Jan 17, 2012

The Baking Ventures

When it comes to me being a cripple in some womanly skills, I always resort to the lines "I grew up with three brothers" somehow blaming my heritage for my 'unwomanly' ways. This last resort may work for my embarrassment with my lack of make-up skills (until about 14 months ago) and the battle with the high heels still on-going. But with cooking and baking, I cannot say I'm unskilled because I grew up with boys. In fact, growing up with boys should somehow make me more skilled because I'd be the one 'expected' to do all that. But sadly, I'm a bad cook and a worse baker. 

I've often been told that no one will ever marry me because I'm such a bad cook. But somehow, my dad and my brothers are delighted with whatever I spin out in the kitchen last summer when I was home. Ah! Love! Who cares if a man never marries me because of my cooking (un)skills? I still have four men who finishes whatever I kept in the plate.

With baking, I, however, have no experience. My mother bought cakes rather than bake them and the only time I've ever helped bake a cake was when I was in college. We were baking a birthday cake for a girl in our hostel and all I did was beat the eggs. But a few months ago, a Mizo family (here in Delhi) I have as my own bought a new oven - bigger and better than their previous one. So with the thrill of the new toy, we decided to bake. On the first baking try, I couldn't even reach on time because of my late class. By the time I reached, everything was done and all I did was peek from the oven door at the batter changing color and consistency. The cake turned out delicious and I feel it's because I didn't help!!

I was at the same home a week ago when suddenly Muani (the daughter) decided that we should bake. Her mother had bought a new baking mold (a double-heart mold ) and she wanted to try it out. We peered closely at the cake recipe and suddenly decided to be health conscious and that the butter and the sugar was too much. So we cut down on the sugar and added only 1/3 of the the butter from the recipe. The sad part was that we didn't cut out down on the flour and even added more eggs to make the batter more consistent.

After 40 minutes in the 180 degree oven, guess what came out??

Yes! I put the picture on X-large just to scare you!!

I could have sworn the cake was laughing at me! I could have sworn I could hear a boisterous "Haha! You're never meant to bake. Look at me, your failed creation, and go marinate yourself in shame!!"

What the 'failed creation' tastes like?? Cheap dry bread which smells like burnt eggshells!! Yes I know! Why do I give out such embarrassing details? But the comments we received that evening was worse than all these details.

"Kawngsira cake an zawrh chi hi a ang e... 15 man chi ngei mai kha."  - Biaka who still nibbled and ate a piece.

"In kua a puar ange... ei lo mai rawh u." - Nu Mamawii, the mother of that home.

"A tui lutuk. Mahse artui hawng ut rim a nam" - Pa Hminga , the father.

I later learnt that no one in the family would eat it and in the end they gave it to some kitchen staff in Mizoram House! I'm sure the laughing cake got thrown out but I didn't want to hurt myself by confirming my suspicions. After that, Muani and I had to endure a week of jokes and fun made at our expense and our stint at baking. Expert bakers like U Rimawii told us to be extra lenient with the butter and later restrict our portion size if we are indeed 'health conscious'.

So anyways, as stubborn as I am, I know that I'm going to give another go. Today (more like yesterday) is Pa Hminga's 52nd Birthday. And  Muani and I decided that we'd bake him his cake. So we started out as usual. 

I can't even begin to tell you the concern everyone had once we put on our aprons. If there is any unlikely sound while using the grinder, Pa Hminga, the birthday boy would peer from the living room and ask "What's that sound, Zuali?" "Is everything alright, Zuali?". I looked at him and decided that I will not poison him this time around. At least not on his birthday!! So we went whisking and mixing and tasting the batter until it finally went into the oven. 

Whisking! Yeah! We hafta make sure we do it right! 

The first attempt turn out much much better than the last creation but not without flaws. And by flaws I mean, charred bottoms! Heh!

First attempt! A huge burnt chunk had to be scraped off!

Still happy that the cake didn't have the smell of burnt eggshells! :D

The second attempt no longer had the burnt bottom, smells like a cake should and looks good enough to eat. This made it to the birthday cake! :)

Attempt no 3: No burns yeay!!

Ok! This one breaks into a shy grin " I taste much better than your last attempt. I can't laugh at you now"

The third attempt was named 'Slim Jim' by Muani and we left it untouched to be served later to their numerous visitors. (Pa Hminga's house is the unofficial Delhi Mizo Youth Den).

Slim Jim without a crack! Yeah!

There we go!! I should've known that everything becomes perfect with practice. By the time Muani's birthday comes around in March, I told her I'll bake her a 5 tiered birthday cake with  chocolate layers and cream roses. Ha!! I have such high expectations of myself!

And until then, The Baking Ventures continue...

Happy Birthday to Pa Hminga! You deserve a much better cake!! Sorry we couldn't get all 52 candles in there! And please excuse the icing, we still need a lot of practice! :D

Jan 14, 2012

The Chronicles of Gopuii

I have a friend. A very dear friend in met here in University. And if I were asked to use a single word to describe her, I would chose nothing less than the word 'unique'. Yep! I've never come across anyone even remotely resembling her or her one-of-a-kind personality. 

