The UnGlam Fam

I now blog at www.constantcircus.wordpress.com!


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We were on a vacation recently that involved a fair bit of driving. The kids played video games in the backseat sometimes. I coaxed them to look out the window, but most attempts failed because according to them how much can one look at trees and cars and pavement and still be fascinated every time. Today, I agree, but when I was their age a longish drive itself was such a novelty that one didn’t need artificial means to entertain oneself. Also, driving on crowded Indian roads may have had something to do with it too, where looking out the window is many people’s full-time activity.

Anyhow, so I mentioned to V one time how when I was little we didn’t have much TV let alone customizable personal gadgets. “What, no TV, really?” he said, then adjusted his expectations and replied, “well, you wouldn’t have missed it then since you didn’t know such a thing existed!”. Good point, well made. We rode quietly for a while after that and my thoughts turned to the lame excuse we excitedly called television back in the 80s. And, still, however lame-o it may have been, the ad jingles and one-room-videocamed soaps are what my memories are made of.

In the very beginning, circa 1980 maybe, our little black & white TV broadcasted a single channel for 3 hours each day. The channel, Doordarshan, began its regular programming each evening with a half-hour national news, followed by Krishi Darshan, an in-depth agrarian show that no one but farmers watched. Probably.

On the weekends something special was promised to Doordarshan‘s viewers — a  movie screening! I remember a distinct shuffle in our house bustling with a large, extended family around 4pm in preparation for it. The movie would start at 6pm (I think), so all the dinner prep had to be finished before then, the kids had to be fed an evening snack to settle them down until dinner, a large pot of tea would be boiling away on the stove in anticipation of the start time when it would be distributed to everyone huddling in front of the 20″ TV in the living room. The best seats would already be called for, but there was always space on the floor directly in front of the picture for us kids.

At last the movie would begin, watched eagerly by tea-sipping people in living rooms across the city. Community parks would suddenly empty out, chatting neighbours would scurry away inside, wailing babies would be passed around in vain attempts to shush them since no one, including its mother, would be willing to miss the show. Such was the power of that little black box, inspite of frequent telecasting failures indicated by “sorry for the interruption” messages, and the biggest letdown of them all — merely half the movie would elapse before the picture would fade to black with the message “Feature film ka shesh bhaag kal” or The rest of the movie will be telecast tomorrow.

What?!

A typical Bollywood flick, approximately 3 hours run time, would be telecast over 2 days, Saturday and Sunday. The only outlet for that outrage was a collective groan emanating from the whole neighbourhood. Showtime over. Back to the weekend grind.

Can you imagine cutting off your kid’s program midway through them watching it and not hear about it the rest of the livelong day? Hmm, neither can I.


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Florida, here we come!

Spring is here! Off to Florida for a short but enthralling vacation for the kids. We’re hoping to overload our Lego-obsessed kids with a trip to Legoland apart from some badly needed beach time. Hopefully it won’t turn out to be one of those getaways that you need a vacation from when you return. Enjoy the turn to warmer weather, y’all!

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Some sun, some sand, many memories. 🙂


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A new adventure. Maybe.

Although I wrote my last post here only 5 days ago, I came today thinking everyone’s gonna think I’ve abandoned this blog and amn’t (my kids use this word and it does make sense to me!) writing any more. Not so. I’ve actually started another blog about my current cookie decorating obsession (see sidebar), and it’s been hogging all of my brain space lately. So it feels like I haven’t written here for longer than it actually is. Not that I have a million readers or anything waiting with baited breath for my next post here, but I do like to keep this updated (the goal of starting this space in the first place).

Anyhoo, so this new blog/mania/hobby — yeah, it’s decorating cookies. As you know, I have been making and decorating cookies for the kids for a little while now, but it was only very recently that I discovered that there is a whole universe of cookie making and decorating out there. I mean these bakers are professional people who are creating cookies to rival any art masterpiece! And I thought my even just baking cookies at home was a big deal! The best part is, these are women just like me, most without any formal pastry training, who’ve taught themselves to make and decorate dazzling cookies that one could frame rather than eat. I’m sure all they started out with was a dream — just like me. 🙂

I made these the other day, no occasion.

So I’ve been spending a lot of time browsing and bookmarking other “cookier” blogs (apparently that’s now a widely used term for specialty cookie makers), marvelling open-mouthed at their designs, studying their photography that makes every confection look like it was created for the gods, reading dSLR books (to learn the basics of photography) etc. Basically, I’d like to take up cookie making as a professional hobby at this point in my life. I finally have the time, I’m insanely motivated right now and even without a creative bone in my body, I may become good at it. And, yeah, no, at this point I’m not thinking of making a business out of it or anything, but you know who knows? Right now everywhere I look I see a design that I could probably recreate on a cookie. How far I can take that is up to me.

V won a TKD trophy so kind of like "You're a Star" for him.

V won a TKD trophy so kind of like “You’re a Star” for him.

I’m only just beginning, but if you’d like to follow me along on this journey, come on over!


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Santiago & Mantel

I read two books last week, well, one and a half — Almost a Woman by Esmeralda Santiago (one) and Bring Up The Bodies by Hilary Mantel (half, I’m still halfheartedly at it but in constant danger of never finishing). If I renew a library book 2 times without having a valid reason for the delay, like travel or sickness, um then it’s probably a gone case. It’s like trying to be 25 when you clearly are not (not that I’ve ever done this). I haven’t returned it yet even though I can hardly bring myself to read it because I refuse to admit that there is a Tudor novel out there that does not have me captivated enough to finish in an evening.

I’m usually principally against an award winning book. I’m not sure if they really are good books or just lucky enough to be victims of “celebrity mob mentality”. I think one critic who may or may not have gotten the premise/story of the book completely praises it enough to hide her own embarrassment and the literary world follows along. The actual wonderful books don’t win awards, they win an audience. All IMO, of course.

This Hilary Mantel novel is just riding on the award wagon of Wolf Hall, I think (which by the way another of my friends who’s reading for her book club can’t get into either). The first 50 pages or so of Bring Up The Bodies are fantastically slow paced and filled with historical throwbacks that a Tudor newbie will find very hard to follow. By the middle of the book the pace picks up a bit but even so I found no personal investment in the characters or their stories. Unless you read to impress someone or have recklessly signed up for a book club you’re regretting or, like me, are hell bent on proving no Tudor novel is beyond you, I’d give this one a pass.

Esmeralda Santiago, on the other hand, is more my kind of author. Honest, engaging writing that tells a simple story without unnecessary insinuations is what thrills me. If I’m going to use all my brain power for casual reading then I may as well tackle the classics. Almost a Woman follows Santiago’s life from When I was Puerto Rican to her adulthood. It’s a brutally honest look into what it’s like being a poor minority young girl in a big city, trying to bridge the gap between who she is and who she wants to be. Dreams that she dreams within a closed, hispanic household and that she needs to fulfill amidst the blancos of the outer world. I think anyone who’s experienced life within two cultures, and all that it involves, will identify with this memoir.