Friday, September 07, 2012

Guess What? The Truth About Me And My Blog!

Blogging often gives me a complex. Reading others' blogs, that is. Every time I read most blogs, apart from the superior quality of the photos and blog design, I am often envious of the gracious homes, gardens and lives they evoke.

 "I served it with ...," they say. Now to me that conjures up visions of picture-perfect hostesses and homes delicately proffering the right delicacies with the right accompaniment, not a crumb or hair out of place.

Not that I haven't used the line myself. I have, but it really makes me feel like a fraud - and a frump - because convenience dictates the way I have most of my meals: Breakfast is had post-morning wash but before bath (clad in nightgown); lunch is had immediately after a bath, half-dressed, powder caking on face, hair drying under fan (or sweat beading freshly washed visage if the electricity is gone); and dinner is slumped in front of TV/in couch/at dining table amidst the junk accumulated during the day, in nightgown.

And, of course, I serve It to myself with whatever is available, not something I have created by design. I end up eating curries by themselves, without rice, and sometimes pair them with idlis or whatever else even though they don't make a great combination, just because I have to finish them.


  Sometimes a newspaper acts as my table mat, and there are several pictures on this blog to prove that, I'm sure. Including the one above.

When I moved into my own place, I had visions of maintaining it like those homes in slick and glossy magazines on housekeeping and interiors. That dream died soon enough. Now I just aim for clean and tidy, not beauty, something I manage by the skin of my teeth. Naturally, these dreams went with others where I made and ate perfectly designed and balanced meals, with the right crockery, cutlery and napery. Well, we eat off plastic, microwaveable plates, bringing out the crockery only now and then, and the silverware that we have is in my wardrobe, still securely wrapped in its pink tissue paper. I haven't bought new napkins in years. The oldest ones become kitchen rags and the better ones are washed everyday, journeying towards kitchen-ragdom.

My beautiful home is ultimately a repository of the unused, the unwanted and the unsung, as is my refrigerator, and I find myself confronted with a profusion of things I'd rather get rid of. Much like Five Super Foods to Always Have in Your Pantry or Five Tips for that Super Flat Tummy, I have set myself the task of Five Things I Will Junk Today.

 I am happy to report that I have done this to my wardrobe and am at a stage where I need to go shopping for more clothes. Now needless and unsolicited confessions done with, can you guess what's in the photo above? Not the rice and the chillies, but the other brownish-pinkish things?

52 comments:

  1. I agree with you on all counts! Only that I have not used newspaper as a mat thus far.
    I envision my home like the cover photo on a good home magazine...sadly that is clutter and to dust them drains me out...so clean and tidy home will do...and think about it, cooking for two people just a meal with many accompaniments means you re stuffing your fridge and eating the same for days!
    Those are all those legumes that had to be used before the bugs powdered them, are they?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Lata, loved the last line of your comment! After all this, there are still some things I haven't been able to throw away for the last five years in my fridge. But I'm junking others.

      Delete
    2. Correct! Managing them is work enough! :-)

      Delete
  2. i loved this post... and rings so true... i keep reading blogs and thinking... ooo i need to do this... then it gets buried under forever!

    are those karonde? the small sourish berries used to make chutney etc?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It takes a big effort, Arundati, or it's a case of priorities. Circumstances should cooperate, too.

      Delete
  3. I don't style my pictures much myself. If I have made time to write, that is investment enough!
    The brown things: peanuts? and chana dal?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Anita, yeah, true. I tried styling, bought accessories, etc, then came round to the view that everything looked the best in white. And I have trouble with my neck when I photograph too long, so I keep things simple.

      Delete
  4. Could relate to this post :) today imhad my coffee while preparing breakfast for my son ad in between I was nibbling kaya toast,,,,:) btw is that rajma .?



    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I do a lot of things like that too. I'm trying not to eat while I watch TV, but I come home late from work and I can't do one if I give up the other.

      Delete
  5. Story of my life! I'm forever guilt-ridden about my irregular blogging, my bad photographs shot at night inside my kitchen, and the totally non-fancy way I serve and eat my food :/ Night dresses and cluttered tables and eating on the bed... I hear you! :D
    And there are so many beautiful, wonderful, funny blogs out there whose primary purpose in life seems making me feel inadequate :s Sigh!!! Not their fault, I know...

