Khandeshi Mande

Last week Puneites were spoilt for choice on what to do on the weekend. There was something for the foodies (the Bhimthadi Jatra) and the geeks as well (the IT expo). The Bhimthadi Jatra held on the grounds of the Agriculture college was a showcase for women’s Self Help Groups (SHGs) in Maharashtra. There were over 500 stalls by women entrepreneurs and there are no prizes for guessing what most of the stalls were devoted to!
That’s right Food!!

And what a variety! Absolutely Desi (and I mean from the Marathi heartland) stuff cooked in the authentic manner right in front of you. Fish, chicken, mutton, bhakri, bhajee and more.. served piping hot by ladies who were keen to show that had what it took to run a business even if they were rarely featured in glossy business mags. The best was each took pride in what she did had a good idea of the economics involved and had good marketing skills. I guess there’s more than one place to learn business skills other than ivy league B-schools and that’s the school of Life!

But here is something that was my star of the foodie stalls. Khandeshi Mande stuffed with Puran. To the uninitiated these are huge (around 18″ diameter) puran poli that reach this size not with a rolling pin but by actually stretching it out by hand.

There were two stalls and we had to book and await our turn to get the Mande. Each was priced at Rs 35 but the process of watching the ladies make it was a delight. You may have heard of pizza makers who throw the dough up in the air while making the base. Well the process here is something similar. After stuffing puran (bengal gram cooked with sugar and ground to paste) in the dough made entirely of maida (refined flour) the artist (yes, that’s the only word for the lady making the Mande) initially rolls out a small poli. Thats when the magic starts.

She picks up the poli and begins tossing it in circles over her both her arms as it gradually stretches into a bigger circle. A few minutes and the poli is big enough to be placed on an a huge upturned kadhai (wok) that serves as the griddle. A couple of minutes cooking on either side and lo behold! The Mande is yours! Thin crisp golden with not single tear in it. Drizzle (or drench) with ghee and enjoy!!!

This fair was the fourth one to be held in Pune and hopefully will continue each year. For those who missed it, Bhimthadi Jatra may return.

Here are some photos that will give you an idea of how the Khandeshi Mande were made.

Womans Day

Despite so called progress, Women’s health continues to be an area of concern both physical and mental.

Irrespective of whether she has a full time career or not, a woman is expected to perform her ‘duties’ at home – of course she may employ an army of servants but the onus is on her to see that the home functions with clockwork precision- the fridge is well stocked, daily menus are varied and nutritious, kids continue to score top results at school or college, social obligations at weddings, poojas etc are met …. She may of course pursue her own hobbies within whatever time she can spare from all this…

Most of my friends in this positions manage all hats wonderfully but most are already victims of backache, acidity, anxiety disorders. With such a busy schedule obviously her own health gets last priority always making do with temporary measures. A recent Assocham study published in the ET dated 07 March 2009, confirmed that 68% of working women in the age group 21-52 years had lifestyle disorders.
These are serious numbers and should not be taken lightly.

I firmly oppose this ‘Day’ mania – But this is one day that certainly warrants its presence. Each woman must remind herself that wealth, a soaring career graph, health and well being of family members/ subordinates is all very good and noble but not at the cost of her own health and well being. Pepsi CEO Indra Nooyi’s thoughts on her challenges as a mother and working woman are mentioned in this article.

Remember it is possible to attain our goals only if are fit to do so. Having achieved the pinnacle, it is also important to be healthy enough to enjoy the lofty heights!

So all you workaholic super mom’s out there, slow down.
Devote time and attention to your own health.
Take up power yoga.
Book that spa package.
Join a bellydancing class.
Switch off your phone.
Walk barefoot on the lawn.

Try it. For a better you. For a better world.
Corporate success is not the only kind of success. Each one of us is successful even if we don’t occupy the corner office.
Happy Healthy women will make a Happy Healthy society!!


Republic Day

This 26 January was marked by many of the highest peace time gallantry awards being awarded posthumously to Armed Forces or Police personnel. Their sole aim to defend the nation even at the cost of their lives. 

