Saturday, 7 January 2017

Sale Tale

Okay, I'll be honest about this. What started as an FB status update stretched into a full-fledged rant, warranting it to be compiled as a post. That too the first post of the year.
So what are we raving about today?
The over-the-top sale season that has the whole country in its mob-frenzy sway! And who better than a citizen reporter who's been there, done that, to report the very interesting goings-on of all this frenetic retail activity! Yes, yours truly admits being a part of the retinue of shopaholics in this grand melee and shall spare no detail of this grand adventure.

 Image source: Pixabay

The past week has seen some heavy advertising, announcing the beginning of the magnum opus sale in practically all dimensions - physical and virtual, whetting the appetites of everyone, working or not. Tantalizing snippets of sale products and magical words like FLAT 50% flashing in every newspaper, television ads, billboards, email newsletters and what-nots. There was simply no escaping this! 

I realized the eventuality of this. Past experiences of missing out on the mother-of-all sales and having to hear about it from all and sundry made me chart out a plan-of-action for THAT DAY!
Credit/Debit card, mobile wallet, checked and double-checked, fuel the engine...err...sufficiently well-feed self for the onslaught ahead, mobile fully charged, strategically instruct kid to fend for himself post school, wear comfortable footwear and voila there I was - The energetic, super-pepped shopper, accompanied by my faithful sidekick in training, Junior.

The ads informed us that the sale began at 9.00 a.m. Well, obviously we weren't that desperate! What with all the preps we had to do, we landed at our destination around 11.00 a.m. And would you believe it? It was jam-packed on a Friday! Haven't people better things to do? Obviously not! And before you start dismissing this as just another outing for the deemed jobless, mind your words! A considerable percentage of the crowd comprised of office-goers! The excitement in the air was palpable and infectious!

Junior: I told you we should have reached here earlier. All the good stuff's been taken :(
Me: (Knowledgeably) No, no...the sale is on for three days, they'll be constantly upgrading the inventory.

Anyway we bustled along, consciously loading our shopping bags with the best deals we could scout for across all sections. Once done, we reassessed the purchase and decided to dump the whole trash we'd picked up when we saw better stuff...yeah it was an enormously time-consuming, test of patience and endurance kind of experience.

Did I mention the store we checked into had a unique offer on? Buy products totalling a magical Rs X and pay only Rs X/2, plus get free merchandise worth Rs Y from the special promotional merchandise counter/bin and, and, and, free shopping vouchers on future purchases worth a minimum Rs X. And the piece-de-resistance in this sales coup? No trial, no alterations, no exchange - Take it or leave it, simple and potent!

Platoons of women with determination, grit and glee written all over were working tirelessly to fill their shopping bags with the best they could lay their hands on, simultaneously tallying the expenses on their mobile calculators to check whether they had reached Rs X. Some of these well-informed consumers sorted out issues about the offer intricacies to lesser mortals like moi while the staff watched on dazedly. Sheer bonhomie, I tell you!

Meanwhile lost-looking husbands straddled with cranky kids riddled odd corners of the store. Youngsters in droves livened the atmosphere by trying out the clothes over their existing ones, remember the no trial room clause? Notable to observe was the feverish hustle and pace in the free promotional merchandise area which had multiple bins containing clothes that were to be given free of cost if you made your overall purchases to the magical Rs X figure! I ventured into the jamboree and came away with scraps for which I should be paid for taking them off the store perimeter.

So, junior and I managed to sufficiently fill our bags with stuff that we could use for the next few years. We did feel discouraged when we still hadn't reached our target to qualify for the magical sum, but took heart when we saw others around us so involved and single-minded in their approach to the task at hand. Mentally chanting, 'Baar baar haan, bolo yaar haan, apni jeet ho...' we charged on.

Well, eventually we fulfilled that target; a tad doubtfully wondering whether we would fit into the clothes we had picked up without trials but all the same relieved that we'd be qualifying for the super discounts!

