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Letters to Myself: When I Have a Teenage Kid

When I was a kid, I used to write “Letters to Myself.” This may seem odd and no, I don’t have multiple personalities. I just wanted to make sure that as an adult, I didn’t forget about all the “horrible” things my parents did to to embarrass me while I lived under their roof. I figured if I could warn myself in the future and help prevent my children from suffering the same kind of embarrassment that I had been through, we could potentially break the cycle. Thus leading to less money spent on counseling sessions, which would be a win-win from any perspective, because even my parents would agree that we shouldn’t waste money. I didn’t start the letters until I was in middle school, but I think I covered my bases pretty well.

So without further ado, let me present you with the teenage Masala Chica’s list of parental “Dos” and “Don’ts.”

1)   Don’t wear saris when I pick my kids up from school. Try to be cool like the other moms and wear jeans.

Not wearing mom jeans = uncool!

These moms totally had it going on.

2)   Don’t send my kids to school with weird pickles on their sandwiches.

3)   Do learn how to make things like brownies and cupcakes. When it’s my kid’s birthday, make these things from scratch and don’t buy them in the plastic containers from Shop-Rite.

4)   Make interesting and exotic dinners, like Spaghetti and Meatballs or Fettucini Alfredo. Don’t serve rice and daal at every meal.

5)   Do not wear bindis. Do not wear anything resembling dots on my head.

6)   Do take my kids to fun places like Disneyland and Six Flags. Don’t wear saris. Wear cool jeans and shorts, like the other moms.

7)   Do let my daughter go to the mall on Friday nights to hang out with the rest of her friends.

8)   Do teach daughter about facial hair. And what to do with it. Teach her how to shave, wax, whatever. Don’t let her walk around feeling like a hairy gorilla.

9)   Do watch other movies with my kids other than Indian movies. Learn how to be comfortable with watching kissing scenes in front of my kids, like the other cool moms. Don’t make the kids leave the room if a kissing scene does take place.

10)  Don’t make my kid pray all the time. Pray less. Sometimes praying too much can give your kids a headache.

11)   Don’t yell at my kids if they say the word sex. Sex is not always dirty. Sometimes, sex is just a question on a form.

12)  Don’t take my kids out of school every year for a few weeks to see family in India.

My list of dos and don’ts was fairly black and white for me. Whatever my mother was doing was a “DON’T”. Whatever the other moms were doing was a “DO.” Apparently I had great respect for my friends’ mothers, their mom jeans and their ability to whip up a box of Duncan Hines baked goods at home.

I look back at this list and what’s clear is that I was obviously afraid of being different. I wanted, so very much, to be like the rest of my friends. I wasn’t thinking about how cool it was that my mom still embraced her culture so much. I wasn’t really thinking about how amazing it was to eat the sabzis and the curries my mother would make every night to go alongside the daal and rice.

So what if a few kids made fun of those differences? Buck up, I want to tell that kid now. Learn how to be different. Embrace those things. And for Pete’s sake, don’t worry so much about hairy legs. You will have a lifetime to worry about that.

Well, not really, if you get married.

In that case, you generally get most of the winter off.

Still, I want to tell that young girl that one day, she will be writing a post, much like this one, and will salivate at the thought of her mom’s homemade pickles on her sandwiches or eating her mother’s cooking that night. That it’s ok that her mom couldn’t shake and bake like her friends’ moms.

I will explain that she was comparing apples to oranges.

Or better yet, Apple pie to Ladoos.

My mom never had reason for me to question her cooking, especially when her samosas kick the Tri-State area’s ass.

I wish I could explain how precious it would be, that time when she is young. And how much it means to let her hold on to it for another day, another year. And if that means not letting her troll around a dingy mall so that she is less likely to get felt up by upperclassmen in the empty part of the parking lot over by J.C.Penney, so be it.

I would love to tell her how one day, those trips to India will teach her more than any textbook at home could. How those trips will inspire her to think beyond the world she lives in. To look beyond those walls and beyond the privilege she has been born into. How they will be the only way she would have had memories of her grandparents or cousins who are now gone. How maybe understanding the journey her parents took to get to the United States, might help her appreciate the ties they still cherish.

The customs they hope to keep alive.

I totally would back her up on the praying thing. Praying too much still gives me a headache.

But I would love to maybe give her a different point of view.

Maybe just a little perspective.

Namaste,

Kiran

 

My Teenage Dating Chronicles

I have a story to tell you guys. You might not believe it. But I swear, it’s all true. Every stinking word of it.

When I was younger, well…I wasn’t really a hit with the boys. I know. I KNOW. This is hard to believe since now I am so obviously ridiculously, ridiculously good looking and charming. But suspend your disbelief for just one minute, however hard that might be and go back in time with me.

When I hit my teens, I was awkward and shy. A bit pudgy, with braces and Jersey hair so big and so wide that it made Medusa look like she was a shampoo commercial model. Friends, it was bad.

But then things changed. The pounds fell off when I ran cross country. A teeny weeny eating disorder didn’t hurt either (another story, another day). The braces came off and I figured out (somewhat) how to work with the mop that God (yes, thank you for that God) gave me.

