Monday, September 28, 2020

The Social Media Detox

September was a quest to stay away from the social media. To say I am addicted to my phone would be an understatement. What I have with my phone is something beyond addiction. This inexplicable need to touch and open my phone at regular intervals and just mindlessly browse through these different social media applications. Sometimes catch an episode of two of the current series that I follow. If you may ask, these days its the re-runs of The Big Bang Theory and Rotten on Netflix. I am really happy that my education was during a period when we were still kind of untouched with the plethora of these distracting mediums available now. However, during my college days – the Facebook craze was at its peak! So, I dutifully deactivated my Facebook 1 week prior to my semester exams and activated it right after coming back from writing my last exam. This sort of self-discipline worked very well for me back then.  

All those working in IT sector would agree that studying and elevating your skills here is a never-ending exercise. Now after cooking, baking, embroidery, other hidden hobbies and all the other quarantine mandate things – it was time for learning some new things in the professional capacity. When I sat down to prepare a plan – I realized that the only way I can manage to fit in sometime for studies is if my some magic I am able to increase the duration of a day from 24 hours to say 26 or 28. Considering the impracticality of that idea I quickly took a dive into the activities of the day and identify the leakages – majority of which where identified to be associated with the phone and the universe of social media it beholds. I hastily decided to do what I did back in college. I deactivated my Facebook and uninstalled Instagram and Pinterest – the major applications I spent my time on according to the statistics on my phone.

The withdrawal symptoms kicked in as soon as I uninstalled the apps. I lost the count of how many times I switched on my phone and scrolled towards the place where Instagram and Pinterest used to be. I had given myself at least 1 week of no FB, Insta time. The first few days were hard. I remember clicking pictures of the food I was having and saving them for later use. But after few days the exercise seemed futile and honestly a bit silly. I mean I heard a voice inside me which said “Bro, just eat the damn thing, no one cares about your picture”. Haha. So, during the one week I did manage to study a bit – which made the exercise a little bit successfully. I also devoured Anne Patchett’s The Dutch House, William Dalrymple’s City of Djinns which made me fall a wee bit love with Delhi (but more on that in one of the next 3 posts remaining for this year). I also started and still reading Chimamanda Adichie’s Half of a Yellow Sun. This woman is fast becoming one of my most favorite authors. Someone who's books I can blindly order without having to read the jest or the reviews. Although I do find her leading ladies a bit flawed and ridiculously similar, but I am ready to overlook that for the other little things she so nails down in her stories.  

An interesting book can help you overcome anything. For me, these three books did the trick. Watching the documentary Social Dilemma further resolved my detox to be extended by the end of the month. TBH, after the strict first week, I did cheat a bit by accessing the applications via the web. But blame it on the interfaces, the time spend was negligible. Also, Chimamanda ensured that any remaining time I had left from work, study, daily chores and reading was spend extensively reading and researching about Nigeria. The Hausa, Igbo and Yoruba tribes. The Nigerian Civil War. And the recipes for Jollof Rice, Fufu’s and Fried Plantains. By the way I have really perfected my research on jollof rice and I am definitely making it next month. Next month because IT MOST DEFINITELY NEEDS TO BE INSTAGRAMMED RIGHT?

My closing thoughts on this topic would be – social media is a necessary evil. Necessary because it gives you so much information. I love the history, book, home décor and the foodie pages I follow on my Instagram. I love those tiny little baby chef pages. I love how some girl will take the pain of creating a video on the best nude lipstick shades for Indian skin tone and looking at it I can just order the one I like reducing my research time. Oh and the memes. I missed the meme pages the most. But how much you want it to dictate your life is in your hands – like literally. The trick is to find a middle ground and not get swayed by mindless browsing. I am still trying to find my middle ground. When I feel I am browsing way too much I simply get up eat a fruit, get hold of my book, study something, apply a face pack or go bug my husband for his unfolded laundry.

All in all, I really liked this social media detox. I may make it a regular feature once a month.

Also, I got a nice blog post out of it, so a win win.

Stay cautious of the Social Media Peeps!

So long.

Love:

Sepo

 

Monday, August 31, 2020

The Rundown: August 2020

It’s going to be a lean post this month.

