Things I Learnt From My Little Sister – A Sister’s Day Note

First Sunday of August is Sister’s Day. I have written a lot about my baby sister over the years and they have all been about our childhood and the love we shared. But this post is about a rough space our relationship traversed through during Covid-19.

The happiest day in my life was the day my baby sister was born. We are 9 years apart and growing up, I was almost a second mother to her; one she could also play with. Our bond has been so strong! But it doesn’t mean that the path was smooth.

That is us – My Sister and I

As we grew, there came a point where she outgrew me in all aspects. I was now looking up at her, she wasn’t the tiny pup I could hug tight and protect, and she couldn’t ask Math doubts to me anymore because our streams were different. It was time for her to pave her own path, away from us and she did a wonderful job at it. But the one who returned to us was much different from my baby sister.

It took a while for us to wrap our heads around the changes my sister had gone through. While the Coronavirus Pandemic stretched on and on, we went through a roller-coaster ride of quarrels, emotions, conversation and growth and here are five things that I learnt from my Little Sister:

  1. People change. So Will The Little Munchkins in Your Family and You Should be Prepared for it

    Change is always greeted with resistance at first. Our response to someone’s change always is ‘Hey! Why aren’t you that anymore?’ instead of asking to ourselves if the change is a positive one and why their change is bothering us.
    My sister was constantly trying to learn and grow. She was bringing on changes in diet, her character, the way she handled emotions, her work life etc. Basically she was experimenting on every aspect about her, but we kept searching for our little girl who had gotten lost in the transformations. At times, her pressure on herself and our questioning made her snap and some days weren’t the brightest in our house. But it made me understand that every individual has to choose his/her path and that we have to let them figure things out. It doesn’t mean that I have completely accepted this, but I am on my path to understanding it.
  2. If You are Behaving the Way You Did Ten Years Ago, Chances Are That You Haven’t Grown.

    Some of us have the habit of not communicating when we are angry. Our faces swell, we take faster heavier breaths with flared nostrils, and we keep to ourselves. When the subject of our wrath enters the room, we shoot a pointed glance in their direction. This is where they should know that we are angry and ask us or guess why we are angry. This isn’t something we do on purpose. It is now that I am realizing that I do it.In reality, I’m trying to cool off a bit before talking. Because angry me is a mess!

    My sister started taking the initiative to come talk to me when she realized that I was upset about something. It didn’t always go well, but it always ended well. Whether she was wrong or I was wrong, we told each other what our problems where, yelled at each other, split up, introspected and tried to better ourselves. She made me realize that this is a family trait and it is high time I change it.

3. Every Platform is a Source to Learn From if You know Where to Look

Learning doesn’t have to be from an academic viewpoint or by means of reading alone. You can learn even from entertainment apps such as Tiktok. When I was trying to bake a cake, my sister who has never baked one in her life gave me tips and told me why we used some of the ingredients. She learnt it from TikTok videos. If we really want to learn new things, even entertainment mediums such as Tiktok and Instagram have some brilliant resources. We end up consuming information that is given to us rather than going in search of quality content.
She consumes a lot of information in the form of videos and articles because of which she knows so many things. Whether they are important or not, she can hold any kind of conversation because of all these resources. I find that impressive though that isn’t something I want. My point being, you need to actively look for learning material if you want to learn.

4. Speak Your Mind

Over the last few months, I have seen my sister speak her mind more than the rest of us put together did. Speaking your mind need not necessarily mean you get your way. It means you put it out there for discussion and a decision could be made together.

But more often than not, when one person speaks his mind, the other agrees with him to avoid conflicts or because he’s hesitant to speak his mind due to fear of rejection. Years of conflicts induce the habit of suppressing our thoughts so much so that when the other person voices an opinion, we think it is a command and that we do not have a say in it.

This also opened my eyes to the fact that this habit reflected in my workplace too. When someone said something that I did not like, I silently endured it while my insides boiled. But recently, I have been voicing my thoughts when I disapproved of something and the freedom that standing up for yourself brings is liberating.

But it is important to know the thin line between speaking your mind and being rude. Also, it is important to know your audience before you do it.

5. You have a lot to learn from people Younger Than You

‘You need to respect your elders. You should never retort to your elders or question their decisions because they know what is best for you.’, we Indians are brought up on this Mantra. But one fine day, when someone younger than you tells you that you have been wrong all along, that your method is outdated, you feel offended. You think they are defying and disrespecting you. There’s the ego that grew with you; you respected your elders without question and when it was your turn to be respected, you were denied it. This mindset can be changed with conscious effort.

I was caught up in this mesh too. But now I know that there are things I could learn from my sister and there is nothing wrong with that. If anything, it helps me grow and growth is what life is all about.

It is all about understanding that learning could come from anywhere. We need to find a balance in everything. When elders realize that sometimes it is important to listen to the younger ones, the latter shouldn’t let it get to their heads (just an indirect message to my sister) 😝. In any case, I’m happy to learn from the little one in the house and to know that no matter how much we quarrel, not a day will go by without me hugging her and planting a kiss on her cheek.

Will you try to incorporate any of these lessons in your life? What are some things you learnt from your siblings? Did you have resistance when your sibling changed over the years? Do let me know through the comments.

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Featured Photo by Daiga Ellaby on Unsplash

An Open Letter to My Cousin

Dear Cousin,

It has been 30 years. 30 years!

We had weaved dreams after dreams. We had pinned our hopes to the next closest milestone. And the milestone kept going farther away. Now you are married. Married and gone so far away that we have quit making plans. And yet, a flicker of hope escapes me and manifests in the form of a wish. Bangalore. Goa. Pondicherry.

Cousins are supposed to be your first best friends. But things never were in favour of our bonding and the lack of it caused enough damage in our relationship. In spite of all that, there was this underlying connection between us that kept holding us together.

Remember when you used to come home? You never wanted to leave and I never wanted you two to go. I would cry after you left. It was a consistent ritual. Every time you left, I would sit in a corner and cry.

We used to plan vacations after vacations. But nothing manifested. We thought things would change when we grew up. They did. We were further apart. So much so that you seemed almost unreachable to me. Things have been said and done, and forgotten. But that yearning to be together always remained.

