Living in Leuven – 1

Last Saturday morning, I gave an awkward hug to my husband in the Jeddah airport and it’s been one hell of a week so far. I finished two of my semester exams with severe bronchitis and vigorous coughing by the side. I have shed tears like never before and have called my husband every two hours to cry some more. While all my utensils soak in the sink, the layers of dust on my floor are dancing as the cold wind slips through the window. All the furniture are scattered in the room; the couch blocks the entrance of the toilet, two chairs are at the center of the room with loads of clothes on them, and the ladder to my bunk bed is enjoying the heat by the heater! Right now, I can see the right slipper by the chair and left by the heater, and my study table has all the notes from the previous exams. On top of these papers, the “priorities” have taken their place – my bottle of vicks, my antibiotics, some more medications, nasal spray, and a glass of water. Amid all these chaos, I lie on my couch (actually sit at 60-degree angle) also facing the toilet door. In fact, if I extend my legs I can touch the toilet door.

It has been a difficult week and I am not sure for how long I am going to be sick as I am not getting any better. I am tired of coughing all the time; with each cough, my lungs are crying out loud now.  My stomach muscle can’t tolerate one more cough. And my head, can’t bear more headaches! My room needs a makeover to even make it a little more habitable. On top of all this, I have two more exams left. I still have to study. I have been hating every second of my week with just one desire in my heart – pack my bags and leave for good. Be in the arms of the man who cares – who would pamper me whenever I fell sick, who would bring me food, who would take me to the doctor, who would do the dishes, and who would bring a warm glass of water every time I coughed. Being sick and being alone is just sad!

Why am I cribbing about all this? Well, I am just painting the picture of reality that it is not easy. Not even for those 22-year-old boys and girls studying here. Nobody likes to be away from family, friends, and familiarity. Some of my own acquaintances back home think that we all have so much fun here. It is fun on some days. But, on most days it is lonely, it is hard work, it is a struggle. Every morning we wake up and rush to college, then once we are home, late in the evening we need to work on assignments and finish up those notes and also, think about cooking, washing utensils, taking the clothes to the laundromat, doing groceries shopping, and survive on a budget. No! It is not easy. We not only miss home food but also those roadside panipuris, masala dosas, not-so-healthy gobi manchuris, and those ganne ka juice! We not only miss our family members but also those crowded streets and strangers bargaining over a 100 rupee chappal! We miss our streets, our people, our food, our kind of joy, and also, our kind of living. So yeah, it is not easy at all!

Yet, we all are here – some straight out of college, some after a few years of work experience, some left their boyfriends/girlfriends behind, some left their group of besties behind, and some like me left their spouses behind and all of us left our parents behind. We all are here with a dream, a vision, a passion, and a hope of better future. It is not fun, it is definitely not easy but we are here supporting each other like a family. Trying to gulp all the hardship, considering every moment as a learning. When one feels lonely, the other lends an ear. When one is sick, the other brings medicines. When one is hungry, the other cooks food. Yeah, we are here for each other. Studying in a foreign country is not similar to studying in a different state in India. Here, we are the aliens! But, we are here.

I am glad to have met such amazing people. Like I always say, at the end of the day life is all about the people we meet. It is not easy being here, but they make each day pass faster.

 

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Winter is COMING!

Neither a game of thrones fan nor a winter fan!

So, what happens when you grow up in a small South Indian town which doesn’t even know what a scorching heat or freezing cold is? Well, the answer is simple. You brain stops functioning when the temperature goes above 40 or below 10 degrees. I have had a very few odd temperature dealings in my life and trust me, they didn’t end so well!

After a brief exposure to 3 degrees in Pune (and shhhh… my aunt had to finally give me Rum to stop the shivering!), my full fledged roller coaster ride was in Delhi. One thing I hate about winter is India!!!! Hell yeah! The system is so horrible. Not all the places have heaters and the ones at home are these tiny boxes which look like a modified insect killer. It’s good enough if the only body part you have are hands. I mean it is India and that’s the highest luxury you can deserve. So what happened? The temperature went below 6 degrees. Without a good heater and exposure to constant cold, I fell sick. So sick that I had to rush back to Manipal and undergo a nose surgery to remove my bulged tissues. These Manipal tissues can’t handle cold for sure!

You know how people say you learn from your mistakes. To be honest, every time I learn from a mistake I somehow learn my tricks of doing the same mistake in a different way. This time I went to Manali. Oh shut up! Not in summer. I went during the peak winter when the temperature was minus at night and around 2 to 3 degrees during the day. The moment we reached Manali around 6 in the morning, my husband shivering in cold said, “Oh we came to Manali and now let’s go back!”. Sadly, he is from Manipal as well.

