Saturday, June 27, 2015

Snapshots of my India trip 2015

It's been more than a month since I got back from India and I finally found made time to put down my thoughts on a wonderful holiday that was both eventful and fulfilling. 

This holiday was also uniquely memorable because it marked the maiden International trip for my little ones. The very idea of travelling with a child is something many new mothers find nerve-wracking so you can imagine my plight with two! You can probably tell if a woman is travelling with a child or not just by the look of sheer exhaustion and worry-lines etched on her face!

On the bright side, nowadays, with much better means of communication, far more comfortable modes of transport, advanced facilities and a newer generation of parents who do a lot of research beforehand and are prepared for any eventuality, travelling with a child (or children for that matter) isn't exactly rocket science. In our case, we did the required groundwork and preparation before the trip such as making a detailed list of all the items to be packed, completing the babies scheduled vaccinations, requesting for double bassinet seats on the International flight, doing online check-ins, booking domestic flights/taxis/hotel accommodation in India well in advance, getting cartons of diapers, wet wipes, tissues and baby bath essentials delivered to my parents and in-laws houses, getting their cribs ready in both houses, sourcing baby-friendly natural means of repelling mosquitos and so on. Looking back, it was considerable work but the effort paid off  

I am now much more confident of traveling with the kids and though I'm sure that they will have their bad days where I will regret that I ever left the house, I will take comfort in the fact that exposing them to new situations and people will help them learn more about the world and adapt quickly to unfamiliar situations.

So here is a write-up of our escapades in India....

Cradle ceremony in Mysore

In our culture, the 'Cradle ceremony' is one of the first ceremonies that is held for a baby. Normally it is held a few days after birth but since I was in Singapore, my girls had it when they were 4 months old.

A cradle is adorned with rich colorful fabrics, the baby is decked up with festive clothes and jewellery, guests are invited, devotional songs are sung whilst the baby is put in the cradle and swung three times and delicious food is served at the end of the function. 

Ear piercing in Mysore

I was terrified about getting my kids delicate little ears pierced. I was worried how much pain it would cause them, whether there would be dreadful results like uneven holes and if there would be post-piercing complications like infection and keloids. But my fears were unwarranted as we selected an experienced piercer to do the job in a clean environment. I had taken along alcohol swabs and local anesthetic spray. The position of the hole was first marked with a pen, the earrings were selected beforehand, the area was disinfected, anesthetic applied and within a minute, a quick gunshot did the job. The girls did cry but only for a minute after which they went back to being their usual smiley selves.

Mission accomplished! 

Mehendi in Udupi

I had convinced myself that there would be no way I could get mehendi (henna) applied on my hands given that I had two littles ones to look after. But helpful in-laws, aunts and cousins took charge of the girls while I was able to sit for a few minutes in peace while the professional henna artists did their job. 

Wedding at Udupi

One of the main events that we were in India for (apart from the girls Namkarana or Naming ceremony, of which I don't have pictures to share due to privacy reasons) was my brother's wedding. 

Hailing from a Shivalli Madhva brahmin community, the wedding was a very traditional affair. If you are interested in the nitty-gritty of our kind of wedding, you can read a previous post I'd written following my sister's wedding.  

Reception in Mysore

Weddings in our culture usually take place where the bride is based since the wedding is hosted by the parents of the bride. So in the instances where the bride and groom are not from the same place, if a reception is organized, it usually takes place in the groom's city. 

Here are some pics taken in Mysore where the reception took place

Food glorious food!

This post would be incomplete if I didn't share with you some of the home-cooked culinary delights of Karnataka that I got to devour during this visit. I'm quite happy to note that I have posted the recipes for most of these dishes on my blog so Id like to think that I would qualify for a true-blue kannadiga ☺ 

These photos were taken (most of them at least) in my parents home in Mysore and one of them at my in-laws place in Bangalore. My maternal grandmother had come down to Mysore to spend some time with me and the kids while we were there and despite her advancing age, she prepared so many yummy things for me to expand my already expanded waistline! She also made me her lip-smacking spicy coriander chutney and bisibele bhath powder to bring back to Singapore. Grandmothers just are the sweetest beings on the planet aren't they? Getting pampered by my mum, grandma and MIL's cooking is one thing I miss the most about India. Sigh!

The only special dish I didn't get to eat this time was Shavige/Semige (hand-pressed rice noodles) that either my mum or my MIL prepares without fail. This time, on account of the wedding preparations plus having the kids around, both of them ended up being really busy and couldn't prepare it. You can check-out the recipe on my blog if you are interested (link provided above). 

Ukkarisida Akki Rotti

I love akki rotti so much. If akki rotti were a man, I would marry him! I usually have these akki rottis with avarekaalu usli (a dry side dish made from field beans) but unfortunately for me, my mum wasn't able to get any avarekaalu. She made the usli using fresh green peas which was actually pretty darn good too!

Check out the recipe on my blog here

Masala Akki Rotti

Ah! And the love affair continues! This is another variation of akki rotti and this one ranks slightly higher on the akki rotti scale for me.

Check out the recipe on my blog here


Another one of my absolute favourite dishes. I could eat this every single day without getting fed up.

Patrode is a dish from Dakshina Kannada that is made with colocasia leaves smeared with a spicy rice batter. There are many ways of preparing patrode with the shallow-fried version being my preferred way of making it.

My grandmother made another variety which I had never eaten before and I really liked it

This is the shallow-fried version which trumps all the other kinds for me

Check out the recipe on my blog here

I am going to go ahead and include dosa in the list of Karnataka specialities because the origin of dosa is linked to Udupi.

Everybody loves these golden fermented crepes of rice and lentils. You would be crazy not to! It features as a staple breakfast dish back home and be it plain or masala dosa, I am equally enthusiastic about both.

Check out the recipe on my blog here
Bisibele Bhath
A medley of spicy masala, lentils, vegetables and rice. The spice powder for Bisibele Bhath is commercially available but when my grandmother makes it from scratch, it gets transformed into a piquant and moreish dish. She made it for us one weekend along with her famous gulab jamus (please don't argue with me when I say they are the best in the world okay?) and some fresh hot chips on the side.
Heaven on a plate!

Rava Idli
I've spoken at length regarding my love for rava idli. My mom makes awesome rava idlis. They are soft and pillowy and oh-so-good. She makes the mix herself and stores it in an air-tight jar. When the time comes, she makes them in a jiffy. She serves it with coconut chutney and a potato side dish or a stew. 

Check out the recipe on my blog here

If you are looking for an awesome instant rava idli mix, check out this blog post

Filter Coffee

I am a coffee-addict. And it's none of that murky black coffee for me thank you very much. What kick-starts my day is a steaming cup of aromatic Indian filter coffee. 

The first few years after moving to Singapore, I would get by with instant coffee. But every time I'd visit India, the familiar scent of filter coffee would evoke an overwhelming sense of nostalgia so for the past several years I've been getting freshly ground coffee powder from India, brewing the decoction using a traditional Indian filter and enjoying coffee right at home. 

The King of Fruits!

What a stroke of luck that I arrived in India just as Mango season was round the corner. The Indian Alphonso Mango is probably one of God's best creation! It is sweet, succulent, fleshy, juicy and just exquisite. I think I had an entire year's worth of mangoes in those two months. I was eating one every single day.

Oh you golden-orange hued hunk of juicy I miss you!

That wraps up this post. I know what you must be thinking - this woman eats way too much! I would have to agree with you! hahaha 

I had such a lovely time in India and I am so excited that I'll be going back in November in time to ring in both my girls first birthday!

More later....


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