The store had foreseen the rampage it would be witnessing and thus planned for it. 
They had created serpentine zig-zag waiting queues vis-a-vis an airport terminal or more relatable, the recent bank queues. People standing in the queues exhausted after hours scouring the various aisles for the best loot were offered bottled water. Store managers, GM's and more were around to settle issues if any arose. Yes, very admirable processes in place to allow people to splurge in peace.

To cut a long queue short, we came away triumphant, loaded with the battle spoils, aching feet and dazzle-weary eyes. Some purchases were perfect fits, some nearly there while others fell pretty loose, but hey, better loose than tight, right? We firmly believe in scope for expansion!

Aww, anti-climax was it? But what did you expect would happen? A scuffle, a tumble or a shop-lift at least? Well, none of that happened, just a regular kinda day you know where a lady has a good time and wants to brag about it!
I am content to snobbishly gloat to those of you who haven't put in an oar yet, put my feet up clad in my brand new polka-PJ's and regale you with my successful exploit! Go green :)
Yes, this would definitely not qualify for an FB status update! 

Linking this post to @Blogchatter's Wednesday Prompt 'That Day'

­­Copyright © 2016 KALA RAVI

Wednesday, 4 January 2017

Food for Thought

Indian mothers have this default setting that simply does not permit any member of the house to traverse its threshold on an empty-stomach or without sufficient ammo/food boxes to wage the daily battles.

From as far back as I can remember, my mother, grandmother and I am sure all mothers in time have been torch-bearers to the concept of 'Food'  as the key to almost all ailments and travails. 

Me: (Bawling) I want that dress...
Mother: (Whips out snacks from her bag and stuffs into my mouth)
Me: I can't do all this homework!
Mother: (Swiftly hands me a plate of hot dosa and chutney)
Me: I didn't get selected to the throw-ball team.
Mother: (Triumphantly bringing out Custard-jelly-icecream) 
Bro: My headache is just unbearable!
Mother: (Ladles extra helping of everything)
Father: I am going to resign, can't take that Ba$t@**'s nonsense anymore!
Mother: (Laying out the dinner, scurrying to fry his favorite papad)
Brother and Me: (Arguing and fighting)
Grandmother to Mother: Go fix a big bowl of curd-rice.
Me: Ah, finally packed everything for my trip!
Mother: (Comes in carrying a large food hamper) Just squeeze this in.

Yes, the one-stop solution to all aches, pangs, sufferings and ailments according to these dear women was/is/will be Food. Yes, our family deity is Devi Annapoorna (Goddess of nourishment)
If this treatment didn't work, they just repeated the dose at frequent intervals.
The biggest marvel is that, at most times it worked like a charm.
The foggiest, crankiest, gloomiest and angriest of moods vanished when the stomach was assuaged, leaving behind a happy burp!
These geniuses actually formulated:
Anger is directly proportional to Hunger!

For higher, more complex problems, the treatment included adding more hours of sleep and extra time in the loo! 
EAT, SLEEP, $H!T and sing All Izz Well!
A tiny infant does only these three things while his Mum probably sings the same song to him, and guess what? He is the most content being!
This miraculous trinity therapy could put to shame the best of the minds from the medical fraternity. Maybe we never really outgrow our infantile needs?

I can assure you, I was pretty annoyed at having to bear the brunt of these 'quacky' remedies that they offered me, whenever I went to them with the mountains of troubles I faced in my growing years. My retorts and hit-backs were frequent, but they did tend to lose steam once the traitorous hunger demons were appeased! 

I could never fathom why womenfolk spent hours sweating it out in the kitchens and it irritated me to no end when I imagined myself doing the same. I swore that I would spend as little time cooking as possible when matters rested in my hands. Haven't I got better things to do with my time?