It has been a crazy last few week. With tight schedule at work and parents visiting, add to that several festivals – I hardly had any moments of peace with myself to introspect. I did not even have a topic in mind to at least formulate something in my mind if not on the paper. Also, I was reading this book called A house without windows by Nadia Hashimi. Since it was based out of Afghanistan – the description, story-line, food, locales, characters – everything reminded me of Thousand Splendid Suns. Now if you have been reading this blog for long, you would know my obsession with Afghanistan, Mariam and Laila. I have written about it here, here, herehere, here and here. Yes, yes, yes – it was/is a huge obsession.

So, any minuscule time that I managed to get in-between all the other madness was spent in reading. I am not complaining though. I had a gala time reading the book. Of course, it’s no Thousand Splendid Suns but good. Also, I had a very disturbing experience of someone copying stuff from my writings. Yet again. This time however it was not at blatant as the previous one. Sneakier and smartly done. In a way that even though I know it has been taken from my blog, I still can’t point my finger to it. And that has just made me so sad. Angry first. But later just sad.

Of late I have seen multiple Instagram posts alleging or complaining about how their content/ideas/posts have been copied by popular Instagram influencers. Since these influencers have large standing and high number of followers, their content and words are taken at face value. And somehow the new budding creator has his/her wings cut. Now, a lot of people are of the opinion that imitation is a form of flattery or they will just throw a “grow a pair” at you, or even dare to ask you to grow a thicker skin. But trust me – it’s a lot easier said than done.

For a creative person there is nothing as devastating as finding someone stealing and posing your work as his own. I fail to understand what makes people to do this. Why would yourself to be a copy of someone, why not be an original? What drives me crazy is when educated people indulge in this deplorable behavior. I am sure all of us knowingly or unknowingly have many a times copied an image from the internet and used it in our documents or presentations. I have many a times done the same. However off late I make it a point to mention the website links wherever possible. If I like something on Instagram, rather than taking a screenshot and saving it for myself, I share it online giving due credit and link to the artist’s profile. I really wish people would respect the content one dares to share online.

I had all these things going on in my mind this month, hence I was unable to write or invest time on anything else. I have decided to maintain a low profile for now. Go easy on the online sharing for my blog. It has always been a very private space and I now intend to keep it that way at least for some time.

Hopefully next month would be a good post month!

Till then so long.

Love:
Sepo

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Bullying In School and Beyond

There is a lot that goes about in schools apart from education and sports and all those extra curriculars. There is a lot of politics involved in who you sit with, eat with and mingle with. Who invites you to their birthday parties and who doesn’t. Ooo and birthday invitation cards matter too. If you have seen Mean Girls, you would understand what I am talking about. If you haven’t – Really? You haven’t? Hmph! Please go and watch this cult classic. 

The point is, there is always a crème-de-la crème that exists constituting of the IT girls who everyone wants to be friends with. Now I am not sure about how things work in school colleges anymore – considering there are a lot of changes from the time when I was in school. There was no digitization, no corrupting TV series, no branded clothes, no coffee chains but there was definitely a hierarchy, a lot of group-ism with underlying bullying.

Of course, there was not much understanding on these aspects at that point of time but when I look back, I can totally see it through. The talks about clothes – lack of fashionable clothes mostly during an annual children’s day celebration which was really just a big fashion show. A lot of judgement was passed on till of course the next year and the cycle would continue. Fancy stuff in tiffins, cold drinks in water bottles, vacations at fancy places, occupation of parents – these are just tiny examples which led to a lot of peer pressure. To be fare our school never endorsed any of this. Apart from that one exception for the children’s day, we had to wear our uniforms always – even during PTMs. We were not allowed to wear any jewellery of any kind. Just simple tops for the ears. No chains. No rings. No colored hair. No residue of Kajal. No fancy hairdo. No Step cutting. No flicks. All this was very annoying back then, but when I think about it now… I feel grateful that my school and people involved there cared enough to make the schooling years as comfortable as they could for kids’ comings from different backgrounds.

If you think we leave this toxic culture of bullying, judging, comparing at schools, you are so wrong. This never really goes away. You will always be judged right from a simple dinner party you throw to the dress you choose to wear at someone’s wedding. The stuff you post online, the frequency, your photographs – everything will be discussed and dissected. Some people will even make it a point to bring it to your notice on how you have put on weight or how you are posting a picture of chicken on a Tuesday. Now it totally depends on how you choose to take it. Don’t give a damn about what people say. With age, an added set of responsibilities and an attitude like “You-don’t-pay-my -bills” helps. But it is not fool proof.

