Friday, May 26, 2023

Goodbyes are hard 🥲🇸🇬

We always knew this day was coming. What started off as a brief stint in Singapore unbelievably stretched into 17 years. Never in my wildest dreams had I envisioned that this tiny island would serve as our home for that long but it did and now this beautiful chapter of our lives has come to an end. 

I arrived here as a fresh graduate and newlywed, carefree and naïve. I’m leaving as a postgraduate, working professional, blogger & mother of two - older, wiser and full of life-affirming experiences. 

Like most people, I was (still am) weary of change. But isn’t change the only constant in life?

Moving overseas forced me to step out of my comfort zone. I moved mountains to lay the foundation for a major career shift. Of Singapore’s top two Universities, I consider myself fortunate to call NUS my alma mater and NTU, my workplace of the past 6 years. I have had the privilege of being mentored by distinguished scientists and working with intelligent and inspiring individuals. During my time in Singapore, I’ve armed myself with new skills and developed more confidence in my capabilities. I’ve adapted, built resilience and braved all the challenges that came my way. 

We have met so many wonderful people here, both locals and expats, most of whom I’m sure will continue to be a part of our lives. As a family, we have embraced many aspects of local culture and ways of life which will go on to become a permanent and uniquely Singaporean part of our Indian identity. 

We lived in two rental homes before buying a place of our own and we have indelible memories associated with each of them. But selling and eventually leaving our beloved nest of 12 years, the one we painstakingly did up, welcomed our babies into, forged so many precious memories, cooked countless meals and so lovingly looked after (and which looked after us in return!) has been expectedly hard 😢

My blog was born in Singapore and is in many ways, a love letter to the island. The safety, cleanliness and facilities in Singapore are unparalleled. With innumerable indoor play areas, sprawling green parks, leisurely bike routes, museums, restaurants and world-class attractions, there is so much to see and do. The learning infrastructure, pedagogy, sports resources, and public libraries are top notch as well. And having the option of affordable full-time domestic help so you don’t have to be a superhuman juggling it all is a luxury many developed countries simply don’t have. Neither my husband nor I had to sacrifice our careers or rely on our parents for childcare. Our children have had an unforgettable childhood here and I’m so grateful for it all 🙏🏻

Hand on heart, I can honestly say that we have made the absolute most of our Singapore experience.

That said, I don’t believe that happiness should be tied to any particular place or person. Happiness comes from within and with the right attitude, anyone can be happy anywhere. Family has always been hugely important to us. The pandemic made us re-evaluate our priorities and contributed to one of the many reasons we felt the time was right to head back to what matters the most and where we will always come first 🇮🇳 

But now that I’m leaving Singapore, I realize just how much I’ll miss (almost) everything about it. Years down the line when I’m still posting Singapore throwbacks and you ask me, “After all this time?”, my answer will be “ALWAYS” 🥹🥲

This will be my last blog post from Singapore and I want to say a gigantic heartfelt THANK YOU to this incredible country and everyone who has been an integral part of our Singapore story 🙏🏻❤️ 

And now it is time for us to write a new story. I believe that we can make it a good one 🤩 

Here’s to new beginnings! 🥂

P.S - Thank you to all my blog readers who kept up with my journey in Singapore. I sincerely hope you will stick around! Once I gather my bearings, I promise to be back with lots of recipes, reviews and ramblings.

Tuesday, March 14, 2023

Aura Blender Review: A Portable Personal Blender

Product Review

I went through a smoothie bowl phase a few years ago. I probably jumped on the trend thanks to Instagram what with all the colorful smoothie bowl images constantly flooding my feed (FOMO is real you guys 😆). That was the time when I was working out on a daily basis and rigorously keeping track of my fruit and veg intake. But unfortunately for me, it didn't last. The reason it remained a 'phase' is because after a while, with juggling a full-time career, home and two young children, it just started to feel like too much work. 

Back then, I was using a bulky blender to make my mixed fruit smoothie bowls and let's be honest, no one likes cleaning those things up. I did not consider getting a portable personal blender that would have made things easier. If I had, perhaps smoothie bowls may have still been a part of my daily routine. And come to think of it, not just smoothie bowls. Now I can see myself popping chunks of fresh fruit in the blender along with water or almond milk and stashing it in my gym or swimming bag to be enjoyed right after a workout. I would much prefer a homemade fresh fruit juice or fruit-based smoothie compared to one of those canned energy drinks. 

I recently tried out the highly-rated Aura Portable Blender. My first impressions were overwhelmingly positive. This wireless blender is packs power in a sleek and compact blender design. 

Its size makes it ideal to pack into a protective bag known as the Aura Insulated Sleeve to take to the gym, the office, a picnic or during travel. 

The Aura Blender can easily blend smoothies, protein shakes and baby food on the go. It can also be used to make fruit juices, iced coffee, puddings, sauces and cocktails (note that it is powerful enough to blend ice & frozen ingredients too). 