Me: Here pack it in. Your lunch, short-break and tidbit boxes are on the table.
Kid: Oh Ma! Do you think I'll starve if I don't eat one day! Anyway I have enough stored fat, no thanks to you, to tide me through! I don't need so many boxes. One or even none is fine.
Me: Yeah, I know. Still just keep them. If you don't wanna eat, its okay, bring it back.
Kid: (Rolling eyes, stuffs the boxes in)
Me: (Smiling, knowingly)
My Mom: (Smiling, smugly)

My mother often relates a tale of inspiration. One of her aunts whom I remember pretty well too, though in her feebler years when I saw her.
This dear lady, a docile and soft-spoken one turned pretty tenacious when she undertook the role of food service during any of the numerous family functions. Her greatest kicks in life were generously dispensing second, third helpings to people when they staunchly refused it. She masterfully slipped in that second ladoo or third ladle of payasam to unsuspecting diners. Be it family or guest, none could bypass her hospitality! So you see, such inherent genes and traits are being passed down through generations! Like it or not, you have it in you!

Yep, we womenfolk do have the key to all human afflictions and world problems. 
Maybe if all the angry people in the world went out on a full stomach, fights wouldn't even happen! Talk about Hunger-games and all! Chicken soup anybody?
A well-fed world is a happy world 😊

You could read some more of my food-ravings here:

1) Common-place Curd-Rice
2) Ghar ki murgi daal barabar?
3) Sweet Temptations
4) Athithi Devo Bhavah, anybody?

Some cute quotes I came across,





­­Copyright © 2016 KALA RAVI

Wednesday, 28 December 2016

Lessons from Crochet

Come December, I find myself mulling and brooding. Where did the year fly past, what have I to show for it, blah, blah, blah...end-of-the-year regrets!
And how do I deal with it? By engaging myself in frenetic activity, yeah, kind of like the last lunge to the finish-line, to make up for time lost!
Are you wondering what this post is all about? Crochet I said, so its got to be about that! 
Crocheting is one of the activities I engaged in my year-end frenzy.

Fret not, in case you are anticipating a granny-ish sermon on the different kinds of crochet yarns and stitches or how to make your own crochet tea-cozy! I am leagues away from delivering such masterly sessions, sighh!
Instead I am going to share my insights on the lessons I learned from crocheting!

I accede, it is an unlikely occupation to inspire one with life-lessons but hey, life's like that!

( I am compelled to add this line here after the overwhelming responses commending me on my crocheting skills. This is honestly not a post advertising my non-existent skills on crochet, rather a light take on deriving life-lessons from the unlikeliest of sources!)
So here goes,
1) Time flies faster than you'd like to believe.
I always imagined roly-poly old English grannies in dainty, floral frocks spending afternoons with their cronies sipping Earl Grey, munching scones and busily crocheting balls of soft wool into fluffy blankets and sometimes dainty frocks for the grandchildren. 
And whaddya know, here I was poring over Youtube videos of DIY crochet for Beginners, out of the blue! I surprised myself and the family when I came back home from the market one evening with a crochet needle and a wool-ball and declared I was going to learn a new skill. The ill-suppressed, knowing looks from the family didn't dampen this eager beaver. But it did make me wonder, I had never harbored the slightest inclination towards crocheting or knitting ever, so why now? No idea, but maybe an inkling of times to come? Sighh - another sign of ageing! But aren't old people wiser? So yes, I am on the path to wisdom; so stop smirking, you young pipsqueaks!

2) Things are not as easy as they seem.
I spent considerable time viewing, re-viewing the crochet videos and I wrestled, tangled and untangled my yarn quite a few times before I got a few decent rows of single-stitch crochet.
Encouraged, I moved onto something called Granny squares. Now, here I would like to inform my lesser crochet-enlightened friends that there is nothing remotely easy about this easy-sounding handiwork. I unraveled the yarn so many times that it now resembled Maggi noodles. Anyway, I persisted and progressed, from a single to a double and finally to a four-colored granny square! 
Pah! Granny squares! Call it Pythagoras squares and won't you look at it with more respect? All I can say is those grannies had quite a few tricks up their sleeve! I also learned that there are warring factions in the crochet world, following the tenets of either the British, American and probably Australian crochet standards. 