    But hey, I like to think that we all bring a smile on to our readers faces at least once in a while :) that must be worth something, eh?

    Is this dish Pulihora (Tamarind Rice)? Or Pulihora made with broken wheat or something? Looks really nice and spicy!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Swati, my Ammamma would scold me if I served myself directly from the pot on the stove. She would set up everything on the table and liked me to eat properly. But to me, now, that means an extra/larger dish that needs washing, so I just serve myself and put the rest away in a container that doesn't take up unnecessary space in the fridge.

      Too funny - "And there are so many beautiful, wonderful, funny blogs out there whose primary purpose in life seems making me feel inadequate."

      See, you already brought a smile to my face!

      Delete
    2. Loved this post of yours..vibrating my sentiments and state of affairs as well. Loved this comment chain as well - yes, I would also like to eat "primly" but that means "lot" of extra effort! :) We are all doing good is what I would like to think! ;)

      Delete
    3. Thanks, Pragyan. I find that when everything is laid out nicely on the table, it becomes more interesting to eat rather than having to make a trip to the kitchen or eat out of the cooking utensils which are not as nice-looking as the serving utensils - kadhais, etc. So there is something to be said for all that, but we don't make the time nor the effort to do it.

      Delete
  6. Sra, trust you to put in words what I want to say. I wonder sometimes if I should blog when I compare my lack of presentation and photographs with other fantastic ones, but hey.

    Is it lemon rice with peanuts?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh, please don't let that stop you, Indo! It's not stopping me. Where else would I read the kind of thoughtful posts that you do?

      Delete
  7. I too envisioned a neat, organized, beautiful home when I moved into the new house but here it is... messy as usual, toys strewn about, clothes waiting to be folded... I am no domestic goddess. With regards to photographs with perfect settings... that is to much for me... i just put them on a plate and take a couple of quick pictures. Btw, I can't decide if those are olives or peanuts.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Laavanya, but your photos are good. Mine, more are misses than hits.

      Delete
    2. I love each and every post of yours - honest to God! You are one of the few bloggers I find genuine and relaxing to read..thanks to our Facebook contact, I feel like I have known you for years! :)

      Delete
    3. Thanks a lot, Pragyan, your words mean a lot to me. And yes, FB does make us feel that way.

      Delete
  8. Well articulated, Sra. And oh-so-funny too! :) One of those Zen blogs I religiously read (and rarely follow!) asks what is the point of keeping good crockery if you are not using them - just clutter at the end of the day etc.. So the rare instance that I followed their tip is that I use ALL of the crockery - the good plates, bowls etc, for my everyday use. But I'm with you on everything else :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Vani. Which blog is this? Maybe I will benefit.

      Delete
  9. I thought you described me , we have a small place so i canot comment anything, but then what matter is are you happy were you are and with whom you are.
    You might use paper as a mat but we all envy your writting skill , i so wish i had that.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Finla, thanks! I live in an apartment as well, but it's not too small, not by Indian standards anyway. But still it's crowded and I'm at my wits' end wondering how to declutter.

      Delete
    2. Crowded even when it is not small, what will i say :-) ours is small with just 2 bed rooms, it was the apartment Hans lived before we got married and after we got married we didn't move as his academy was just less than 10 minutes walk and then we had Shyama and her lower school was one street away, so we just stayed here, i always say maybe if we had a second child we would/surley have moved.

      Delete
  10. Sra - you are human and thanks for making me feel like one too. I have had the exact same visions of picture perfect homes and a gracious "actress cum model cum great mother cum has a great career cum an awesome wife cum not to say the least an awesome photographer + food blogger" - In short a perfect woman by ad hoc society standards.

    For a long while it made me feel inferior but thanks to few instances of "Live" examples, I know such "reality" is a perfect hoax(!). Goes against science and physics and logic and whatever. Any good job put out there needs a heck of a commitment and most importantly time. And unfortunately there is only 24 hrs and there is only so much one can accomplish. Once I made peace with that, I made peace with other such blogs too. I am happy being ME - you see what you get and that suffices...

