It’s Corn-y!

As I was beginning to wonder how I’d survive the absence of Mangoes and Jack-fruits, because they aren’t in season anymore, Hyderabad was painted yellow once again. Now the streets are dotted with vendors selling Corn, not the sweet, juicy, soft-to-the bite, plump American Corn, but the chewy, hardy, lithe Indian Corn.
On a rainy day, when we go for a long drive to the outskirts of Hyderabad where our Farmhouse is located, we like to stop to buy a few ears of grilled Corn. My mother-in-law spots the vendor with the best-looking Corn out of the many lining beside the highway. She carefully picks the tender-looking ones with many grains and hands them to the vendor, who then grills them on a platter filled with briquettes of charcoal. Along with the smoky flavor, the Corn assumes the salt-and-sour taste of a lemon-half patted on a plate of salt and rubbed on the corn.

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Corn is also grown in abundance in Karnataka, where I grew up. An ear of corn is grilled to perfection and painted with a mouth-watering green Chilli concoction that I absolutely love but my husband thinks is pretty unhealthy (“Don’t know which water they use to prepare it!”). I think he’s just jealous! (He roots for Hyderabad and its delicacies while I’m a Bengaluru girl through and through!)

It doesn’t matter what it is cloaked in, a grilled Corn is one of the healthiest, tastiest snacks there is. All of us love to pry the kernels of Corn off its cob , including the littlest member of our family. It is one of our favorite pastimes.

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I can’t wait to share a few recipes using Corn in the coming posts.

Reading Harry Potter Book 5

It is raining. My window frames trembling leaves of every shade of green. The weather is  perfect. Perfect to lose myself in a Harry Potter book. I imagine my home to be the school of witchcraft and wizardry, Hogwarts itself, with the Forbidden forest right across the window!

The weather needn’t be this perfect for me to read a Harry Potter book. I can pick it up anytime and perfect conditions just happen. But reading “Order of Phoenix” (Book 5) hasn’t been easy-peasy, relaxing-with-a-cup-of-chai type of book so far. The book is dark and slightly depressing. Harry, the central character, is miffed most of the time. Most wizards and witches don’t trust his account of the Dark Lord’s return. They think he’s just a big show-off, cooking up stories to gain attention. He is spurred to shout or fight at the smallest push of his button. The lightning-shaped scar on his forehead (caused by Lord Voldemort when he tried to kill him years ago and which hurts whenever he is around or is enraged) now throbs with pain most of the time. Harry is seeing things no one is able to see except (loony) Luna Lovegood, a junior.

Dumbledore, the headmaster, believes his story and forms the secret “Order of Phoenix”, a group of wizards and witches against Lord Voldemort. The minister of magic, Cornelius Fudge, who actively disbelieves the story wants to overthrow Dumbledore from the position he holds at Hogwarts and the ministry. He sends the toad-like Prof. Umbridge as the new Defense against the Dark Arts teacher to control the goings-on at school from outside. And she causes such misery to students and teachers alike, I began loathing her right from the moment she entered the picture. This book has a gloomy beginning as well, where Harry is attacked by the happiness-sucking Dementors and is almost expelled from Hogwarts for using magic against them. Everything, well, almost everything about this book has been gloomy so far. It’s not just my opinion. My sister feels the same too. And she blames me for her not wanting to sleep or cook lately because I suggested we do the series together. Hard as it has been to read, she is determined to see it through.

I always feel the itch to pick my tablet to read the e-book. But I’m unable to stick to it for long. Invisible hands pull me down and prevent me from forging ahead with the reading. I let books, their characters control me, transform me. I think of the characters as real and their stories move me, disturb me, haunt me. I’m still shaken by Cedric Diggory’s death in Book 4 and wonder how the rest of the school can move past the tragedy. And Harry was almost killed by Voldemort…..

Anyway, I’m determined to read the book. I’ll finish the series, no matter what. The going will be tough but I have my sister with me for the ride.

Letter to Medha

This feature is inspired by Elise at eliseblaha.typepad.com. I plan to write a letter each to Medha and Madhav once every month.

Dear Medha,

You are getting naughtier by the minute. One minute you are snatching a toy your baby brother is holding, the next you are ransacking grandma’s cupboard for her expensive cream. At the end of a school day your uniform is smeared with clay or covered in ketchup. You weren’t this naughty back in the US. Is it the effect of India or is it because of all the attention and adoration showered on you by your grandparents?

You can copy a letter or a number beautifully but when asked to identify a letter/number, you find it so hard to. All the confidence with which you begin writing just drains out of you. Your voice becomes feeble. You need a lot of practice, your teachers tell me. We are practising a lot lately. I’m surprised you don’t mind all that copy-writing and related activities I ask you to do. You seem to be taking this as a challenge. That never-give-up attitude will take you far I’m sure.

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On a more lighter note, you’re thoroughly enjoying going out to parties with your grandparents.  You are having a better social life than your parents are!

Love,
Mama.

Learning letters

Medha is just 4 but she comes home with a couple of pages of homework everyday. And not just homework, she has to work on a speech  for Grandparents Day which is at the end of July. And not just memorize a speech, but prepare for assessments in English and Maths. Phew! Poor thing, she would just be pretend-playing and crafting at her play-school if we still lived in the US. What to do, this is the state of education in India. But Medha is happy. She loves going to her school every single day. Does that mean her school is doing something right?

In the beginning she was taught lines- standing, sleeping and slanting. With the help of those she is now taught letters and numbers. Right now she knows the letters I, J, L, T and numbers 1, 4 and 7. Yup… Not in the alphabetical and numerical orders, but using lines as building blocks. It’s interesting in a way, but I wonder if she should have been taught phonetics first, meaning the sound each letter makes. However hard I try she doesn’t understand that the word “leaf” starts with the sound “luh” or the word “tap” starts with the sound “tuh”.

Her teacher told us she still needs a lot of practice writing her letters and that she finds it difficult to even hold her pencil right. That kind of thing from a teacher can hurt! But instead of tensing up or pressuring Medha I want to take it slow, concentrate on a single letter at a time, make her learn it thoroughly before moving onto the next. I’m making her fill a page of 4-line notebook with a single letter each day and as a reward her papa is bringing her a candy at the end of the day. And I try to point out letters to her from the books we read together. I remind myself (and my husband) to see how far she has come from the days when she couldn’t even draw a line or sing a rhyme. Now, in a month of going to school, she is able to do both!

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I won’t worry if she doesn’t score well in her assessments. As long as we’re working hard we will get there eventually. If there’s one thing my daughter has taught me it is to be patient, to let things take their own course and not to rush through. We got through some insurmountable ( they seemed at the time!) problems together like staying up and crying all night, potty training and breastfeeding. We’ll get through this hurdle as well. Nothing is un-achievable with a lot of sweat and passion.

It doesn’t mean I don’t lose my patience and use my “mean” voice at her. I do. Quite often. But I know that sort of bullying doesn’t work on her. It just makes her more stubborn and refuse to follow my instructions. That’s why I use a lot of praise, some reward and a ton of paper craft and educational websites like abcmouse.com, starfall.com to teach her letters and numbers.

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