Toxic people have a knack on sneaking up on you at most normal of places. They even lurk at your workplaces. I had a real bad encounter with one at the start of my career. This person made a point to make my life at work miserable by a mixture of intimidation, personal comments and other tactics which I understood very late. So much so that I had nightmares about going to office. Panic attacks at the very mention of Mondays. I may also have contemplated leaving my job many a times all because of this person. There were also many crying calls made to friends. I saw this person fish out the same treatment to many other newcomers after me. Not standing up for myself and others, remains one of my biggest regrets ever. Years later I understood that this persons’ bad behavior stemmed up from deep rooted insecurity. An explained need to not feel unwanted or overthrown. Well, what can you really do about that? We are all wired a certain way. And some of us may not even know there’s a fault in the wiring for a long time.

While all this is part and parcel of life, the thing is how do we know where to draw the line? We all may have knowingly or unknowingly hurt someone by comments which we may have thought to be innocent. But how our words affect other person, we have no way to know. All of us are struggling with battles of our own. Some have body issues, some may have anxiety, others may be having an off time at office, some may be struggling to make peace with hormones gone haywire by PCOS. Then there are mood swings and thanks to Corona, most of our work life balance is crazy. All I want to say and practice myself is to be kind. Let’s stop the judgement at least during the pandemic. If someone decides to post a workout video – let them. Cooking escapades – give a like. If they want to play every goddamn challenge from Sarees to B&W pictures- its there wish. Anything that keeps them happy even if temporarily. Let everyone do whatever the hell they want to keep sane.

To be honest I really did not have anything to write about this month. But I was/am very serious about fulfilling my news years resolution of 12 posts this year. One for each month. So, while this month has been very fruitful in terms of my reading goals. There was not much inspo from the writing front. I usually decide on a topic well in advance and then spend many weeks formulating ideas in my brain on how and what needs to be included. And when I sit to write, I slowly elaborate on all the bullet points in my brain. But this time my brain was empty. In the past, during a writer block I usually pranced away to nice pretty café. And a gourmet sandwich and endless coffees later I would have at least a blueprint of a write-up.

Since going out is out of picture now, I did the next best thing – a strong cup of immunity booster tea, some romantic yellow lighting, questionable numbers of pillows to make myself comfy and back to back episodes of Good Girls on Netflix for that perfect background noise. Some time later I had the three paragraphs you read in the start. Not sure from where and which corner of my brain and heart it sprouted…but I have an inkling that it may have something to do with Sushant Singh Rajput’s suicide and the subsequent news items which have refused to die down since then. A part of it also came from this disclosure I read on how these big fashion magazines and brands – mostly led my these entitled young adults who feel they run the world – indulge in all kinds of shitty behavior.

All I can say to conclude this haphazard post is – Never do something that you may regret in future. Neither to yourself nor to someone else.

Live and let live

Love:
Sepo

Monday, June 29, 2020

Mad Men - An Appreciation Post

I love vintage everything. Shabby chic décor, vintage clothes, Victorian collars, polka dots, reclaimed wood furniture, vintage-y posters, old books. I just love it all. Of late I have also developed quite an interested toward history. I now try and sneak in books based back in time (or written during those times) to know more about how the world works. Sadly, this spark to learn was totally missing during my actual learning years. Ha. Anyhow – I mostly spend my free time on Pinterest or Instagram, feasting my eyes on these vintage thingies. And that is precisely how I came upon this gem called Mad Men on Netflix.


What I saw in the preview were some gorgeous looking men and women. Draped in some absolutely lust worthy ensembles and impeccably stylish hairdos. Very sixties and poufy. I was intrigued. I had just finished watching Money Heist and was looking for something less adventurous and easy on the mind. Mad Men just seemed perfect for this.


The build-up of the show was good. It held my attention but not in a way when you are left with no other option than to click on next episode. I was enjoying it leisurely and it provided a much need relief to the eyes. Beautiful visual and interesting storylines. Although the amount of sexual harassment at workplace unnerved me, but I had to keep reminding myself that in the 60s women had very little to do except for providing a glamour quotient and of course being the secretary. Being a secretary, learning shorthand and making a mean coffee were desired skills. Women holding important positions panicked men (waise isn’t that the truth even now?). There is a very important scene where the protagonist Mr Draper is seen leaving a meeting when a woman client is unsatisfied with his ideas. But not before declaring “I am not going to let a woman talk to me like that”.