    Sorry for the long comment. Its been ages since I wrote something here (was all into just reading and leaving!) and had to write something today and this topic so close to my heart made it easier to spew out word vomit :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. DK, I enjoy long comments. I wish I could be one of those perfect ones, but I'm too lazy to try - I think THAT's the problem.

      I'm certainly not happy being me :) - I wish I could be thinner, happier, more organised, etc etc but I just don't seem to have the knack for it.


      Delete
  11. BTW are those boiled peanuts?

    ReplyDelete
  12. hey,
    you took words from my mouth :-), this always happens with me, check my blog, my most of the photos are just as the food is, I do not have patience to decorate or give nice look after all that pain and time taken for cooking.Hats off to those (really) who has so much patience to present the food with so much creativity.
    Sharing my dream here, from the childhood I have this one dream to have a big neat kitchen with all the available kitchen equipments, crockery, I know its not possible and if ever I get this, i do not have that patience to maintain those things :-(
    good writing, thanks. need courage to write out our inner feelings against many things.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Nivi, yes, I really appreciate the others who make such an effort, wish I had that kind of patience. Well, that's why my blog is here and their blogs are up there! I do wish I had a bigger kitchen, but, mine is small and not well lit/ventilated naturally.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I have that dream kitchen here with an island like in ads but with no natural light flowing and poor ventilation...what's the use of such a big room :(

      Delete
  14. You know, this is one thread getting more interesting by each confession...LOL!! I have increased your traffic feed by reading the post and the comments again and again. I just sent it to Niki to read.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. God bless you, Lata Raja!

      Delete
  15. You make me want to start writing again, without worrying about the less than perfect pictures and less than creative recipes. I have almost given up these last few months..
    Are those not peanuts? I just assumed it was regular tamarind rice (like the one they make in temples) until you popped that question at the end and made me suspicious.

    ReplyDelete
  16. La, you should start writing again. I miss your posts.

    As for the answer, all will be revealed in the next post.

    ReplyDelete
  17. The reason I love your blog and posts!
    :-)
    Are we-at least many of us- not in the same position?
    Drooling at perfect tables, alinged frames, things carefully carelessly 'draped' and 'scattered' around.

    I work around trying to find a balance between many things- the result are: many things piled in 'to-sort' boxes and still pending.
    My dining table becomes my work table for the blog. It is cleared away for homework, projects and meals.
    Our daily food is served in durable, easily washable plates and glass containers that fit well inside our fridge. There are no 'nice' tablemats. . ... I still use my decade old cotton one! Much easy on everything , including relationships!

    One thing many of us forget when we browse, is blog-reality. Perhaps many of us can perceive the quality or texture or 'feel ' of a recipe from the photograph-pretty or not and more often than not, we can differentiate between a seasoned recipe/chef and others-right?
    Just remember those pretty ladies, with nary a turned hair and bead of sweat serving multiple dishes to a large 'joint family' in Indian advts! contrast with many of our mother's and family members, who work in tiny, ill-ventilated kitchens but turn out perfect meals perhaps served on platters and bowls as old as we are! :-D!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Shri, thanks!

      I have a relative who has stopped clearing his dining table - it's covered with papers and stationery and other "not junk" and even when we put in a big effort to clear it for him, it was back to status quo in two days. Instead of 'I kept it here, where's it gone?", it's "I kept it underneath this ..."

      For me, a blog with average photos is not a problem, though if the food looks flat and just like a lump/ paste, I wouldn't try that recipe till I found another one with a better picture! But you know, every time someone does an artistic spill of ingredients (or even cosmetics, where they crush lipsticks and eyeshadow, as in ads), I feel a big pang at the wastefulness of it. Of course, with food, there's a chance you can put it back into a box.

      But I do wish I can have the life that's projected out there - ah, how I yearn for it!

      Delete
    2. True! I do agree with you on the better picture one. Not necessarily artistic but one that is clear.
      A clean presentation without any attendant distractions really catcher your eye.
      For the blog: I have worked on my white tablecloth for a very long time. It gets removed and a plastic one substituted.
      I don't have 'bits and pieces'/accessories and my bowls-mostly white- go back into my cupboard. The backgrounds are always the table or a couple of slabs of stone, the deck, or the window.

