Teddy Bear Cookies, Anyone??

I had actually wanted to offer you all a princess cake as I had been trying to make one for Namnam for a loooong while. She had been insisting on having one ever since she saw the video, Smitha shared in her blog a few months back. In fact the video has been replayed so many times that by now Namnam even knows by heart the instructions which Liv Hansen so meticulously gives.

Anyway, my princess cake will have to wait as I’m yet to be equipped enough to try a hand at it :(. Not to mention Smitha’s undivided attention when I can get her online for one full day to help me with the herculean task of baking!

However I stumbled upon another video, by Liv Hansen again, where she was making a teddy bear cookie, with some able help from a little girl :). Namnam was so fascinated by the video that she wanted to try baking a cookie herself. So off we went to get all the ingredients and soon Namnam was all set to do some serious baking….

The Baby Chef at work( sans the apron & the hat of course)

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The chef evidently pleased with self!!

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A little burnt from the sides, but tasted just fine πŸ˜€

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And this is a joint effort by the mother-daughter duo..the left one is the Mama Bear and the right one is the Baby Bear πŸ˜€

Please help yourself!! Happy cookie-munching πŸ˜€

PS: For those of you who’d like to know how these cookies are made, below is the earlier mentioned video:

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EDITED TO ADD: Heading into a short blog-break cum holiday. See you all on the other side. Have a wonderful week ahead,people! Happy blogging & blog-hopping πŸ™‚

Worshipping while Menstruating- Why not?

WHY EVER NOT?

Its amazing to realize how, sometimes, your beliefs can rule your life. Even when those beliefs border on the lines of superstition, you still allow them to take over you. I’m not talking about person A, B or C. I’m talking about myself. I’m frustrated to think that I’m allowing my religious beliefs to clash with my superstitions because of which my decisions are being influenced.

I had a long and fierce discussion with R & my mother about the same. While I voiced my inhibitions, they were constantly urging me to shed them and go by what my belief and faith ask of me and not what some ridiculous ideologies/ superstitions want me to do.

I’ve been wanting to initiate Namnam to music for a while. And since she had been showing an inclination towards it lately, I thought I’ll introduce her to the world of music this year on Vijayadashami.

Vijayadashami is considered to be an auspicious occasion to start formal education of any kind. On Ashthami, the eighth day of Navarathri, children keep their books, musical instruments, etc. for pooja, which are taken back and used after pooja on Vijayadashami, the tenth day.

Now there is a slight glitch here, which is making me withdraw my plans, much against my wish. And that is the clashing of Vijayadashami with my menstrual cycle.

According to Hinduism, the religion I follow(sometimes blindly, I wonder), a woman is not allowed to take part in any kind of religious ceremonies for the first four days of her menstrual cycle. She cant go to temple, do poojas, eat prasadams or offerings from temples, churches, or mosques. Partake in festivals. She cant enter the kitchen. In a nutshell, she is ostracized. So much so that she is made to feel like a sinner if she goes against such beliefs, no matter how ridiculous they may seem.

This has been going on for ages, for generations. Those 4-5 days women are considered ‘impure’ or ‘polluted’. Its so disturbing to even write about it.

In some parts of our country women are confined to a shed/hut and allowed to eat dry foods, salt and rice as though they are being punished for some crime. Preposterous!

And this is where I’m frustrated. I know how ridiculous it sounds to me, and yet I’ve been following it blindly for as long as I can remember. Why? Because all my life the reasoning that my religion presented to me was that God doesnt approve of women worshipping Him during their menstrual period. And if I wanted to defy that reasoning, I couldn’t because I didnt want to invite God’s wrath.

When I hit puberty, I remember very vividly how disturbed I was , when I was told that I’ll not be taken to the temple or allowed to light a diya. I could very clearly see the agony, the pain in my mother’s eyes as she forbade me. I was so shaken up that I had cried into my pillow that night- something even my parents dont know about till today.

I remember an incident when we had gone to Kerala on one of our summer vacations. The entire family had planned a temple visit and as my luck would have it I got my period. My Ma, the rebel that she is, decided to stay mum about it and take me to the temple, come what may. Of course I was asked to keep mum about it too. But one of the aunts overheard us and word got around just when we were about to reach the temple. Oh dear, the accusing glances that my mother & I had to endure!! As though the whole town had got polluted! I could sense how helpless my mother felt at that moment. As expected I was not allowed to go the temple :(. I’ll never forget this incident as it brought forth the regressive and backward line of thinking of my society.

Thats how it is isnt it?? We steer clear of questioning any illogical reasoning for the sheer fear of being shunned by the society. So we bind ourselves to the ridiculous customs and let our lives be taken over by them.

I’ve wondered all my life why does a woman have to be ostracized for something that is one of the most natural and important functions. Ok agreed, in olden days it would have been hygienic. But today, we have sanitary pads, we have other clean ways of handling the situation. Then why this need to seclude women?

If God is the one who created us, as is preached universally, then He would surely have thought about this particular function well enough to understand it to be an important aspect of a woman’s body and NOT something to be shunned , right? If He were to disapprove of us women worshipping Him, then why would he give us this function in the first place, while creating us? If we have faith in God, then cant we believe that He will be reasonable enough to understand us?

What I’m trying to say is that such beliefs are nothing but brought about by some religious fanatics to propel their ridiculous ideologies. And sadly such beliefs are still being practiced by fools like me.

