in a metropolitan city. This is the latest. I have been on the 10th, 13th, 8th and 2nd floors of other high rises. The point is that now anyone hardly visits. The days are ours and so are the weeks and months. Weekends are at home or, at the most, at the mall, since there is one close by. And this is the way my son has grown up. Away from the constant noise of the never-ending flow of relatives. His room is his and he does not have to give it up for anyone. May be once in a blue-moon but not as often as we had to. In fact, the whole house is his and he can leave his stuff anywhere, if he likes to. A similar situation is prevalent at my brother’s place and his son is growing up with the same experience. 

Now when we meet, me and my brother or some other siblings, we often go back to those days when we were part of that large extended family. There are incidents that happened, squabbles that took place, misunderstandings that led to further quarrels, the tussle between sisters-in-law, that one family member that cannot be forgotten for weird reasons and a whole lot of other stuff. That was fun for us as children growing up in the chaos and we still enjoy discussing them. Me and my brother feel that our children have missed out on those experiences and often feel bad for them. This was until recently when I was given a different perspective to the whole affair by my son. 

“You might feel that I am missing out on that but I do not feel so. I love the way I am living and I may say that maybe you missed out on living the kind of life I am enjoying.”

Perspective matters and the episode with Abhijit Bhaduri on The Seen and the Unseen with Amit Varma started rotating my brains cogs. The perspective of time, the manner of living, the thought processes of the present generation is different from ours. Times change and we must be open enough to understand this change and not expect the next generation to forcibly buy into what we think is the right way to live. After all, we provide them with a lifestyle varied from ours so how can we expect them to grow up with ideas that shaped our growing years? Phrases like, “Back in our days …” can be good enough to share experiences with the next generation. Them not being able to understand or follow should not be frowned upon or looked down at. Would it not be better if we tried understanding their perspective as well?