      I feel that too much detracts plus it is another chore. At least scattered grains etc could be happily scooped up into their respective jars, right? :-D! Maybe that is why I still have not decided to try out this idea: filling an old condiment server with my spice powders !:-D

      In our daily lives, I may just make sure that the Curry/dish is served 'cleanly'= does not have spills and stains over and outside the rim of the bowl. I wash the lid of the dish so that 'it' does not have spills and stains. Other than that, we are mostly in the 'comfortable' zone!

      Is my kitchen counter spotlessly clean/junk free/ sporting a pretty bowl with fruits/ a flower arrangement... no! :-)
      However, at present I do have an orchid near my sink, jostling for space among a few over-ripe bananas, the radio and the generic 'things to be sorted out'!

      Why not take a picture of this mess and post about it? Would I want it to be published for all to see and judge- maybe not....

      Delete
  18. Haha.. good one!! :)

    I agree that white bowls/plates (once they are purchased and made handy) are good for clicks, and I make sure I use those! (Points for effort!) Lighting, accompaniment-food and all the ambiance stuff works out some times, sometimes not at all. And I have no pieces of background-cloth/paper/books and little bits of ribbon/jari/whatnot for photos.. maaf, I just don't have them, period.

    Clearing up.. that's what we do all Saturday morning. Then all week we make trash again! :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I use my napkins, my dupattas, and, of course, my newspapers! No lighting, whatsoever, except the one in the room or the little natural light that comes in from outside. No wonder my photos are not great.

      One thing I learnt is that food looks best in white or in similarly-coloured dishes (similar to the food, I mean). But I stopped collecting accessories more or less soon after I started. I can't take the accumulation.

      Delete
    2. Sra, I always take my pictures in natural light and I like the fast fading sunlight. That also means a lot of blurred pictures and several attempts.I did this with my point and shoot and now, with the DSLR it has given me more possibilities.

      Delete
  19. Aren't you planning to reveal the answer?

    ReplyDelete
  20. Ha, ha, good one but at least it gives a good reason for me to browse Home Goods( a home decor store). One day, I tell myself, I will buy all those matched ramekins and have creme brulee in peace :-) Maybe even the kids will wear frilly frocks and sit polite and not raise a ruckus eating theirs.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ha ha, that conjures up visions of a lady at leisure and a lovely tea party.

      Delete
  21. I don't even aspire to have a model home in my dreams, Sra. i know that it is something I just cannot do. Most of what you've said applies to me too......especially the part about convenience dictating what is served with what.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Jay, ok, that's like me not aspiring for some other things, like a perfect figure! Just want to be about 20 kg thinner, that's all! :-D

      Delete
  22. Oh my! the post is very interesting , and the comments even more..I can so co-relate with what everyone said here..every one wish to be domestic goddess,but not every one is blessed with skills required for it, I am among them :-)..anyways so good to read this post Sra..and you have company..so while clicking food "less is more to me".And I do take pictures in day and with my P&S... btw is it peanuts ? ..hugs

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Jaya, you're right, not everyone can be a domestic goddess. I wish at least one of them had commented on this post to give the other perspective!

      Delete
    2. Loved the comments as much as the post..glad to have company! Btw, I think any lady managing a home and kids and putting the effort to cook up meals at home and serve them no matter how is a domestic goddess unless they are like the hoarders you see in TV! :) We can only do so much..always appreciate the effort more than the end-product! :)

      Delete
  23. I agree... I just cook, click and eat and then blog about it if I can. I have stopped plating my food and setting up props because plating my food means one additional item that goes in the sink... unless I can offer that plate to someone or eat from it myself.

    Just a suggestion, try not to heat your food in microwaveable plastic... use ceramic/earthenware/glass when you can.

    My pantry needs organizing and I am creating a list. For sometime, no buying new stuff except rice, atta, and daily dairy/bread and fresh produce. Use up everything that it is in there that needs using up!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Raaga, I think I'm going to throw out these plastic plates - I'm minimising the use of plastics at home but these are lightweight so I stuck to them.

      I'm struggling to use up special stuff that I bought on my travels - that's one habit I'm finding hard to break, buying and hoarding exotic stuff and ultimately throwing it out.

      Delete