Happy 2017

I declare February 1 to be the start of 2017. After having had a crazy November with lots of travel and work (had to leave the blogathon midway), a tense December that ended with a lot of happiness and a terribly rude shock on January 1st with K’s mother’s unexpected demise, we haven’t had a chance to even think of anything remotely celebratory. I am/was very close to her, so it was really hard. Now, back in Singapore, I still feel like she is back home in India and just a phone call away. We hate how we have to remind ourselves that we will never get one of those warm hugs but rather she will live on in us in the things we do and the principles we live by.

I see people summing up 2016 and eagerly welcoming 2017, but I haven’t had a chance to think of what I want from this year. Like always, I will let the moments guide me and give me the strength like they always have. I am going to take this week to bring myself together and look forward to 2017. A year that I sincerely pray will be good to you and us.





5 The Moments

A week or two back, K and I had been to Duxton Hill for a Mexican refill (more about it later) and then walked down to Tanjong Pagar in search of a dessert that would call out to us. In no way did we think we would stumble upon a beautiful film photography cafe that now houses ice-creams and other desserts with coffee! I have to give this to K, amidst all the distraction on the street, he spotted this and said, “Let’s try this out”. I know we will be going back again.


The shots are all taken in the night and pretty half-heartedly because really, all I wanted to do was drink coffee and stuff my face with waffles. Also, I have tried my best to cut off faces from the photos. Now that am done with my lame excuse for bad photography, let me tell you more about the place and what we had.

A play on the phrase, “find the moments”, this cafe has beautiful photos on the walls and a very  grey-meets white meets blue vintage feel that I totally dig. also, some of the tables were apparently sewing machines that were converted to serve a different function altogether. Fascinating, no? I absolutely loved the metal chairs that went so well with the decor. I admit some can be a bit(a wee bit) uncomfortable to sit but hey, sometimes prettiness comes at a price.



Can you see all the vintage camera on display? I love how it feels a regular kopi-shop and yet takes it to an altogether different level. These little art pieces from different parts of the world added to the charm and somehow felt totally in place and not overdone.


We were sitting right next to this pretty sight. I don’t know what caused it, but these days am a huge huge fan of white backgrounds with minimal art against it. I follow pretty much every instagram account that has such photography and so much that I photograph every little thing against my white kitchen platform.


Too bad that I don’t like ice cream. This cafe had super unique flavours panetella, dark truffle, ebony (!) and what not. I will make a note of those names when I go next. They keep changing the flavours and source the key ingredients from across the world. K (as usual) had a classic vanilla scoop and loved it – not too sweet, creamy and just perfect, he said. Well, I had grand plans. I went with the buttermilk waffles with a drizzle of chocolate sauce. I like waffles with maple syrup or vanilla sauce but they had neither, so chocolate sauce it was.


Crispy on the exterior, soft on the inside and a very faint flavour of butter – perfetto! I loved every bite of it. I don’t like my waffles too sweet and this waffle seemed to be made for my palate. K and I also tried a bit of this waffle with vanilla ice-cream and it was really good though I much prefer the version sans ice-cream. We noticed people queuing to get a seat and so like good kids, decided to come for coffee another time and let the others “find their moments”.

I must confess. I am a cafe junkie. If there is one place where I can be studious, poetic, lost, happy, tranquil, in love, lonely – it has to be a cafe. I can spend days in a cafe. There have been instances where I have accompanied K on his business trip and spent entire days cafe- hopping while he works. This cafe by virtue of its location in CBD is not going to be a quiet place but rather vibrant, artsy and inspiring in its own way. And I am glad to have found this gem that tickles my love for art, tucked away in one of the busiest streets of Singapore.