So around 16, I blossomed. Ok, maybe that’s too strong of a word. I wouldn’t say that I went through a case of the ugly duckling turning into a swan. Nothing that dramatic! But I was a more attractive duckling, which was progress and which helped confirm that a daily dietary supplement of my mother’s samosas was not conducive to weight loss.

I also got the whole facial hair thing under control. SCORE! This achievement involves a serious fist pull. You see, I’m Indian. And I have dark, coarse hair. And it sprouted on my face with a profound enthusiasm that I could not match, much less conquer alone. After a very unfortunate incident with a bottle of Nair when I was 13, I finally became a pro at using hot wax. No easy feat for a young teen with a small forest growing on her face.

So now, I no longer had a moustache that rivaled that of Mr. Kakos, my very Greek AP English teacher. Huge improvement folks.

And so all this happened. And I started hearing the word. Pretty. And people were using it to describe me. ME. Well, sometimes. Again, just roll with me here.

That's Me - 2nd row curly hair!

 

I’m in the second row – 1st on the left.

And yet friends, though I bought the milkshakes to the yard with all these changes, nobody came a-knocking at my door. Sure, we had some Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormons, but other than that – nothing. My phone wasn’t ringing off the hook either.

I had guy friends who were great, but nobody was romantically interested in me. I use the word romantically loosely, because we were in high school and all I knew about romance, I learned from watching Guiding Light and Fred and Daphne’s obvious sexcapades on Scooby Doo.

Was it the knowledge that not so long ago, I slightly resembled a yeti? Was it the fact that any time someone did call me, my strict, Indian father would interrogate them relentlessly?

“How do you know her?” Um. School, Papa.

“What do you want to talk about?” Math. Like, duh.

“How many girls have you deflowered?” Ok. No he didn’t. But I am sure he wanted to.

I remember being in the cafeteria one day hanging out with a guy I had been friends with for a while who I had a huge crush on. For the sake of this story we will call him Don*, because a few friends from high school read my blog. He said something really sweet to me. Something absentmindedly and God I don’t remember what it was. I think it was something like “Oh Kiran, you’re so great” accompanied by an affectionate nudge on the shoulder.

I recognize now that you say things like this to lost puppies and sympathy crushes. You know, to people you know that like you, but who you don’t have feelings for.

At the time though, I wasn’t that cool. (I know, I told you to suspend your disbelief!). So I mustered up my courage and said, “Well, Don. You know I think you’re great too.” And I could have left it at that.

But no friends. I did not. I did NOT leave it at that. Instead, I added, “Like, yeah. Like, I like you.” Fucking idiot I was. When over 50% of your sentence uses the word like, you officially qualify as a moron.

This is when Don said to me, “Well, Kiran, I like you too.”

“Really?”

“But you know I can’t date you.”

“Why?” I asked, perplexed.

“Because of what you are.”

I paused for a second. Wow. Harsh!

“Wait. Because I’m smarter than you?”

The next thing I know, the bell rings and we are surrounded by friends and apparently the boys aren’t dating me because of my lack of milkshakes but because I’m smarter. Well, at least I knew what the problem was.

When I told my friends about what happened though, they saw things a little differently than me.

“Because of what you ARE?!!”

“Yeah. Because I’m smart.”

“No, Kiran. Because you’re Indian!” my friends informed me. Apparently he had been overheard talking about it with a friend and had been a bit more clear about my unsavory characteristics.

Oh. OH.

Every other brush with dating in high school ended disastrously. I wasn’t often in the running, but when I was, it was not usually very smooth sailing.

And you know, while it sucked that a guy didn’t like me because I was Indian, I kind of am still proud of my first response. Because that’s who I was. I was a smart little cookie. Sure, I had shitty taste in footballin’ men, but I had some balls to take a chance and tell someone I liked them. It took courage for me to do that. And sometimes having courage is a lot more important than getting to make out with the high school quarterback. That’s the story I’m sticking to anyway.

Stay tuned for more adventures in awkward, Indian teenage dating….

XOXO,

Kiran

Live from Lisbon, Portugal, where I should have been in bed a LONG time ago.

I’m Just a Girl. A Girl With a Blog.

You know that line from the movie Notting Hill? The one where Julia Roberts, who plays a famous actress – real stretch role for her –  tells Hugh Grant’s character, the manager of a small bookstore, “I’m just a girl, standing in front of a boy, asking him to love her.”

First of all, I call bullshit. She’s not just a girl. He’s not just a boy. When most people become famous, odds are, they change. I have seen and known it to happen with some friends in my own life. They became more than just a girl or a boy and depending on their character, the people they need to surround themselves have to come with a pedigree I don’t have or serve a purpose I apparently don’t.

To them I’m just a girl.

But I do want to re-purpose that line for my own use and maybe change it just a little bit.

“I’m just a girl, writing a blog for anyone who will read it, asking them to understand me.”

You might be the ones calling “Bullshit” this time since I am using the word “girl” quite liberally here. But I wanted to tell you a little bit about what this girl, who is writing this post way too late at night, has learned about herself and her life over the years through the course of blogging. She’s not going to write it all today, but maybe she can start.

