4

The lost age?

We were lounging about, having one of our talks, one wintery evening. We were talking about the year that practically slipped by and us having not realized how so. We had ideas and plans. We had goals to achieve together and individually. We wanted to do this and that and then some. While talking about something, I tried to think of the plans I had before I hit 35. And then, I thought to myself, that I still had time.

The next afternoon, I was doing one or the other random thing, when a thought struck me. And I froze!

I opened an online calculator and had to calculate my age. It suddenly hit me that I had completely forgotten that I turned 33, past September! Till the day before, I was thinking that I am 32 and have 3 years to go. But, alas!

Disappointment hit me like a low hanging branch while jogging on the sidewalk. Thwack! I couldnt help but start crying and Mr. PB couldnt help but start laughing. I cannot believe how I forgot my own age. I lost an entire God-Freakin year of my life! Not really, but you get the drift.

I feel like quarantine is truly making me lose it. Maybe she’s born with it. Maybe it’s early onset of something crazy.

7

My first-world coffee problems

I have been having the darnest luck with coffees since some time.

One of my favorite weekend things to do, is to grab a nice cuppa, slightly on the fancier side. Pre-covid, I used to look forward to ordering a refillable hot coffee, or a piping cute cappuccino, or some delectable iced latte. I used to enjoy going out for brunch, poring over the menu for the best pancakes or waffles, and some huevos rancheros and then top off my order with ‘and some coffee, please, cream and sugar, thank you!’ It made me feel….fancy. If you are a regular reader, you will know that I am the queen, err, princess of pretention. If you are a new reader, you will realize it once you read a few of my other posts.

Post-covid, I still look forward to stepping out of my home on weekends, go to the local coffee shop with a perfectly Instagramable décor for my take-out, and to the adjoining local plant nursery. When in the mood, I walk a bit further away to some of the town’s best lil shops. I happen to live in the most walkable area of town teeming with adorable cafes and bars.

Since a couple of months, I have been doing a really bad job of a very simple thing. Ordering all sorts of wrong coffee, and not learning from it. It has not just been setting me off quite a few $$, but also really hurting my pretentious lil ego.

A few months ago, I went to the doctor’s clinic that happened to be close to the best dessert place in town and right next to it was a cute cafe. I popped in and started studying the menu. As soon as the barista appeared in front of me, I lost all my composure and instantly became a bit panicked. I ended up ordering a hot brew(the same for Mr. PB, always) and in my hurry to not disappoint the barista, I said Cappuccino. And when I picked up my ready order, it was the tiniest paper cup ever. I made a mental note with a lot of Fffffffffs thrown in as punctuation, to never order a capuccino to-go. It just is not cost-effective.

Then, a couple weeks later, I walked up to a nice shop a few blocks away. It was 1.50 pm and the shop closes at 2 pm. I ordered the usual, and in another panicky setting, I ordered a Mint Mocha, completely forgetting that it was listed under the cappuccino section. Yep, another over-priced, tiny cup wonder.

Last week, some of our bubble-friends and us, drove up to the snowy mountains, east of San Diego to have a fun time in the snow. While coming back, we decided to stop at a Starbucks. I went in and started browsing the menu. I had almost made up my mind, when I realized that I had no funds in my Starbucks card! So, in my lil panicky situation to refill my card with money and my turn to order coming closer, I turned to my friend for a suggestion. She innocently suggested an almond milk seasonal, while actually saying ‘but it’s almond milk, I don’t know if you ‘d like it’. And what did I do? I ordered it, tasted it, hated it, and wasted it!

Yesterday, post a long hike, we stopped at another local favorite(I had gone on a date with some guy here, likely catalogued in my Dating Tales!) I had just spent 1000 calories per my Fitbit and was feeling quite a bit of accomplishment. But I chose to ruin it with an ultra sweet, another panicked, drive through order. One sip of it felt like 500 calories, and soon, I destroyed any calorie deficit I was hoping to achieve on that fine Saturday. I always decide to order ‘less sugar’ and I always forget about it.

TODAY! I hopped back into the neighborhood café, only to mistakenly order a hot rose-vanilla latte, instead of an iced one(as I prefer!) What’s wrong with a hot one, you ask? Well, I have bought a large batch of their syrup which allows me to make the hot coffee at home for a quarter of the price every time! It’s the iced brew that I favor and that I consider my small luxury.

I feel really sad, and feel like drowning myself in the small puddle of coffee at the top of the lid. That is my caffeine equivalent to ‘chullubhar paani’. Thank you for letting me rant about these level one first-world issues that are plaguing my life currently. We hope to bounce back soon, with a steaming mornin’ joe that will once again bring peace back into my life.

8

Shit people do…

…to protect beloved new throw pillows…

Mowgli was in a particularly snuggly mood this morning. He had been let out after crate-breakfast-time and he was just being a cutie cozying up to me. I was giving him scratches and listening to his growly purrs and deep breathing. All of a sudden, he started  taking rapid breaths, and I noticed his face going taut and mouth opening up. Retching. My dog-mom and couch-lover instincts kicked in and I calmly cupped up my palms under his mouth. And caught the entire solid puke in my open hands.

That’s it. That’s my post. I feel disgustingly proud.

4

Little monster in the house!

So, we did a thing. It’s been a few months and there has been a lot of laughter, tears, and ‘shitwhatthehelldidwedo!!’ But now we are pawrents of a crazy pupper.

Meet Mowgli! The king our Urban Jungle!

10 things about Mowgli:

  1. Mowgli was our third foster and we took two months to decide to adopt him because he was ridiculous, crazy, with bad separation anxiety. He still has all the above qualities and sometimes we are not sure if we got hit on the head the day we decided to formalize it. We originally planned to continue fostering for a year and then adopt, but Covid changed our plans.
  2. He was found at a gas station in Tijuana, Mexico and was rescued by our partners. He was a part of ‘Mexican food’ themed doggo rescue crew, and his name was Menudo. So wrong for a vegetarian momma, because it means Beef Tongue soup in Spanish.
  3. He is very obviously a Lab mix and looks like a 50% scaled copy of a full grown lab. We have been asked if he is a 7-8 months old Lab pup. But he is around a year old(hard to tell with a rescue) and his paws’ size indicates that he is fullgrown.
  4. He has the cutest pink spots over his nose and a weirdly dotted neck and chest which is like velvet to touch.
  5. He was reactive on the leash and still goes after cats and squirrels with horrible cries that make it sound like I am abducting him and wringing his neck. But positive reinforcement with boiled chicken has worked brilliantly and he ‘looks’ and checks in so often.
  6. He has the classic Lab gene in the scramble where he has no idea if he is full or not. He will keep eating if we let him. We control his diet with portioned kibble, boiled eggs, chicken treats, sardines, yogurt and peanut butter. Otherwise we will have a plump dog instead of the athletic, muscly beauty he is right now.
  7. He looovvveeeeessss people and other dogs and has a ball at the dog park! His playing style can be desperate and that may turn off some prim people, but ah well!
  8. We are trying to train him and in talks with a trainer to help his separation anxiety, because we are a young, newly married couple and we will lose our minds soon. Thankfully, we are working from home right now and have some time. unfortunately, training cannot begin until Oct 20th.
  9. He needs to calm down, just like TaySwizzle says, and curb his energy and anger. Trainer does say that he will and this is all puppy energy. We really hope, because I will end up return-biting him.
  10. I can’t help thinking that Moony made me get another dog with eerily similar personalities and looks. Well played, Moony, well played.
2

DIY for the reluctant soul

As the quarantine hit, my Instagram explore section finally moved past the wedding outfit and makeup, dogs and food suggestions, to ‘change your life’, dogs and food suggestions. Now, most of these gyaani influencers are busy imparting self-care wisdom to grow your vibe by cutting off negativity and signing up for Amazon Prime, or are describing ways to illuminate yourself from the within using $100 highlighters. Then there are some wanderlust-ful souls that keep posting and re-posting throwback travel pictures to remind people that they have travelled to 800 countries and 8000 cities. Flights may have been grounded, but their insistence on ‘must travel’ has not. Then there are all the cuties who have spent 4 hours whipping up instant coffee, throwing it down the sink, and then getting an order-pick from Stahbucks. Cough *me* cough. Dare we discount the fitness-lovers who post a picture of their Apple Watches and heart rates, only to send our heart rates in a tizzy as we munch on cheese baked cheetos guiltily. But the heart wants what it wants.

Basically, crux of the matter is that if you dont come out of this isolation with 12 trips booked to some obscure countries, 6 inches off your waistline, a bakery start-up, and a new PHD under your belt, then you may as well be eaten by the virus. Be productive or stop wasting space on earth. I started a number of projects positively when the quarantine began. And most of them failed, including the said positivity.

Well, if you don’t want to not-waste space on the planet, but have not been able to lift 5 lbs dumbell more than 3 times a month, or whip Dolgona into perfection, I may have some DIYs to save face when post-isolation, people ask you how you used the time for self-improvement. I don’t guarantee that you will be able to impress anyone with your projects, but they are good to kill time if Netflix isn’t cutting it anymore.

  • DIY plants: Carry your pruners or just a scissor in your pockets and walk around the neighborhood. In my neighborhood, there are plenty of houses with plants on the curbside. Maybe ask first and free cuttings to root. If you are scared to ask, just don’t be shady and pray that you don’t show up as a post on the Nextdoor website. That brings us to…
  • DIY planters: I was quite obsessed recently and everything I saw, I was turning into a planter in my head. Before I lost interest, I did convert a few broken mugs into pretty succulent pots. Now I am just using yogurt containers.
  • DIY coffee: At the beginning of the shutdown, we were gungho about providing business to our local places. I live in a pretty hip area of San Diego and all our cool spots are walking-distance. So we would don our sunglasses and walk down to local cafes and pick up coffees. Then better sense prevailed before each hefty priced latte drained our own budget. Trader Joes has cold brew concentrate that I mix up with Ice, water and half & half. A splash of vanilla extract is great. A damn good iced latte at a fraction of the cost. Nothing will convince me to try Dolgona again. Nope.
  • DIY haircut: Experiment on your boyfriend/husband/partner before you try on your hair. Boys’ hair grow easily and they don’t cry if it goes badly. They just wear a hat. Then when you feel ready, give yourself layers and save a few bucks.
  • DIY househelp: Grab that sweeper, mop, vacuum and start cleaning your house yourself, filthy animals. Clean your dishes and implement the 24 hour rule for pots and pans and get to them each night. A clean sink helps you sleep better. Make a schedule for even post-covid and stick to it to make your house look like a home and less like a cave. Those who have househelps, you may find out that you are either saving a few hundreds by being able to handle things yourselves, or spending more when you realize that you have been grossly underpaying some good people who clean your sh*t for you!
  • DIY workout: Get a foster doggo from a shelter and run behind them all day when they keep grabbing your sock. A great workout! Take them out, run with them, chase balls, play catch! Also use the said doggo and pick them up for hugs and weight-lifting. A child works too if you are into them.
  • DIY babies: I do not encourage this one. You can indulge in the process, pretending to create one. But even if you want the final product, remember, that the end result is not guaranteed to be worth it. This is 2020, and I dont trust many good things to come out of this year anymore.
  • DIY husband: This is hardwork, and I am still trying to perfect my version.

9

When the confetti settles…

We are stuck at home, and there is no denying that. A bit of grocery and ramen here and there, helps us cut through the monotony and the constant supply of banana bread is doing more than it’s fair share of placation. In the hustle-bustle of our daily routine, all in PJs, all day and everyday, we have been married for almost 5 months.

There is a whole lot of love in the air, with a generous sprinkling of hugs and kisses. We laugh a lot, lounge about with intertwined fingers and just enjoy the bliss of warm hugs. The world is still rosy and we don’t want to kill each other yet.

Its not all pretty though, everyone knows that. We are seeing issues that are not even directly related to us, and that is quite unfortunate. People are sweet, they are nice, but not everyone necessarily induces the feeling of ‘family’, right? There are expectations that look like normal in a certain cultural setting, but feel like burden to me. These expectation have somehow turned into a ‘need’ that I am unable to wrap my head around. I end up feeling quite overwhelmed. Perhaps, because I am a single child, or perhaps because of certain incidents in the past, or more because I am quite strongly and selfishly individualistic.

I have been wondering how are people suddenly supposed to develop love and affection for another family and feel like they have belonged together for decades? How can you just start thinking of another set of parents, like your own? Why is it such a huge deal to call in-laws like your own parents, even if you feel nothing of that sort? Most of all, there is a need to actually show that the love does exist, by calling or texting with the right frequency and the correct gestures, and what is that right frequency? Why is there even a comparison between how you treat your parents and your partner’s parents? Why can’t you just be friendly and carry on with it?

Expectations breed problems. Would you rather have genuine emotions and friendliness that gets built up over years or the fake show of affection?

To all the married women here, and specially who have married into a different culture, how have you dealt with this? If you have had issues in the past, how have you moved on? What do you call them? Do you ever feel overwhelmed and burdened by the expectations? I would appreciate any insight and advice on this.

This is a whole new ball game for me, and hopefully I don’t end up retired hurt.

10

Through his eyes…

Tonight, two years ago, we met on our first date. Many words, and a lot of laughter later, we fell in love. In December 2019, Miss PB turned into a Mrs. Mr. PB wanted to mark his debut in this space, and we thought, why not today. I have spoken about how we met, and he wanted to tell you all about how he asked me to marry him. So, without further ado, raise your glasses to the man of my dreams, and the best company during this weird quarantine time...

It was probably early in the winter of 2018, just before my trip to India and about eight months since our first date, that I’d made up my mind – I was going to propose to Princess Butter, the cutest, quirkiest, most knowledgeable girl I’d ever met. In my quasi-planned ways, I came up with a three-step procedure. 

Step 1 was to get the daddy’s permission, as is fairly common on our side of the world. Supported by the best brother one could have ever asked for, SB, I decided to spend a day in Pune during my 2018 India trip and take the challenge head-on. “The” conversation went quite well, I thought, and it was definitely eased by the fact that her dad and I shared several interests, most notably watching cricket. After several hours (and countless cups of tea!) of discussing how Virat Kohli had changed the face of Indian cricket, I declared to him that PB and I were very serious about our relationship, and wanted to go all the way to marriage, but that we would do so at our pace. I explained to him that both of us had lived in the States for over a decade, and the idea of a surprise proposal was really attractive to me. He graciously agreed, and at the same time, breathed a sigh of relief that her daughter had finally found someone to spend the rest of her life with ☺ 

Step 2 was deciding when, how and where to do the deed. I took suggestions from several friends, both mine and hers, and woke up one morning with a clear thought that the proposal venue had to be where it all started – Kindred, San Diego. Both of us had had a great time (and one drink too many ☺) at that bar on our (extended) first date, and every time we’d been back there since, it was memorable. March 21th ended up being the date as soon as my brother finalized his travel dates (I wanted him and a good photographer around ☺), and all our friends confirmed their availability for the after-party. The ‘how’ was done based on a suggestion by two of her close friends, K5 and AG. I’d “trick” PB into date-night at Kindred to check out the release of their special Spring menu. 

Step 3 was easily the hardest and the most fun – buying the ring! Thanks again to the girls, who guided me throughout the process, I spent late nights at work for a couple of weeks and researched the hell out of the subject. Every time I’d learn something new, I’d try and test my learning at a jewelry store. I was cutting my research really close to D-Day, but with the backing of several friends and family members (thank you SB, RB and AB!), I had a very clear idea of what I wanted (and what I hoped PB would like) – a solitaire with a specific ‘rope’ design to depict how our lives would be intertwined going forward. I found the perfect team and the perfect store in David & Sons, ended up spending slightly more than I’d budgeted for (isn’t that every guy ;)), but was very happy with the final product. 