Another great feature of this nifty gadget is that it is self-cleaning requiring only a drop of dish soap and water to clean itself without the need for dismantling. That wins extra brownie points in my books!

Aura has an anti-slip base made from high quality, non-toxic silicone rubber that grips any kind of surface tightly, wet surfaces included. 

I charged the Aura blender for an hour in the morning before using it and rinsed it well with water prior to use. My twins wanted to help me make a smoothie so I gathered together some of their favourite ingredients. We put in some chunks of mango and bananas along with a few fresh blackberries and pitted cherries. The blender needs some liquid to be able to blend all the ingredients smoothly so we added in some unsweetened almond milk. We didn't add any sweetening agent like sugar, honey or maple syrup as a personal preference. The filling capacity of the blender cup should not exceed 80%. You can use water or any kind of dairy or plant-based milk depending on what you are blending. 

Operating the gadget is as easy as pressing a button - long press to activate the blender and a quick press to deactivate it. The fruits blended smoothly with the milk and the consistency and texture of the smoothie was perfect. 

Thursday, February 23, 2023

Recipe of the month: Methi Thepla & Tikhari

My apologies for not posting regularly on the blog since the start of 2023. I have been in India since the first week of February and having done a fair bit of local travel, I have not had time to even think about content creation. But currently I'm at home in Bangalore (not gotten into the habit of saying Bengaluru yet!) and have some time to myself so I decided to cook and blog a recipe that has quickly gone on to become a weekday staple meal. 

For those who have been following this space for a long time, you may be aware of my love for herbs and green leafy vegetables. Among those, methi or fenugreek leaves rank among my most preferred. 

In Singapore, I don't come across fresh methi that frequently so when I do get my hands on them, I buy a substantial amount and spend the next few days making some of my favourite dishes. If you have not done so yet, I suggest you try my recipes for Methi Paneer, Methi Pulao and Methi Dosa which are some of the dishes I typically make with methi. I also tweak my Aloo Paratha recipe by adding in sautéed methi to the aloo (potato) filling which tastes just as great if not better. 

A dish I've learned to make more recently is Methi Thepla. I had it at a friend's house along with pickle and a spiced yoghurt-based side dish called Tikhari a few years ago and I really liked the combination. I got the recipes, tweaked them a little to suit our preferences and I haven't looked back since. These nutritious theplas turn out tender and are both wholesome and flavourful. 

Methi Thepla and Tikhari now features as a staple on our weekday menu. My husband and I love it, my kids like it, guests appreciate it and it is super lunch box friendly so an all-round winner in my opinion.

I hope you try this recipe and it works just as well for you as it does for me 😊

Wednesday, January 18, 2023

Book review: Born a Crime: Stories From a South African Childhood by Trevor Noah

Let me start by saying that I do not typically gravitate towards the non-fiction genre of books as some of you might already be aware. A good story is what spurred my childhood love of reading and that doesn’t seem to have changed even after all these years. I consider myself to be a mildly imaginative and creative person by nature so escaping into a world of fiction where there is an absorbing story and compelling characters is my jam.

That said, I’ve been making a conscious effort to broaden my knowledge and perspective by interspersing fiction novels with non-fiction books in my reading list. I’ve read a couple of really thought-provoking non-fiction books in the last two years. They do tend to derail my reading pace but in the interest of personal growth, I’m determined to keep going. 

I added Born a Crime: Stories From a South African Childhood by Trevor Noah to my reading list after seeing the sky-high ratings on Goodreads. The title of the book also piqued my curiosity. Born a crime? That sounded serious. 

Prior to reading the book, my husband and I had watched The Daily Show many times as well as several stand-up stage performances by the charming and hilarious Trevor Noah. But I had no idea if his flair for comedy and public speaking would translate into a good autobiography. Would the book be well-written? Would it be uplifting or bleak? What could I learn from it? These were some thoughts that entered my mind. In the end, I was not only pleasantly surprised but wowed even! 

In this fascinating memoir about his life, Trevor Noah, shines light on the complexities growing up as the child of a Swiss-German white father and Xhosa black mother during the dying days of apartheid in South Africa. His very existence as a biracial child during those times was considered illegal and even after apartheid fell, he continued to face the unique challenges from his ill-defined racial identity. He wasn’t black and he wasn’t white so he didn’t 'fit in' anywhere. 

In a nutshell, Born a Crime is an amalgamation of tumultuous history, brilliant storytelling, acute observations and meaningful reflection of the political climate and culture of South Africa during the 80s and 90s. At the crux of the memoir is Noah’s relationship with his mother, a single and formidable black woman who subverted the system at every step and equipped her son with essential skills that he needed in life to succeed.

Noah opens his memoir with a line stating that as a 9-year old child, his mother pushed him out of a moving bus. As shocking as that sounds, he proceeds to explain just why she did that and from there onwards, you just want to know more.