Their wives carried themselves with tremendous calm as the citations were read out. It spoke volumes about their personalities and strength as they adjust to this difficult change.
Every lady who marries into the armed forces or police or other defence forces is aware of and accepts the risks her husband faces. Far from stopping him, she is the source of his strength. It is her unquestioned taking charge of all domestic  management and issues that lets the soldier go forth with full concentration on the task on hand. That is how it should be.
Our salute to those who laid down their lives to keep us safe and the ladies who stand by them!
Jai Hind!

Amazing Multitasking Women..

“Whoever coined the brilliant word home manager has successfully made over the housewife’s job into a new age career. And ,why not? She may not have the benefit of training in a B school but her job profile is as demanding and deadline driven as that of any executive!
A general disclaimer is called for here. With increasing westernisation and a growing SOHO (small office home office) population there may be many male home managers today and usage of the word ‘she’ is for convenience and in no way meant to take away credit due to them.
First and foremost the work involves performance with six-sigma standards with hardly any room for errors- can you image the chaos if there is excess oil/ sugar/ chilli in the food or clothes with bleeding colours are mixed into the laundry! That would surely lead to a very ‘colourful’ dialogue the next day! …..”
Click here to read more……..

Dont Forget Her!

Its 8th of March again. I don’t know who started this business of Women’s Day or when, but it surely is a big business proposition today. Card shops go berserk with special cards, beauty parlours and obesity clinics offer special packages, apparel, car sales, the list is endless and more innovative each year.
We all forget the one important lady who takes care of our home chores so that we can go out to work, enjoy these ‘special‘ days and be there with a cup of tea or glass of water when we return. That’s our domestic help of course. She may not even get a chance to read this blog or any other such forum, yet we must not forget that she too deserves something special today.
My views on this subject have been published at 4IW. Click here to read on.

Don’t forget her!
Happy Woman’s Day All!

Most Important Person

Our home seemed to have lost its sweetness over the past two days and all because of me. Of course my admission comes only now and not even medieval torture instruments could have wrung it out of me in the time under discussion here! Anything out of place or a broken glass, or happening without my prior consent meant frowns, grumbles and in some cases a major eruption.

My husband lived in mortal fear of using the wrong towel to wipe cups or the wrong vessel to boil milk for tea. My daughter who normally needed several reminders to make her bed, clear her table or submit her lunch box for cleaning did all these jobs and more before I could even say good morning!

I hurried through the kitchen shouting orders for all at home. Besides my voice the only sounds were of banging vessels and slamming cupboard doors. I drove out for work brakes squealing. The reason for all this upheaval was the missing M.I.P in my life. Before you get visions of any issues with mutual fund Monthly Income Plan certificates let me get the record straight. I am referring to the Most Important Person: namely Shardakka our house help.

You see, she was on leave for a week and the onus of managing house chores fell on me. Naturally this phase coincided with the added work at my office too. You may well ask why did I not appoint a substitute? I hate new people walking all over my kingdom and have proudly declared that she (Shardakka) is not indispensable and ‘I Shall Manage’.

But day 1 itself took its toll and I was at the end of my patience. The garbage collector too disappeared and now I had to deal with overflowing garbage bins in addition to a sink piled high with dirty dishes. Overzealously I decided to clean fans and behind cupboards just to prove my capability. At the second fan itself, I bitterly regretted my decision and could not give up now and risk losing face. You see both my husband and daughter had advised me against this.

Murphy made his presence felt, as friends and relatives chose that weekend to drop by! More work, and everything had to be perfect which meant I was continuously with a backache and a huge list of pending jobs. I really wondered how Shardakka managed to get everything done so fast. That’s when I realized that she got right of way wherever she went in the house. Be it to sweep any room, deal with the wet clothes or vessels in the kitchen. My husband preferred to be out of the house when she went about restoring cleanliness and order every morning or else he had to move of each room the moment he settled down! This is another benefit of daily morning walks, which fitness experts never mention.

