Friday, June 27, 2014

So much to say.

Satish is on his way back from work. We speak to each other most of the days. Either he calls or I do. (yeah, we still call each other three or four times a day. We're mushy like that :) )

Actual conversations that happen:

Me: 'Baby-- you know what ....Blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah, and then you know what happened, blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah'

Satish; 'Okay '

Me: And you know what baby,  blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah and blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah. Isn't that great ?'

Satish: Hmmm

Me: ' And I forgot to tell you, blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah and blah blah. So what do you feel?'

Satish: I don't know.

Me: (a bit indignant by now) : What do you mean you don't know? You must be feeling something right?

Satish: I really don't know.

I bet half the married people can relate to the above. Leave me a comment if  conversation between you and your spouse goes like this :) I really want to know if this is a universal phenomenon or something unique to us.

And let me run now---he just walked in and I have so much to tell him :)


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Monday, June 23, 2014

Make a small difference. It goes a long way.

The newspaper reports that I have been reading about the waste dumping in Mandur, Karnataka really upset me. There was a front page report about how a senior citizen had died, unable to bear the stench of pollution.

So what can we do to prevent this? How can we help reduce the waste?

The thing is, generating this much of waste can easily be prevented. All of us can  put in that little bit of extra effort and sort waste at source. All of us can take responsibility for our waste. All it takes is a teeny weeny bit of change.

 Mine is an almost-zero waste household.The only waste that comes from my home is hazardous waste, that I cannot  compost at home. I also live in a community that segregates it's waste. We have a green-management team that does a splendid job on spreading awareness about waste segregation. We have red, blue and green bins, and  every single person in our residential complex  sorts out their waste at source.

I had blogged in detail about home composting. It is not hard to do at all, once you get the hang of it. It is really easy. Please click here to read that post.

If you live in a community that does not yet segregate waste, please do take the initiative. Form a core team. Start the segregation process. Educate the people involved, and most importantly educate the help that sorts the waste.

Here are the  simple things that you can do to contribute to manage waste better.

1. Refuse plastic bags and carry your own bags when you go shopping. This a really big step, if you think of the number of plastic covers that will be kept off the landfills, if every single person followed this small step.

2. Invest in a home composting bin. Compost all your kitchen waste. Home composting is really easy. The picture above shows my home compost bins. 

3. Re-use that stuff which comes only in plastic covers. Eg: Dosa batter that comes only in a cover, can be used as a planter. Same for Atta covers. (remember to make holes at the bottom and cover it with a stone for water to drain)  Or in case that is too much trouble for you, then rinse them out, collect it and give it to the raddiwala---where you can be sure it will be used.

I even re-use the Chinese takeaway containers. See picture on  the left.

 The metal containers can be painted with bright colors and used as a pen-stands or knick-knack holders. Look at what I have done with one of the metal containers. I just peeled out the label and reused it as a pen holder.

. The bottles can hold lovely money plants.  Above  is what I did with a few of mine. It makes a great centre-piece on my dining table. Here is another picture:

Where there is a will, there is always a way. It is easiest to be just indifferent. But the right thing to do is to start making a difference. Even a small one, in a small way.

Start doing your bit for the enviroment and let us all live in clean, beautiful surroundings. It is possible  with just a little effort from all of us.

And it begins by reducing the garbage we throw out.

Do leave me your thoughts on this. It is an issue which really bothers me. And I think collectively, we can all do our bit.(and make it  that much easier for the Municipal corporation that handles so much waste that they are reeling under the amount we collectively generate).

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Saturday, June 21, 2014

A writer and the beanstalk.

For the first time in my life, I have actually grown beans! The picture above was clicked this morning, my first crop of beans from my terrace garden.  For the first time in my life, I am actually able to comprehend how hard it must be for the farmers, who depend on this to make a living.

I had sown the seeds about 3 months back, without thinking much about it. In fact, I didn't even sow them in a separate pot, but just buried them in a pot which had a curry-leaf plant, and some I buried in other pots which had decorative palms. To my surprise they flourished. They are creepers and  so I began looking for sticks  to give them some kind of a support. Finally I  ended up using PVC pipes  which Satish bought from the local hardware store. I made a little bridge from the pot to the railing on the balcony so that the beans would climb it and reach the railings.

They were like disobedient children. They wanted the easy way out and each morning when I woke up they would have wound themselves around the curry leaf plant or the palm, refusing to use the sticks buried for them. I persisted. I am not a mom to two teenagers for nothing. :-) Each morning I would unwind the vines and make them go on the PVC pipes. Finally, they got the idea and then began spreading themselves out on the balcony railings.

I fed them some organic fertiliser and watered them regularly. Beans are particularily prone to black little insects that attack the plant and if you aren't careful, they eat it all up. Overnight your plants can be gone, and all you will be left with is a skeleton of half eaten leaves. I used an organic solution of  tiny bit of soap and neem oil to repel the insects.
Every single day, morning and evening I would check on the beans. One day they  blossomed and  there were many pretty pale purple flowers. They looked beautiful. 'Good,' I thought, 'even if I don't have beans, at least it looks pretty.'

But they surprised me when they actually began growing into beans. I was still skeptical. I was sure that it was a trick and the tiny beans that were sprouting would fall off, and then the plant would probably have the last laugh saying "Fooled you." So I waited and watched.

And today, I can finally tell you that I have actually grown beans. Hooray!

Guess what I have done now--yes, you guessed it---I have sown more beans now! In their individual proper containers.

So apart from working on my new novel, the beans are what kept me occupied today.

And hey---if you want me to keep writing, please leave me nice comments here, and please go and buy my books.

Else I might just decide to become a farmer. :)

 The lure of the magic beans is hard to resist.


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Thursday, June 19, 2014

A lovely letter I got.

