In My Hands Today…

Homegoing – Yaa Gyasi

27071490Two half sisters, Effia and Esi, unknown to each other, are born into different villages in eighteenth-century Ghana. Effia is married off to an Englishman and will live in comfort in the palatial rooms of Cape Coast Castle, raising children who will be sent abroad to be educated before returning to the Gold Coast to serve as administrators of the empire. Esi, imprisoned beneath Effia in the Castle’s women’s dungeon and then shipped off on a boat bound for America, will be sold into slavery.

Stretching from the wars of Ghana to slavery and the Civil War in America, from the coal mines in the American South to the Great Migration to twentieth-century Harlem, Yaa Gyasi’s novel moves through histories and geographies.

2017 Week 20 Update

We’re close to the halfway mark of this year and I suspect I am starting to get depressed with this whole job hunt business. 

This week was my usual sort of week with some errands I had to run outside the home. It actually felt good to get out and I am really yearning to start working again so I can be out and about. For someone who prefers books to people, this is surprising even to me! I think this year plus of introspection has made me even more committed to doing a great job should I be hired. Though I sometimes wonder if I will ever get hired. Wonder if it’s my age which is against me. Anyway I did promise not to bring my negativity here, so I’ll stop right here. 

School ends this week and I should really start planning a short holiday. S is busy but can spare a couple of days. So need to research places close to home. I am actually rooting for a destination in Malaysia which is a 3-4 hour driving distance away, but will look at some Indonesian islands which are a short ferry ride away too!

Have an awesome week folks and hope your week is filled with joy and happiness. 

Secondary 2 Week 20 Update

This was the penultimate week of school before they break for the mid-year holidays and other than paper checking, the children had some fun in school. 

GG went for a two day coding workshop. Initially she was very resistant to the idea of coding, even after I explained how it was a life skill these days. Her reasoning was that she was planning to major in humanities so coding which was a science subject was of no use to her. But she enjoyed the workshop so much that she was super excited to go back to school for the next day’s session. She also did a geography investigation where they interviewed residents near their school on their take on the amenities found there and what they liked/disliked about the neighbourhood. They now have to do a report and present it to their class. 

BB was the big surprise this week. His school’s lifelong learning programme is music and arts and as part of this, they had a music fest in school where students had to make groups and perform like a band where they have one or two students singing and the others playing instruments.  Now although BB was in his school choir in primary school, after his voice broke almost two years back, he has refused to sing at all, being very self-conscious about his half childish and half adult voice. So when he told me he was going to sing, I was actually surprised and GG and I landed up at his school to listen to him. We were pleasantly surprised. He did a great job of singing One Direction’s Night Changes and they were the only group who got calls of encore and one more song from the audience which mostly comprised his cohort and some parents. After the concert and the next day, many students came up to him to tell him he had sung well. The best accolade for him came from his principal. He met her in the corridor and she stopped and told him he sang very well. BB was so happy when he came home that day!

This week is the parent teacher meeting in both schools and then they break for almost a month. Both have activities the first 10 days of the holidays and then it’s play time for them. 

In My Hands Today…

The Leaving – Tara Altebrando

26073074Six were taken. Eleven years later, five come back – with no idea of where they’ve been.

Eleven years ago, six kindergarteners went missing without a trace. After all that time, the people left behind moved on, or tried to.

Until today. Today five of those kids return. They’re sixteen, and they are . . . fine. Scarlett comes home and finds a mom she barely recognizes, and doesn’t really recognize the person she’s supposed to be, either. But she thinks she remembers Lucas. Lucas remembers Scarlett, too, except they’re entirely unable to recall where they’ve been or what happened to them. Neither of them remember the sixth victim, Max. He doesn’t come back. Everyone wants answers. Most of all Max’s sister Avery, who needs to find her brother – dead or alive – and isn’t buying this whole memory-loss story.

Recipes: Ginger Pepper Rasam

GG had been on this Hallyu craze recently and wanted to eat Bingsu at a newly opened shop at the food court near our home. I accompanied her and BB. All I did was take a few bites from them but came down with a sore throat almost immediately! My solution was to make a traditional pepper rasam to which I added some ginger, both which are good for throats. You can also have this as a soothing soup when you are sick or when it is cold and rainy outside.

Ginger Pepper Rasam

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup Toor dal, washed and cooked till it is soft and mushy
  • 1 small lime sized tamarind, soaked in hot water for 20-30 minutes and then the juice extracted
  • 2 tomatoes
  • 1 tsp black peppercorns
  • 2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 2-3 dried red chillies
  • 1-inch piece of ginger
  • 1 tbsp ghee
  • 4-5 curry leaves
  • 1/4 tsp asafoetida
  • 1/4 tsp jaggery (optional)
  • Salt to taste
  • Coriander leaves to garnish

Method:

  • Blend together the peppercorns, dried red chillies, ginger and 1 tsp cumin seeds with 1 tomato into a smooth paste and keep aside.
  • Smoosh the tamarind and drain the water into a pot along with the cooked dal.
  • Chop the other tomato into quarters or eights and drop it into the pan.
  • Boil for a while till the raw smell of the tamarind goes away, around 5-7 minutes.
  • Now add the blended paste along with salt and jaggery and let it boil till the tomatoes are completely cooked. Switch off the gas and start the tempering.
  • In a smaller pan, heat the ghee and when hot, add the mustard and balance cumin seeds. When they pop, add the curry leaves and asafoetida and stir before pouring it into the rasam.
  • Garnish with chopped coriander leaves and serve hot as an accompaniment to rice or as a soup

Notes:

  1. If you don’t have jaggery, you can use sugar instead or even omit it completely.
  2. If you don’t have tamarind, you can either use 1 tbsp tamarind paste (which you can get at any Indian store) or use lemon juice. If using lemon juice, add it according to taste at the very end, just before serving.
  3. If you are planning to have this as a soup, omit the dal and follow the rest of the recipe.