Connected. For now.

Building blocks for a connected future.

Every week or 10 days, Arjun needs “alone time” with me. One part of the weekend when its just him and me. No one else. He is also aware that he needs it and often tells me that its time we get some alone time. It is most often peppered with him telling his dad that I love you too, but this is me and momma alone time so we can’t take you out with us. He is very well behaved when it’s just him and me. No tantrums, no difference of opinions. We are totally in sync with each other. Our minds operate as one. 

This Saturday we went to the Byculla zoo followed by an event about the origins of Mumbai at Bhau Daji Lad museum. Weekend mornings are the best time to go into our crowded city. Most folks are still at their homes waking up and getting ready and we were at the Humboldt centre with penguins. Watching them do the penguins dance to brush off water from the feathers. Arjun wanted to touch them and kiss them which couldn’t be done, but he was happy to hug the dusty plastic penguin at the entrance. ‘Its good for immunity’ I think in my head and brush it off. 

I invariably thought I would have two, but this modern life and work and personal aspirations made us realise that we can have time and mental bandwidth for only one child. So its always a painful reminder that I will never again have a suckling baby, or a blabbering 2 year old. It makes me cherish the days of this 4 year old a lot more, and mobile phones help us document every little aspect of his being, but I am aware that this is a once in a lifetime kind of opportunity. 

My brother and I always competed for my mom’s attention. When we would lie down with her on her either side, it still mattered which side she kept her head turned towards. So we would stay up to monitor that she is constantly looking at the ceiling and not on any one side, a testament to her loving us equally. With Arjun, its just him and I snuggle into him while he snuggles into me and these baby moments I am soon going to lose forever once he grows up and starts thinking, “oh momma stop kissing me all the time”, or further down the road when kids start feeling that momma is the most ridiculous person on earth, someone who is so old school she doesn’t know a thing about been a shiny teenager. We have all been through it, it’s almost a rite of passage, thinking how smarter we are than our obsolete parents. I am aware about it, it makes me crumple, but I also want him to be so smart and sassy but I wish he takes kindness from his father. I wasn’t so kind to my mom growing up. 

Ketki, my best friend and my shrink since we were twelve, long before we had even heard of this term or even thought that some people may need to go to someone to pay them to talk to them, we are always dissecting each other’s thoughts and beliefs, prodding and questioning our source of discomfort and finding ways to soothe each other and self on a continuous basis. Our parenting styles are different, our circumstances are different, she is a manager at a hot-shot MNC and I am running our traditional family business, but we have grown from the same soil. We are equally invested in our children’s well being and want them to be self-reliant when they grow up, in all aspects, but especially emotionally. We often wonder how our choices as a parent are ruining our kids. And 20 years later when they are sitting and drinking with their friends on a Saturday night, what will they talk about their parents? About us the humans in this flesh, the ones who are going all out on a limb trying to be the best versions of parents they ever know.

But this deliberation of what would be Arjun’s narrative of his mom when he grows up also makes me be a better person. As a 4 year old he worships his mom, he thinks mom and dad are the most powerful and kind people in the whole world. And I know how that’s not true. I am bossy most times, I can be mean and demanding, but under the scrutiny of these tiny little eyes, I try to be gentler. He picks up phrases we use and stuff we say and replicates them while talking to his stuff toys. I often find him kissing my forehead exactly like I kiss his or his father kisses mine, and I also see him reprimand his toys for not cleaning the mess they have left behind. Its heartwarming but a constant reminder that my actions are being emulated here, I better be a better person.

I hope I turn out to be a better person and I hope he always remembers that I tried.

Xoxo,

Rutvika

 

Nutty Chocolaty Salted Butter cookies

I have baked fat chunky chocolate chip cookies after a real long time now. And the salted butter and toasted nuts give it a very rich texture. Arjun my little one loves making cookies and chomping on them between meals. By now he can do the entire baking himself and just needs me to give directions and put them in the oven. Which is great, but  if he grows up and says I want to be a chef, I will definitely say “Beta, pehle engineering / medical karo”.

Heehee. Kidding. (Not really.)

But never mind, for now I leave with the recipe of these cookies adapted from David Lebovitz

Nutty Chocolaty Salted Butter cookies

Ingredients

  • 115 gram salted butter at room temperature (I use Amul)
  • 110 gram light brown sugar
  • 100 gram granulated sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • a pinch of salt
  • 200 gram chocolate chips
  • 3/4 cup toasted nuts, coarsely chopped
  • 180 gram all purpose flour (maida)
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda

What to do :

  1. In a big bowl, take the butter + brown sugar + granulated sugar and whisk well.
  2. Add the egg , vanilla and a pinch of salt to it and further whisk.
  3. In another bowl sift together flour + baking soda
  4. Fold the flour mixture with the butter mixture in batches till it there are no streaks of flour.
  5. Fold in the chocolate chips and chopped nuts till combined.
  6. It will be a sticky dough, put it on a plastic wrap, cover from all sides and let it sit in the fridge for at least 2 hours till it becomes firm.
  7. Line two baking trays with parchment paper. Make coin sized balls of the batter and put them on the tray. Gently tap them down with a spatula.
  8. Pre-heat over to 180C.
  9. Put the baking tray in the oven for 5 mins, then flip it around and bake for another 5 mins. After that, take them out, gently tap them with a spatula and put them back in for 2-5 mins till they are slightly browned.
  10. Remove and let them cool on lined trays.