By evenings I was thoroughly drained out counting down days when she would be back again. My husband’s standard accusation is that I have never spoken to him as sweetly as I do to Shardakka, one that I hotly deny of course. She is never reprimanded for broken crockery or for unswept corners and cobwebs. Ditto for chopping vegetables instead of julienne or making soft dough for puris!

But don’t take my word for it; ask any self-respecting Indian home manager the state of a home without any help. The reassurance of having this M.I.P is as much as having a hefty bank balance! And don’t be misled by advertisements that make home cleaning or cooking look a breeze. None of us remotely resemble the beauty without a hair out of place when we have to wade through entangled clothes mass in the washing machine or wield the broom!

My backbreaking weeklong efforts paid off in familiarizing my family members with various temperamental cleaning apparatus and cleaning agents! By day 6, I could see the silver lining on the clouds as I almost sang my way through dusting the inexplicably large number of artifacts I had collected over the years. I grudgingly admitted that Shardakka too had family commitments, probably more so than mine. Her husband spent days in drunken stupor and four adult sons shamelessly depended on her. She needed the break and I would get mine the moment she returned to work! I can take on a busy work schedule simply because I can depend on her to manage my home front. I overlooked her shortcomings knowing both of us benefited from this association.

M.I.P./ V.I.P/ Symbiosis, either way, I answered the doorbell with a huge smile on Monday morning at 7 AM sharp only to find Shardakka’s husband saying she would return to work a couple of days later…

Published in Maharashtra Herald on 24 Nov 2007 and at:

Get Ready to take on extra jobs..

Divali is just a few days away! Shops are ablaze with colourful lanterns, lights and many new decorations.
Many of us are getting our homes redone.
Some of us have planned to prepare new and old delicacies for the festivities.

Our physio clinics often see a huge increase in ladies with neck pain, shoulder pain or backaches post this extra work load.

Click here for some some basic guidelines to cook in a pain free manner…


Ready to Learn

This has been a difficult week for me. Reason? I was finding it really difficult to procure a particular soap bar. Elementary, you may as well say like the legendary Sherlock Holmes. But there was a huge barrier.

Seeing the deteriorating state of my kadahis my maid recommended a particular brand to get them to sparkle. “None of this fancy stuff you bring is any good,” she said. She however did not know its name. Seeing my confusion she helpfully described the stuff to me.

So I set off to the local shop confident of making a purchase. What happened was totally surprising. The shopkeeper was completely foxed by what I was asking for. Any fancy description seemed to draw a blank.

Finally I began with the description I had of the soap. I wanted a bar with a picture of a lemon on it! It had to have a particular fragrance. It was specifically meant for aluminium vessels. This brought strange looks from everyone on both sides of the store counter. I seemed like an educated lady, had come out of a car and here I was describing a brand like an illiterate person! I went from shop to shop with this detail but no one could provide me the right stuff. I did not even know what right was anymore. Did we really have such a large range of cleaning products? Then why could I not find one for my kadahi?

Here I was a celebrated hostess, shopaholic, mall savvy and alert consumer who could not get one bar of soap. My ego thoroughly deflated I picked up the first one I was offered at the 10th shop and returned home. ‘This is not the one’ my maid pronounced.

I gave up and told her to get a wrapper from somewhere and then went off to buy the kadahi panacea. I realised I had been on the wrong track all along. The joy I felt that day was something I had not felt even when I had managed to pick up the rare kantha sari at the monsoon sale!

The struggle was worth it because my utensils are sparkling now! Lesson learnt: Keep an open mind and learn from everybody. There is no substitute for experience and recommendations from such a person will invariably make a positive change.

Age should not be a barrier but mental attitude can be. Overcome it and open your mind there is a wealth of learning waiting for us!

This was first put up at the following site on 16 Oct 2007

Home managers

My take on the job of housewife has been selected on the site
None of us has any training for this and those who have jobs are expected to manage both fronts- home and office. This is a huge challenge that none of us realise yet meet it very unconsciously but effectively.

Newfangled terms coined to replace the word ‘housewife’ truly encompass the gist of the job.

Click here to read more: