Food and art!

My love for food actually started when I came across this beautiful gorgeous looking thing called “tiramisu” (and mashed potatoes too). Basically, tiramisu is made up of 4 simple ingredients (ladyfingers, espresso, eggs and mascarpone). It technically consists of repetitive layers of savoiardi (or ladyfingers as they generally call it) dipped in fresh, aromatic espresso covered with a blanket of the dense, fluffy mascarpone cheese mixed in eggs(optional). Sounds divine, right? With food and creativity coming of age, people have invented egg-free tiramisu, vegan tiramisu and what not! So, for all of you out there, go ahead and give this a try.  Although, I cannot say it will taste as amazing as the original one!

Tiramisu literally means “pick me up” and “cheer me up”. That is exactly what it did to me. The first time was quite a sensational experience. It happened a couple of years ago in Chennai and I had planned a movie with a cousin. Unaware of the whereabouts of the multiplex, my cousin stopped by a bakery which was right beside the parking lot. As we were entering, he looked at me and said “Kita, this place is amazing. Try the desserts here and you will not be disappointed.” Well, of course, I wasn’t disappointed. The place was all white and felt almost heavenly. I went to the display counter and a huge array of mouth-watering desserts were lined up. Then something caught my eye. I was obviously unaware of what a tiramisu is but being the experimental foodie, I went ahead and said, “This is what I would like to try.” Quickly, I slipped out my Blackberry (my favourite phone till date) and typed on Google: “Tiramisu”. Okay, here’s a habit that I cannot seem to get rid of. I google a lot, a hell lot! Anyway, the first thing that caught my eye while reading was “coffee”. Okay, I already love it! The waiter arrives and places it on the table no sooner than I put my phone down. Five seconds later, I’m frozen in awe. I cannot put into words what it felt like. You know that moment when you feel ecstatic, like when you fall in love? That is it! It was a glorious moment, a proper example of what the bakery’s name suggested: “Ecstasy”. I think it was a moment of pure foodgasm. And to add to this embarrassment, I actually let out a moaning sound. Then I see my cousin sitting in horror, staring at me. The waiter laughs and all I could muster was, “Um, sorry?”

 

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Thereof, my cousins would notice me ordering tiramisu whichever place I visited. Slowly, they were tempted to try and now my family is hooked on it. I remember going to college every Monday and preaching about the simplicity and elegance of “tiramisu” (like as if it was a Greek god). They would reply “Not again, Kita!”. Some would say “Even though I haven’t tasted it, you make me feel like I’m in love with it”. You all might think this is a little over the top but I really was that crazy. I was like one of those obsessed kids who loved sugar. My Instagram page was flooded with tiramisu pictures a while back. You get the gist, right? I was down-right mesmerised by it.

Now, making tiramisu might sound extremely simple but, it’s the simple things that are difficult in getting right. My first experience was a total flop. It all started with me running around the kitchen, making a mess out of everything. I started dipping the ‘savoiardi’ biscuits in espresso one by one forming the base layer. The next part is the layer of mascarpone. This was done easily. Finally, it was ready to go in the fridge and I’m looking at it like “Meh, this was easy. I’m a dessert genius”. Three not-so-fruitful hours later, I take it out to serve. End result? The biscuits were soggy, the espresso was overflowing and my mascarpone was thin and lifeless. I said to myself, “Wow, Kita. This is what overconfidence looks like”. I was disheartened because I could not get the taste right. And I felt like the kitchen maybe is not my place after all. Well, at least I can still eat it outside. And I gave up the thought of ever entering the kitchen.

A month later, I was tempted to try this whole spree again. This time, I actually got better. It was edible. Yay! And by the third time, I nailed it. It’s effortless once you understand the art of making it. I reached a point where I could make one without the help of a recipe. With time, I realised that the kitchen is actually my de-stressing zone. Without my knowledge, I would see myself cooking up something every time I had a bad day. Every experience teaches you something. In my case, learning to use the kitchen has taught me to be focused. That’s the thing about art: it can make even a 25-year old no-driving sense female to drive her brains to creativity. I think any art form requires that focus.

Not many of you know this but, I’m a Freelance Architect. The only good thing about freelance is the sound of it: fancy. The other day I was travelling to my hometown and my chatty co-passenger asked me about my job. I said, “So I’m a Freelance Architect, uncle. How about you? What do you do?” He looked at me like I was the fanciest job ever. I look back at him with confidence and gave a “yeah bro, that is me” face. To be honest, it is anything other than that! You are your own boss but, you also tend to gravitate to anything but your work.