Notes :

  1. I used a mixture of almonds, cashews and walnuts. Be sure to toast the nuts before chopping.
  2. If you are using unsalted butter, add 1/2 teaspoon salt.
  3. The cookie batter can be kept in the fridge for upto a week and can be frozen for a month.

Bon Apetit! Enjoy.

Cheers

Rutvika

This is why I paint my face..

IMG_3541

Every morning when I am getting dressed for work, my son sits on the bed and looks at me as I apply make-up on my face. I took personal make-up classes a year back, as my facial skin started showing the years gone by, my penchant to paint and erase the frown lines and dab some color on my cheeks started to grow. Previously I owned only a couple of lipsticks and a kohl stick which I love. But now my repertoire boasts of blush and contour and highlight, eyebrow pencils, mascara and whole range of lipsticks in varying textures and colours. I have to keep them all on the top shelf though. Or else my 4 year old boy also likes to paint himself like a tiger and leopard with momma’s eyeliner and lipsticks.

But every morning, we have a ritual. My boy’s little portruding belly becomes a canvas for the paint and he wants me to do everything on his taut belly skin that I do on my face. So we begin with a moisturiser and a little compact. The thick luxurious makeup brush spreads across some contour on my jawline and gets repeated on the sides of his belly button. A pinkish blush decorates my cheeks and then his light veined skin just below his  ribcage. I have to pretend that I am applying my deep red and crimson lipsticks on his skin and not actually apply because otherwise they will smear his yellow school uniform. And then after I make two thin strokes of black liner on the upper eyelid, I write our initials A for Arjun and R for Rutvika on his chest. And thats our secret. He tells me that when I apply my moisturiser and make up on him he can smell me when he is in school and he misses me a little less. It’s strange how similar things work in different ways on two different minds. My mum also used to slather her face and arms with Lakme peach milk moisturiser when she used to go to work. But that smell, even now, makes me terribly miss my mom (who lives a minute away) and makes my eyes tear up and I absolutely detest that fragrance.

The French word for makeup is maquillage, a mask. Two different faces , two different people. One for home and one for work. I believe I used to be gentler person before my shoulders were burdened with the running of a 40 year old, 45 people organisation.  My parents used to be the decision makers, we weren’t supposed to or expected to make life changing decisions on our own.  A cocooned life if you may. But this metamorphosis was bound to happen. The strong winds of adulthood sometimes push you into unfamiliar territories where you have to take stern decisions, take a call and somehow also build up the conviction that your decisions are correct. But this doesn’t go well with a 4 year old. He resists and fights me if I am not gentle with him. He holds my face steady by grabbing my hair and buries his nose in my forehead till I calm down and till I am again my gentler mommy self with him. So I need maquillage. I need this mask, I need my mascara and my red lips to hide the inner self who doesn’t want to take decisions. Who wants to follow and not lead. But this act of applying make up, prepares me for the outside world and prepares my son for separation from his mom for the next 10 hours. It is how we cope.

I also have some subtle browns and nude lip colours. They are reserved for days when I don’t want to threaten the patriarchal male associates we need to work with. I don’t want them to feel threatened, because I need to make my point and I need to make them do as I know is right for our company. Here, I say,  I am nothing. I am just vanilla, but sir, may you please shut up and listen to what this goddam woman is saying?

Nevermind.

My first ruby red lip color was gifted to me by cousin brother, from his first salary on Diwali. We are sort of estranged now, the painful memories of growing up overshadowing the joys of sharing holidays, but that lipstick in the shape of a bullet sits on my shelf. I use it sparingly, it’s 10 years old now. But I still twist and unravel it and close it back again, safe in its shell. May be that lipstick will live to be 50, may be the cousin and I will have forgotten the mean things that happened, and may be my words will find a way to reach him and set things right. May be. Till then, the crimson reds will line my lips, preparing me for the battle of the day, erasing itself from the inside out with every sip of water and tea , till I go back to the powder room, take a moment to gather myself and reapply the red. Pull up my mask and be ready to face the next set of challenges.

xoxo,

Rutvika

Eggless saffron cake with fruits and cream

 

Saffron cake with fruits

I saw a version of this cake on a blog I follow and I knew it was a perfect base for occasions which demand an eggless cake. I am not a fan of eggless baking, cakes with eggs taste way more creamier and richer than the eggless counterparts, but sometimes I give in for friends who don’t eat eggs. And this cake with a hint of saffron can be moulded into any number of variations.

I layered it with some canned fruits and whipped cream and kept it simple, rustic. Its a very easy to put together recipe and can also be baked into cupcakes instead of layered cake.