D-Day arrived before I knew, and I had little-to-no anxiety, to be honest. We’d allowed our relationship to grow slowly and organically to get to this point, and this felt like the obvious next step. SB and I had met with the staff at Kindred the week before, and the day before, and they were totally on board for the occasion. As the weather gods would have it, though, it started to rain that morning, and the forecast had rain until the late evening. If that wasn’t bad enough, I was told to “wrap things up” by 6 to avoid being crushed by the crowd who’d come to check out the new Spring menu. SB and I got to the venue around 4pm and requested PB to be there around 5. An hour of eating and drinking before I “pop the question”. Sounded like a good plan…

As it got closer to 5pm, the rain Gods showed no signs of relenting, so the patio was closed and the area inside was already close to capacity. I kept looking for corner spots inside where we’d find some privacy but didn’t find any good ones. I considered moving the proposal to another date, but it’d taken me a while to find an evening that worked for everyone, and SB was flying back the following Sunday. PB decided to stop by the house and was running late by 45 minutes, so we decided to stick around a little bit longer. Around 5.20pm, as if to bless the occasion, the rain suddenly stopped, the clouds cleared, and weather.com showed 10% chance of rain in the subsequent hours. I asked our server to help clean the picnic table outside for the two of us, and she gladly agreed. 

PB arrived just before 6pm, and I had been given until around sunset at 6.45pm to pop the Q. We ordered drinks and food as we normally did at Kindred, but since the place was packed that day, it took the server 20 minutes for the server to bring the food to us. Around 6.30pm then, we were eating, drinking and chatting our evening away, when SB texted to remind me that we had only 15ish minutes left. I texted him back – “I got this!” Except PB couldn’t stop eating…and she ate slower than usual that evening, or so it felt! Around 6.40pm, SB texted me again, “Light’s fading…You have to do it NOW”! PB was still going hard at the tofu skewers, and SB kept popping up from behind different cars to capture the moment! I couldn’t stop bursting into laughter, so I had to take matters (literally!) into my own hands. I grabbed the food away from her saying that I also wanted to eat some of it, later. She looked at me curiously, wondering why we couldn’t order more later. Within a five-minute window, I started to remind her of all the good times we had had that led us there, and then around 6.45pm, went in for the kill with my prepared speech of sorts. I remember little of the speech (check out my Facebook post for deets), but I ended up on my knees with…”this may come as a shock, Princess Butter…will you marry me?!” 

She rose, turned sideways to shed a tear, and then said yes, and picked me up. We kissed and hugged for what seemed like eternity, until I realized that I had to slide the ring through her little fingers. AG and I had guessed her finger size perfectly, and she could not stop saying “I love it” while looking at the ring. Our wonderful server got us a fine champagne to celebrate the moment, and we had a few minutes with each other before SB popped up to congratulate us followed by Kittu, who’d done a great job of capturing the final moments on video. More friends and family members followed, we cut a delicious tres-leches cake and we drank the night away. 

As I relive these moments by writing them down, I cannot believe that it’s been four months since I called Princess Butter my wife! We’ve had our ups and downs, as most relationships do, but we’ve taken a pledge to celebrate the future ups and learn from the downs. 

2

While I am at home…

….the world is imploding, Hollywood-style!

Whoa! I did not post anything in the month of March? Goddamn! Also, another confession, I barely even checked WordPress in the month of March. I was busy day dreaming, eating M&Ms, a bit of simulations at work, and just more random things. I had to offload the WordPress app from my phone because I still own and use an iPhone 6 that has only 16 gigs and my phone keeps begging me to free up storage. I finally reached a point where I had to offload almost everything. Anyways, such is life and phones are expensive.

So, what have I been upto? I am very busy changing out from night PJs into workout clothes and back into new PJs, day after day. I throw in a bit of work, cooking, baking, plant YouTube videos and then lying down on the couch contemplating about life. Mr. PB is working hard per usual, in another room, on a legit desk. He has meetings all day, errrryyyday. I cannot comprehend how can one have meetings all day?! I mean, he is a director in his company, but one needs some time to do actual work! No? Initially, I had nodded along when people were getting worried about working from home and staying in isolation, but secretly, I am quite liking it. I don’t have to dress up or brush my hair, and I dont have to worry about making excuses for not showing up to social events. I can skim through Netflix for hours without feeling guilty. But I have to admit, whiling away time and watching random YouTube is way more fun at work.

