Archive for February, 2014

Operation Clean-Up

Life back home was simpler.

Cleaning the house was an easy chore. If you dropped something on the floor, you just grabbed a broom and swept the area clean. If the kids dropped water, you dumped a mop over it and the floor was clean in seconds. Β In fact, if the kids dropped something, they knew they had to sweep or mop themselves and went about the task with due diligence πŸ™‚ .

Like I said, life was simpler :).

The apartment we have now is pretty plush. By which I mean that the entire house is carpeted with an inch-thick rug. The fuzzy kind of rug you know which sinks when you walk on it giving you the sensation of walking on air.Unfortunately, the same rug generates gazillion micro-fibres which coat every surface of the house. Initially, I wondered where all the dust came from since the house is packed to prevent the cold air from coming in. Every morning, I would wipe the tables, the TV, the cabinets and by evening you could see the film of dust again. The BF told me about it coming from the rug. Vacuuming every few days became a must (doesn’t mean that I actually vacuum it every other day πŸ˜€ . Am still fine with the once a week routine πŸ˜› Β ).

Cleaning around the house

The other problem with rugs? The horror of dropping fluids on it!

I have two 5-year-olds in the house. You have any idea how on-the-edge I am when these two butter-fingers have their milk or tea? Every other minute I’m jumpy, believing that that they have dropped their paints or bumped against the tea-table which held my tea-cup or simply dropped the bowl of soup!

The other day, Lui puked and I did something I never did before. I caught her puke in my bare hands before it could hit the floor ! (The things these rugs make you do !). Yup, more than why she puked, I was mortified with what would happen if the rug got soiled ! Yeah, call that being a bad mommy, but seriously, I’d rather be a bad mommy for a few seconds than be a mommy who’s down on her knees, scrubbing that damn rug! How much easier it was back home. The kids could puke all over the floor and we just grabbed a mop and cleaned up. *Sigh* (But mostly, we had house-help to do the sweeping and mopping. Days or luxury, right?)

Yesterday, I was talking to the BF on the phone, sprawled over the carpet, giving the newspaper a cursory glance. As I disconnected the call, I noticed a strand of my hair caught on the rug. I tugged it free and immediately noticed another one. I pulled that one too which led to another and then another. Pretty soon, I was once again sprawled over the floor, tugging out a million hair from the rug. Looks like the vacuum simply doesn’t have the suction to pull out the hair. And going by the length of the hair, they were obviously all mine. I seem to be shedding more than a dog on a high sugar diet 😦 . Worst part is, I’ve got only half the house done. Will have to spend today tugging out my hair from the rest of the house !

But with every cloud comes a silver lining! In my case, the dishwasher and the laundromat do the honors of making my life easier. What would I do without them?! The kids can pull out as many clothes as they want, the sink can pile up with as many dishes as possible but my forehead remains as smooth as a baby’s bottom πŸ˜€ . Not a single wrinkle of worry can mar my looks πŸ˜‰

I think I’ve been pretty lazy all these years. Looks like going to office and minding the kids was possibly the ONLY thing I ever did in Pune. For a person who had house-helps all these years, having to do everything at home can be a little trying , sin’t it 😐 Β ?

Like I said before, life back home was really simpler 😐

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Yesterday was a pretty snowy day in Chicago. The snowfall started in the morning and lasted the whole day. We had around 6 inches of snow in our area 😐 !! After dinner, I decided to go for a walk around our block. The BF volunteered to mind the kids while I took a leisurely stroll around πŸ™‚ . He did warn me to be careful though (and even kept calling me to check).

Packing myself into jacket and gloves and boots, I ventured out.

At 8pm in the night, it was a pretty lonely stroll 😦 . There was hardly anyone around. Only a few cars zipped by. I guess the snow had stopped a lot of people from going out. I did get a few strange looks from a couple of doormen outside the apartment blocks. I mean, people here either rush out to get from one place to another, or they are serious runners/joggers who dress up and jog at an even place. No one really strolls along, if you know what I mean!