Cake with layers and frosting

Eggless saffron cake with fruits and cream

What you will need :

For the cake

  • 180 ml whole milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed saffron threads
  •  200 gram brown sugar
  • 100 gram butter, melted
  • 1 and 1/2 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 200 gram all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • a pinch of salt

For the frosting

  • 1 cup cream
  • 1/4 cup icing sugar
  • Canned or fresh fruits for layering and decoration

What to do :

  1. Bring the whole milk to a boil and add the crushed saffron to it. Take it off the stove and let it infuse and cool down for 10 mins.
  2. In a bowl, melt butter and brown sugar to it. Whisk it well till the sugar dissolves and makes it creamy.
  3. Add the lemon juice and vanilla extract. Mix well.
  4. In another bowl sift together all purpose flour + baking soda + salt.
  5. Then fold in the flour mixture into the butter and sugar in three batches alternately with the saffron milk. Always start and end with the dry ingredients i.e flour. Fold in with a rubber spatula till it gets fully incorporated.
  6. Line two bottom of two 8 inch pans with parchment paper and butter the sides. Preheat the oven to 160C.
  7. Pour the batter into prepared tins and bake for about 20-25 mins till a skewer inserted in the centre comes clean.
  8. Take it out from the oven and let it cool in the pan for 5 mins.
  9. Run a skewer or a spatula on the side of the cake to release it from the pan.
  10. Let it cool down completely on a wire rack before frosting.
  11. Take the cream in a bowl and whisk it till it forms soft peaks. Slowly add the icing sugar while continuing to whisk it till it forms stiff peaks.
  12. Layer the cake on a cake board and frost it with the cream. Add canned cut fruits in the centre. Place the second cake layer on top and finish the frosting. Your cake is ready!

Piece of cake

Notes :

  • You can add regular castor sugar in place of the brown sugar to get a better color of the saffron if you want a white-ish cake. But I felt brown sugar gives it a more caramel flavour which goes well with the fruits.
  • You can also add some cinnamon or cardamom to the cake batter and skip the fruits in the frosting. Saffron and spices go quite well in the cake.
  • The recipe has been adapted from here https://www.pinkovendaily.com/bake.

Another note :

All pictures have been taken straight from he iPhone X and uploaded. Fuss free life.

Cheers, enjoy!

Rutvika

Who are you? Who am I? I am no one. I am everyone.

Arjun and RC in the sun

A close friend recently asked me, “Who are you?” My first impulse was to say, “What?? What do you mean by who am I?” I am Rutvika, a mother, a businesswoman, a Chartered Accountant blah blah blah. But my friend kept looking into my eyes, searching for something, and I mentally took a step back. I couldn’t answer her then, but this question crops up in my head often now. While doing the most complicated things at work to the most mundane things at home, the question comes and stands before me.

I am a soul. Living this life, enjoying its ups and downs, taking risks, falling committedly in love with people, with things, with ideas; nourishing itself to keep faith in the way things are so as to come back again once this body gives up. These 70-80 years of my life are just a tiny blip in the journey of the soul. 

By now, half of you must have stopped reading, this topic is voodoo. But those of you who are still reading, hear me out.

As a little girl, when the concept of universe was first introduced in school, I was taken aback. All these planets, the sun, the moon, the billion other stars are so huge and have been existing for so long, that a rational non-spiritual mind cannot fathom it. It felt beyond the grasp of reality. The earth is spinning and I can’t feel it? These rocks , rivers, mountains have been here since centuries, our entire existence is merely a moment in their life. We are so inconsequential that we are nothing. And still see how much we take our life seriously. As if it matters.

It doesn’t. Not to the universe.

Everything will go on, whether you are there or you are not there. Whether I exist or I don’t, life will go on. 

But this soul here, he is been living forever. Residing in my body, before that someone else’s and after me in someone else. It feels, it knows. It guides. 

People say babies often remember things which happened in past lives. Arjun used to and still says stuff which couldn’t have possibly happened in this life. Sure, it can be his imagination, but he knows something which is bigger than his 3 year existence on this planet. When we were in Rishikesh on a holiday, he told me that he was bitten by a snake many years back. Or when he was 2, he would go to a corner of the house and say Rukmini-devi is standing here. He wouldn’t let us go near that spot. 

My grandmother, like most Hindus, believes in this stuff of rebirth and souls transcending lives. But most of these people are aiming for “moksha” or avoidance of rebirth. I don’t feel that though. I feel I want to learn as much in this life as much is possible to lead a gracious next life. We live in a world of extremities. On one hand we don’t mind spending several thousand rupees on a two-day holiday, but on the other hand there are people we know who live on a meagre 50 rupees a day. All these kinds of things exist. All the wars, the betrayals, the blood shed, the famines, the joyous moments, births, marriages, victories big and small, all of these are etched into our souls. The black and white, all the grey between, the rainbows and the green of the trees, its been here and you have witnessed it before, in another body, by the same soul.

So who am I ?

I am no one. And I am everyone who has been. I am everyone who will be.

Your father may be reborn as your great-granddaughter. And she will know you. You will know her. We all know each other, and so this question is rhetoric. You and me are same. We are the universe, we are nothing and everything at the same time. 

So now get back to your day, your life, your journey and do good. Be gracious, our soul is going to live on for centuries. 

Cheers,

Rutvika