The hotel, which costed us a bomb, had a small hand held heater. So this time, I couldn’t even warm my hands in peace. I had to share it with my husband!!! and you guys thought marriage is easy? Every day me and my husband had rum with ginger, honey, cumin and some other stuff I don’t even remember! It was horrible! But we hadno choice as we were trying to keep ourselves warm and healthy. We would sleep layered up that we couldn’t move at night. Irrespective of all the troubles I was going through, the next day when I saw the snow I went crazy. I slept on the snow and poured it all over me. I was wearing enough jackets; I am not that stupid! Well some times stupidity has no measurements. The next day I had diarrhea and high temperature.

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When I finally reached Manipal after my short 3 day stay at Manali, I was so sick that I had to go on antibiotics for a week.

So, I know I don’t function well in cold. Yet, in the name of further studies I have committed the same mistake in a more mature way. I landed myself in Belgium. In my defense at least I didn’t chose Canada! I was still okay with the decision as the most hated thing about winter was India. This is not like India. They have big heaters. A real one, which gives out hot air. Now I don’t need to chose between my hands and legs. I don’t need to be layered up. I can move around in my bed. Such a relief. Oh wait! I broke my window the second day I got in. My highly responsible landlord has been trying to get the carpenter to fix it. But, the carpenter who has never seen me before has decided to not help me out and punish me for coming to a place which is cold. Damn! It is cold.

I was being too nonchalant about the problem. I have a big heater, you know! But I never ever thought that on a Sunday evening my heater can break down and the window like every day will silently let the cold wind inside with a scoff on its face. In short, I have been freezing for the past two hours!

While I am going to sit here and freeze for some more time wondering if I already have a congested throat, you guys enjoy your heaters and warm weather and a hot cup of tea and yeah, I am jealous!

 

Release

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I stood there and I stood alone

Not to cry, never to mourn!

Moment of being strong took birth

I had to prove you my worth

You shattered as I walked along

Sometimes I patted, sometimes I sang a song

I broke inch by inch as I held you tight

And my soul withered in a painful fight

Days passed; years sang a new lullaby

I saw a new shine rising in your eye

But I cringed; felt like a dying flower

Holding my tears behind a thin veiled cover!

I am not strong; I let you believe so

Taking the hits for you; taking all the blow

My smile never faded till you smiled again

Can I now cry? Can I now feel the pain? 

Indians and food!

Living in a foreign land (embarrassed), I often make a statement – “If you want to strike a good conversation with an Indian start with Bollywood, cricket, and food!”.

It is true. We are crazy about these things. Bollywood and cricket stars are treated like gods! They have a huge fan following and very often we hear about crazy things fans do for their stars. Coming to food, Vikas khanna is as big a star as any cricketer or actor. When me and my friends meet, we talk about the food joints back in my home town. When me and my husband travel to India, our bucket list is all about food – “I want to eat pani puri”, “I want to eat masala dosa”, “I want my mother in law’s uppu huli dose” and the list is long. Now, my mouth in watering. I want food!

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After this elaborate introduction about how much we love food, let me tell you the purpose of this post. Most of my non-Indian friends don’t understand why I spend so much time in the kitchen. Even when I was working, most of my colleagues would never consider cooking as a chore. Some of them would eat oats every day right in front of my eyes, some would exclaim how busy their weekend was as they were cooking for the entire week (as an Indian I gasp), and some buy frozen stuff, heat it up and eat it. I still can’t get my head around it.

This is how every household in India is when it comes to food –

We want a good breakfast. Sandwiches, oats are snack for us. They are not BREAKFAST! Breakfast for a south Indian is typically idli, varities of dosa, upma, poha, chapati, paratha, etc and trust me none of them is as easy as making a sandwich. When the main course takes so much time, our husbands/family members won’t even eat it without a side dish like chutney, rasam, sambhar, curry etc. So, every day my mom (now me) would wake up early prepare breakfast like dosa with chutney, then prepare afternoon’s lunch which is another elaborate time consuming dish like rice with rasam and palya. Not to forget the morning tea. After doing all the cooking, there is an entire kitchen utensils in the sink to be caressed with water.

All this needs to be done usually before 8.30 am because that’s when she would leave for work.