And then you got married, and vanished. For about a year, I thought I had lost you completely. Yet here we are, trying to mend the gaps and tend to the cracks. Here we are learning to dream again. You trying to reach out, me trying to pull you out.

Let me dare make a wish again. Let us rewrite our childhood. Let us escape for a weekend. Just the few of us. Let us go back to that childhood we dreamt of having together. For old time’s sake. To prove to ourselves that some things can be achieved no matter how late they are.


This wish is all I have for you, for now, on your Birthday. Next time we meet, we will celebrate both our 30th Birthdays together. 🙂 Until then,


Note: This letter is dedicated to all the cousins who loved each other’s company and gradually lost track of each other with time. If you are one among them, maybe, just maybe you could talk to them, renew the spark and get things going, once again.

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Featured Image credits: 1

A Birthday to Introspect

It was my Birthday yesterday. A very important one as I am stepping into the last bit of my twenties. Before I get into the details, do you know that I am a cusp, and that too of contradictory zodiac signs? Yeah! If interested, just google Leo-Virgo cusp and you’ll see. I need a Nobel Prize for handling myself! 😛

So I have these mixed emotions coursing through me. I am excited to know how the next decade will be, but also, dreading it. The fact that I couldn’t accomplish the things I thought I would by the time I was 30, kind of puts me down. I do have one more year though. I am super relieved that I finally cleared CA, an ordeal in itself.

Be that as it may, either the life lessons have increased recently or I have begun to observe life more. There are a few things that the last few months, weeks and days including this day taught me. Let me share them here:

  • If you have faith in The Power, your faith along with your efforts will give you what you need. Sometimes, ever so miraculously. (The way I cleared CA)
  • Sometimes, our desires aren’t fulfilled. Not attaining our desires will encourage us to explore new paths and discover other potentials (I became a freelance writer and an entrepreneur as my CA course delayed).
  • There will always be two kinds of well wishers in our lives – the ones that ask us to stay put/hang on until we die and the ones that ask us to quit/try something else. Either could be right. But Listen to your body, mind, heart and soul. (I was asked to quit CA as much as I was asked to keep writing. They were well-wishers, but they weren’t me.)
  • It is difficult to take the path less trodden, but you will be one among the few who experiences life in a different light (Let’s just say, being 29 and unmarried is difficult, but interesting).
  • Even if you feel worthless, get up and get some work done. If you just lay there, you will in fact be unproductive and worthless. (A reminder to myself to face those goddamn interviews.)
  • Always have a hobby. If you don’t have one, start doing random things and find an activity you enjoy. It helps you clear your head, enjoy your own company and appreciate yourself better.
  • Your Birthday is the right time to take stock of people in your lives. More often than not, you will see the difference in your well-wishers. (Between a Birthday filled with Chocolates & gifts and another with none of those, a close friend decided to leave.)

Now on a lighter, yet important Birthday note:

  • HBD sounds like an official acronym sent by a boss who is too busy to sit down and talk to you, and treats you like a vending machine that dispenses work. If you want to send a Birthday wish to someone, take the time to type the words fully or simply don’t wish. That would be much better. Honestly 🙂
  • Friends to whom I haven’t spoken in years, called me. That was heart warming. I haven’t spoken to them in such a long time and yet they decided to take out their phone, dial my number and wish me. I have never done that! I should. I will, from now on. 🙂
  • I learnt today that I could use the FB Birthday reminders to bond with people. I could give a personal touch to my wishes so that they smile seeing them.
    I barely wish people seeing FB reminders because I remember the birthdays of the important people in my life. Besides, I always thought that FB wishes were impersonal and mechanical. But some wishes today genuinely made me happy. Most of them were simple Birthday wishes, but in complete sentences. They struck a chord because the well wishers had taken the time to type out those words and make them more personal.There were some others that made my day. Here are two of them:1.PNG24.PNGThough one-sentence-wishes, the personal touch in them is unmistakable. I will, from today, make a difference in the few Birthday wishes I send out.

As for today, I feel good having spoken to a lot of old friends, and having met up with a couple of them from my innermost circle. It feels good to be remembered and to be loved. It inspires me to appreciate and love people better. 🙂

Happy Birthday to ME ❤

With Love,
~Myself ♥


One Stop Gifting Solution –

A couple of years back, my sister and I had decided to celebrate Mom’s birthday with lots of gifts and surprises. One thing we had planned was to send her a bouquet. I tried searching for shops online since we wanted to get it delivered to her office which was in another district. But no luck. Recently I came across a gifting portal and I was blown!

Indian Gift Portal or is one of India’s largest online gifts store specializing in gifts for all ages and occasions. They specialize in categories such as flowers, Cakes, chocolates, personalized products, festival merchandise, kids products, home & living and fashion. The best part about the site is their hampers section. You can gift a set of related products to a loved one with absolutely no hassle! You can see how the gift discovery platform works here –


My Experience with

I believe in gifting something useful to people. So, when I decided to gift something to my Mom for no reason, I was skeptical about giving her bouquets or chocolates. I went into the depths of this portal and found this black sling bag at a reasonable price. There were no second thoughts. Our entire family loves black and something that looks this gorgeous could never be disliked.


They were very prompt in delivering the gifts and opening the package was pure bliss! For a second, I considered keeping the bag but alas! I will be using it anyway. So it really didn’t matter. 😛


Why choose

  1. International Shipping! Now if your better half is away from you, you can surprise him/her on special days. IGP ships orders to 150+ countries (including USA, UK, Australia, Canada etc) in addition to 7,000+ pin codes in India. 🙂
  2. If you are really bad at choosing gifts and you know that, most of IGP’s gift ideas are really thoughtful. Especially the hampers. You just have to click, click, click, pay and click!
  3. There are a lot of hampers and some classy gifts of perfumes and ties for men. Gifting men is not so difficult as you thought it was.Capture6.JPG
  4. They have personalised gifts where they will type the recipients name on the gifts. I thought that was very nice specially with these jornals and diaries. Being a writer and a diary lover, this would be a very thoughtful gift for me. (Ahem 😉 )
  5. Their site categorized gifts in umpteen ways. As you can see below, it categorizes recipient wise, product-wise, occasion-wise, age-wise, personality-wise and so on. For instance, in the category women, they have sub categories like girlfriend, wife, friend, sister, mother, daughter, colleague, boss, teacher, neighbour, aunt and niece. An in depth sub-categorization right?Capture.JPG

While there are plenty of e-commerce sites, a portal solely for gifting is really a boon during emergencies. If your girlfriend is upset or if you forgot to get her a Valentine’s Day gift, you could simply order a readymade hamper during the last moment. Because IGP has same-day delivery in some cities too! So where will your Holi online shopping be from? 😉 😀

All the images without the watermark are from the site of A Few Handpicked Things do not take credits for them.