I understand that things have been hard for the community, and I see it everyday when we take a walk around the once-vibrant neighborhood that was the heart of the city. We see stressed out faces, tired eyes, homelessness, struggles to stay afloat and it really hits us. We have a cushy home and jobs that hopefully stick by as we tide through the coronavirus outbreak and many months beyond. We hope, and pray, and just try to help out the local businesses in any way possible for us. We never fathomed that a coffee to-go from a local cafe could be this important to the young girl taking the order. What else can we really do?

We hope that everyone is staying in and staying safe and will be able to survive the crazy months ahead with a smile on their faces. But please, dont smile the entire time, that’s a hint creepy. We are humans, and we can smile, laugh, frown and get mad at the situation. Trust me, I am quite pissed about my travel plans going into the trash.

Hope to see you all soon in this space! Stay safe!!

4

A Valentine crush

Things have changed. In fact, they changed last year, where I had to give up on my SAD – Single Awareness Day – celebrations and sink reluctantly into full V-Day shenanigans. By reluctant, I mean smiling like a Cheshire cat from inside-out, where Mr. PB did all cute things for me and I did all PB-ish things for him. My ‘V Day is such a commercial propaganda’ dissolved into nothingness when I came home to a decorated home and a Taylor Swift 1989 record. I am a sell out and I know it.

But there is a rather interesting story about last year’s Valentine’s evening. Through the years I have assumed that boys are useless creatures and girls have to take up most responsibilities when it comes to thoughtfulness. So, completely expecting him to forget about it, I made 3 reservations. One at Blanca, One at Alexander’s and one at Muzita. On the morning of the 14th, I handed Mr. PB the lil gift that was hidden by my pillow, and I told him that I have made 3 reservations and he can pick one. Turned out, I forgot how he truly is way more thoughtful, and he had made one as well. It actually turned out to be Muzita! He had remembered that I had wanted to try this Ethiopian place since quite some time. So, it was our obvious choice after that!

Evening dawned, or twilight-ed? We got back from work and got all dressed up for our dinner date. Not to humble brag, but my red skirt and thigh high boots were quite something! We reached the restaurant, and were waiting for our server to usher us in. She came by and I caught my breath! I kid you not, she looked like Ruby Rose with her stunning half-shaved and half-bob hair. She was tall, and lithe and walked like a gazelle. She came straight to me, checked me out and exclaimed that I was rocking my boots! I mumbled a thank you while staring at her wide-eyed, like a kid wandering in a bar.

I don’t know what conversations Mr. PB and I had, but I do remember how she gushed at my choices, kept touching my shoulder while talking to me(lovingly, I hope) and kept filling up my glass with honey wine. The V-Day cupid had waved his magic crush wand. I was in love with Mr. PB already, but here was this stunning woman, making me blush more crimson than my skirt. As for Mr. PB, he was more amused at my behavior and was half-delighted about some fantasies that only guys know about.

Her name was Begum and each time we go to Muzita, my eyes search for her. Valentine’s is a huge sham, but what’s stopping us from going all out?! Live and let love (or crush)…

#womancrushwednesday

Where do great stories come from?

Where do great stories come from?

They come from a Death Valley tent in freezing November.
They come from smeared Haldi and torn kurtas.
They come from families who know how to laugh freely.
They come from a naive auntie who loves you like one of her own.

Great stories are born, not created.

They creep down like a ray of sunshine, behind a cloud.
They announce themselves like a bolt of lightening.
Bringing a sudden shower of laughter,
They end with a fog of nostalgia.

Great stories are a happy coincidence, sublime accidents.

They are born from past hippie lives and current hipster-dom.
They are born from teenage escapades with a cricket bat.
They are born from sweet doggies and a mewing cat
They are born from high school math classes and sleepless nights.

Great stories spring about, when you don’t expect them to.

They start when two giggling girls are escorted out of children’s park.
They start when your best friends come together to set the dance floor on fire.
They start when you are getting soup in a Turkish small town.
They start when you introduce Holi and Bhang to a crazy bunch.

They deserve to be shared and not held back,

The release of emotions is what they desire,
The memories, the feelings, the rawness.
Share them, spread them, include them.

You never know who needs these great stories to ignite one of their own great ones.