But uprising of women from short skirts and high heels to pant suits is ideally what Mad Men is all about. Well, at least for me. I loved the character arc of Peggy Olsen. Mostly we are shown how women must be bitchy in order to attain top positions at work. Brash, rude and what not - to be taken seriously. But with Peggy, it was different and more realistic. She is considerate, focused, hardworking and yet humane. Not afraid to stand up for herself but mostly lets her work speak for itself. I absolutely adore the scenes between Peggy and Don Draper.


When I had read Elizabeth Gilbert’s City of Girls, which was also set in the similar timeline and place (NYC). I was so not convinced about how women could just go about partying every night with different set of men, be drunk wake up with a different set of people and smoke like chimneys. But all my doubts of authenticity were drowned by Mad Men. It was as if the book has come into picture in a world of beautiful young women, married men having flings with the drop of a hat. Sugar daddy’s sponsoring your Louis Vuitton. Women smoking during pregnancy and after – breast feeding be damned. Also, oh I am not sure about now but back then alcohol in advertising office seemed to be a mandate. Gulping a drink or two before, after and during a meeting was not really frowned upon.


Another fascinating thing about Mad Men was that is covers all important events of American and world history that happened in the sixties. Marilyn Monroe’s Death. The assassination of Kennedy Brothers. Civil rights protests. Landing on the Moon. Mohammad Ali’s winning fight. The Vietnam wars. Some serial killing, which I forget. And many other titbits here and there. I find it really enthralling to experience these events up close and personal via these mediums. For precisely this reason The Marvellous Mrs Maisel is another personal favourite.


Taking of favourites, here are some of my favourite characters from the show.


Peggy Olsen – She is my absolute favourite. I love her. Everything including that weird fringe hairstyle they gave her in the first few seasons. The growth her character had in a sector entirely dominated by men was remarkable and most importantly – believable.

Joan Holloway – Oh Jonnie. While she may come across as a bit mean and vindictive. She is as strong a character as Peggy. Her journey from being a secretary to a partner and married to single mom is quite fascinating.

Don Draper – He just fits into the description of the term “love to hate”. His character almost sells the cheating part while married to Betty. Because let’s face it, Betty is something else. But when he repeats the same things with Megan was when his downfall started. Also, he was a pretty lousy Dad to his children, especially Sally. But Don being Don is charismatic and can literally pull off anything including stealing identities.

Trudy Campbell – Though not a central character per se but I really admired her for throwing out that scum of a husband. In an era where wives turned a close eye to their husband’s extracurricular activities, she really had some spine. And a very fashionable closet.


And on that fashionable note. My most favourite part. Narrowing down the top five best fashionable moments on the show. Trust me, selecting just these five outfits was more difficult that conceptualizing and writing down this post. So, after much deliberation, here goes.

Ms Trudy. In her signature elegant chic avatar. Don't miss that brooch and earrings. Also I love all her hats.


Joan had a lot of bodycon dresses in her wardrobe. Though her red one seems to be the most popular, I like this olive green one.

Betty Draper the style chameleon. There was hardly any frame in the entire series where she looked anything less than gorgeous. Including the clothes she slept in. She was mostly seen in empire style dresses accentuating her tiny waist. But I like her in this black one she wore in Italy. That hairdo is everything!

Megan has some really epic fashion moments. This blue one was my favorite. very LA and very 60s



This was one of those statements via the clothes. Peggy in a pantsuit. Enough said.

Also, sadly the show has been taken off from Netflix. In the last few weeks before it was scheduled to go off, I was literally watching the show while cooking, cleaning, bathing, sleeping. I just had to finish it and thankfully succeeded in doing so.

Stay Stylish People
Don’t let the lock-down stop you from playing dress up and accessorizing.