You can find the cafe here:

Closed every Monday
Address: 73 Tanjong Pagar Road, Singapore 088494
Tel: +65 6222 5336
Email: 5themoments@gmail.com

Busy becoming a God-Mother and Chithi

Yesterday was one big day – one of my closest friends S, here in Singapore gave birth to a beautiful girl. I  cannot tell you how happy and overwhelmed I am. We have been waiting for this day and yet it caught us unawares. Just a normal Monday, S started clearing her annual leave and I was in the lab working on something when she texts me saying she was so excited about the baby and was just adding little ornaments in the baby’s room. 2 hours later, she is on her way to the hospital. I rushed immediately, sab chod-chaadke and there she was clicking selfies of herself. After 8 hours of waiting and 45 minutes of pushing  we welcomed the little princess at 10:46 PM. I am too overwhelmed, too ecstatic and a wee bit sleepy-but-cannot-sleep right now. I got home around 3 AM and will go back to the hospital in a couple of hours. I don’t know if I can post in-time today but I will post by US time for sure.

Such an amazing feeling. She (S) went through much and just watching that little nose, that beautiful pair of eyes and rosy lips and teeny fingers and toes chokes me. Welcome to the world little one, you have such beautiful moments waiting for you to make them happen 🙂

Chithi in Tamizh is aunt (mother’s younger sister)

Chod-Chaadke in Hindi is leave everything as it is and dash for it!

Sunday Blues at East Coast Park

Unlike some of them, K and I don’t have much of weekend rituals. Sometimes, we feel like we should have a ritual, like something that would signal a Saturday for us. Maybe like pancakes in the morning or bisibelebath for lunch? Erm, I don’t know for we clearly have none. Some weekends we like to sleep in until noon and go for brunch, we work sometimes, watch movies, travel, hike, meet friends or just spend the entire day fighting who gets to be what character in a game. It keeps changing. For the last one month, we have been cycling in the East Coast Park(ECP) every Sunday.One of Singapore most popular beaches, ECP is the easiest weekend urban getaway with diverse sporting, dining and recreational opportunities. It is open to people of all age groups. There are several barbecue pits along the beach and one can just have a weekend barbecue and camp along the beach as well.  

Really, what we love about the ECP is how it feels like a different place altogether, away from the air conditioned malls, high rise buildings and clean streets of Singapore. It is one of those places that remind us that we are indeed on an island.  An island! That is all I wanted to be on when I started reading Famous Five by Enid Blyton. I think George has her own island (tell me if I am wrong!) and I was like, “I want an island of my own!” Well, Singapore is not my island (that I wish it was is another matter), but atleast I am on an island. It is way different from how I pictured an island to be – I imagined sleeping on sand, gathering fruits from the tree and being smart enough to know the right berries from the poisonous ones, where I can take a book to and where I sing songs in harmony with the waves. I can go on and on. But, I digress.

So yes, for the past few weeks we have been spending Sunday mornings at ECP. After snoozing the alarm for like 10 times from 5 AM, we wake up at 6:30, get ready and start off like 7 AM and take a cab to ECP. We start by renting cycles for like a couple of hours. We go all around the park, stop in between to take pictures, complain about having fat butts for tiny seats, race each other (doesn’t look like one given our speeds anyway), sometimes chat or sometimes just cycle away on our own. We also sometimes unknowingly stray into the joggers’ lane and then sheepishly find the nearest way out after stupidly grinning at the joggers. Then, after cycling, we return our cycles, walk along the beach a bit and then go stuff our faces with a continental brunch or Thai food always followed by mango and sticky rice. Always.But don’t mistake the cycling to be the exercise-to-earn-your-calories. Definitely not. We just cycle because well, it feels nice and breezy and somehow makes us forget that we are in a bustling city. We also enjoy watching others take their dogs for walks and then dream about how we will immediately adopt a pet once we move out of the university campus. It just feels wonderful doing this on a Sunday and somehow feels like a befitting end to the week and sets the tone for the next week.  Let me show you a sneak peak.




I don’t know if this can be called a ritual. It is for now and until we find something else, someplace else, this vast blue expanse will be our go-to. If Sunday blues can be like this, we aren’t complaining.

So tell me, do you have a weekend ritual? What do you do?

The one where I talk about my fear

It is weird that am starting my NaBloPoMo with my fear. To make matters worse, it is a “paradoxical” fear. Does such a term exist? Maybe not. But then, I just made it up. So yup, it does exist. Atleast in my head and really that is as real as it gets. The thoughts in your head, I mean.