Last Minute DIY Valentine’s Day Gift

Valentine’s Day is round the corner and glaring at your face. You really don’t have the time to order anything, online, that it would find your love in a day’s time. While A Few Handpicked Things frown upon you for being so late (just kidding, it happens :P), I have decided to help you prepare a much meaningful, last minute DIY Valentine’s Day gift for your love that he/she wouldn’t forget in a long long time. Besides, it will come in handy always. 🙂

You can also gift this to your siblings, friends or parents for their birthdays. I am including the pictures of the one I gifted my sister on her birthday. If you don’t have the time to make anything, you can look into this list for some inexpensive gifts too.

A Mason Jar with Everything Nice

Everything Nice:

  • Open when notes that they can open during certain circumstances.
  • ‘Reasons why I love you’ chits that they can pick up from once in a while and feel good about themselves
  • Toffees! We all need them  😀
  • Fairy lights, glitters and thermocol balls for some bling.

Points to be noted:

  1. You don’t have to be artistic to prepare this.
  2. It takes less than 3 hours.
  3. You don’t have to use everything in the list. You could skip a few for ease.

Things Required:

  1. A Jar (I used a 1150 ml storage jar.)
  2. Good quality color papers.
  3. Toffees (Colorful ones to add to the quirkiness)
  4. Multicolored Thermocol balls
  5. Tiny envelopes (Not mandatory)

Steps to prepare the DIY Valentine’s Day Gift:

1. Prepare a list of reasons why you love him/her. I made a gift like this for my sister on her 18th birthday. It was ’36 reasons why I love you. 18 for the number of years I have known you and 18 for the years you have known me.’ You could choose a number based on his/her age or maybe a definite number such as 50 or 100. Mind you! You should make a list of reasons you love them those many times. 😛

2. Make tiny chits from color papers, write down the reasons on each paper and roll/fold them. Here are a few I wrote:

Reasons Why I Love You chits
Reasons Why I Love You


3. Prepare a list of ‘Open When…’ notes. I made 7 of them. It went like this: Open when you are Angry, when you want some appreciation, when you are having a bad day, when you are hungry etc. In this, you could keep chits with things you’d tell them when they were in the respective situation. If this is for someone you love, you will definitely find the right words. It needn’t be lengthy. Something short would do.

Open When Notes - Gift for your loved ones
Open When Notes

4. Mix them all and fill the jar with these chits, notes, interspersed with toffees and tehrmocol balls. 😀

Sugar, Spice and Everything Nice
Sugar, Spice and Everything Nice

5. To add the finishing touch, I made tiny tags on which I wrote about the contents of the jar. You could do that on a chart paper, cover it with cellophane (Cello/Sello) tape for that glossy look.

Tags for the Jar
Tags for the Jar clumsily made 😛

And voila! Our Jar of Joy and Happiness, The DIY Valentine’s Day Gift is ready!

Little joys of life captured in a jar
Little joys of life captured in a jar

Some Observations:

  •  I wanted to put rice lights in here too so that I could use it as a decor item. But the 1150 ml jar cannot accomodate more than 36 chits, 7 open when notes and some toffees. Don’t even think of rice lights! Use a bigger jar for more number of chits and rice lights.
  • Don’t use chart paper or ivory sheet. Use papers from craft books with thin sheets that are easier to roll. You can use white thick papers too. But normal note book papers get spoilt easily. So avoid that.
  • My sister found this very helpful when she was away from us. It helped her through many low times.
  • For ‘Open when notes’, I made the envelopes. You can make them, buy them or simply make bigger chits and leave them in the jar so you don’t have to spend time on envelopes.
  • Most importantly, gift this to people who appreciate handmade gifts, value your time, know how you mean every single word in those chits. In short, gift it to someone who’d treasure every bit of love you throw into it. 

The importance of gifts like this is, you actually convey what you feel about the person you love. They can resort to this Happy Jar when they are low. The nice things you write about them will help them feel better about themselves. It is always a solace to know that someone somewhere loves them so much!

Do let me know if you like them and definitely let me know if you make them. Include details of the recipient’s reaction too. I’d love to know! You can comment here, or send a mail to or inbox us on Facebook, Twitter or Insta. 😀

More posts on gifting –

19 Valentine’s Day Gifts for Men

Tips & Ideas for Inexpensive Gifting



Aangan Downtown Restaurant Review

Let me begin with this: I feel like I have found treasure near my house. Having been a part of a Facebook group ‘Eat Kochi Eat’, I kept seeing great reviews about Aangan Downtown Restaurant and had added it to my must visit eateries list. If you have read my earlier posts, you’ll know that I love making lists!

Last month was Amma’s birthday and since my sister wasn’t in town, we decided to give Amma a surprise dinner whenever my sister got back. We also had fund constraints. So eventually, even if it was late, we arranged for some cash and made a quick plan. I was entrusted with choosing the restaurant since I keep listing the eateries I want to visit. Besides, I am always crying about the mouth-watering posts in the FB group.

We reached Aangan Downtown which is at Palarivattom. It isn’t at the main road and hence not very visible. If you are someone who goes by first impressions, the moment you enter, you’ll love the place. The ambiance and the staff were very welcoming. They showed us to our table and suggested some of their specials.