Lots of love:
Sepo

Sunday, May 31, 2020

The City of Pearls and Biryani

Our dreams are more than just some random thoughts about the day we had or things we aspire. I feel they originate somewhere deep inside our sub-conscious. Sometimes bewildering us when we wake up. For the longest time after I graduated from school, I would dream about the pretty red brick building of my alma mater. The scenario would be totally different, sometimes centered around my college life and friends but the place would be the school always. The long corridors, the lovely swings, beautiful grounds, pretty church, the staircases and railings which we were never allowed to touch. I close my eyes and can still hear clearly “Hands off the railings”. Moving on, what I am trying to say is that we may move on in life but a little part of us; somewhere deep down, holds on to these tiny little details which at one point of time were an inseparable part. Off late whenever I dream about day to day stuff (these days it's mostly how I have spilled something and now need to clean-up) rather than it being my current place of stay - more often than not it’s the first home after marriage in the beautiful nawabi city of Hyderabad. 

I came to Hyderabad with a lot of preconceived notions and apprehensions. A lot of stereotypes that one usually associates with south Indian states. I knew absolutely no one in Hyderabad. And one always hears about how once you have lived in Mumbai you cannot like any other city. I had a lot of friends in Mumbai and over the years a lot of familiarity with surroundings and a lot of independence. All this change was obviously hard to digest. And to add to all the troubles, to quote Monica Geller, I now had to live with a boy.

I still remember my first drive from Hyderabad airport to our home. The airport area road in Shamshabad which leads to Outer ring road is one of the most beautiful and picturesque roads I have ever seen. Smooth as butter with pretty flowers on both sides and those lovely boulders high up balanced on each other in a queer manner. It was definitely not love at first sight but a very pleasant first encounter with the deccan city.

In fact, Hyderabad was a lot of firsts for me. Do you know, I had never ever had an authentic biryani before I came to Hyderabad? Guess my happiness at landing directly into the biryani bowl of India. And not just biryani, let me tell you – Hyderabad is any food lover's paradise. Everything from variety to portions is perfect. Portions are infact gigantic. Mountains of rice, neatly stacked noodles and them layers of meat. Plus, the city is a perfect blend of the old-world charm and the new Cosmo. In the old city towards and nearby the Charminar you will find the old joints which continue to pe popular and have thronging crowds, Shahdab being one of the best. The best time to go towards old city is after midnight, cut the traffic and the crowds. Enjoy the twinkling lights with a plate of fruit cream. The city is also home to a lot of beautiful café's each with their own USP. There's one which has swings instead of chairs. Another which has an entirely outside seating with trees, greenery and beautiful canopies. One with Bollywood inspired décor and menu. One with Game of thrones style – with Iron chair and Hound’s Chicken and all. Ufff. Major Missing. 

Just your usual plate for two!
Just your usual plate for two ;)


There are places of historic importance too. So many museums and palaces. Old markets. Lakes. Gardens. Hidden Lakes. Dams. Shilparamam (which is like Dilli Haat and my absolute favourite y
) and Ikea. Oh everyone wanted to visit Ikea. And I should know, because we visited all these places at least 4 to 5 times with different set of guests and visitors. Oh, and Ramoji Film City. Omg. That’s your desi Universal Studio but trust me much better. If you have any queries on the tour contact me, we know the ideal times, rides, unmissable shows, the best lunch place and everything else. Did you know I played Basanti from Sholey in one of the ongoing shows? Much to the embarrassment of the husband and the guests accompanying. Hubby and I would swear that who-so-ever comes next, we are not going back again. But then we would and somehow always have fun. Hyderabad doesn't have many quick weekend getaways. But it compensates for it by the resorts. There are numerous resorts scattered in all directions of the city. Towards Secundarabad and around. So, you check yourself or a group of friends into a resort and just unwind. They come equipped with private villas, pools, also water parks. Horse riding, games, fruit pickings – Oh juicy mangoes and chikoo. 

Film City


Golconda Fort

Hussain Sagar Lake


Hyderabad was also a lot of cooking experiments. Some successful and many disasters. A lot of learnings. So many house parties. I just loved cooking in my pretty little kitchen. You must understand, I was just out from a place which I shared with 6 other girls. The kitchen was untidy most of the days to put it mildly. I had to sit for long hours in café to bring my thoughts together, in case I wanted to write or read peacefully. Or just get away from boyfriend fights. So, a whole house all to myself was a kind of happiness I just can't explain. Of course, there was a husband, but he just occupied a tiny place in front of his Xbox. So, all in all Hyderabad kind of started to grow on me. I missed Mumbai obviously, but my work trips keep them pangs in check. 