In the evening, she would come home around 5.30 pm and start with evening tea with some light snacks like podi, avalakki, chats etc. Around 6.30 pm she would water the plants for half an hour, then again back in the kitchen for an elaborate time consuming dinner like roti with some vegetable curry. We would all eat dinner together, then she would wash all the utensils, and grind the lentils and rice for the next day’s dosa!

This definitely sounds insane! I must admit I don’t cook as much but yeah, I am close.

When I look at my mom I realize that she never had any hobbies. Mostly because she had no time to cultivate one. It was all about cooking and washing utensils. Don’t even start me with festivals. All the cooking gets multiplied by at least 3 times. More number of dishes, desserts, and sometimes borrowed vessels for washing!

Our world revolves around eating. We can never cook on weekends for an entire week as our fridge won’t hold so much. And usually we don’t even eat two days old food! We want everything freshly cooked. It is not just about the taste. The aroma also matters a lot! No, if you are not an Indian I doubt you would understand how much we love our food. How much we love cooking. How much attention we pay on every small detail in cooking. And how much we love our spices! No, we can’t survive on one dish for two days or the same dish for breakfast every morning. We want variety. We want different taste to tingle our taste buds. We just don’t enjoy our food. We worship it!

I am sharing recipes of a few simple breakfast, lunch, and dinner options. Have a look and decide why do we spend so much time in the kitchen. This is a simple meal plan with one main course and one side dish. Some people like my cousin prefers at least two side dishes every day with lunch and dinner. Some people cook desserts very often. Some people want fried things like papad with their lunch. So, It can get more elaborate. And yes, there are people who eat the same food for lunch and dinner (that’s usually me and my husband after our maid left!). But, yeah even I don’t like eating yesterday’s food!!!!

Breakfast:

Idli –   http://www.vegrecipesofindia.com/idli-recipe-how-to-make-soft-idlis/

Chutney –  http://indianhealthyrecipes.com/tomato-chutney-recipe/

Lunch:

Rice

Sambhar – http://www.vegrecipesofindia.com/vegetable-sambar-recipe-mangalore-style-sambar/

evening snack:

Pakoda – http://foodviva.com/snacks-recipes/onion-pakoda/

Dinner:

Roti – http://yummyindiankitchen.com/soft-chapati-recipe-roti-recipe/

Curry – http://yummyindiankitchen.com/brinjal-curry-recipe-brinjal-gravy-eggplant-curry/

How about you cook these and enjoy a nice Indian dinner tonight?

 

 

Me and Mr. – silly fights

 

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What really happens when two people live together? It need not be husband and wife, it could be siblings or friends or even children living with their parents. It leads to fights!

I have often asked myself as to why people fight (I mean silly fights)? 

  • Difference in opinion
  • Difference in beliefs
  • Wanting things their way
  • the ultimate reward (who gets what item)
  • Wanting to be right

And so on…

But, I believe it is an ego conflict. So what if opinions or beliefs are different? What if he gets the last piece of the chocolate? What if I am proven wrong this time? It is not greed; it is not even jealousy! It is ego! We want to be right and we want things our way. Anyone who tells me they don’t have an ego I won’t believe them. Everybody is egoistic which makes us who we are. This ego can be good and can make us independent, self sustaining, respectable individuals, and can also make us rigid, adamant, angry, frustrated. Like everything else in life even this needs to be balanced. 

Even me and Mr. have silly fights. Sometimes, these silly fights become a war and we don’t talk to each other for hours. But then we realize that we were silly and we let the matter go. Sometimes, we both apologize to calm down each others ego, and most of the times we both don’t apologize to satisfy our own ego. No matter how we do it, we get over it real soon. It makes me wonder how silly these issues are – it’s about not putting the toilet seat down, or not keeping the milk in the fridge, or talking loudly, or putting the wet towel on the bed, or not selecting the right movie, or not calling when traveling, or not listening when one is talking and the list will go on. These issues need not get our attention but we usually fight over it. I have tried so hard to not put my head into these silly things and to keep calm. It is impossible. These silly things begin to pile up and then we have a “marabharat” war at our house. So, I decided to have silly fights over silly topics. I vent out my frustration. Sometimes it ends up as a healthy discussion, sometimes as an ugly argument, and sometimes as a silly fight. 

After an hour, we keep our egos aside and start talking like the fight never happened. We don’t compromise. We try to reason out and try to find out who is right and who is wrong. If that doesn’t happen, we move on. As if these silly issues can affect our life or love. After a few hours we wouldn’t even remember if we even fought and if yes, then for what!!!