(Please don’t mind the use of the third person reference there. It’s 2 AM. Cut me/her/she some slack.)

Blogging about your life is a constant balance

I know you’re thinking, “Like, duh.” Of course with blogging, there is always the balance of time. Do I play with my child or answer the comments that are waiting for me after my last post? Do I try to work on the business model for the company I am launching or do I come up with new witty posts about what happened to me at Target the other day? Or today. Or on Saturday, just because I needed an extension cord. In pink.

That time balance is a constant struggle and I am not going to lie. If I was sitting on a seesaw and my family was on one end and the blog was on another, over the past few months, it would be clear that my family won out and I sat my butt on one end of that seesaw and pretty much stayed there. I needed to. Stuff was happening and it was a choice I needed to make.

But it’s the other stuff. The below the surface stuff. It’s deciding whether to write about the things going on in my life that are hard to talk about, but for whatever reason, seem to flow from my fingers with a power of their own as soon as I open WordPress. It’s about contemplating what daily struggles I want to share that I am having with my spouse, siblings, in-laws,  friends or co-workers. It’s talking about the issues that I am really thinking about but can’t write because I know that there will be collateral damage in doing so. Hurt feelings. Irreparable damage even.

I can’t write what I think all the time because I don’t live in a vacuum and every word I put out there impacts the people around me.

Some people call it brave to put it all out there. I think I used to believe that. Now, I think that there is a fine line between bravery and needing constant validation from people around the internet, sometimes at the expense of my own family. That? I don’t see that as bravery anymore, but I do think it’s pretty freaking selfish.

I was at a conference once and Jeff Goines, the author of “Wrecked” was taking questions after a presentation on creative writing. I asked him how he draws the line between writing about himself and impacting the privacy of those in his life. He didn’t seem to understand the question and I struggled to find the words during that 10 second period to explain what I meant. But It think it’s something like this.

If I were to tell you that I battle depression, it’s not just my story. It’s also my husband’s. It’s also my children’s. It may become their teacher’s story, who may look at them differently or treat them because of a different lens they now have on. Oh, your homework is late? Is it because of what’s going on at home?

If I were to tell you that my husband has done something to me, something which has shocked me, it’s not just my story or his. Again, it’s the story of my children, our friends and our families as well. Perhaps even his co-workers and colleagues who might have seen or read the piece (Don’t worry, John hasn’t done anything to me. Yet.)

The reality is that over time, as a blogger, you start to feel that you owe it to yourself to be honest. And that you owe something to your readers. And while this may be true, I find that there have been a few times where I took this a little too literally and did so at the expense of the most important people in my life. These people – my family, my friends – don’t always understand my blog and they don’t get why I have opened up about some of my life. When I talk about the cathartic aspect of it, I think I lose them a bit there too. In fact, I am pretty sure my Dad would just say, “Get a diary.” In fact, I am pretty sure that after I publish this, my Dad will ask me why I had to say that he would say, “Get a diary.”

What I consider to be my story has sometimes been violations of the story of others. Especially when it has come to my family. What was hard for me to learn was that in my re-telling of the stories, they also saw many of the things very differently than I did.

But I got to tell my side of it, so it’s all good, right?

I guess I just don’t know anymore.

I think one of the reasons I have also taken a break from blogging was to figure this part of things out. I can tell all and really mess my children over forever or I can write with boundaries. And sometimes writing with boundaries is so hard to do that I just opt to not write at all.

And that sucks. The not writing just sucks.

Things in my life are finally settling down after what has been a very tumultuous few months. Some of it I can tell you about. Some of it I can’t. And I think that’s what I am learning. These boundaries with blogging are just never going to be that clear cut.

Thanks for sticking with me through my ride though.

At the end of the day, I’m just a girl. A girl with a blog. And I really want it to be a good one.

All my love,

Kiran

P.S. If you are in the Northern VA/DC Metro area, there is a conference on October 26 empowering bloggers and small business owners being run by Femworking. I will have a stall there as Simply Om, my jewelry company dedicated to raising awareness and aid for women living in oppression around the world. If you haven’t signed up, please come out and check out my good friend, Jill Smokler, (Scary Mommy), as the keynote speaker. Hope to see you there!

How honest are your friends?

“And this wasn’t lying, not really. It was leaving out.” – Stephen King, Hearts in Atlantis


A few years ago, I wrote a post about how good friends know what to say to each other in tough situations. They know the difference between being painfully truthful and kindly, gently delivering a message. Other times, they might even tell little white lies to help you get the message. Well, I called it lies, but I realize now what I meant was not necessarily lies… more like, omission?

What do you mean? I want someone to tell it to me straight, you might think. Yeah, I say the same thing, but when it comes at me too fast, too hard, I realize I’m not always ready for it. Let’s just walk through a few scenarios and see how this might work.

Scenario 1: Your house is a big, hot mess. It’s not dirty, necessarily, but it is NOT neat. At ALL. You thought you would have more time to straighten up before you friend came by for tea. But she’s not just on time, (who does that?) she’s 30 minutes early. You open the door, greet her and say, “Gosh, I’m so sorry, I haven’t had a chance to clean up! It’s kind of a mess around here.”

Your friend has a few options here.