I am enlisting the dishes we had for the ease of reading them:

  1. Soups – Have you ever felt that soup sort of decides your appetite? It is like a performance. If it starts well, it compensates for tiny flaws later on. But if starts bad, you really don’t look forward to anything that comes later.a) Cream of Vegetable Soup -Before I get onto this, I need to tell you about my Grandmother (Ammamma). She is an amazing cook! She is a tough critic and I rarely find her appreciating restaurant food. I guess you know where this is going. She absolutely loved the soup. Her exact words, if translated, would read, “I don’t think I have had a soup this delicious ever. It wasn’t spicy, but it sure was creamy with the right flavors!”
    There is a saying in Tamil, ‘Vasishtar Vayaala Brahmarishi nu Sonna‘. Vasishta is a sage and it is astounding when he mentions another sage in a good manner. (Dear Tamilians, I am really sorry for screwing up the explanation 😛 But you get it right?)b) Naadan Kozhi Soup –

    Naadan Kozhi Soup from Aangan Downtown Restaurant
    Naadan Kozhi Soup

    Which is Kerala chicken soup as prepared with the countryside flavor. Oh my! It was spicy in a good way with flavors that tickled our taste buds. It was quite watery with ample chunks of chicken. If you are looking for something thick and creamy, this one isn’t for you. But, I’d say the naadan kozhi soup is something you should never miss. 😀 By the end of it, I was eagerly waiting for everything we ordered.

  2. Starters – We ordered Chicken 65 and Gobi 65. Well, the choices were too many, we needed both Veg and Non veg and so settled for these. Again, they were really good. They were the kind of ’65’s you get in any good restaurant. No extra flavors.  Crispy Gobi and well seasoned chicken with lots of crispy curry leaves. I am a fan of curry leaves. When they happen to adorn something really delicious, I ensure that the plate is empty. So we did. 😀
  3. Main course –  Our expectations had reached sky high after the starters and the soup that we took a while to decide the main course. There were so many options, high expectation and too less space. If only we could borrow some tummy space from someone 😛
    After much deliberation, we landed on:a) Paneer Kizhi Biriyani for the beautiful lady aka Grandma :* – I did try a morsel and wasn’t very impressed mainly because I am not a fan of the tinge of sweet in normal dishes. Plus, it was a bit too bland for my taste.

    Paneer Kizhi Biriyani from Aangan Downtown
    Paneer Kizhi Biriyani

    b) American Chopsuey – It was served well with a fried egg on top. It was saucy and crispy and yum in the beginning. But as I mentioned earlier, the tinge of sweet began to over-power with each morsel. On the other hand, Mom just loved it! So, I’d say the dish was perfect, just changes with each person’s taste. 🙂

    American Chopsuey

    c) Chicken Steak – Ooh lala! It was very soft, rich in flavour, steaming hot and with the right amount of vegetables on the side. It was a sure winner for the remaining three of us.

    Chicken Steak from Aangan Downtown
    Chicken Steak

Once we were done with our meals, when Ammamma was about to get up to wash her hands, the staff enquired if she needs a finger bowl. It was a very nice and thoughtful gesture. Not only were the staff friendly, but the owner too came up and had a little chat with us. Overall, a foodie-friendly place! 🙂

Food – Too Good (4.9/5)
Ambience – Excellent (5/5)
Pricing – Our bill was Rs. 1200 for 4 which is very reasonable for Cochin standards, the food, the service and the amount we hogged.
Location – Palarivattom, Kochi (Click for the Location on Map)
Favorites – Both Soups and Steak

Aangan - Downtown Multicuisine Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

The December Feeling

December 1, 2016 – Amma & I had gone to broadway for some shopping. Since the weather was chilly and it was drizzling, I didn’t take my two-wheeler. We booked an Uber, got down in front of Hotel Sealord and began to walk. It must have been around 7 pm. Marine Drive area was buzzing with life, twinkling with lights and every light was reflected a million times in the raindrops falling silently.
We saw the Mings Dumpling House and decided to go see what Dumplings were since I had no idea until then. Turns out, Dumplings are English for Momos (If there are people who don’t know). So, we had some steamy Momos at quite reasonable rates and then continued our walk.
As we cut across the alley towards Broadway, the black & bronze colored street lamps and the drenched, shiny roads, the streets lined with shops displaying stars, baubles and shimmering what-nots kept reminding me that December had indeed begun!
Ah speaking of Decembers in Kochi! It is one month that announces its arrival in advance. December means winter which is a heavenly time here. December means Christmas. December means streets lined with colorful lights, umpteen varieties of stars, Santa Clauses of different shapes and sizes all around, Christmas trees, twinkling, bejeweled city full of life! The signs of  these are seen from mid-November.
Rest of the city is halfway through the preparations. But broadway! Oh my! Every shop we passed was screaming ‘Christmas’. Stars, streamers, baubles, trees, Santa, and so on. And it was cold after a long time; the nice sort of cold where you just want to close your eyes, breathe in the air and the world comes to a standstill. The one that holds you back from going home.
We hopped from shop to shop, took our time as there was nobody to stop us. I remember how when I was a child, Amma used to take me with her whenever she went shopping. The two of us have been constant companions. She had her Scooty and I’d tag along, hugging her to make sure that I don’t fall off. I was quite tiny, you see! I was supposed to keep talking to her so that I didn’t doze off. Now, I take her around in my Powerpuff (Lavender Pleasure). We enjoy it as much. December is her favorite time of the year too. We love shopping, exploring places, food and looking at all the new arrivals in the market.
We enjoyed a lot yesterday. December started off well – The beginning of another end. After our shopping, we got back home and she kept telling me how wonderful it was and how we missed the brat, my sister. I kept thinking about Christmas and opened my blog for another surprise – The Snow! You can see it right? Every December, it begins to snow in my blog. Being a fan of all sorts of Snows – Jon Snow, white colored Snow & the Snow flake pattern – this adds to my December love!
100 Happy Days – Day 91
As I sign off, linking my first Christmas post in this blog, I wrote 6 years back: Smile – The Joy of Christmas. It has been six years, this blog. Can you believe it?
Christmas posts from 2015:
You see? December isn’t just a month. It is a feeling <3.

