Sunday, October 4

Prance like a Swan

I am very pleased to announce that I have a new self-appointed personal stylist. And she's all of six years. Let not her tender age belie her fashion maturity and style wisdom. Ha-Ha!

Okay, so one fine morning, she walked into my closet and declared loud and clear - "Mummy, these pants have to GO (pointing her teeny tiny finger towards the door). And there was I, a tad bewildered, a tad amused and whole lot shocked. Mustering up some serene composure, I coolly asked her, "But baby, what am I going to wear?". And the little fashionista quickly retorts, "Dresses, skirts and tights only. No ugly pants and jeans."

And right that moment, I realized how feminine my little girl truly was and how she wholly loved and embraced unabashedly her feminine self. I smiled approvingly and couldn't agree more. I have to agree with my 'mini-me' and infuse some femininity into my wardrobe.

While I am definitely incorporating my lil' stylist's (wink!) suggestion, I am never going to bid adieu to my jeans and pants. I dig them way too much and in fact adore and identify with the whole androgynous fashion look-book. Yes! the shirts, blazers, pants and jeans, oxfords and boots, yada-yada!

Also, I silently thanked my stars that my lil' girl hadn't seen me in a saree in a very long time. Else, she'd want me to drape saris and ghagras everyday and prance around the house like a beauteous Swan...a la the quintessential Star Plus soap-opera Bahu.

Monday, March 16

I believe in fairy tales and happily ever afters!

Oh! What joy to rekindle all that fairy tale extravaganza and romance this afternoon with Hubby Dearest and Daughter Loveliest!   

After a long dry spell of great kid's movies, Disney's 'Cinderella' comes as a whiff of fresh air. It's a very simple, straight forward story grandiosely told. I loved the opulent costumes, the 'minutest-to-the-detail' setting, the breathtaking cinematography, the dreamy background score and the surreal performances. Cate Blanchett as the evil step-mother was spot-on with her theatrics and my personal pick of the lot. And so was Lily James as the protogonist herself. She embodied every virtue of Ella with élan - dignity, class, confidence, innocence, grace, beauty and yes, of course courage and kindness. Richard Madden, in the part of the royal prince was convincing. He simply oozed charm through those big,stark blue eyes and that warm and wide grin writ all over his face. His nobility couldn't go unnoticed either with his strong bearing, chivalry and righteous character. He became every bit, yours ever-so-truly 'Prince Charming'. Together, they make a beautiful, love-struck couple who have you rooting at every juncture, for them and their sparkling romance ever so pure, pristine and genuine. 

This movie won me over completely. It is not easy to have an often repeated, done-to-death popular children's fairy tale as your cherry-pick offering to hold the viewer's interest. But interest, it sure did manage to retain from the very start to the finale' moment. And How! By staying as true and close as possible to its original classic fairy tale. It was sheerly delightful and truly magical just like a fairy tale ought to be.

As we walked out of the theatre, all three of us gave the movie a 'Thumbs Up'. I don't know if it was just me, but I teared up many a moment when life was cruel on sweet Cinderella. And I smiled and hoped every time life brought her back on the pedestal and put the rainbow in her life via her miniature animal pals, the enigmatic fairy God Mother and of course the handsome and noble, Prince Charming. Sigh!

Here, I was complaining of the lack of great kids' movies including Disney's recent disastrous ones. At the risk of bearing my daughter's brunt, I'm still going to say it. Sorry 'Frozen', your princesses didn't quite make the cut for me personally despite the cult following. It wasn't really disastrous and had its good points but it wasn't as great as all that hype. Poof! And, I'm still reeling from the eerily creepy 'What was that' dark disastors called 'Maleficient' and 'Into the Woods'. Harry Potter and the likes with links to witch-craft and wizardry is not my idea of children's fun either. Flirting and breaking on to the other side is never a child's play. Shudder! 

So Disney, here's a big shout-out and thank you for restoring that old classic Disney charm and class in 'Cinderella'. Can we have Mowgli breathe new life again and have 'The Jungle Book' revived as well? Maybe a rehash of 'The Sound of Music'. Oh! Maria still makes me laugh and I still dream of Captain Von Trappe (Swoon! Sorry George Clooney! You pale in comparison) gazing deeply into my eyes and singing 'Edeilweiss'. There are so many tales to be retold to this new generation. Bring on some of that old world charm and magic all over again. 