1) She can tentatively walk through the door and say, “You’re right. This place is a mess! You let your kids live here?” She can wrinkle her nose as if the nose hairs in her teeny, pert little nose are offended. She might then go over and dramatically wipe some dirt off a table with her index finger.

The same finger you want to use to poke her in the eyes with.

OR

2) She can stride right in and wave her hands dismissively and say, “What mess? Seriously? You call this a mess? You should see my place!”

She will say this to you even if you know for a fact that her place is spotless.

OR

3) She will hug you, roll her eyes and and say, “Who cares? And I’m not really in the mood for tea. Here’s some wine instead!”

Now if you are one of my friends, the way you would most likely react upon entering my house is 2. There might be a little of 3 mixed in, but only if it’s after 5 PM.

Scenario 2: You haven’t had time to hit the gym. Your jeans are telling you that things are getting a little out of control and while you haven’t gained a lot of weight, your body has seen better days.

Particularly your abs. And your thighs. Oh and also, that wobbly part of your upper arm, along your tri…

Whatever.

You meet your friends at a restaurant and admit to them that you haven’t been working out. That things between work travel AND the family AND the house AND your in-laws visiting this week AND your car breaking down AND …  Well. They get it.

Friends can use this opportunity to really let you know how they feel.

1) “There is really no excuse for anyone to NOT do cardio for at least 20 minutes a day. That’s what Jennifer Aniston says,” Your one friend says while dipping her gluten-free, dairy-free, taste-free cookie in her herbal tea. She also makes sure to flex her arms to show you how toned they are. Also she might show you her abs, because she’s been doing boot camp at the gym.

2) “You’ve got a lot on your plate. You’ll get back in there. Just let things slow down and make it and yourself a priority.” They nod understandingly. One might even pat you on the back.

Just because. It looks like it needs patting.

3) “Oh. That’s sad. Do you want some chocolate cake?”

I think my friends would probably lean more towards answer 2. With a little bit of 3 sprinkled in, because everyone knows that sometimes? Everybody just needs a little chocolate.

Look, it’s not like we don’t know your house is a mess in Scenario 1. And its not like we didn’t notice the few extra pounds in Scenario 2. But you know what else a real friend notices? They might see the tiredness around your eyes as you are struggling to keep it all together. They might notice that you’ve lost your usual confident stride. They might notice that when they ask, “How are you?” and you say “Fine” that “fine” doesn’t really mean fine.

That today, “fine” might mean, “Hold me. Please?”

Friends GET it.

When I wrote that post a few years ago, one of my friends got upset with me. She thought I was questioning her integrity, when in fact, I was applauding her kindness and empathy in so many, many situations where her answers could have been so much less kind. I think what I’m calling “little white lies” is more about employing tact and some sensitivity. Using our words more carefully with each other.

Not every thought needs to be uttered; not every piece of advice needs to be given. Even sometimes when we think we know best.

I think about whether my answers to the scenarios would have changed between the time I originally wrote that post in 2010 and today and I don’t really think they would. If anything, perhaps I would be and also expect a little more softness now than I did then. A little more compassion. Because life hasn’t always been kind and my friends and I have all been through so much more than we ever expected in three years. Life has gotten harder. We didn’t know it would. It just DID.

I feel like a lot of times I hear people saying things like, “Look, I say it how I see it.” Or maybe, “I like to keep things real.” And that’s great. Good for you for being in touch with your feelings and having the confidence to get it out there. But sometimes, I think saying “I say it how I see it” is just an excuse to be rude. Hard. It lacks empathy. Humanity.

And ironically, you often STILL don’t see it.

I’ve come to realize that while my eyes can “see it,” if my heart and my hearing and my touch aren’t all part of the observation too, I’m missing a whole lot of IT, whatever IT is.

Saying it like you see it involves ONE sense. Sight. And ironically, when it’s used alone, I think it can make you a little blind.

In my life, I have come to realize that the meme below, while funny, just isn’t always necessary. In fact, it’s just a whole lot of noise sometimes that nobody else needs.

I have been that girl above. Especially the hair. I can TOTALLY see my hair doing that sometimes. The point is, I still won’t be quiet about a lot of things. But when it comes to my close friendships, I choose to tread lightly and with care. I owe it to the wonderful women in my life to give them that love and that courtesy.

If my friends are receiving judgment, let it be known that it won’t be from me.

XO,

Kiran

My Doctors Read My Blog & Bring Back Banana Clips.

I had to go to the hospital for a small medical procedure this week. Don’t worry, everything is fine, but it’s something I have been putting off for a long time.

Anyway, I had to go under general anesthesia before the Doctor could operate. I was a little nervous, more about going under the knife and the pain I might feel afterwards than about my lack of consciousness. The Anesthesiologist was a sweet and lovable looking Indian man, with kind green eyes, and he assured me that everything would be fine. I allowed myself to be comforted by him and went under quietly and without a fight.

When I woke up, John was sitting beside me.

Me: It’s done?

John:  Yeah, it took no time at all.

Me: Did I poop on the table?

John: No, not that I know of.