A very wise woman once said:

“Food and Architecture go hand in hand. Both require balance, and both follow the same rule: less is more. But most importantly, both require you to present something that is hard to project: the soul.”

I have noticed some striking similarities between Food and Architecture. As in, both rely on the combination of creativity, intuition and good taste. Both signify as a basic need for survival and sustainability. In fact, there are plenty of books written specifically about this. Cooking, like architecture, exhibits itself in building it. The cook, like an architect, tries to create with the plenty of resources available to him. Even using the finest marble or the best caviar sometimes cannot guarantee the success of a dish/building. One should know the balance of ingredients/materials to construct it. And not to forget, the courage it takes to experiment and know when to use your heart over the mind! Both connect cultures and provide a common language to the larger perspective of mankind.

(Above pictures are created by a Russian architect turned baker, Dinara Kasko. Connecting architecture, design and patisserie and using the “less is more” mantra in her culinary magic)

Like architecture, food has a way of making us feel a sense of time and place. It triggers your memories and experiences. I have begun to understand why I feel so connected to these fields. Somehow, they have influenced some parts of me. Architecture has triggered my memory size and food, my body size. Heh.

I’m not a great cook. Neither am I a great architect. But I love art, and the I love the feeling it leaves behind!

So, here’s sending a little bit of love to you both, for making me who I’m today!

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Whirlwind romance

It’s been a whirlwind romance with you. I gotta say you kept me alive on most of the days. You’ve nurtured me in difficult times. We had our moments on the perfect rainy days. Our dates were what makes others jealous. A taste of you and I’m drowned in pleasure!

You keep up with my crankiness, my groginess and I keep up with your insane excited nature. What have we done to each other? Can I find someone like you in this lifetime? No! And I don’t  want to.

You give me jittery feelings at times, you make me feel nervous. The time spent with you in the late evenings keep me awake at nights.

Is this fair for you to keep me sleep-deprived? After so much loyalty, is this what I deserve, Coffee? C’mon!

What’s a secret?

What has a secret become today? Something that you tell everybody to tell nobody! Or some truth that you’d rather take to the grave to save yourself from embarrassment! The definition of a secret could rather be described as something that you intend to not tell people. The reason for keeping a secret could either be logical or emotional. Logical being, the inability of the audience to handle such information. For example, hiding something from children because you are “protecting them” from the truth. Emotional being, due to fear, guilt and judgement. Or it could be the sheer thrill of knowing something no one else does. This gives you a sense of power and control. I have met such people and trust me, no good has come out it in the long run.

We all have secrets. Harmless, jovial ones, the deep regretful ones or maybe the gossipy ones. And keeping other people’s secrets is the most uneasy one. If they confide in you with a secret, you should respect yourself enough to hold it in you. If you have disclosed it to someone else, shame on you.

The problem is not in keeping it, it is the stress we put in mentally to not tell anyone. It keeps us awake in the nights, it makes us cry when we listen to songs that describe our life perfectly, it makes us choke when we see movies depicting our disturbed past. The idea of it alone stems from the fact of intentional hiding. So we choose to eat away, drink away, exercise away or do anything to rationalise the power of it.

Remember, having secrets is not a problem if they do not affect you in an unhealthy way!

But, my question is this: Is the fear of having secrets or keeping secrets more powerful? A secret, itself, has a lot of power. You don’t have it, it has you! It compresses you into a cage of judgements and doubts. Will people accept you for who you are? Will you be happy sharing it? Are we afraid or are we being judgemental about ourselves? Do I have the capability to keep a secret?

Am I bothering you with so many questions?!

Okay, here’s my thought on secrets!

I think keeping secrets between loved ones could cause havoc if not taken care of. I have things that I’m unwilling to share with anyone. The reason being I’m constantly in fear of being judged. With time, all these thoughts made me think of how foolish I had been at certain times. For a secret to remain a secret, one has to hide away from the fact that it is a secret. You pile up your thoughts with one or more lies to comfort yourself that not revealing it is the right thing to do. Eventually, you either accept it as a hidden thought or live with the consequences of disclosing it. Either way, it is a tough call.

Secrets are a fragile part of your life, at least the ones important are! The denial of it is what inflates the power of it. It will make you judge people. It will introduce you to a side you haven’t seen. It becomes an important part of your identity. My advice is if you are dying to tell things out, write it on a piece of paper and tear it. Even better? Talk to your trusted ones. You are not alone, ever. In a world where everyone’s life is shielded by a mask of social networking lies, we need authenticity and transparency!

Achilles’ Heel

Once upon a time in optimist land, a 25-year-old was hit with tragedy. And thus formed the new me: a not-so-optimistic head with a hopeful heart. Things had gone from good to bad, better to worse before I could sink into the consequences. Talking about bad times, have you guys ever come across this term “Achilles Heel”?  Well, here’s the story behind it!

According to ancient Greek mythology, the great warrior, Achilles was foretold he would die young. His mother, Thetis, to prevent his death, took her son to River Styx which was known for its powers of invulnerability. She dipped him in the water head down by holding him near the heel, thus giving him enormous power- immortality. Achilles was held by the heel and his heel was not washed over by the water of the magical river. As time progressed, Achilles grew up to be a great warrior. He fought with the Greek army during the Trojan war. None of the weapons could hurt Achilles because of his boon. However, the God, Apollo, knew of Achilles’ “weak spot”. Apollo told the Prince of Troy, Paris, all about it and was thereby lodged with a poisonous arrow near his heel killing him shortly afterwards.

Moral of the myth: Even the world’s mightiest have a weak spot. Achilles’ mother defied the basic rule of humanity gifted by God: death. And the irony is death came after him in the form of God himself (Apollo).

All of us have our Achilles’ heel, including the toughest. Mine is certainly fatty things like tiramisu and ice cream. Well, apart from that, I definitely was hit with a reality check very late in my life. By the end of 2015, I had a career with no direction, a body with no iron levels and a soul without peace. I always looked at life in the most hopeful way, more like seeing the glass half full. But, what happens when the things around you make you look at the glass half empty? You start losing the warmth of life and you start to question every little thing you believed in till then. Does being optimistic make you unaware of how serious situations can be? Or was I using the word ‘optimism’ to cover up all the obstacles I had to eventually face? I was losing control on all the major aspects of my life, yet, I was hopeful things would change without acting on it. What I failed to realise initially was I had to act on it and stick to that decision: self-care.

Earlier, I would run by every emotion and issue with my peers. I would become low if they were in a bad mood. I became emotionally dependent on them. But gradually, I started to let go. I stopped ranting to my friends and being in situations that threatened my inner peace. I was becoming independent with my thoughts. I was able to sit alone in a coffee shop and eat my dessert. That is a big deal for me. I never, ever sat alone and ate in all my life. I love my friends very much, I do, but, I have come to terms with the fact that no one can make you content better than you. Somehow, amidst all these changes, I was looked at as arrogant, impatient and head-strong.

Eventually, I was questioned by many: “Why aren’t you telling us anything? Why are you distancing yourself?”

The ones who understood my change stayed with me and the ones who looked at this negatively, slowly began to drift away. The fact is I turned into a realist. I turned into this person who looked at the glass with hope and excitement. It is my glass and I can fill it! I can sit and do nothing with hope in my heart or I can act on them and live a life with hope. The choice was right there on the table all my life. I was just hit by a rough phase to remind me that the cards are still there on the table.

But in this process of loving myself, have I become insecure about my spot in others lives? Today, with fewer people whom I can rely on, can I call the fear of losing people my Achilles’ heel?

 

3 months later…

Hey, guys!

I know it’s been a while I posted on this blog. I have been super lazy and inconsistent with my writing so after much contemplation, I’m here. It so happened that on my recent visit to Hyderabad and Chennai, I met a lot of people who actually read my blog.  On one fine cloudy, have-a-strong-coffee kind of day, I bumped into a friend I hadn’t met since college. We greeted, did the usual hey, how are you exchange and this is how the conversation went.

She: so how is your blog?

Me: (in utter shock and in an obviously loud, excited voice) you read my bloggggggg?!

she: (quite surprised at my reaction) um, yeah!

Me: (happily glowing)oh my god!! I had no idea people actually read it. And it’s coming from someone I know!

She: (smiling oh-so-sweetly at me)I followed it until a while ago. In fact, there was a day I really wanted to read your blog and I ended up stalking your Instagram and FB page for the link.

Me: (still in shock) Wow! you stalked my social hubs? Yayy! (covering my face to hide my flushed cheeks)

She: Why did you stop writing, by the way?