Anyway, I walked along, admiring the white snow everywhere. It was difficult to walk because the snow had covered all the walk-ways and if you didn’t want to slip and fall and make an ass of yourself, it was best to walk slow and keep one foot forward firmly before raising the next. By the way, did you know that fresh snow is just like flour dust. You can dust it off your clothes and hands without it melting and making you wet . Cool, isn’t it? πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚

As I walked along, I relived the old-time memories of Kashmir, of days when we were snowed in and the only way to get out of the house would be when the Orderly bhaiya would come in the morning and shovel the snow blocking half our door πŸ™‚ . Mom would heat water in the large fire place which would then be used to unclog the drains in the bathroom and toilet 😐 . There was a central heating system called Bukhara which was nothing but a large metal drum with wood burning inside kept in the middle of the bedroom πŸ˜€ . There was no TV or entertainment of any kind. But there were loads of apple trees which we would climb and eat apples from! And ohh….this was when I got into the habit of eating snow 😐 . There was plenty of fresh, clean snow to gobble up πŸ˜€ .

Lovely memories, those πŸ™‚ . *Sigh*

Unfortunately, the snow here isn’t as clean. Or maybe its because we are in downtown. Am sure the snow in the suburbs would be pristine white πŸ™‚ . Within half an hour of its fall here, you can see a thin film of grey covering the snow. It is the smoke from vehicles around. The snow on tree and rooftops looks better. I saw a lot of people using snow-blowers to clear the driveways and the footpaths. Almost got a load of snow on me from one, luckily, the fellow saw me at the last minute and waved his hand in apology πŸ™‚ . He didn’t have to. I’d LOVE to be drowned in snow! Coming from warm Pune, who wouldn’t πŸ˜›

The roads were full of slush, with snow melting because of the vehicles. Sure wouldn’t want to step out there! I just wondered how much more slushy it would get when the snow really started melting! Luckily, the drainage system here is pretty good so hopefully, our shoes wouldn’t be ruined completely πŸ™‚

Here’s a pic of the benches outside our apartment. As you can see, there’s no place to sit! Thats how high the snow has piled up πŸ™‚

Snow on the benches

Snow on the benches

I picked a little of the clean snow and made a snowball. When I came back home, the kids were tickled to see it. Both gladly posed with it too πŸ™‚


Lui with the snowball


Shobby posing with it. He’s VERY happy

The snowball has been kept in the freezer, to preserve it till the time the kids go to Pune πŸ™„ . Thats some preserving I have to do  😦

Thats all about the nightly stroll. More on the trip to Devon (or as it is called, the “Desi Place”) in the next post πŸ™‚

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Sitting at home has made me experimental.

I was never famous for dishing out delicacies at the drop of a hat but I sure can rustle up something when I’m in the mood (which is usually rare πŸ˜€ ) . Regular meals are not a problem, I think I fare pretty well in everyday-dishes.


(There’s always a B-U-T in my posts….I wonder why !! 😐 )

I have a large convection oven and a regular sized microwave at my disposal. Since the day I landed here, the convection oven was calling out to me, begging me to use it. Well, almost! Because I really couldn’t figure out the controls which were rather dated (multiple dials on the dashboard πŸ™„ ). But (there I go again), since I had plenty of time on my hands and a large basket of oranges too sour to eat, I decided to try my hand at baking an upside-down cake.


Egged on by the kids who were tickled at the thought of their mom baking a cake in their presence, I got the ingredients together and started the process. The batter turned out much more than the capacity of my baking dish, so I divided it into two parts. One went into the convection oven and the other went into the microwave. As usual, the microwave cake turned out fluffy and yummy in 3 minutes flat!

As for the convection oven cake…this is what it turned out like :-

Upside-down cake

Upside-down cake

The picture didn’t turn out too good but the cake was devoured by the BF and the twins. They LOVED it πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚

Now don’t ask me for the recipe because I never measure my ingredients. If its too thin, add the flour. If too thick, add milk (in this case, I squeezed a few oranges for a cup of juice. Used that in place of milk). That my motto! And yeah, I add a teaspoon and a half of baking powder irrespective of the amount of flour I use . The cakes turn out fine in each case 😐

Next time around, I’ll try Β the pot-roast πŸ˜€ (Dream big, I say πŸ˜€ )

By the way, I still havent figured out the dials. The convection oven took more than 3 hours with what I think was the timer going off every 30 minutes. I googled a bit for some help but apparently, the oven’s just too old a model 😦 . Doesn’t matter though, I think with enough fidgeting I just might rustle up something good πŸ™‚ .