Pooping on the table has been a big concern of mine since before I had kids. I always heard about women who went into labor and had a bowel movement while trying to push out the baby. This terrified me since and I was having no part of it, as long as I could control it.

The nurse came in and gave me some grape juice. I was quite capable of putting the straw in myself but instead I allowed John to unwrap and stick it in the little juice box hole.

I’m not stupid. I was going to milk as much as I could out of this hospital visit.

The Doctor came in mid-sip.

Doctor: You did great. Everything went well and you shouldn’t have any complications. Any questions?

Me: Did I poop on the table?

Doctor: Um. No. You didn’t.

Me: Good. Well thanks for everything!

Doctor: (Turning to John) You have the discharge instructions. Make sure she gets a lot of rest the next few days. (Turning to me) Now you can go back to writing your blog. Any questions?

Whoa, there, Doc. Back the heck up.
How did he know about my blog? I must have looked at him funny.

Doctor: Doctor X is looking at it right now. It’s good stuff.

And he turned around and walked out.

John: You told him about your blog?

Me: No. (shaking my head). Maybe they looked it up?

It made total sense to me that while I was under, quietly drooling out of the side of my mouth and being busy not pooping, that the following conversation could take place:

Nurse: Who is this incredible woman on the table in front of us, with the questionable taste in nail polish color?

Doctor X: I don’t know. But I sense there’s a story. Maybe we should Google her.

Upon Googling me, they would find that I was, in fact, the proud writer of a blog.  I still found this rather odd, but completely within reason.

At that moment, Dr. X walked into the room.

Doctor X: Hey Masala Chica! Love your blog. It’s great.

Me: How did….?

Doctor X: Oh. Well, you told me all about it while you were asleep.

John: Oh no. You didn’t.

Me: Oh shit.

Until this point, I didn’t know you could have conversations with people when you were under. Who knows what else I confided in him?  Did I tell him about how I successfully delivered two children without pooping on a table? Did I inform him about my undying love for Jon Bon Jovi? That the one fashion trend I miss most of the eighties was the banana clip?

Please be cool again!

What else had I shared with him?

I wonder if I asked him to “like” me on Facebook? To follow me on Twitter?

God. Please. No.

I’m embarrassing enough when I am conscious. I write this blog when I’m conscious. Well, mostly anyway. What is the unconscious me capable of saying?

I guess I’ll never know.

XO,

Kiran

P.S. My friend, Vanita, from The After Bedtime Blog, blog and website designer extraordinaire, is offering some specials for friends of Masala Chica. She is amazing, reasonably priced already – but she is willing to throw in some additional deals this month for you wonderful people. She is helping me with SEO and fixing up my blog right now and is a GODSEND. Call her. She is the woman for you.

Over at Scary Mommy…

I wrote a post over at Scary Mommy called, “I Would Do Anything For Love, but my Boobs Won’t Do THAT.”

Well, that was the original title, but I told Jill to call it whatever she wanted because she knows her shit, it’s her blog and I could NOT get that darn Meatloaf song out of my head.

If you are here, thanks so much for coming. I hope to get to know you better at Masala Chica.

That being said, let me tell you a few things:

1) I curse. A lot. Not at people. Just at air mostly. If I say fuck, just pretend I said, “fudge” or “muggles.” It usually works out. I promise I will never curse at you.

Well, unless you curse at me first.

2) I am Indian-American and I write a lot about growing up in a family that straddled two cultures. I will write as an Indian and as an American. You might get to see both sides of me. Think of me as a female Gandhi. With more hair, less wisdom and who drinks and curses more than Gandhi did. Oh screw it.

Think of me more like an Indian Sandra Bernhard.

Yeah, that’s better.

3) I love Les Mis. I saw the movie three times. This by no means indicates that I am not busy. It just means that I suckered my husband into watching the kids for a total of at least 16 hours so I could pretend I was Fantine.

4) I get really bent out of shape about a few things. Like people who blame rape on women or movies. Everyone is entitled to their opinion. OF course. Unless it’s weird and twisted and misogynistic and makes light of violence against women or children. Oh. And those people? Yeah, I probably will curse AT them. Not very Gandhi-like, I know.

5) I tweet over at “The Twitter” as @kferrandino. Give me a holler and let me know you’re a reader so we can connect!

Namaste,

Kiran

 

 

Minnie Mouse: “I’ve Looked Better”

I was sitting on the couch, ignoring the kids while they ran around, jumping on top of John. John is not feeling 100% after traveling for business this week, so I looked up to ask him if he was alright. I don’t know how he responded, but he wasn’t  puking or anything, so I’m guessing he said, “Couldn’t be Better!” with a thumbs or something.

Nico stuck something on my head and I told him, “That’s nice,” because that’s usually what I do when he asks me something and I am too busy doing something SUPER important (i.e. anything other THAN something super important) to respond.

Plus I think teaching him about positive reinforcement is really healthy. Of course, this backfired the time he was holding the knife and I was on my iPhone and said “That’s nice!” and now he thinks that playing with knives is a good thing.

Still, it’s better than guns, I say.