I believe it shouldn’t get more attention than this. Even silly issues can bother us. So, it is better to talk it out, maybe fight over it, and get over it than piling up things in your heart which can lead to more anger and more frustration. At the same time, after a fight if you keep things in your heart that will also bother you. The best thing one can do in a marriage is let go. Not let go of each other, but let go of the negativity that surrounds the ego. Grow with your ego but don’t feed your ego!

 

 

Unsolved mystery of missing sunglasses

16,000 rupees!

Yes, that’s what I paid for an ordinary looking pair of sunglasses. When you grow up, earn your money, and then suddenly the “brand” bug bites you hard on your ass, you no longer are attracted to the 250 rupees glasses which you bought from a fancy store next to you house. I wanted to invest (because unlike clothes, sunglasses last longer) on a good pair of sunglasses. Hence the BURBERRY! Trust me when I say this, it looks exactly like the one I bought in palika (New Delhi) a few years ago. If there was no tag by the side or if I didn’t tell people it was Burberry nobody would even believe it. Ah, the bug! It bit me again and this time I bought a Micheal Kors and paid even more. Then, a few weeks later “reality” bug bit me hard on my heart; that’s when I lost my BURBERRY!

It was a regular weekend and we decided to go out to the “Indian” market section of Jeddah – Sharafiya. Indian is definitely emphasized as once you lose something there you won’t get it back! We went for South Indian breakfast at a restaurant called “Aryaas” and then shopping in the Indian vegetable market and in an Indian store called “Sharafiya”. When I reached home later in the evening I realized my Burberry was missing. I panicked. Heart beat accelerated. Eyes became moist. Head started spinning. Then, without any choice I told my husband. Cool as ever, he suggested we start the search. We first called our neighbors and once they said they didn’t have it we started tracking the day. From Aryaas to the market to Sharafiya store – only to declare missing. Now, I was already crying. I couldn’t take it. After all I am a middle class woman who never even had a Ray Ban. Once we reached home, we visited our neighbors to tell that I screwed up. I don’t know why, she decided to search her handbag only to find my Burberry silently hiding behind all her garbage. It looked exactly like her sunglasses, and hence the confusion.

Once I got my sunglasses back, I pledged to keep both my babies safe – Burberry and Micheal Kors only to be used on special occasions (typical middle class mentality where we bring out the new porcelain plates only when the guests arrive). Hence to protect them I bought a Tommy Hilfiger for regular use. I have been constantly using Tommy for months now and I never lost it. Even once. Not even misplaced it. I felt I am becoming responsible. So, three days ago when we decided to go to Riyadh just for a day I wanted to showcase my Burberry to god knows who! Maybe it matched with my abaya or it made me look like a Ninja, nonetheless I took it out of its safe haven.

Riyadh was blazing hot. So, I did utilize my Burberry a lot. Finally when we reached the airport and returned the rented car, I remember still wearing my sunglasses as my husband joked about it as he was wearing his too. Once inside the airport, I put my sunglasses inside the bag. After reaching Jeddah, I wore it again, went to pizza place and then ended up going to the same old neighbor’s house (who is no longer my neighbor). The next day, I went to Aryaas (the same old south indian restaurant) for breakfast, and in the evening to sharafiya store! Thursday I was at home and did not go anywhere. Today, when I decided to go out I realized my Burberry is missing. In the evening, I searched everywhere. My house, the car, even the dustbin (I truly wonder why) but I couldn’t find it. So once again, I called my neighbor, then aryaas, and I need to visit the store as they don’t have a phone. I don’t know why I keep losing the same pair and on days when I go to the same places or meet the same people. Maybe my sunglasses is racist and it likes my “fair” looking neighbor more than me or believes it needs to reach a richer owner or just wants to make me realize how stupid I am to “INVEST” in stupid sunglasses or it is god telling me – “stretch your legs according to the size of your quilt”.

I didn’t find it. I am not sure if I am going to find it. But, if you guys see my Ms. Burberry walking around in your neighborhood, please advice her to come back to me and tell her I promise to never take her out of her safe haven (until I become responsible again). If you find her, you know where to find me!

Here is a picture for identification –

I love it but I am not so insane to make portfolios of it.. The image is strictly downloaded from google. Only if I can bring a picture to life!

The hunt is on….

Types of people on Facebook!