It has been a tradition between our friends in campus to christen each other with 'Miho' names - names that we give each other once we came into campus. Some of our names have stuck well with us and among those is her name - 'Lalgo-i' which we lovingly 'pet-named' to 'Gopuii'. I will not explain why she has been given this name or what the names means. I hope the rest of this post will make the name slightly comprehensible.

The first time I met her , I was reminded of Sarah Connor from the movie Terminator 2. But then soft spoken bespectacled girl proved that her smile is the only thing she shared with the gun-trotting woman from the sci-fi movie. In my six years of knowing her, I've never heard her speak an angry word. Yet I've seen her getting pissed one night when the bunch was cooking in a room in a boys hostel and we decided to fry only one kilo of potato. I remembered her pulling her face taunt as she peeled all the three kilos and fry them all by herself. She wasn't going to be short of the loving carbs!

Gopuii is always a second slow, but she's never behind. The guys love to say that her processor's a second late. But she never gets into trouble for it. I guess it's because that's just the way she is and whatever force overlooked her simply accepts her and loves her for it. Sometimes I feel that the universe and its contents stay aligned just for her and her own timing.  One such episodes would definitely be what I'd call the 'Cheraw episode'. I've never seen Gopuii dancing Cheraw with the rhythm of the drum. And if you've known or seen what the dance is like, it's rest assured that she will get injured with each beat. But then of course, with the universe wildly rearranging itself to her timing, she never has any practice accidents. It's always the men who has the accidents. In the end, I remember some of our guys closing their eyes while beating the bamboo, the very moment Gopuii gets into their lane. That way none of them got hurt. Yep! sometimes I'm almost convinced that time waits for Gopuii!!

But sometimes, just sometimes, the universe doesn't always go out of its way for Gopuii. One such 'sometime' would be the Taekwondo class. She couldn't get a belt in her Taekwondo class because she counldn't finish 'the dance' with the right movements and most importantly with the right timing. She practiced so many times, even in bathrooms while brushing her teeth. But she couldn't get it right which in the end made her drop out of the class. The first failure of Gopuii, I must say. The other day, I walked into the Taekwondo class after a badminton match and I realized the class was for kids around ages 10 and below. It made me admire Gopuii for having the persistence to take classes with kids where she'd definitely be the biggest clumsiest one who couldn't even finish the dance.

But why is Gopuii so interesting?

I was told that once she wrapped and packed her desktop with elastic threads for a train journey. She makes sure she wears a Burqa-like covering whenever she goes out in the heat. Well, we all do that in peak heat don't we? But his classmate Biaka, once refuse to catch up with her because she was wearing a towel on top of her baseball cap and an umbrella on her way to class. Gopuii firmly refuses to use an alarm clock because it is always the best to wake up naturally without pushing the body.

Once someone asked me if she's stoned because he saw her walking with her head high, her neck elongated turning slowing from side to side and her lips curled up in a slow private smile. Another friend quickly jumped to her rescue before I could say anything, 'She's always been like that. I bet she doesn't even understand the meaning of getting stoned'. Ah!! She's well loved by all.

And I kid you not. The love can be seen in another episode. Gopuii once contested for the post of the School Councillor in the Student's Union election. I told her I'll help her with her campaigns anyway that I can, but what I could do was little as I wasn't from her school and I don't know many students. But anyway. once we were going towards the school basement to get handouts printed when she suddenly disappeared as we turned a curve. I went hunting for her and found her half an hour later, writing out her name in a piece of paper while talking to people sitting in the computer lab. And needless to say she swept the votes at the School of International Studies squeaky clean. She came out with the highest votes in the seven membered body which was elected.

But the thing which prompted me to write this post is her recent incident at the airport. We all do weird things when we're broke, right! But Gopuii is the only person I've known who asked for a 10 rupee discount in an airport coffee shop because she's broke. She later told me 'unamused' 'An la phallo zui '!!

I'm glad to have someone like her. It reminds me of the different, unique and lovely ways that God created us. If Gopuii had somehow tried to conform or tried to fit in a box, and be someone else. I'm sure she wouldn't be loveble, endearing and funny as she is now!

A few nights back, I texted her asking if I could do a blog post about her. She texted  a positive reply with the line "Don't destroy my future".

Gopui... No one can touch you or your future as long as you have such a kickass attitude. Have a long long blessed life and continue being who you are! 


Here she is, the beautiful (inside and out) Gopuii, still with remnants of her stint at martial arts!!

(BTW, her real name's Mapuii and nope! She ain't single... :P)

Jan 5, 2012

Of Facebook profile pictures, friend requests and the borderline Misandrist.

A Facebook friend vain enough to sport shades and a self-mobile-clicked photo as his profile picture once admitted to adding girls because they looked cute in their PP and later deleted them after he saw them in real life.  And he later complained about how misguiding PP's can be. 

Need I repeat the very funny fake account that took the Mizo Facebookers by storm just a couple of weeks back? I won't. Because I refuse to let that insignificant episode taint my blog. But then again I think that episode explains a lot about men and Facebook PPs.