Cooking up a storm


I loved the way everyone in Hyderabad calls you “Amma” irrespective of your age. Or how people are so disciplined and follow rules. How in temples the priests do a nice little pooja for you. The small stalls of flowers and coconuts just about everywhere. And the fresh smell of sambhar brewing while you are on your morning walk. The strong cup of filter Kappi. The irani chai and biscuit. Ladies in crisp cotton sarees in summers. And the general cacophony of an unknown language in the background. By the way do you know Hyderabad has its own typical dialect. An endearing mixture of Hindi, Urdu and some tapori kinda slang. You can listen to two people conversing in this language for hours and not get bored. It is so so beautiful and funny at the same time.


We also got in touch with the Kashmiri people of Hyderabad and I must say it was the best decision ever! Because after we did it there was no boring weekend like ever. Firstly, so many Kashmiri peeps outside of Jammu always gives feels of a different kind. Plus, we celebrated all festivals, some of which we hadn't even heard of before. So, our social calendar was suddenly booked with Navrey, Ashtami, Kaw Punim, Ganesh Chaturthi and if nothing else then Potluck lunches and dinners. And if not food then kashmiri musical nights. And if not that then game nights playing and fighting over Mafia and Dumb charades. And there was sports every weekend – football, badminton, cricket followed by coconut water and breakfast (not me though, I would be sleeping peacefully at home). But what I did not sleep on was making friends with these cool Kashmiri kids. The common love for Kashmiri food and gossip played cupid and slowly we fell in love with each other's company. What followed was a beautiful time filled with many outings, vacations, house parties, sleepovers, scandalous girl's night outs and a lot of fun! And all that went by a little too quickly and soon it was time to leave. 







Leaving anywhere after a long time is emotional. But a place you had this much fun is more of a challenge. Plus, I sorely missed leaving the home we set up with so much love and a lot of DIYs, host to so many people and such lovely memories. I also miss the crazy girls and the fun times we had. Truth be told, I also miss the Biryani. 

Crazy Ones

 Dates with this one!

And just to re-iterate, Hyderabad is an experience which most definitely should not be missed. It is a very livable city with beautiful weather. No, it's not too hot. Only April, May and little bit of June. After that lovely monsoons all the way down to October. Plus, its safe. In the widest sense of the word. No eve teasing, no staring, no passes. People just let you be. Even aunties won't give you a look down. Never had to think twice before booking a cab at 10 in the night. Of course, they will cancel or disagree to go to your destination but that’s it. A very nice place to visit or stay or shop. So much to buy really. Ikat. Ponchampally. Pearls. Spices. Pickles. Bangles. Ikea Stuff....... And much more.

Pretty Things


Until next time.
Au revoir.

Love: 
Sepo

Friday, April 17, 2020

Quarantine Cooking – Chicken Momos

Momos hold a very special place in every street food lover’s heart. So, it came has no surprise when entire social media was filled with pictures from experiments with the momos during lock-down. Being a big momo fan myself, I decided to dive in and try a dozen. Luckily my insomnia helped me to get hold of a slot for minced chicken online. It was decided, chicken momos were happening in my kitchen. After a mildly successful experiment when a lot of people wanted first-hand experience, I decided to take my time and write about it in detail. At the start of the year, I had taken a resolution to write atleast one post per month, so when the opportunity presented itself with an easy update to the blog – I grabbed it with both hands. Yea, I am cheap like that. 

Anyhow, if you are here just for the recipe, do scroll directly down because I will probably ramble about for a paragraph or two before coming to the point. However, if you are as bored as a panda without a bamboo, then feel free to continue reading my momo timeline. 

I clearly remember when I ate momos for the first time. It was in Delhi roughly around 2006. I had never even heard about them but my sister sweared by them and how good they were. I hated them at the first bite. I was bewildered why someone would eat this raw-ish ball of flour and that burning-my-mouth-chutney. Fast forward few years with the influx of students from Ladakh, momos made their way into every corner of Jammu and my heart (and stomach). Back in college we had momos every day. Yep. I am not exaggerating; our canteen had in-house soya-filled dumplings and spicy watery chutney. They were fabulously drowned with bottles of cold drinks. And if some day we missed out on eating them in college, we had this epic joint called Momo Hut. It was a very shady place, always dark inside but they served the best-est mutton momos. I have never had amazing melt in the mouth momos ever after that. Sadly, the joint is closed now.