If I start now, I think I can get baked Penne ready for tomorrow’s breakfast πŸ˜€ πŸ˜€

Gotta go then. Adios amigos πŸ™‚

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A Valentine’s Day On Friday

It is the season of love πŸ™‚

Well, maybe not so much here in the US as it is back home!

I mean, by now every street in Pune would be covered with hawkers selling roses by the dozens and heart shapedΒ balloons. The rates, though a bit high, would be pocket-friendly. Archies and Hallmark would be doing some serious business. Camp and Deccan would be covered with the college crowd, strolling along, some gutsy ones even holding hands πŸ™‚ .


I miss that!

Though I’m right in the city here, things appearΒ a little damp! A few stores have heart-shaped balloons, the department stores keep the rose bouquets but thats about it ! The streets are bare…..there’s no crowd around (maybe the weather is to blame) and clearly, youngsters are missing from the scene!


Nothing beats the snow and the lovely contrast it brings to redΒ balloons and roses, however few they may be around πŸ™‚

Happy Valentine’s Day to everyone in and out of Love!

Because there is never just one person who demands your love πŸ˜€


There’s one experience that I had today, a very unique one!

You know how women in India and abroad visit temples? Well, muslim women in Asian subcontinent pray at home but in the rest of the world, they go to the Masjid. There are separate sections for men and women of course. So today, being a Friday, the BF suggested that I join him for Friday prayers at the local Masjid here in Chicago.

I got the kids ready and took a cab to the destination where the BF was waiting for us. Once inside, we separated, with Shobby joining his father and Lui with me. We went to the area where women were to pray. ItΒ was possibly the first time in my life that I was praying in a group! Frankly, it felt pretty good. There were women from so many different countries, different colours, dresses and accents πŸ™‚ !

After the prayer, we went down to the basement for a lovely lunch of HyderabadiΒ Biryani! Yum!! πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚

It was awesome experience !






About the Valentine’s Day, nothing speaks better than Roses and Chocolates, isn’t it?

So I got my Rose AND the chocolate πŸ˜€

The Rose

The Rose

The Chocolate

The Chocolate

Have a great weekend ahead folks.

Have fun πŸ™‚

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In Chicago!

So! After a long hiatus which saw plenty of ups and downs, I’m finally back on the blog. Though I want to get into details, this will be a short post with a summary of my trip to Chicago.

The last few months have been nothing but crazy. I quit work (I mean, I took a long break again and in the bargain jeopardized any chance of a favourable appraisal or promotion anytime in future).  The BIL got married, the BF fell terribly ill in his short stay and in the flurry of rushing him to and fro from the hospital, we missed out on inviting many people for the wedding 😦 . The week after the wedding was spent in attending lunches and dinners by relatives to welcome the new bride and to bid us goodbye.


Suddenly, it was time for us to leave and I still hadn’t packed ! Mom came to the rescue. Being an expert packer, she managed to squeeze all of our stuff into four big and four small bags. Considering we are going for a possibly long term, the BF was impressed that we weren’t carrying the entire house πŸ™„

(There’s a LOT I forgot to pack though 😦 . Hopefully, the stuff I left back isn’t critical to our stay here! )

Farewell was tough 😦

Though I was excited, there was a lot I was leaving behind and that made me feel rather heavy. Mom and MIL were in tears and though the FIL kept a gruff exterior we knew he was crushed inside. His most adorable grandchildren were going away……and we have no clue when we will be back!

We took the road to reach Mumbai airport where we realized that ………

Immigration sucks!

I think my heart goes out to all those people who travel frequently. Waiting long hours for immigration check not only tested our patience, but even the twin’s ! On their part, though it was late at night, the two kept up their good spirits and complied with moving along the queue at snail’s pace. Security check was another bummer 😦

Once inside the plane, Lui was upset that we didn’t get a window seat. Eventually, she gave in to routine and went off to sleep. Shobby enjoyed the cartoons playing on the in-flight entertainment system. He even ate the snacks available πŸ™‚

(For some unknown reason, the snap above refuses to rotate right! ),

We reached Munich, local time around 5:30 in the morning. The next flight to Chicago was at 12:30 in the afternoon! We had nearly 6 hours to while away in a very deserted airport! But I must say, I saw some of the most stylish crowd in Munich. The BF had to remind me more than a couple of times to not stare at the women πŸ˜€ . The furs, the boots, the caps! The women, even at Β that ungodly hour were dressed to the nines. Compared to them, I looked like a dump in my tracks, knotted hair and obviously, no make up 😦 .