3) You are your best motivator.
From granny squares, I progressed to double-stitch crochet. Yeah folks, I was on a roll! I decided I was going to make it big in the world of crochet, what with the recent success of the Granny squares behind me. Sadly, I noted that even the double-crochet was enlisted under beginner tutorials.
And what do you think? This prodigy managed to crack that level too! I know, too cool, ain't I ?! I was simply unstoppable!

4) To Detox and become Zen-like you don't need a guru.
The success with double-crochet hurled me on a path I had never traveled - Crocheting my own scarf/muffler. Hitherto uncharted waters were to be explored and I ventured on this adventure suitably armed with two brand new wool-balls and a recommended size of crochet needle, all ordered online. Yes, they have different needles for different yarn thickness, a revelation to me. 
My research showed me I would have to crochet a 7 inch-thick by 70 inch-long scarf if it was to serve its purpose. Equipped with all the knowledge and requisite paraphernalia, I marched forth. 
I went on and on, back and forth relentlessly. I couldn't think or do anything else. 
TV, Laptop, Mobile, Cooking, Cleaning and everything else seemed pointless when I had such a daunting goal ahead. This is when I realized what single-minded focus is! My mind kept wandering to various topics (quite similar to meditation, don't you think?), but soon returned to the loops and yarns. Gradually, I stepped into a harmonious rhythm with the needle and yarn, mind blank to all but these two - the most Zen-like I have ever felt, detoxed from social media and other distracting elements.
I am in fact seriously contemplating sending suggestions to jail authorities, strongly recommending training prisoners on long-term sentences to learn crocheting. Gainful employment of time, increased patience and developing a zen-like attitude are good takeaways, don't you think?

5) Appreciating other people's labor of love.
I don't like to be condescending, but I'll admit that in my immature past, I have been rather disparaging whenever I saw folk adorning their door thresholds with colorful, crocheted woolen 'torans', place-mats in fluorescent hues for telephones, sofa-backs and more. But having walked the enlightened path myself, my esteem for these works of art has grown manifold. Now, whenever I see such beauts, I pause a bit, scrunch my eyes to discern the intricate pattern and silently applaud its creator. Like one is attuned to catching sight of babies everywhere when one is expecting, similarly my senses are now attuned to be drawn to crochet creations everywhere!

6) Accepting your flaws and moving on.
Ahem, like I was telling you earlier, my biggest crochet project to date, the woolen scarf had taken off spectacularly. After tirelessly working on it all day, I stretched my aching back to dig out the measuring tape. I spread out my masterpiece on the floor. It measured 13 inches long. Not bad, just 57 inches more to go. But one thing bothered me. I had started out with a 7 inch thick scarf that had widened to 10 inches in portions and narrowed to 5 inches in the next. Being a perfectionist at heart, I took offense to such disproportionate goings-on. With a cold heart, I mercilessly unraveled the whole 13 inches of back-breaking work.
Next day, I was back at it again. At night, the work was again laid out for measurement. 14 inches long, I was getting better, but sadly the thickness fluctuated just the same.
The perfectionist at heart be damned, said the mind and I went ahead with the work. In just a week's time I was done with the whole 70 inches, width wise it was totally skewed, but I'd like to think of it as an undulating or zig-zag pattern. And who cares how it looks once its wrapped all around the head and neck, I argued to myself.  
So here, I proudly present to you my own labor of love - my crochet, woolen scarf
If someone dares mention its flaws, I have no issues, after all thedha he par mera he! (Its crooked but its mine!)
Aha! There we are, a nice wrap it is! I exhort all you fellow busy bees to swarm towards the hottest new trend in de-stressing, detoxing techniques - follow the Crochet mode. Remember it's the hobby that kept your old Grandma's grey cells way more active than possible in today's times!
Do share with me your memories and tips, tricks and anything on crochet, grandmas and more, would love to relax and rave ;)

­­Copyright © 2016 KALA RAVI