Have you ever told someone you are scared of something and then they say, “Oh! But it is all in your head! Don’t worry.” I cannot roll my eyes enough and one of these days, my eyeballs will pop out. Because, dudette/dude! That is what fear is. It exists in your head and that is as close and real as it gets. It is with you and within you. It becomes a part of you. And it never exists without a reason. The reason maybe known or unknown, can be worded or not. But it is there. The intensity may vary. But it is very much there and next time you want to tell me that it is all in my head. think twice and don’t say it. Because, I sort of know that and it doesn’t help me.

I fear flying. It is sort of weird because I don’t know when I developed this. My first flight (to Singapore)  5 years ago was one where I didn’t even know that one could be scared of flights or flying or altitude. I remember, when I was on the plane, it was so still that I wondered if we were even moving. Now in hindsight, I know that it was perfect weather. The occasional movements I felt were what I looked forward to and could actually feel that we were moving. Again, in hindsight, this was turbulence and something that scares the hell out of me now. I have travelled so much alone and with K but I seem to have this fear of flights more s0 especially for the last one year. What makes it weird is that I love travelling and I love love going on long distance trips. My PhD brings with it good opportunities to travel for conferences. Somehow it doesn’t scare me when I am booking the flight (as much as it does when am checking-in). The result: I never can enjoy a flight journey and some of my happiest moments from the trip are when we land and our seat belts come off.

I am not writing this to make someone who fears flying, more anxious. Neither am I going to describe how I panic. I am writing this to say you are not alone. Also, I don’t talk about this all the time (hardly except with a few close friends) because talking too much about it makes me sort of anxious about it. And really, I don’t want any more anxiety with flights. But I have been trying different ways to feel more calm on flights. No, I don’t take melatonin. I never take any sort of medicines/ relaxants. I sit through the flight praying, reading and just really wide-awake and maybe sleep for wee bits if it is a long haul.

What I have started doing more is educating myself. Learning more facts about how a pilot undergoes a lot of training, how flights now are way better than flights say a couple of decades back -interms of design, reduced scope for error and so on. I also read statistics and try to tell myself, look, there are a million people flying safely in and out and that works in my favour.

But damn, the human mind is clever. It knows that statistics and all this education may only talk about the majority. What if am a part of the smaller unfortunate faction? What if the odds are against me this time? I don’t know. But I know this. The moments of heightened pleasure that follow the landing is worth every bit of my attempt to overcome my fear. I have walked through some shrines in Bangkok, stood atop a cliff temple in Bali, walked through the snowy scenic streets of Luca during Christmas, shared childhood stories along the Seine and then gotten so overwhelmed, that I told myself how dumb I could have been to not do this just because I feared the travel. Standing in front of the Palace of Versailles, the  Colosseum in Rome and getting lost in streets of Venice, I have been so moved that I still can remember these emotions. And they are enough to push me to travel more, see more and learn more.

And most importantly, K tells me, “What has to happen will happen”. And this, has been my biggest source of comfort somehow. There is so much unpredictability in this but it still tells me that I have to go on, no matter what because what has to happen will happen. This for me is somehow powerful knowledge and it comforts me a lot. There is no science I can offer because this perhaps even sounds lame to you. But just knowing that fear doesn’t stop something from happening makes it feel pointless. And sometimes (those rare times), my emotions do listen to this advice. There are things under your control (somewhat) and some not. Being positive and having good thoughts definitely goes a long way in making these journeys  a little less daunting for me.

I have a long way to go, I don’t know when I will get over them. Perhaps one day I will wake up and it will be gone. Or maybe, I will travel so much that it becomes a part of me and I won’t even feel it. Or maybe, I will continue to feel anxious but continue to travel because once am there, everything will be worth it. For now, I want to try. For I know that when we drive along the mountains, amidst the clouds lost in the music playing in our heads or when we fall right into the sea on a banana boat ride and then float back up victoriously without knowing how to swim or when we meet that chatty native on a bus ride who tells us secrets we never imagined, it will all be worth it. And with that, I book my flights to Tasmania.



The joy of being alone.

I had written quite a while ago about how I absolutely loved my trip to Melbourne as a solo traveller. K did not come with me on that trip and even though I stayed with a very dear senior from university, I did much of the “exploring and learning and excessive eating” on my own. I loved it. So much.