Yes, I do! I believe in fairy tales and happily ever afters! 

Saturday, February 28

On the run to Vietnam! Well almost for a day!

'And, when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.' - Paul Coelho

For me, this quote always seemed way too far-fetched, unimaginable and almost too corny to be true. Until, something intriguing happened to me this month.

Here, I was at the crack dawn of yet another New Year, trying so hard to keep up my motivation levels with regard to my fitness routine. I knew I had to fit in a dedicated time all for my own well-being. But the problem you see is that post motherhood (add to that, the luxury of being a SAHM), you tend to take yourself for granted and slip into a 'comfort zone'. I wanted to escape that uncomfortable 'comfort' zone and focus on myself too (A-Ha!) this year.

Well, January flew by pretty satisfactorily. I was doing pretty okay with the resolutions I had in my mind for the year. The problem with the fitness resolution was that I wasn't really motivated about it as I was in the past. And I was cheating myself a couple of days here and there. But I so badly wanted to stay on track and run on as many days I could.

And then something wonderful happened. As a mother of a kindergarten child, its pretty normal to be surrounded by a circle of fellow mommies. Nea's best friend is a Vietnamese girl. And they just click so well with an amazingly smooth chemistry. Their friendship is maddeningly sweet, endearing and loving. 100% BFF material. Needless to add, the Mums in question were curious to know one another. One day, Nea's BFF's Mum walked up to me and quipped - 'Oh you are Nadine's Mum?' And I replied 'Yes'. Together, we were delighted to meet another as well. She added, 'We should meet more often - maybe the kids can play after school'. I was happy that we both were on the same page.

We catch up at the park after school some days or at each other's place at times. We bonded as well as our kids did. For a nearing 50 year old, I admired her youthful and independent spirit. She dressed in shorts, sexy dresses and drove her car like a dude. I admired and related to her unmistakable Oriental brand of practical wisdom. I admired how she tackled her home duties (she lives with her husband and 4 kids) and still made time to volunteer at church. She is a part of  the church choir and goes for regular practice 2-3 times a week.  I found her every bit as endearing as much as my daughter found hers. While she would hang out so fabulously with an 'early thirties-something' me, the 'nearly 50' in her would sneak in stealthily, in-between with motherly advice galore. It's an irresistibly delicious combination.

One fine February day this year, she asked me if there was a gym in my community. And I answered in the affirmative. She asked me if we could go together. And here I was standing right in front of my 'Universe's conspiracy'. To our pride and delight, we have been super regular with our workout routine. All of a sudden, running like sweaty pigs is a delightful thing to do... again. What a joyous feeling for both of us!

Another joyous thing was the very novel (for me atleast) Vietnamese style lunch which she whipped up in her kitchen and served me. It was my first experience and it was exceptional on many levels.

The first entrée was Bánh cuốn - a refreshingly light, sweet and tangy medley of  steamed rolled rice wanton stuffed with ground pork and mushrooms, pork meatloaf, crispy fritters stuffed with bean sprouts served with a side of veggies and dipping sauce.

The next entrée, Bún riêu  was way more complex and fiercely intense in its taste. While I lapped up readily and relished every forkful of Bánh cuốn, this soup preparation, Bún riêu  took me a few concentrated and mindful spoons to acquire taste.  What made the whole experience exhilarating was that this soup was prepared right from the scratch in front of my eyes. Talk of a free specialty cooking class! Hmm ...

Now,  Bún riêu  is essentially a tomato and pork neck broth simmered for hours, infused in various fresh herbs, minimal spices and a generous dollop of ground pork, crab paste, shrimp paste and fish sauce. Add to that some sugar and salt and serve it on a bed of serenely-sparkly white steamed vermicelli rice noodles. And  Voila, you have one 'blast of crazy flavors in your mouth' dish ready to be gulped down. As I write this, I find myself yearning for crazily complex Bún riêu  even more.

She tells me these two preparations  are very popular signature Vietnamese dishes. I do not doubt her there one bit. My tongue and belly approve and stand as testifying witnesses.

So, there I've been or rather gone from running on the threadmill burning away calories to running on a gastronomical journey to Vietnam.

Worth it? You bet!

'Universe's conspiracy! I humbly bow down and salute you!'
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