Anyway, I went out a little while later to check on the kids who rolled out the door to play with John, again, who is not showing signs of dehydration, so I’m thinking he’s just being a wuss on the whole “not feeling good” thing. And then, WTF? John started laughing at me. I would say “That’s not nice!” except I figure if he’s laughing, that’s a good thing, because it’s better than him being on the can all day or something and REALLY being sick.

I came back inside and caught my reflection in the window.

Oh.

Self-portrait.

So, I don’t do reviews or anything on this site, because well, nobody really asks me to. Also because I would probably just say “That’s nice!” and you all know how much that means at this point.

Excuse me.

“Nico! Put away the knives!!”

God, I never realized how much he looks like an Indian/Italian/Puerto-Rican version of Chuckie when he’s armed like that.

Chills.

Anyway, I felt like I NEEDED to review this. This plush “Minnie Mouse” headband is wrapped in a velvet headband so soft, you forget it’s even there. The sparkly, glittery bow is perfect for making your eyes “pop.”

On top of that, people who have Disney fetishes can easily incorporate this into their repertoire.

No, John. Not you. Aren’t you feeling sick? Sheesh.

I got it with my daughter’s Halloween costume, but it goes with a lot of different outfits. And ladies, it doesn’t slip off your head or pinch you behind the ears. Plus if you have a daughter, you can always let her “borrow” it. Just make her give it back.

There’s only room for one diva in the house and Shaila ain’t gonna be it.

Not when I’ve got this on anyway.

I usually end my post with, Namaste. But that just feels wrong today.

So, Toodles!

Kiran

I Dreamed I Lived

via Shutterstock

I come from a family that doesn’t always share. I mean, they share food and clothes and they pray together a lot and things like that. But things like feelings and whether we are angry or whether we are sad? Stuff like that?

That stuff, we don’t share as much. I would dare to even say, that when we do? We don’t do it that well.

This whole blogging thing has been hard for my family. It’s been hard that I have shared things that were not only mine to share. It’s been hard when sometimes they don’t understand why I feel the need to be so confessional. Why can’t you maintain some boundaries? they ask. It’s mainly Papa, who thinks I have diarrhea of the keyboard, with no filter on to keep the shit from flying out.

The thing is, I actually do. There is A LOT I don’t write and I don’t say here, knowing how it can impact others once I push down that first domino. In retrospect, there are some things I wish I had refrained from sharing. Of course there are also things I don’t share because if I do, you can see me for what I really am. An often insecure woman, with big dreams and sometimes little faith in herself. Someone who talks with a bravado she rarely feels, but hides behind humor or sarcasm and cheerleader type euphemisms like “Love wins!” or shit like “Don’t stop believin’!” Like I’m fucking the lead singer of Journey.

Not Steve Perry. The other one.

The truth is that there are some days where I really wonder if love wins. I wonder if dreams are just a distraction from accepting disappointment. I wonder why someone else would believe in me when I don’t have much faith in myself.

I don’t like myself much on those days. Truth is, I don’t like most people on those days. It’s hard to be loving, kind and supportive of others when you can’t even be those things to yourself.

A lot of bloggers will ask other bloggers, what’s your end goal? Some really want to blog, because they love the act of blogging itself. And let me be clear, blogging is different from writing. Blogging is not just the act of writing a post, it’s being interactive with your readers, finding other work that you love and want to support, working with other bloggers to build communities and encouraging and evangelizing others’ writing.

It’s a LOT of work.

Sometimes I am good at it. Most of the times I am thirty steps behind, trying to catch up to be a “good blogger.”

The Facebook page thing is the hardest. I feel like whenever I am most honest on it, I lose people. And that, I’m okay with. Once I stop being real and just spit stuff out to please others, nobody is going to be happy. It’s not sincere. It’s fabricated.

I would make a joke about Manti Te’O except it’s a bit overdone. Plus, we all had fake boyfriends and girlfriends. Right? Hello?! George Glass, everybody. Jan Brady started the trend a long time ago. I’m sure George Glass died an untimely death as well at some point.

R.I.P. George.

Anyway, I like blogging. I think I will always be a “blogger.” But what I really want to be, like many other bloggers as well, is an author. Of books. I’ve got the blog thing down. Songwriting will always be a part of me.

But I want to publish and feel the pride of dreaming and crafting and writing stories that touch people. And that’s scary. It’s really freaking scary. There are some days when I look around and feel like the writing here is something that people love and there are other days where I know I have fallen short. That something was just missing.

And gosh. Who doesn’t want to write a fucking book? If I had a dollar for every blogger I knew who wants to eventually write a book, I could actually quit my job so that I could stay home and write a goddamn book.

Seriously.

I have found a few bloggers who don’t want to write a book or get away from blogging. They use this as a way to help promote a business or a brand. Make some extra money for the household.

And now I guess you know why I do it.

So I’m putting myself out there. This is it. This is me. Naked. Varicose veins, stretch marks, muffin top and all. Ok, ok. Don’t worry, Papa. I’m putting on a robe.

Better now? Ok, good.

I have decided not to give up on it. Even though sometimes disappointment seems like a shadow that I can’t get away from. I have decided to have some more faith in myself. Even on days when I stop believing I have “what it takes.” On days when I read David Sedaris and cry like a baby because my wit and attempts at humor will never compare to the masters I admire.