Grand Procession of Maa Kaali & HER Padaarpan at our Residence

I have been blogging for many years now. All the while, this space was filled with my ideas and words. Today, for a change, we have a guest.
Abhinav Kumar is an Engineer by degree, a fashion freak and loves traveling. He has graced A Few Handpicked Things with a post close to his heart since it forms a nostalgic part of his childhood. Hope you will like it as much as he enjoyed writing it. Don’t forget to check more of his writings on StyleBurp.

This is a delayed, long- due post from the 6th day of Navratra of Maa Katyayni. I want to make you all aware of this very beautiful ritual or tradition, you can call it. This is a much-awaited event of Ramleela in the city for which people wait with full excitement and eagerness. People come from nearby villages and small towns to witness this event and also to take blessings from Maa Kaali. We take blessings from Maa Kaali too.
This is an old tradition from several years ago. I have seen and heard from people that on 6th day of Navratri, a person is selected from local akhaara to play the auspicious role of Maa Kali at Ramleela. But this is not merely a role because, in the opinion of the locals, it is the incarnation of Goddess Kaali herself to bless the people.
This person is trained at least a month prior to running and is given dry fruits and nutritious diet to keep him fit to run across the city. On the 6th day of each Navratri, a grand procession of Maa Kaali is organized twice every year where he is painted all black from neck to toe. A long mask with headgear is worn by him along with a sword (real) and khappar for prasad. He sits in the temple to worship Maa Kaali followed by hawan. Amidst the worship, he gets up, takes his sword and starts running around. This is being said, “Maa Kaali ka aavesh aa gaya”. A real sword is given in his hand and if any killing takes place during this procession, up to 7 such accidents will not be considered for filing a case against him.
The procession starts with the dances of eunuchs as this dance is considered sacred on this day. Then, comes the procession “Shaakinis, Daakinis” where some people get thrilled and children get scared seeing them. The other attractions of the procession are “Jhaankis” of various Gods and Goddesses depicting their Leelas.
Not only this, but 5-6 laanguras also travel with Maa Kaali and they all are painted in yellow as you can see in the pics below. These 7-8 people run around barefoot all over the city which is incredible and unbelievable, but it is true since I have been a witness to this myself over the years.
All the pictures are taken at my residence’s entrance or outer area where Maa Kaali comes and blesses us with other citizens too.
After traveling across the city, Maa Kaali proceeds towards the Ramleela and plays the character there and the procession ends with Maa Kaali ka Jaikaara.

This post is written as a part of #BlogForward – a guest blogging initiative with my amazing blog buddies from team WriteOn.


Potatoes, Pickles & Grandma-Fairy dust

On some days, the moment I enter the gate of our apartments the aroma of food wafts in. Especially if it is lunch time. I can easily spot the Aroma from our kitchen because, well, I have known it for 27 years! My, until-then-quiet-&-happy stomach would start grumbling and the tap of my salivary gland would pop open.

My pace increases and I’ll ring the bell. When she opens the door, I’ll ask with excitement;

“What is on the stove? Is that Kaarakuttan?”

She’ll give a smile torn between astonishment, mischief & pride.

“Your nose is an evil thing!”

“It isn’t my nose! It is your gifted hands! I could get the smell from the gates!”

“Shut up! That must be from some other place.” she would pretend to not be affected by my compliments. 😛

I’d go straight to the kitchen, open the lid and inhale all the steam from the dish and Ammamma would smile, “Stop dipping your nose into the dish! Even your cousins have this habit.”

I’ll smile sheepishly and show my stomach the way to bliss 😀


We always say,

“Ammamma should go for all these cookery shows & competitions and she’ll be first everywhere.”

On second thoughts, I’d say,

“No! I don’t want anyone judging her! No one has the right to. No one is good enough to judge her! She is the best and there is no need to prove it. I do not like anyone telling her the food she makes has flaws because the flaw is in their taste buds. Ammamma’s cooking is just perfect!”


Ammamma’s Potato Curry


And that brings me to her Potato curry which is my all time favorite and tops my list. There are distant relatives who reminisce her potato curry and keep telling how yummy it was when they had it years back. She also makes this tangy Vendakka Pachhadi and Mulakoottal. I am a sucker for her Kaarakoottan; again so tangy and spicy that I finish almost half the quantity made for the entire family. Oh! And the avial! She makes cheera avial and the traditional Kerala Avial which I eat for lunch, snacks and dinner. Ya! She makes it in a pressure cooker up to the brim! She has spoilt our taste buds by cooking such yummy food that I just CANNOT have Vegan food from outside. There are always something so many things amiss when the Vegan food is made by someone else. And hence I restrict myself to Paneer in Vegan restaurants. Always a safe bet.


Sometimes, I’ll be sitting with her and she’ll start narrating how certain dishes were made during ‘those days’. As she hops from one dish to another, she’ll describe the preparation of Lemon pickles. Listening to her description, my salivary glands salivate like broken taps!

“They soak these lemons in hot water so that the juice within loosens. They then dry all of them using a towel and make a cut through the centre in such a way that the pieces don’t fully detach. They grind Asafoetida, Fenugreek and dry red chillies; add salt and turmeric powder to the mixture. This mixture is then stuffed well inside these half cut lemons.”

“They then arrange these lemons inside huge Bharani (Ceramic jars used to store pickle). They arrange them tightly together. Now, they heat Gingelly oil and wait for it too cool down a bit. This is poured into the jar in such a way that the oil fully soaks the lemons. They seal the mouth of the jar using wax and leave it in the Garret for 10-15 days. Once in a while, someone would go up and stir the pickle.”

As I sit there imagining tantalising Lemons emerging from orangish-red pickle mixture dripping with oil, my tongue drowning in my saliva, she concludes;

“One tiny piece of this pickle would suffice for a meal!”

Pickle in a Bharani. Image Courtesy: Framed Recipes

When the coffee we make do not come in par with hers, we’d say,

“Ammamma please tell us the last ingredient you use. You definitely do something else that you don’t tell us.”

“I don’t. This is all I do.”

And then, my sister & I discuss.

“Well, then we know what it is. It is her Kaipunyam (Similar to Gifted hands). It is as though there is this taste enhancer oozing from her palm.”

“I know! Maybe she just dips her finger inside the coffee, the taste enhancer enhances it.  That must be it! There is no other explanation!”