Anyway, this post isn’t about the joy of travelling alone – that is indisputable if you ask me. Rather, this post is about the happiness of being alone. For short periods. Long periods. Whatever.

When I hear people telling me how much they hate being alone, or rather, fast-track a relationship out of fear that they maybe alone, I have always wondered why that happens. Am sure there are several reasons and I totally respect that. But this story is about how being alone is not a sad thing for me anymore.

K has been travelling quite a bit this year. He travels to different parts of North America every month and each trip lasts anywhere between 8 to 15 days. That means, am alone for that period of time. My brother does visit me for a few days but then for the rest of the time, am alone. If you had asked me a year ago if I would be okay with this, I would have laughed you off. I was so selfish that I did not encourage K to take a really nice job (not going to define that) that involved a lot of travelling (in hindsight, it was a good move but my intentions at that time weren’t).

Fast forward to now, I have begun to learn to enjoy the time by myself – being alone, eating alone, taking myself on little “dates” alone, waking up alone and then just making coffee in one mug and just thinking of the day ahead. Amidst all of this, I have learnt to like myself better, know a bit more about myself and most importantly try something outside my comfort zone. I have grown (or so I ‘d like to believe), have found excitement in the most mundane of things, have dreamt of unimaginable stuff and overcome the urge to call home at the slightest instant. I have becomes a bit more of a risk-taker. I have pondered and enjoyed the blanks in the evenings. In those times, I have doodled, read, guiltily indulged in work late-nights, thought of fun stuff to send to my parents to read/watch, written letters to K on absolutely nothing and yet running into pages, thought of my research from different angles, pretending to think of something deep but ending up watched movies like “Main Prem ki Diwani Hoon”. These periods have given me such brilliant clarity at times and made me laugh at myself for being so dimwitted as to not see it right through.

I don’t know if all this happened with effort because I simply don’t remember investing any. It just happened. There was one really long trip of 3 weeks in April when K was away and one of those mornings it happened. I wish I could tell you a grand story but there isn’t any. I guess I learnt to make peace and enjoy the time. And that is a big thing because I like to do my own thing but have people around me all the same.

What is even more surprising is that I choose to be alone. I have a fantastic team here, stay on the university campus and so there are always people around and yet, I choose to spend time by myself. Every time I tell K how much fun am having, he makes a massive mock puppy-face at how I could not miss him and feel all lonely.

This may sound preachy but being alone is nothing about being being afraid or sad or bored. It is about spending time with the most special person in your life – you. It doesn’t have to be an extraordinary experience always. If you haven’t found that happiness of being alone yet, look out for it and maybe even make an effort to find it – I assure you, you’ll be blown away.



After the hiatus….

I have no clue how to begin this. There have been times when I have blogged after a month’s gap and had no clue how to share all that transpired during that time. And here I am – after almost like 2 years?!

I should perhaps start with a very very hearty “hello!”. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t miss this space, writing here and just talking to all of you here. But I know you wouldn’t believe me. After all, if I did miss writing and you, wouldn’t I be more regular?  I honestly have no answer. I kept thinking I’d write when that perfect moment arrives (as much as I knew it never would coz’ it never does) and that I would start with a post that would make up for this long period of dormancy. But am afraid that if I wait longer, I’d probably never get to writing again.

How have you all been? I feel so nostalgic opening up WordPress and finding some changes in the interface, reading my last post and then some comments and wondering why have been so foolish to stay away. For so long. Last Sunday, I was just introducing WordPress to a friend (one really cool person) and that was it, I knew then and there that I had to get back. Thank you Mrs. A for having just initiated it.

I have had a good 2 years – the usual roller-coaster that comes with being a PhD student. We travelled a fair bit, K and I, amidst all this – sometimes for conferences and then clubbing it with a vacation, sometimes just for vacation. The number of magnets on the fridge has increased, my fear of flights continues to stay, K still complains that I cannot get one good photo of him (one of these days, I tell you), my brother came over to study in Singapore as well (yay!)…. well, a lot has happened. Eventually, I will get to write more about all this and share my stories with you.