And well, I have decided to believe that love wins. Because I like who I love, even if it hurts. Even if I bleed. Even if it’s not reciprocated.

It’s still worth it.

So give yourself a hug.

 

 

 

Ok. Stop now. I don’t want everyone in your office to think you’re a freak.

Namaste,
Kiran

From Jersey to Washington, With Love

Hey, so. I have a favor to ask. No, don’t worry, you don’t have to get naked or sing, or be naked while singing. You don’t have to cook or clean. Nothing hard at all. See, doesn’t that put things into perspective? I am going to ask you to do something which does not involve nudity, singing, cooking or cleaning.

Sounds like a decent gig to me.

I am putting an entry in for a contest over at Indiblogger.com, a blog community for Indian bloggers like me, or others who live in India. They are putting together the top 300 submissions, which will also be evaluated by how many votes/likes they get. The submission has to be 500 words and serves as a “teaser” for the short story they might later ask me to submit if I make the top 300. That will be a LOT more words (Maybe 3500?).

Could you maybe go to the Indiblogger site and click like?

Could you maybe even ask a friend who you think might like the idea to like it?

The winning stories will ultimately be published in a anthology/collection from Indian authors on love and will be published by Harper Collins.

Thanks for your support. And thanks to Renee at http://rasjacobson.com for making me think it might be something worth reading.

And if you know any friends who might want to participate, encourage them to enter as well.

*****************************************************

The flight from Newark, NJ to Washington, DC looks like it’s finally done boarding. I’m in the window seat ready to place my jacket on what appears to be an empty aisle seat. One of the last passengers to board the plane, an elegant Indian woman whom I judge to be in her fifties, stops alongside my seat.

“I think that’s my seat,” she says, smiling.

“Of course,” I say, placing the jacket back on my lap.

It’s a short flight from Newark to the Dulles Airport. I’ve been up in New Jersey, making last minute arrangements for my wedding, which is scheduled a month from now. I look at my watch, trying to estimate the time I’ll be home if the plane lands on time.

“What a beautiful watch,” the woman comments.

“Thank you,” I say, looking up at her and smiling. She has a lovely warmth about her and I can’t help but find myself drawn in by it.  Before I know it, I am extending my hand and introducing myself.

“Hi, I’m Rachel,” I say.

“Nice to meet you, Rachel. I am Madhu,” she says. “I’m going to Northern Virginia to visit my daughter and her family,” she volunteers.

“Where does she live?” I ask.

We speak about her daughter and her new home in Reston and how this is the first time Madhu will get to see her new granddaughter, who is only 2 weeks old.

“I had to come all the way from Mumbai. I stayed with family in Jersey for a few days and now, I will finally see my granddaughter.” She smiles and holds her palms tightly in her hands.

“Wow. That’s a long journey,” I say, always with a knack for stating the obvious. She nods.

I motion to my engagement ring.

“I was up in New Jersey, making some last minute arrangements for my wedding next month.”

“Oh! That’s lovely,” Madhu says. “Tell me, Rachel. Is this a love match?”

It takes me a second to realize what she is asking.

“Oh, yes. Yes! It’s a love match. I met him and you know, BAM, I fell in love,” I laugh, finding myself playing with the beautiful solitaire on my ring.

“That’s wonderful. So, you are in love then. What a wonderful thing to be. To know.” She smiles. But she seems somewhere else.

“Haven’t you been in love?” I ask. There is something sad about the idea that this beautiful woman with the melodic laugh sitting next to me, may never have known love.

“In love?” Madhu laughs. “Yes. Yes, I have been in love.” She looks at her own watch.

“Well, it looks like we have some time before we land at Dulles,” she says, smiling at me, a twinkle lighting up her hazel eyes. “Do you think that’s enough time for me to tell you a love story, Rachel?”

I nod, reclining my seat back. Something about Madhu’s voice tells me this is going to be good.

****************************************************************

This is my entry for the HarperCollins–IndiBlogger Get Published contest, which is running with input from Yashodhara Lal and HarperCollins India.

So, that’s it. I know it’s just a “glimmer” of what I hope to put together, but if you can just go over there and click like, I will never ask you to sing naked again. I promise.

VOTE—-> Click on this link. Then click Like. If you want, you can do this EVERY DAY.

Trust me, my family is getting enlisted BIG time.

You Don’t Have to Eat My Samosas

I often ask myself questions that have no easy answers. This week, one of those questions was, “Why do people keep googling “spicy kabob” and ending up on my website?”

Now, I get that the word “Masala” is in my blog name. Masala means “spice” in Hindi, so I totally get why people might say, “Hey I am going to go to this Indian cooking site and learn how to make samosas!

Samosas. My mother’s are the best. EVER.

But those people must be disappointed when they come here and find no recipes for chicken tikka or palak paneer. I am sorry. And I can’t help that the top search queries to get to this site include “aloo tikki” and “gulab jamuns.”

This ain’t no cooking blog, yo.

On the other end of the spectrum are people who apparently think that “Masala Chica” is a porn site. I am sorry for any misunderstanding or misrepresentation there. To the person who stumbled upon this site by typing in “ganges river village fuck hard stories,” I am sorry to let you down. I hope my posts on how I haven’t walked the same or had the same level of bladder control since popping two kids out of my hoo hoo really turn you on.