We have successfully Indianized momos - tandoor momos, fried momos, kurkure paneer momos etc etc. While all of them taste good, for me – those mutton momos hold the highest place. Closely followed by these chicken momos I had in Mcleodganj. Third place is for kurkure paneer momos. So, with the decision of making momos at home came a big responsibility of atleast matching up to the big guns and the big expectations from ahem the husband. Thankfully it was not that bad. 

Now I did a lot of improvisations to my recipe. You can choose to follow the same or like me watch atleast 5 videos of the recipe and then follow little bit of everything.

Chutney
This is the most important step. Because what are momos really without that fiery chutney. You will need :
10 Red Dry Chillies (soaked in water for atleast 2 hours)
4-5 Garlic Pods
1 Teaspoon Sugar
1 Teaspoon Oil
2 Blanched Skinless Tomatoes

First take the red chillies & garlic and grind them till the chillies are finely done. Next add the sugar and oil. Lastly add the tomatoes and grind everything to a smooth paste. The consistency of this chutney will be a little watery, you can choose to cook it a little. Just a simple saute saute till the consistency becomes of your liking.
I kept the chutney as-is though, as it reminded me of the canteen-ki-chutney. You can also skip the tomatoes for that schezwan chutney like flavor. 


Stuffing
Chicken Mince (Cup full)
Pepper (2 Teaspoon)
Spring Onions ( 1 Cup including the greens)
Finely chopped garlic (1 teaspoon)
Salt (swad anusar)
Mix everything up and done. As easy as that.

Dough
All purpose Flour (1 cup)
Ragi flour (1 Tablespoon)
Baking powder ( 1 pinch)
Salt (1 pinch)
Water (well, obviously)

I know what you must be thinking, what is the ragi doing in there? That’s a futile attempt for my conscious to make it a little healthy. Knead the dough until it is soft and spongy. Let it be for 15-20 minutes before using.

Now that all ingredients are ready, let's start.

1. Make really tiny balls with the floor and bhelo it into small sized rotis. Make sure to keep the edges thin. 

The balls, momo base and raw momo chilling side by side. For some reason gas lighter is also in the picture.

2. Now add the chicken mince and seal like you would close a Gujiya. 

The Chicken Mince
3. Once all momos are stuffed, you will need a steamer. Here’s an interesting bit of information - I don’t have a streamer. But that wasn’t going to stop me. 
4. So I made a jugaad of sorts with a patila of boiling water and a colander. 

The jugaadu steamer
5. If you too don’t have a steamer, don’t forget to brush a little oil on the colander (I forgot, and it broke 5 out of 12 momos).
6. Keep the setup covered for like 10 mins. Keep checking. Turn the momos to other side. Keep for 5 mins. Switch of the gas. Let it rest. 

And Voila, you are done.

I was a little skeptical about adding the raw chicken, but it was cooked splendidly. 
Do try and let me know. 

Love:
Sepo

P.S Apologies for the abysmal quality of pictures. In my defense, while cooking, I wasn't aware I would write and post about it.

Monday, March 30, 2020

Adulting with Adult Acne


I try and think back to a time when I had clear baby skin. Smooth and supple. Without the cruel mark-ations left by years of Acne’s war against my skin. Since I grew up in a pre-smart phone generation, I don’t have many pictures to ponder and admire my pre-pimple life. Life. Yes. Having acne changes you as a person. It affects every aspect of your being. Your personal and professional life. You become more self-conscious and your confidence will hit an all-time low. You will get tired of people asking questions about why you have pimples. Ha, as if you the answer to that question. And you will get more tired of people offering unsolicited advices especially the garelu nuske.

After 16 years of continuous struggle with acne, I can proudly say that I have tried everything under the sun. So, I will start chronologically because aap chronology samajeye. Pimples are natural at the time of puberty and its very natural to treat them as naturally as possible at this stage. So, that’s where the first mistake was made. Every skin issue is different and can arise from various reasons. It is very important to take a dermatological opinion before irritating the hell out of your skin with neem ke patte. I had a lot of Safi and way lot of fullers' earth (multani mitti), masoor daal, neem (of course) face packs. The result of all this you ask? Well, let me just say that people who did not know my name in college conveniently addressed me as the-thin-girl-with-a-lot-of-pimples-on-her-face.