 Hi there,

Where do the weeks vanish? Is there a little time gobbling monster that sits on the edges of life and gobbles up time, when you are not watching?

I can't believe that it is two weeks since I wrote in this blog. I don't think i have ever had such long silences in the past, except when I was moving homes, across countries. So the resolution now is to post at least once a week.

At my end, what has been keeping me busy is my new book! Yes, I am working on it and it would be out later this year. That is all the details that I can reveal right now. I am really excited about it! :)

Other than that, if you miss me too much here, you can catch me every  Saturday on Financial Chronicle. I write a regular column there called Sex and the city. It is on relationships, love, lust and everything connected to that. I post my columns and online links on my FB page. and all the columns are in this album.

Every now and then, I get such lovely emails and messages from my readers---and the messages are so beautiful and encouraging. No matter how many I get, I always feel good to get yet one more.
I share with you one such beautiful message (shared after taking permission from the person who wrote it:)

I do get many messages like the above. I cherish them---because my writing has made a difference in someone's life. How awesome is that?!

The Secret Wishlist is now translated into Tamil!
I cannot read Tamil and so it feels fantastic to see my work in a laguage I cannot read. I only hope the translations have been done right! :) Click on the link to buy it.

If you want to read more reviews of the Secret Wishlist, click here. 
You can get it at just Rs. 78/- and  if you scroll down, they have a combo offer too, where you get The Secret Wishlist as well as 'The One You cannot Have' for Rs.198. (and that includes a free home delivery!)

Anyway--now that I have broken the long silence, I hope to be around here more often.
Till then, make a secret wishlist---and watch it come true :)


Thursday, June 05, 2014

Things that a garden taught me.

On world environment day, I thought it would be apt to do a post on my garden.

Gardening is something that has life lessons for all of us! Till I started gardening myself, I would have never thought that it could be extremely therapeutic, calming and so very rewarding.

We shifted homes about three months ago. From a stand-alone home with a backyard garden (which I was not much involved in) , I shifted to a large penthouse on the 14th floor with extremely large terraces and balconies. In my earlier home, the soil was clayey. If it rained it would become squishy. Nothing much really grew there as the quality of soil was terrible and after a few attempts, I gave up trying to garden. I left it to the gardener who would come and flood the garden in the name of watering the lawn. He did not even remove the weeds. He even managed to kill a few of my potted plants too, despite repeated reprimands. The only reason why I let him continue was sheer apathy to look for another gardener (as this was the third one I as trying out).

When I moved to my new home, I knew I wanted a lovely garden--a space that was tranquil, beautiful and  that which made me happy. Somewhere where I could spend time reading the morning paper, sipping coffee or eating a meal. There was ample space on the terrace. The challenge was to make it aesthetic. When I got in touch with a few garden consultants, I found that they charged a small fortune! So I decided to do it myself.

Satish and I made a visit to Lalbagh nursery and we bought tonnes of gardening stuff from there, including  compressed coco-peat, organic fertilizers and garden implements.

My mother came from Kerala, to visit me in my new home. Incidentally, her home boasts of one of the loveliest gardens I have ever seen. Gardening is her passion and she does it all herself. She is blessed with a natural talent and a green thumb. I requested her to bring me some cuttings from her garden and she was more than happy to oblige.

Next began the difficult task of preparing the pots. The children had their summer vacation and joined me and my mother in mixing the soil, making holes at the bottom of the containers for draining water, then covering it with stones (so water would drain) and filling them up with planting medium (coco-peat, soil and organic fertiliser mixed together).

This took many weeks. We would work for about 3 hours in the morning and 3 hours in the evening. It was peak summer, and so you can imagine the heat. the temperatures around that time were between 35 degrees and 38 degrees centigrade, sometimes touching 40. We would be drenched in sweat at the end of it, and would lie down on the cold floor, under the fan, exhausted!

Then we planted the seeds and some cuttings. Once you plant them, you have to be careful to keep it in the shade and not over-water it in your enthusiasm. Also they have to be monitored on a daily basis.

Gardening is a slow process. It teaches you patience, perseverance, discipline and  teaches you to cultivate a dogged determination. It teaches you, when to interfere and when to let things take their own course. You have to listen to what the plants are telling you. And above all, you have to be prepared to wait. I couldn't help observing that this is exactly what I go through, when I write a book.

And when the garden finally started blooming--oh the joy! It is unmatched, unparalleled and so very rewarding.

I am sharing some pictures of my garden, a spot I am so proud of---a spot we created ourselves, where many mornings and evening are now spent.

I had picked up this garden furniture set in the UK. These chairs and table has been a participant in many of our barbecues. So has the little dog that you see perched on the table.

Doesn't looking at this just fill you with peace?

The snail corner. The children and I painted this terracotta snail. You can see my Jasmine plants behind it.

The compost corner. We painted the green and yellow pots ourselves too. You can read a post about how I compost here.

Fresh garden mint. The mint chutneys I make are drool-worthy.

I am also growing red palak! Completely organic, free of pesticides.

The cucumber that is just sprouting! Growing cucumber needs a lot of patience.

Apart from all the above, I am also growing tomatoes, spinach, green chillies and coriander! I haven't clicked pictures of those yet. Maybe I will in a later post.

I don't know the name of this flower, but isn't it gorgeous?

And this one is a  variety of a garden sunflower. I have planted a few of these, and put together they are a cheerful addition to brighten the garden.

When I started off, I had no knowledge of gardening and only a few straggly plants that needed lots of care.

Now I have something that I love!

If you are inspired by this, I urge you to start a little garden on your balcony or a terrace. If you have more space, go ahead and invest some time into it.

You would be rewarded with a stress-busting space, a space that you look forward to spending time in, and that which  delights you whenever you come home.


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