At Munich airport

It was difficult to keep the kids occupied. The BF was still recovering from his ill-health and was in no condition to run after them. Β The twins, on their behalf, behaved much better. We sat near the windows and counted the aeroplanes, told stories, ate candies and biscuits, ran along the huge passage way when there was no crowd and just tried to while away the time. Finally, after 6 long hours, it was time for us to board the flight to Chicago.

You know how people make fun of flight attendants on Air India? Well, the United Airlines’ Flight Attendants were no better. The women were definitely over 40 and not in the best of mood. One male attendant must have been in his late thirties, but the others were definitely pushing forty. And no, none of them were skinny. I was possibly thinner than a couple of them πŸ™‚ . So no more jokes on Air India, okay?!

After a really long flight…must have been 9 hours, we finally arrived at O’Hare airport in Chicago where we had to suffer another long wait for immigration check. Though the twins were irritated, they behaved and didn’t throw a tantrum even though they were tired of walking along the queue. Frankly, it was smooth sailing with no hiccups and thanks to Mom’s packing, my fears of our ayurvedic medicines being confiscated, were put to rest πŸ˜€ . We were cleared to go and were welcomed by the coldest blast of frigid air when we stepped out. So we stepped right back in πŸ˜€

The BF went out to book us a taxi, while I made sure that the twins were bundled up properly once again. I am used to snow as I have spent my early childhood in Kashmir. The cold air wasn’t a surprise to me . But to the kids, it sure was ! The minute Shobby was outside, he started shaking like a leaf! Lui handled the cold much better I think. Both were over-awed with the snow….their first time ever πŸ™‚

We took a cab to the apartment. The BF loaded our luggage on a cart and took us to his floor. We came in and dumped our luggage on the floor. The BF left us to return the cart back to the admin office. He must have gone for around five minutes. When he got back, he found three bodies lying on the carpeted floor. We had crashed out. It was around 5:30 pm local time.

Lui woke me up at 3:30 AM. She was hungry. Shobby was also up. So we all headed to the kitchen to find something. The BF, God bless him, had stocked up the refrigerator with the essentials. We had bread and butter, a safe dish to eat at odd hours πŸ™‚ . The BF woke up too, he couldn’t sleep with all the noise the twins were making.

It took us a week to get back into our normal day-night cycle! I had heard about jet lag but experiencing it first-hand was a different thing altogether πŸ™‚ .

I am slowly getting used to this place. The twins are yet to start school (we are still hunting for something close to our place). At times, I take the twins out for a short walk, just to let them get them get the hang of the weather. Spending too much time at home isn’t good for little kids ! Thankfully, the two are in good spirits, the LOVE the snow and love going out (all bundled up of course). The only problem lies in the effort to get dressed for going out! The layers of clothing, outerwear, jackets, boots, gloves, ear-muffs, Whew! Its tiring just to get dressed!

First walk in the snow

First walk in the snow

In their new winter-wear

In their new winter-wear

It is week 2 in Chicago and I think I am more or less adjusted. The people are friendly and courteous, I know the relevant stores around our place and though this place is expensive, I’m slowly letting go of mentally converting everything to rupees and gasping at the rates. My breathing, Alhamdulillah, is pretty normal when I shop now πŸ˜€

I’m in downtown Chicago, so if there is any reader here who knows this place, do drop by and say hello. You are all welcome πŸ™‚


Note : I am really sorry for the hiatus. There was a lot happening back home and at the end of each day, I justΒ ran out of steam and didn’t have the heart to sit and do a post. Many of you messaged me, commented on posts and asked if everything was okay. I’m sorry that I could not even reply to those comments. Sincere apologies 😦

But I am back and intend to be here more often πŸ™‚ . Looking forward to hearing from you all once again. Love you πŸ™‚

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