After college I shifted to Mumbai and my skin just couldn’t behave itself. I had a really bad spout of not just pimples now but open pores, blackheads, shiny oily skin and oh nasty painful oozing pustules. And not only on my face but back (bye-bye deep necks) and chest too. I had trouble sleeping because ouch these shitty things hurt like hell. I had trouble looking in the mirror. I had trouble clicking pictures (and I love taking pictures). I had trouble meeting new people. I had trouble taking baths because no matter how careful I was, one or two pimples always got burst. Meanwhile I went a little cray cray doing all sorts of self-medications like baking soda, toothpaste etc etc. Since my skin was oily, I though keeping it dry would simply just cure everything. It was only recently I came to know that over drying leads to more oil production and hence more pimply babies. Shucks. I generally slept in these concoctions and would naively believe I will wake up with clean and clear skin.

Me. Every-night back then



At this point of time I also took all advices given to me very seriously. So, when someone suggested to apply my saliva just after waking up till it dries, I did it. When an aunty randomly stopped me in a supermarket and told me to wash my face with a mixture of dried orange peel and nigella seeds – I quickly called up with parents and told them to do the needful. They kept this concoction ready in bottles for me to take back (Just remembered, I still have a few left :D). 

When situation became out of control – and by this, I mean less face and more pimples, I finally decided to see a doctor. Why the delay you ask? Because somehow with everyone around me saying “it gets better with age” - I started to believe this blatant lie too. May I add - I was well around my mid-twenties by this time. The doctor immediately put me on oral retinoid treatment. I was skeptical considering the side-effects but decided to go for it, nevertheless. Apart from the obvious side-effects (duly informed by the doctor) the medications made my skin super-duper sensitive. I was supposed to cover myself completely in the sun or else I would look like a tomato. Plus, my skin would literally peel so no waxing for like 6 months or so. Which when I think back was good only – try going to a parlor with pimples on your face and you will understand what I mean. Aap yeh karva lo clear ho jayega, aap wo khareed lo sab sahi ho jayega. Anyways, the medication did work, my skin cleared up and bought a smile to my face. Now people were all like “Wow, where are the pimples?” 

The in-progress picture
Oops celebrated too soon. Acne was back and with vengeance. It was also around the same time I noticed a lot of hair growth on my face. Now whether a side-effect of medicines or hormonal issues who knows. Just what I needed - as if pimples were not enough. Phew. This time I took the approach of internal healing. After-all what goes inside your body will reflect outside. So stopped salty, oily food. Cut-out dairy. Lots of water, salads, detox waters and the face packs were back too. Thankfully this time, there were a lot of editing tools available to hide the imperfections. My darling friend, the cool gal S (previously mentioned here) helped and still helps me choose the best pictures for uploading. All I have to do is send a bunch of pictures and she replies with the best one – editing at proper places. Not just removing marks and blemishes but if required she adds up a dash of lipstick or blush as well (attaching exhibits of her talent below). 


Uneven skin tone? No Problem
Pimple se No-Pimple


The dietary restrictions failed to show up any results, and with my shaadi less than a year ahead - it was time for a new doctor. This one was more into cosmetic procedures. No eating medicines but a lot of expensive Micellar waters, Antirougeurs cremes and so on. She also suggested laser treatment and chemical peels and I (desperate for results) and with my never-say-never attitude went for it. So, I undertook these laser treatment sittings which pricked my skin and pinched my pockets. Laser was still better but Chemical peel was extremely painful, and I could only tolerate one. Result as expected was good and I was pimple free on my D-Day. Although on my reception day, the makeup girl did remark “aap toh bahut hairy ho” while applying base-crème to my face, with my sister-in-law sitting right next to me.

But like all good things, my clear skin days did come to an end.

Next bout of acne was all over my jawline and chin which indicated hormonal issues. This time it was gynecologist visits which opened another can of worms. Cut to this day – the struggle continues. Now pimples don’t surprise or disappoint me. I have accepted them as a part of my life and face. I also don’t give much though before uploading pictures now. Ain’t no pimple gonna hurt anyone. Though over the years I now have some knowledge about what works for my skin and what doesn’t. I do basic cleansing, cleaning and hope for the best. My bouts somehow also match timings with important events like marriages, vacations, people visiting etc. Thankfully we now have makeup products specifically for sensitive acne prone skin, so that helps. People however continue to ask why I have pimples and even after 16 years I have no answers.

Le Sigh. 

Love:
Sepo