Anyways, the fake account with the pretty PP and the vain friend's complaint triggered me to write this post. 

Let me tell you my side of the story with my Facebook profile pictures. Both untouched, both 'un-photoshopped'.

This picture is me.

The picture was taken about a year ago when I spotted this felt mustache at a friend's place and decided to fool around with it. I have no makeup on, my hair is uncombed, my thick glasses are perched on my button nose and this picture was taken with a 2mp phone camera. I liked this picture a lot. This is sooo me! The felt mustache and what my Sunday School students called my 'rubber face'. One particularly bold student told me later 'You're old but fun' after coming across this picture. Coming from a 11 year old, I took it as a major compliment.This picture was my Facebook PP for about three months before I switched it. 

 Let's go the other picture.

This picture is also me.

This picture was taken in November last year at the backstage of the campus Confluence Night. I was in traditional costume, full-on makeup, good lighting, good angle, my glasses are gone and the man behind the expensive camera is a man in love. (Ok!! I just got corny!). I think I look very pretty in this picture and I liked it but not as much as I like the first one. This picture was my PP for about a month until I changed it to this.

This caption is something I wish to be.

Yes, it's a bible caption but who hasn't ever dreamt of being the Proverbs 31 woman?? Well, I have! 

But my main point is that the amount of friend requests I received while using the 2nd picture is overwhelming. Overwhelming as in up to 13 requests in a day!! . But then after a month of deleting friend requests (I'm sorry, I don't add people I don't know), I got tired and changed the picture to the bible caption. And the friend requests drop down drastically to only one in a week, which came from a girl I know in North Delhi who realized she hasn't add me yet!  True Story!

I get that the second picture is appealing to many people. I think I look pretty in the picture too and that is exactly why I use it as a PP. I don't think I look pretty in the first picture, but I love it because one look at the picture will describe who I am - a person who's fun and who's not scared to make a fool of herself. And if I have to pick which one is more me, it's definitely the first picture. I am the person in the second picture once a week (Yep - I wear make-up only on Sundays and special occasions.), yet, nonetheless, it is still my picture. I've been told I'm photogenic and I heartily agree that I'm not as striking in person as I am in pictures. But that doesn't mean my pictures aren't me! I have the right to post both these two pictures because they are both me. Inspite of that, I've decided I will continue using captions as PPs until I recover from the shock of the superficiality of men I've encountered through the single PP!

A close friend of mine famously quoted about men "They are ruled by their vision and they have brains between their legs". Our male friends love to hate that quote but can do nothing much about her attitude because, I feel, they know she's right in some aspects.

I've been a borderline misandrist for quiet sometime now. So many times have I been disappointed by shallow men and their choices in life. So many times have I been bruised by men whose visions ruled their world. Just these experiences would have been enough to drive me to the border.  But there are just two things that kept me from crossing over to the island of Man-Haters:

1. I cannot judge a man because I'm not one. It's just the way we are wired. Just like men cannot get what gets us women going and what ticks us off. You cannot generalize it. Everyone is different.

2. And most importantly, I have a few good men in my life who still amaze me and surprise me with their decisions, their train of thoughts and the way they choose live their life. These handful of men keeps me from portraying men as disgusting creatures.

But then again, this is for all those men who add girls because of cute PP's and delete them later. _____ you. (I use the F word only in my mind.) Don't complain about the girl putting her best picture in her PP, she has every right to show her best to the world. It's not as if you didn't put up your best picture for your PP.  Stop accusing others of being a hypocrite when you are one too. There's more to life than being an arse!!


Ah!!! That's liberating!! :D

Jan 1, 2012

A New Year's Post : Happy 2012!


So my resolution-free New Year started about two hours ago! And even though I'm well aware that feelings are deceptive, I have a genuine 'undeceptive-like' feeling that this year will be a Great Year! I spend my New Year's Eve having a potluck dinner, a get-together and a midnight service with families nearby campus. And my 'teetotalling' New Year's Eve continues!

I've been tweeting that the smartest thing I've done in 2011 is turn on my e-blanket before I left for the New Year's midnight service! Now I'm safely tucked into my warm bed, calling it a night. Tomorrow (or today??), I'll be up early to help cook for the New Year's Feast. Ah!! I can't count the years I've been a ruai fatu, let me recall, my first ruai fatu year was in 2000, back home. That's more than a decade ago!! But I've been singing praises for the Christmas ruai fatu(s) a week ago, so for New Year's I decided to join them and be part of the team that feeds the multitude.

And though there's no resolution this year, there has to be a bible verse. I'd be lost without my Yearly Verse. So this year, I picked a well-known verse I've been dwelling on for the past month!

Yet those who wait for the LORD will gain new strength; they will mount up with wings like eagles, they will run and not get tired, they will walk and not become weary.Isaiah 40:31


"Waiting". A theme much needed for someone as impatient as I; a word to reflect upon for someone like me who doesn't know when to slow down!

So before I run away with my lines and stay up for another hour, 

Happy New Year 2012
May you have a blessed and fulfilling year
May your Sorrows be less and your Joys abundant
May you learn to be thankful for each day this New Year holds!