Yeah! There is no other explanation! 😀

You can read the stories about Ammamma under the Category ‘Grandma Tales’ which you’ll find on the right side of this page. (Scroll down! Scroll down!😀 ) If you don’t find it, just leave a comment and I’ll get back to you. If you love my ‘Grandma Tales’, again please leave a comment and I’ll be grinning ear to ear and replying!🙂

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Grandma Tales


“Whom do you like the most? Your father or your mother?”

This was (and is I guess) a cliched question people asked children. When they used to ask me, I used to think just for a moment and say,

“My Ammamma.”

That is what I call my Grandma. I had been thinking of starting a section on my Grandma in my blog for a long time. But I just didn’t know where to begin. The other day, I posted something relating to her on Facebook and my friends Neetu and Smisha requested me the same thing.

This was the very same day when the Bloggers’ friend Blogchatter announced the #MyFriendAlexa campaign and I was looking for a theme for the campaign. The requests and the campaign were well timed and it seemed like an opportunity to make my wish come true; Starting a section on Ammamma. And so, here I begin The Grandma Tales section!


Grandmothers are visible angels with invisible wings, silver hair, and oodles of cuteness. Have you noticed how stories with Grandmothers are always heart warming?

Ammamma is this adorable surprise package with stories galore! She is funny, smart, hardworking, charming, lovable & a cleanliness freak!!! Ahh… She is much more. She has a painful past, yet the twinkle in her eyes never fades. She has been a strong woman and even in her old age, she stands tall and fights her back pains away! It goes something like,

“Ammamma, stop doing all these unnnecessary chores!”, I’d say. She has to keep doing some job all the time. She can’t sit still.

“I don’t like seeing things like this!”, she’d point at a pretty well arranged cupboard in the kitchen.”

“I am the one doing it. What is your problem? You go study!”, she would shoot.

And that is how she fights her pains 😀

As far as my memory goes, she has been a silver-haired, huggable angel always smelling of Vicco turmeric, Mysore Sandal soap, Ponds talc and home. She is this fuzzy feeling you get when you see babies, puppies and everything loving, nice & cute.

My Tranquilizer

When I am with her, I forget all my worries and I know I am alright. She is like a walking tranquilizer. One hug and there is peace. It is as though she has the power to ward off all my inner turmoils.

Some nights, I go to her room, climb onto her bed and there is a space on her bed that is mine. I find that space, lie down, curl up and snuggle up to her. She’ll either tousle my hair and tell me how I never tie my hair and how bad that is for my hair or run her palm on my hand, find a rash and admonish me for not applying oil on my body. And those few moments are enough to just flush out the entire day’s stress. I always feel I never do enough of that these days due to my studies.

My Naughty Teddy Bear

Do you know what makes her beautiful? Her wrinkles. They are these lines of perfection that make her, her! I can’t imagine her without them.They are so soft, I can’t resist hugging her and kissing her. Man! She hates that. The moment I’m out of eyeshot, she wipes her cheeks. If I see, she’d say,

“I don’t like that, with a sheepish smile.”

Um… she doesn’t do that anymore, though. Maybe that’s because I kiss her and wipe her cheek for her. 😀

I also pull her cheeks and say “Ammamma kuttyyyy!” in a high-pitched voice. She loves that, but never admits it. She’ll feign pain and say, “Even though you’re thin, you are too strong. My cheek hurts. Stop doing that!” and sure enough, there will be a smile that she’d be trying to hide.

It took us a while to understand that she was in fact secretly enjoying many of the things we did for her, while denying them all. She could be a puzzle sometimes. But that is what makes her, her. All those pranks, pretences, love and the care she gives us. Knowing the value of Grandparents, I’d say go spend some time with them today. I’ll do that too. And for those of you who miss having grandparents, I hope you enjoy these posts and that they fill at least an inch of that space. Until next time;


You can read the stories about Ammamma under the Category ‘Grandma Tales’ which you’ll find on the right side of this page. (Scroll down! Scroll down! 😀 ) If you don’t find it, just leave a comment and I’ll get back to you. If you love my ‘Grandma Tales’, again please leave a comment and I’ll be grinning ear to ear and replying! 🙂

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My current Global Alexa Rank is 22,06,315. Gotta lose them like losing weight. 😉


Letters, Rains, Books, Conversations – A Friendship

100 Happy Days – Day 88

Happiness is friendship in rain, with book, through letters and conversation.

It was 6.50 am. The queue began from the first floor, stretched through the staircase to the ground floor and out. I was on the staircase closer to the first floor. I heard Carnatic music emanating from the room filled with 50-60 youngsters; CA students. A guy with curly hair and sacred ash on his forehead emerged from the crowd, took out his phone and answered the call, cutting off the Carnatic music.

I walked into the classroom after my registration. A friend gestured me to come forward, for he had saved a seat for me. As I took my place beside him, I looked around to get acquainted with my neighbours and there he was, right in front of me. I glimpsed a drawing in his notebook. A rough sketch of Lord Shiva. There was a Shloka written next to it. I asked him about it and as he explained it, I made a mental note to read more on it. But soon, I forgot. I must ask him again. Or maybe, he’ll tell me if he reads this. 😉


In a while, Gopikrishnan, the guy with the Bhasma on his forehead and immense love for Carnatic, and I became friends and then, there was no looking back.

We have these deep conversations at times, but we could easily talk silly too. They happen very rarely; maybe twice or thrice a year. But, it doesn’t matter. It is easy to pick up from where we had left. But mostly, we don’t have to pick up from where we had left. We could simply start a conversation with absolutely no back history.

During one such conversation, we realised that both of us loved writing letters. From then on, we started exchanging handwritten letters. (Heck! That was when I realised that most of the post boxes never functioned.) Whenever I saw the blue inland letter waiting for me in the hall, I knew where it came from. Sometimes, I’d tear it open right away. Sometimes, I’d keep it safely and opened it when I could read it peacefully.

Each of your friends add value to your life in different ways. Gkris, as he calls himself, prods my inner consciousness through our conversations and letters. The things he says, give new perspectives to my thoughts. His words have the power to make me see new things, take me to a new world where things needn’t really work as per a set of rule books.  There is a spiritual connection underlying our friendship and this is what makes it special.