I have a love and a hate relationship with Facebook. I have deleted my account on several occasions and thanks to Facebook, which never really deletes any account, I log in after a while. Once I am on Facebook, again I start feeling it is irrelevant and consumes a lot of time, and decide to get the hell out of it. There is no denying that Facebook is a good platform to keep in touch with our friends, do some promotional activities for businesses/blogs/groups etc, and at the same time make money out of it. Trust me, I have no idea how people make money out of Facebook! Let’s just leave it there. During my course of relationship with Facebook, I have come across different types of people. This is just my “fun” observation and not to hurt anybody’s sentiments. But if you are hurt (I apologize already) and if you can’t get over a simple sentence written by a nobody you can definitely trash me on Facebook as much as you want and unfriend me! Last year somebody called me an “enemy of the nation”; I am sure you can’t beat that!

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This is not about all facebook users!!! More specifically about my facebook!

So here it goes –

Let’s look at the politically motivated category.

This has two sections: Real and Fake!

Real are those individuals who post on Facebook about current political agendas, the status of the country and all those things which I don’t understand! But when I cross reference the data, their posts genuinely have some value. Their opinions if presented in the right platform could bring a lot of changes. A well read, well informed category.

The fake ones are really funny. In this there are certain sects of people who are anti Modi (for nothing!), and others are anti congress (so obviously for Modi). Somewhere I see a strong religious string attached to it. Anti Modi group posts things such as Muslims getting killed, Christians are harmed, Hindus are goons etc etc, whereas for Modi group talks about how Muslims are hurting Hindus etc etc. I often get confused if it is about politics or religion! But most of the things that are posted are pictures with some written stuff on it and nothing is validated. There are some days, when I get the same information in two different versions!!! All I want to say is -“Post whatever you like, but truly check your facts”!

The next category is Religiously motivated category.

People belonging to this category often share pictures of gods or holy places, and threaten you that if you don’t forward them you will be cursed or if you forward them you will marry the person you love/you will become rich/you will get good fortune for the next seven lives! Really? I am not a god fearing person but the people who are forward the same pictures again to me! Not again. I can’t keep ignoring god on my Facebook for long. Can I?

Next is the most confusing one – Socially motivated category.

This category of individuals are good human beings who definitely want to help others. They post about saving Earth, planting trees (I wonder if they really plant trees on soil or just on Facebook), blood donation, somebody dying of cancer and needing money, some lost child etc etc. I truly appreciate these people, but I get confused sometimes. Recently on my Facebook wall there was a story of a boy who needs blood post road traffic accident and a phone number was provided. But you know what, I had read this post a few months ago. So the boy was still in hospital? The same old picture? Are people really calling the number given? What is really happening? This is similar to why I never give money to beggars. There are so many scams with respect to beggars that I can’t differentiate who is really in trouble. Once again, check you facts before you forward anything.

My mom is in the next category but only on whatsapp – Medically motivated category

Yes, this group has answers to all your prayers. Starting from cancer to increasing hemoglobin to reducing belly fat to getting out of depression. Plus they have information about new research which even in the Medical Council of India doesn’t know. And the benefits of Haldi, lemon, tea, Jeera, etc etc you name it, they know it. And how can I forget the do’s and don’ts for a long lasting disease free happy life. Yes, they know it all!

Most are in this category – Networking category

Individuals in this group are there to network. It could be to keep in touch with our friends/family (so that some day they will come to our rescue!) or for professional purposes. For a blog, to market a product, for our own image building, etc etc. but the only purpose it to be visible in the world. That’s the main agenda! I think more the reach more the money!

Fun motivated category

I have some friends on Facebook who never post anything serious. It is about cat videos, funny memes, lame jokes and pictures. But I love these people! When I am not doing anything, I am on Facebook checking the profiles of these individuals because it gives me a relief after a stressful day. These individuals keep me updated on movies, new songs, Bollywood, and hence I love these people even more! Sometimes they can go overboard and discuss if Kareena is a good mother or not, if nepotism exists or not, but yeah occasional Bollywood drama I can handle.

And the last one, Silence motivated category

And I have a lot of friends in this category. They never post anything. If you don’t search for their names and go to their profile specifically, there are equal to non-existent on Facebook. Once in a while, when they are in a good mood they may like your profile picture or a post you have shared. But they never post anything and usually they have the same profile picture for years. I don’t know why they are on Facebook but I guess, they want to be in touch with everyone without getting all chaotic! They like their peace!

I am not saying a person belonging to one category doesn’t belong to the other. Mostly all are in the network and fun category I believe. But, I also feel there are individuals who strongly belong to one category and share some space in others too.

If there are other types of people you have come across let me know!!!!

I know one – always bored category.  Well, they write personal blogs about unwanted things like types of people on Facebook 🙂