Today, I feel overwhelmed as a mother, when I think about the situation when in a few years Namnam will reach her puberty. What do I do then? What do I tell her then? Can I tell her that worshipping God can never be wrong, in whatever circumstances one is in? Can I tell her that so long as she and her God know she is ‘pure’ and her devotion is pious, no society can forbid her or decide for her when she should worship or why she should or should not worship? I hope to God I can. I hope to God I do.

After a constructive discussion with R & my Ma, I’m seriously driven to defy these very illogical beliefs and go ahead with full faith in my God and initiate Namnam to music.

Maybe I should. Maybe I will, if I want to raise my child in a prejudice-free environment.

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EDITED TO ADD: Here’s wishing one and all a wonderful, joyous and blessed time this festive season. Happy Dussehra to everyone!

(Not so)Dear Fraaandship seeking Guy or Gal or whoever you are,

Just because you have a ‘Dr’ or a ‘Prof’ prefixed to your name- a name that I can hardly decipher with all those symbols like &$#@*% thrown in BTW – or because you are a Malayali, or are from Delhi, or live in Doha DOES NOT qualify you to be my friend. Nope. Even if you have a profile pic of George Clooney or Roger Federer or Hrithik Roshan up on display…NOT EVEN THEN.

And if the smiling DP in my profile is what makes you assume that I will accept fraaandhip requests from strangers, then you’re highly mistaken. That smile is meant for my family & friends, strictly. For people like you who never cease to irritate me with your constant pokes I have a not-so-sweet and heavily repulsive smile up my chin to scare you away. Something along the lines of this…

Scary witch!

Also if you think that, by writing things like, ‘You have a sweet smile’ or ‘Oh! so you’re from Delhi? So am I. What a coincidence? Can we be fraaands then?’, you’ll get me all jumping with joy and moving my cursor to ‘accept the friendship’, you’ve got me wrong there as well. I’m well past the phase and age of getting floored by such cheeky pick-up lines.

Ok, I give you the benefit of doubt and agree that you may think I resemble someone you know. If that’s the case, then I urge you to notice the option ‘add a personal message’ and ask me. I’ll be glad to reply, ‘NO I’m NOT the one you’re looking for’.

Let me make it clear once and for all that I’ve listed myself on the social networking sites mainly to connect with my family and close friends and NOT to make random friendships with total strangers.

So refrain yourself from sending these friendship requests and save your time and energy for something more worthwhile.

With (dis)regards

Critique against critics

Criticizing artistic works of others seems to be the easiest, self-serving, ego-boosting, attention-grabbing profession. So,I think it is high time that I jumped on the bandwagon.

Imagine for a moment that you, without even having stepped into a medical college, read any technical books, leave alone surfed WebMD, start reviewing the operations and medical procedures done by professionals.

In words of Rajeev Masand, it would sound something like,’ While the doctor tried very hard to save the patient’s kidney, a weak disposition(read script) and over the top dressing( read art direction) made the operation not so enjoyable. I give it 1/5 for a good attempt. But the post operative stitches could have been handled better.’

Now there’s something about art, specially films, which turns everybody into a critic. Being a movie buff or having watched ‘Sholay’ 30 times doesn’t give you the right to give sweeping judgments or pass verdicts on the work of art or a labour of love of many.

Every director, script-writer, actor, or for that matter, anyone involved in the creative field works under multitude of constraints and may have various influencing factors. This could be budget, the audience the work is aimed at or quite simply the artist’s personal preference.

Case in point,’ Robot’, with a hefty budget of 150 crores boasting of a star-cast like ‘Superstar’ Rajnikanth and highly over-rated Aishwarya Rai Bacchan has been reviewed as bi-polar and cacophonous, but still a must-watch.

Now imagine the movie without the star cast or the astronomical budget and perhaps the strong PR machinery. Would the final verdict still be the same?

I acknowledge critics have a job to do and very often they take it too seriously by being overtly harsh and in many ways, trying to save their own a**.

Its so easy to rip apart any movie, criticize the mistakes in script, continuity, music, cinematography, etc. etc. knowing very well that there would be at least one sadist who would agree with your opinion.

What is risky is giving a positive ‘Thumbs Up’ to a movie the critic has liked which may or may not go well with the audiences.

This reminds me a lot, of the time when I was looking out for a second hand car and would rely on my mechanic’s “expert” opinion. No matter which car, make or model he would evaluate, his judgment would always be, ‘Its too expensive, ask them to drop the price by 40%’. This was his way of saving his a** as he would never be accused of making a bad recommendation or palming off an over-priced car. As a result I drove my Kinetic Honda for almost two years looking for my dream car at a throw-away price!

The fact is we have a lot of time in our hands( I’ve spent about two hours writing, rewriting and editing this post), so whats the big deal about wasting it on a mediocre or even a bad movie? It could very well be your contribution to art/cinema by giving the director at least a second chance to make a better one.

So my verdict: Ignore all verdicts, go see some good, bad or ugly movies

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Notes from self: Now that you’ve read the post on critic-bashing, please direct all your brickbats at Ravi, my husband who has written this guest post. A humble request though, don’t disown me or my blog after this πŸ˜€

The last few weeks have been crazily hectic. I’m yet to reply to the comments in my previous post. Hope to have my blogging and blog-hopping resumed as soon as I have my schedule back in place. Have a wonderful week ahead πŸ™‚