While we spoke about so many things, bonded over books, music, movies, poems, quotes, ideologies and TV shows, we couldn’t meet. When I was free, he never came to my place. When he came, I wasn’t here. And so, after  three long years, it was time to meet.


I picked him up from a common point and we stood there and spoke, oblivious to the place and the time. After a lot of discussions, we decided to go to a mall though we preferred a peaceful place amidst nature. On our way, the rain beat down from nowhere. Though we took shelter initially, the next time we were on the road, the rain couldn’t stop us. Both of us being rain lovers, decided to embrace the drizzle and continued. After a while, I heard him laugh ever so softly.

“What is it?”, I asked.

“You don’t want to know.”

“Now I do. Tell me!”

“Your hair brushes against my face every now and then. Um… and the smell. It smells so good.”

“I know”, I said.

“What is it with Women’s hair really? What smells so good? It isn’t Shampoo.”

“I don’t know. But I agree, it does smell good.” 😀

(The conversation ended there. It was later on that I got to know about Pheromones and remembered this conversation we had.)

Mall is a sad replacement for these rains, I thought. But not after we entered the mall and veered into the crossword book-store. Time flew as we bonded over books. Well read as he was, he showed me the books he liked, he suggested me some, he narrated some of the stories, his eyes twinkled as he described his book-shelf; a mini library.

During the conversation, he picked two books that I hadn’t read and asked me to pick one for myself. I was over-whelmed for that was the first time someone was gifting me a book. I asked him to choose since I had no clue about the two. He gave a gist of both the books and asked me to choose. Since both seemed interesting, I picked one randomly.

Later, as I was sipping a cup of tea, he spoke of his wanderlust, his experiences, and experiments during his journeys. He suggested places I’d like and he described beautiful sights. His plate was empty and yet, I was sipping my tea. He took the book he gave me and scribbled something in it. As he handed me the book, he said, ‘I have underlined some sentences in this book. Don’t read it beforehand.’ and I kept my word.

I returned home that day with the satisfaction you get only after you meet a close friend. When some people say goodbye and leave, we feel low. But when I dropped him off, I didn’t feel sad. Our bond wasn’t made through meetings. It was through words, letters and conversations. As long as the letters were exchanged, the conversations continued and music prevailed, this bond would exist.

WhatsApp Image 2016-08-07 at 4.46.01 PM2.jpg

While there are those friendships; the ones with lots of backstories of trips, heartbreaks, jokes, pranks and much more, there are some friendships that are subtle yet deep in their roots. One isn’t better or worse than the other. As I mentioned earlier, every friend adds value to you. One need not meet them or talk to them often, face tough or funny situations with them or go on trips. Probably, there are just a few silent moments together, just a few stray words exchanged. The bond speaks for itself.

This post has been written in association with Chaayos & Blogchatter on occasion of Friendship Day

My Black Velvet Unicorn

To the world, I am invisible.
But in my eyes,
I have a world of my own.
Where right & wrong
aren’t the only options.
In my world,
there are in betweens & beyonds.
There is a right for everyone.
And the rights are all respected,
even if they’re disagreed upon.
In my world,
Infinity is just the beginning.
The difference is this.
You see me riding
The broken wooden horse,
While, in fact,
Is my black velvet Unicorn.


In my world, fairy tales are real
And your world is fake.
But if you believe your world is real,
In our world,
We respect your belief.


My World.


Of Chores and Laundry


She walked out of her office too tired. The cash section had not tallied with the accounts, they had received a complaint from a customer and she had been receiving calls from her superiors. The complaint was against her, though it wasn’t her fault. She had done as her immediate manager had asked her to do and now, it was all upon her. As she was about to cross the road, a car honked past, cursing her. Her mind was so pre-occupied that she had crossed without bothering to look around.

She reached home by 7.30 PM. The house was as she had left it in the morning – a mess. Her husband would be home in a while. She had to cook before that. She freshened up and entered the kitchen. The clothes that were washed were still inside the bucket. She decided to put them out to dry before they began to stink. By the time all the work, cooking and cleaning were done, she was suffering from a severe headache. She informed her husband and went to sleep.

Next morning, she woke up listening to her husband getting ready for work. He was unusually loud that day. He did that only when he was annoyed. She suppressed a yawn and asked him what the matter was.

“You hung the clothes yesterday. They were not only wrinkled, but some of them were hung on those dirty rods. If you can’t do anything for me, just say it!”

She blinked off the remaining sleep, thought for a moment and said, “I had wiped the rod before hanging the clothes.”

“Really? Come with me right now! I’ll show you the dust. I know you are doing this on purpose. Office has always been your priority. When it comes to doing household chores, you are lazy! Here is what you could do. Just don’t come home and stay at office all day.”

From then on, he decided to do his laundry and never spoke to her for days together in spite of her repeated apologies. After a few months, there was another row between them.

“You call yourself my wife? Really? What have you done for me? For the past few months, I have been doing laundry by my own. You don’t have enough time for your husband, do you?”

She thought of all the days when she woke up early just to prepare breakfast for him, sent the children to school, took the days off for their open house, checked on her husband during the break when he was ill, bought all the groceries, prepared food after work. And then, she said nothing.

This was my friend Priya, a hopeless romantic at heart and a loving mother. Before her marriage, she took all the necessary coaching to become an ideal wife. She believes laundry and household chores are a woman’s job and she does them dutifully. When she is blamed, she accepts the blame. She tells me everything and I keep singing the ‘chores aren’t for women alone’ song.


As I sat in the living room of their house, her daughter walked in. She left her lunch box on the table and walked into her room.

“Ammu! Come here! Open that lunch box, wash it and then go. I can’t do all the work on my own. Besides, you’ll have to practice all this before you get married.”

Ammu looked at her brother’s lunch box on the table.

“Mom! We have had this conversation before. If Appu doesn’t have to wash, I don’t have to either. I am aware of your burdens. But I can’t be like you.”, she said defiantly.