With that, I take another oath (14th one? 15th one? I can’t remember) to stay more regular here, to write more, to read more blogs, to have that restlessness to blog when I go to some new place/ do something fun, to share stories, to write about people I meet, to feel happy when there is a comment (am frank like that) and just sometimes try something new so I can create a memory to pen down here.

I don’t think any of you will check this space soon but I hope to get back in touch with all of you gradually and re-live the joy of blogging. Some of you wrote to me, asking me why I stopped blogging and encouraging me to write again – for all of you who thought of me, I am grateful. I am back now and with that, I strike one thing off my 2016 resolution list.




2014 that has been.

Happy new year, everyone! That officially makes me the last person to blog the wish, I guess. But hey, it is January still and you are never late for good things right?

I have been away. For oh-so-long. So much has transpired in the past few months that I couldn’t muster enough courage to open this blog. For I don’t know where to start. Or keep track of everything that I need to share here. Much travel and reading has happened. Life’s path has changed even. While I had seen this coming and had desperately wished for all of this, I hadn’t realized the work and the planning that these changes would demand. Throw some family weddings and social gatherings here and there all at random, mind you! Exciting wonly.

I am not complaining that K and I did some awesome trips to Vietnam, Thailand, Bhutan, Indonesia, Australia and India. If you ask me what I liked best about 2014, I would, within the blink of an eye, say travel. We travelled with friends and we travelled as a couple, I travelled solo and loved every moment of each of it. From someone who couldn’t eat pani puri by the roadside without ending up sick, I have come a long way in the immunity department. Now, K worries about how to get me off the street food. We took many a great photos, shared many a thoughts, laughed like kids, spoke nonsense non-stop, had umpteen dinners by the sea and along the mountain, hung onto dear life when we had to drive through narrow roads on the mountains in Bhutan with heavy fog and practically zero visibility and just the driver’s experience to our rescue(okay, that was just me coz’ K kept saying stuff like “so exciting” and I was so super annoyed), shared nimki, samosas and chai with the Indian army, got stamps done with our pictures in Bhutan (real ones, each is worth 20 rupees and can be actually be posted, how cool is that?), stared endlessly into nothingness, spent days in silence, slept when we felt sleepy and ate when we felt hungry, followed no time-table, met some amazing people, lived with some locals, enjoyed traditional meals, got lost pretending to be experts, found our way thanks to little native boys only after parting with Mars bars because all they wanted was chakalaate …..

Australia was a solo trip for me, part-work and part-pleasure. I LOVED it! While I did miss K, to be honest, I had a wonderful time by myself. I love travelling alone at times. It gives me inner peace and happiness. I love wearing a backpack and setting off with nothing to worry about. I stayed with an awesome senior M,  from university. She has two beautiful kids and a wonderful husband. We went to Gurudwara a couple of nights, I made bisibelebath for them and we just shopped like crazy. On the day I was to return on a late evening flight, I left my luggage at the railway station at 6 in the morning and just roamed the streets of Melbourne. It was so liberating hopping off trams and visiting museums and libraries and cafes. If I were to pick my favourite day from the trip, this would be it.

So, you get the drift, right?

2014 rocked not just in the travel section but also, in the dreams-coming-true department.  Today, I officially matriculated as a PhD student with fellowship. I will start school from 26th Jan. And I am doing all I can to not tear the roof with all the bouncing on the bed. My parents and brother are here with me on this big day. We have been going around and spending some time together. In a couple of weeks, I will be moving to an on-campus accommodation. I have always wanted to live in a university campus. There is a charm, a sort of magic there. I look forward to exciting times and a great deal of learning and travelling. I met some brilliant and amazing people, a Noble laureate even and their humility and warmth moves me tremendously. I feel touched.  I feel like a speck in the universe. And yet, I feel strong and purposeful. I am in awe of all the possibilities and also scared. -goosebumps-

But I know that this is a beginning. A good beginning. I have no idea how it will all turn out to be, but am determined to enjoy the journey and make the most out of it. Because, that’s all that matters. 


Sometimes, I am amazed at how certain lines from the book speak to you at the most opportune moment. Almost as if, you have been wanting someone to tell you that and then this book comes in your life just to do that very thing.