Me: (confused now)Um, I never thought people actually followed it?

And I ended up giving really stupid excuses. The truth is, I couldn’t write because I was no longer upset about life. Does that make sense? I know I sound horrible when I say it but believe me, writing was always a medium to let out my sorrow! I never really practiced the art of expressing thoughts when I’m content and in peace. Maybe I should start to.

Anyway, back to the conversation with my friend. We ended the friendly encounter by her advising me to keep writing. She said, “don’t stop writing. You write really well and people actually do follow your blog”. I guess that was enough to hear because finally, it felt like my blog had a purpose. I never understood why I started this in the first place but her words felt like appreciation in its truest form.

Soon after, I left to Chennai. My darling bestie and I had planned our pre-birthday celebrations. Long story short: turning 25 is awesome! To my surprise (like as if turning 25 wasn’t exciting enough), everyone I met ended up asking the same question; “Why aren’t you writing?”

I figured, eh, I may be bad at writing but I still got a bunch of people waiting for my next post. So people! Be prepared to listen to all the random s*** I encounter, my food porn and my not so intellectual opinions on life.

And oh, a special shoutout to Sonal(the friend I met at the coffee shop) and everyone who asked my friends and me about my blog. Thank you! A big, huge, warm thank you! It was just the motivation I needed. Nothing makes me happier than making my loved ones smile.

Shower gyaan

I was in my shower post my evening workout thinking about life and lessons because clearly that is the only time we are ever free and constantly winning imaginary arguments. And guess what? I had unknowingly achieved something. After 2 years of constant self-motivation, counselling from friends and gyaan from the movies and novels, one fine day, it vanished. Naturally, like every other blogger, I thought I could write a post relating to this.

So I got into my sexy pyjamas and jumped on the bed to jot down. However, I look at my blog page and I’m shocked. It has been almost two whole months since I posted anything. My friends urged me to write now and then but I shooed their thoughts away thinking I will do it the next day. And the next day. And so on. So here I’m, approximately 48 days later, wanting to write something. If there is something I value now, that is definitely time. Where did it go? Maybe I was contemplating my thoughts on life, the people around us and how energy affects us all. Nah bro, I was just kidding. I was busy eating mangoes. Because food, baby! Always the first priority.

Anyway, back to my shower thoughts. So I had been dealing with a lot of negativity since I can remember. I still cannot pick on a certain issue but, maybe it was the incidents happening around me or the people I met or it could be just my stupid illusion. It still affected me in a big way. And in a bad way. It took me relentless hard work and dedication to lose all the baby weight by the end of 2014. Unfortunately, by the early of 2016, I gained all of it. Because? Stress! At the mid of 2016, all that revolved around my mind was WTF was happening to me.

I’m not getting into the sad and gory details of that phase. Not because it’s private but, I’m lazy now. Like someone-breathe-for-me lazy.

Come to think of it, the speed at which my over thinking brain was analysing things was just crazyyy. I really wish I listened to my friend when she said: “let go”. And she reminded me of it every single day. Let go of the worries. Let go of certain people. Let go of everything negative. Seriously, how did she survive repeating that to me for the last 365 days? I would have given up on the fourth day. Okay, not so soon but still! She is a boon to me.

So here I’m, with my waist size bigger and my hair thinner than ever, telling all of you the secret to my rather happy post. Yoga! I’m not here to propagate the principles of it and I certainly do not wish to get into the details. However, trying is never a bad thing. So go ahead and invest an hour into yoga. Screw the gym, ditch the weights and go on the mat. It will do wonders. Maybe not physically but, definitely mentally.

I’m more aware of myself and I learned a lot. Number one: you can be mindful. Number two: my body is super flexible. I could do wavy things with my tummy and twist my body to the point I do not recognise myself. Imagine that. How cool!

Whatsoever it did to me, it worked. Firstly, my mind is much clearer so I don’t have my brain speeding at 260km/hr. Secondly, I feel lighter and happier. I’m starting to move away from the negativity. I don’t stress excessively like I used to. And by the way, I’m still one size bigger but definitely better in my mind and heart. Weight will come and go. It is the heart and mind that needs constant effort. Focus on that. 

I urge you all out there to try yoga. Get to know your inner self ’cause that is pretty badass! And finally, spend time with people that bring out the best in you, not the stress in you. Okay?