“How dare you-”

“Priya, look at yourself!”, I said for the nth time. “You aren’t willing to change. At least don’t make your children like you. If you teach Appu that Ammu should wash the vessels and do laundry, he’ll expect that from his wife. At this moment, you are laying the groundwork to make another woman miserable. Don’t you realize that?”

I looked at Ammu. I remembered how she was before she met me. She was almost like her mother. I wasn’t able to change her mother. But, I was able to make her realize that she was to grow up to be an independent woman. Probably, the right direction in the right age was what mattered.

Priya wouldn’t give up as usual, “What would happen if she grows up without learning these stuff? What if her husband and his family expect these things from her? Her life will become miserable!”

“You know every chore, yet look at your life Priya! We won’t let her marry someone who will treat her like a servant. As simple as that!” I called Appu and asked the two of them to wash their respective lunch boxes. Priya was silent for a while and soon the conversation was forgotten.

I knew she wouldn’t change. But if I was with her forever, I will definitely be able to change the next generation. The root cause of the problem was right there before me. It was her parents’ mindset that was deep rooted into her and she was unable to snap out of it. To make it worse, she was instilling the same thoughts into her children.

The irony is that, women are the reasons for their own sorrow and burdens. We are the only ones who can liberate ourselves. It all begins at home.


If you teach your daughter a chore, make sure your son learns it too.


Priya does her husband’s laundry now and things have turned back to ‘normal’ in their house. The only ‘abnormalcy’ is when Ammu reacts when she is asked to do chores and not her brother. Oh! The irony!

Here is a video that gives a strong message as to why laundry isn’t only a mother’s job. Every mother is pretty much like the lady in this video. There are many men who help with the chores, but a majority are like the guy in the video. Do watch it and share your views.

I am joining the Ariel #ShareTheLoad campaign at BlogAdda and blogging about the prejudice related to household chores being passed on to the next generation

My Tantrum Girl

“It’s Valentine’s Day tomorrow. Can I be your valentine and take you out for a movie?” I asked in a sing-song soft voice to which anyone could have only said a ‘Yes’.

“What does that mean?”, she asked curiously, ignoring just about everything.

“It’s a day for Love. Mostly couples celebrate though it need not be celebrated by couples alone.”

“Is that the day they had the Kissing Movement?” she asked referring to the Kiss of Love Movement that was held in Kochi.

“No. No.” Erm… how to put it!?

“It’s celebrated on Feb 14th every year. People go out of their way to show love, take some time off to spend with their partners. They go on trips or for movie, give gifts and so on. Since I love you sooo much, let me take you out for a movie tomorrow.”

I hurried with my proposal before anymore questions came up.

“Ah. Let’s see.”

Here I was going all lovey-dovey romantic and she was just pushing me off with so much of attitude! Let’s see, it seems!

“Hello madam! Tomorrow also happens to be a Sunday. I need to book the tickets. Else, the theaters will be full by tomorrow morning.”

“Oh! Then how do we get back home?”, her questions never ended.

“Why what’s wrong? We’ll get a rickshaw or we’ll ride on my motorbike!” 😉

“Me? Sitting on your motorbike? No way! But wouldn’t all the couples take the rickshaws? There won’t be any left for us.”

“Couples like bikes and Cars unlike you. There will be plenty of rickshaws there. Don’t worry.”, I said.

I looked up the movies in the theaters nearby. She preferred Malayalam or Tamil.

“There is Action Hero Biju & then Maheshinte Prathikaram.”

“Who is the Hero?” she asks so many doubts. That is how she has always been. Very inquisitive.

“Fahadh Fasil.”

“Who is that?”

“Fahadh. The guy in Bangalore days. Fasil’s son.”

“Oh. I haven’t seen many of his movies.”

After a while, we were watching TV and munching chips. I thought of giving it another go.

“So, shall I book the tickets?”

“No.” she said sulkily, “I don’t want.”

She was difficult sometimes, but that was okay. My Queen that she was, she had every right to be impossible and throw all those tantrums. Sometimes I did lose my patience, but when things cooled down, I realized that there weren’t many around her with whom she could be herself. Her sorrows, pains, frustrations, loneliness, I understood them all. Beyond all that, her love it was incomparable.

She would enjoy if she goes for a movie. I know that. But, I didn’t want to force her.


Valentine’s Day 2016

By the time it was noon, I walked up to her, “If you had agreed, we’d have been in the theater watching a movie.”

“It’s alright.”, she said.

“Yes. Instead, let us order a Pizza.”

“Will it cost a lot?”

“No. There is a 50% off today.”

“They should give us more discount since all the couples would order today and they’ll have huge sales.”, she said with a triumphant glint in her eyes. She was clearly impressed with her discovery.

“50% off is more than enough for us. I’ll order one asap.” I brought the laptop to the living room.

“Do you want coke?”, I asked.

“No. Do you?”

“Do you want anything else?”

“I don’t know. Just order what you want.”

I placed the order and after a while, we were opening the Pizza gleefully.

As she was eating, I said “Happy Valentine’s Day Ammamma. I really wanted to take you out.”

“We’ll go to that cafe nearby, today evening.”, she said and I knew it wasn’t going to happen.

“Okay. Now you smile while I take a picture.”

“I wouldn’t look beautiful if I smile.”, she said.

I took a couple of pictures and said, “You always say that. You look like a ghost in this, without smiling.”

“Show me!”, I showed the pic.

“Is this how ghosts look?”, she asked with a naughty smile.

“Those eyes are round, beady and scary. Smile maa!” I said. She smiled. I clicked.

“This is what I am saying. Now you look beautiful.”

She looked at the image and smiled broadly. I took that for an affirmation. Yet, the next time we take a picture she’ll say, “I won’t smile. I don’t look good if I smile.”


That’s my girl. She loves like no other and runs to my rescue no matter what. She NEVER lets me sleep without having food. No one can throw tantrums like her and then, she blames me for throwing tantrums. When I say she does the same, she says, “I am old and withered. You wouldn’t understand.” Kids eh! 😉

Grandmothers are such sweethearts and it is such a joy watching them do certain things. Shakespeare rightly said about the Second childhood. The best part about her is the toothy smile when we give her chocolates & sweets. God! I just love to watch that smile. ❤