I am now reading “The End of Your Life Book Club” by Will Schwalbe. As I sat in the cab this morning, immersed in many “to-do”lists, too thoughtful for a Friday, I pulled out my Kindle to read a few lines and clear my head a bit. Does reading do that to you? It clears my mind and helps me put things in perspective. Though I know this, I am still amazed everytime it happens. For K, any good game or food shows or even news does that magic. Ah, well.

Like today, I questioned my involvement in too many things. I thought of the packed evening and the tight weekend that I have voluntarily planned for myself, contemplating packing thursday evenings and wondered if I really do have to go to Ikea to assemble a sense of priority. And then, the book told me:

“For this day only is ours, we are dead to yesterday, and we are not yet born to the morrow” (Jeremy Taylor); and “For to know Thee is perfect righteousness; yea, to know Thy power is the root of immortality” (Wisdom of Solomon XV. 2,3).

It filled me with a sense of gratitude, goosebumps and all. I looked out of the window to see it had started to drizzle and then I saw a man taking his dog out for a walk at the crossing. He was dressed in white, looking so upbeat about life, in his 60s or 70s maybe. The dog looked equally charming and they seemed so happy with each other. I have no idea why but I think I will hold on to this one image for a long time to come. There was something in that moment that moved me. Moved me enough to come back and write it down immediately. It reassured me that this undertaking as long as it makes me happy, as long as it makes me feel alive, and purposeful, is indeed a great event in my life, by itself. These thoughts may seem so disjointed to you, but there was some amazing connection that made all the sense to me.

I hope all of you get such moments in your life, that touch you and leave you content. For now, let us enjoy our Friday 🙂


B for Beans kooTu

Smell of curry leaves. Clink of bangles while doing the taDka. Smell of coriander and hing. I don’t know whether it was all of these or something inexplicable that changed my hatred for beans into a newfound love and longing even. I remember carefully screening out the smallest piece of beans from kozhambu much to the dismay of my mother who would try her best to “cheat” me by crushing or making teeny bits of the vegetable to make sure it went into my tummy unnoticed, by me. By me. The hater of beans. My mother never ever understood why anyone would hate beans. But then, there I was, a bindle of contradictions.

I can’t tell you how it all changed because I really have no clue. But I can tell you that beans kooTu is now one of those dishes I can eat anytime. Like rice, dal and potato fry or curd rice, it is my other comfort food. It brings back my memories with a suddenness that I can’t place. It makes me long for those days when the first rays of sunlight made their way through the lattice and lit up my mother’s kitchen as she made the taDka for the beans playa when I sat waiting for her to make my hair and making desperate pleas for jam with chappati instead of beans. It is funny how things change and memories hit you with an unimaginable force and make you long for that dish you once despised.

The thing about memories is that you can also re-create them to some extent. Like, when I made this beans kooTu with amma on Skype for the alphabet challenge. 

You need:

  1. Nostalgia or a sudden urge to make the dish
  2. French beans (I used 300 gm) finely chopped (or if you are in the mood to disobey, chop them in large chunks)
  3. Moong dal (1 cup)
  4. Salt to taste

To grind:

  1. Desiccated coconut (according to your taste, I used about 2/3 cup)
  2. Corriander leaves (a bunch)
  3. cumin seeds
  4. Green chillies (2)
  5. Dried chilies (2) – change as per your preference

All that you need to do is:

1. Boil moong dal in water (I used about 2 ¼ cups of water) until the moong dal is almost cooked.

2. Add the chopped beans to the moong dal and let it boil.

3. Meanwhile, grind the ingredients under the “to grind” section.

4. Once the beans are cooked, add the ground paste and add salt.

5. Let it boil a bit and you will know when it is done.


I think one of the biggest reasons why I love cooking is how it takes me back in time with such ease. It is amazing how churning up a meal in less than 30 minutes can take you to a place thousands of miles away. Right from the smell of the taDka to the way I arrange the ingredients on the kitchen platform to the sound of the mixer to how I finely select the best coriander leaves – just about everything reminds me of how much my mother resides within me. And that, is one amazing feeling I can’t get enough of.