Actually, no. I don’t. I just puked in my mouth a little thinking about you.

But going back to the first point, about this NOT being a cooking blog. I wanted to share something with you. Something I am less than proud of. Because everyone makes mistakes in their lives. Even porny food bloggers like me.

FACT: I am really passionate about Indian food. Like, more passionate about it than I am about “Les Mis.

FACT: I used to get so angry when people would tell me they did not like Indian food. Like, Nazi angry about it. I once wrote a post called, “When Good Indian Food Happens to Bad People,” in which I accused people who do not like Indian food of also not liking Gandhi.

And that’s not fair because what did Gandhi ever do to them? I asked.

FACT: I used to take it as a personal affront when someone would say they did not like Indian food. Because of how closely I associate Indian food to my memories, my family and my life, I would feel like my culture and my identity were being criticized.

I realize now how extreme my reaction was. I no longer want to throw samosas or pakoras at people’s heads just because they don’t like chicken curry. Besides, those are not hard enough to really cause any kind of real damage. I would need to find something harder.

I have done some self-examination. Not a breast self-examination, though I need to get on that too. What I mean is, I have looked inward, trying to understand where this anger, this resentment, came from.

And one incident in particular came to mind. Will you pull up a chair and let me tell you a story? Here’s a drink.

Oh you wanted ice?

Well, you’re not fucking getting any. Just drink.

Why I am Besties with Samosas.

Ok. So when I was growing up my parents had an Indian grocery store. Papa worked as an engineer and Ma ran the store every day. They worked hard to run it, with Papa working at the store on nights and weekends. They worked seven days a week. Long, hard hours.

One of the things Ma would do every morning was get up to make samosas. It was like the Dunkin’ Donuts, commercial. “Time to make the samosas.” She would get out of bed and start the endless process of making a new batch almost every day.

She charged 50 cents a samosa. Those samosas got me through college. I sometimes try to do the math and estimate how many samosas she has already made in her lifetime, but I can’t. I do know that every minute Ma and Papa worked was to make a better life for our family, both here and in India.

Ma’s samosas, though they were painstakingly made, were one of the only things she did which didn’t feel like an act of labor, but an act of love.

Nobody Puts Ma’s Samosas in the Corner. Nobody.

Ok, maybe once they did.

I was going to visit my non-Indian boyfriend’s family a few years after graduating from college. Ma got up early that morning and made a fresh batch of samosas which we took to his mother’s house. As we sat down at the table, I pulled the just heated samosas out of the oven and put them on the table. I was excited to see everybody’s reaction to trying something new.

Something that I loved so much.

I looked up at my boyfriend’s older brother and asked him if he would like one.

No, thank you. I don’t eat that.

You don’t eat what?” I asked, walking right into it. dumb, Dumb, DUMB. He stopped unfolding his napkin and looked me in the eyes and responded,

“I. DON’T. EAT. THAT. SHIT.”

The sphincter says what?

The words had barely left his mouth before I picked up a samosa and threw it at his smug, pompous face. Before he could finish wiping the crust and potatoes out of his eyes, I threw another one. There was no sign left of that jerky smile as my right arm moved on auto-pilot and threw another. And another. And…

Ok. I’m lying. I didn’t throw anything. Though I really, really wish I had.

Instead I just sat there, feeling like someone had punched me in the gut. I tried not to cry, but now that you know that that I cry during movie previews you can assume that I did NOT do the best job.

Not ONE PERSON at the table touched my mother’s samosas.

I just remember looking at that plate and knowing that his message was about more than the food.

Why I no Longer Feel that Throwing Samosas is the Answer

I am not going to win people over to Indian food by getting upset, telling them that they do not like Gandhi or the Dalai Lama. I am not going to get people to like Indian food by asking them to stop using the example of “the ONE time they tried it” to judge the cuisine of a massive country, with dozens of different regional styles of cooking. I am not going to win anyone over by throwing samosas.

Violence is not the answer. Just remember though. Before any of you start talking about samosa control, just remember, samosas do NOT kill people.

People kill people.

Usually with guns.

As for me, there are a lot of things I need to evaluate in my life. Perhaps a career in porn-food blogging?

Today, if you tell me you don’t like Indian food, I promise I will still like you.

Unless you are the guy who googled “ganges river village fuck hard stories.” YOU? I don’t think I will ever like, no matter how many samosas you eat. Fucking perv.

Do you like Indian food? What’s your favorite food that you associate with your childhood, culture, upbringing? Have you ever tried to throw it at someone? Hmm?

Love you whether you can handle spice or not!

Namaste,

Kiran

* A sphincter says what? was made famous on the Mike Myers and Dana Carvey SNL recurring skit and movie, “Wayne’s World.

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MEET KIRAN

I'm Kiran, I'm a dreamer. A writer. A singer. A mother. An ugly crier. An Indian-American. Who loves Gandhi. My stories are full of truth that is sometimes hard for me to say out loud. This blog is where I overcome my fears and live (and love) out loud. Read More....

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