Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Our Little Girl

Hi everyone! I haven't been blogging lately as we have become parents of a lovely little girl who keeps us very busy. She was born on October 18th and we have decided to name her Radhika Ann. She is the spitting image of her father. It has been quite an adjustment in lifestyle but worth it. The husband has been wonderful, feeding her, changing diapers, picking out bottles , just great. Our Christmas will be quite special this year.
I wish all of you a Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and a Happy New Year!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

My Saadh Day

As I mentioned earlier in my blog, my husband and I are expecting our first child in October. In both American and Bengali cultures the time leading up to the birth of the baby is very exciting. One of the most recent events I experienced was called a "Saadh" which in Bengali means "wish". What happens is that the mother-to-be gets to choose whatever she wants to eat and that is prepared for her. The thought is she will not have time later to prepare and eat all the things she likes so they shower her with food and gifts now. The baby gets gifts later after it is born.

We were visited by Bengali friends this past weekend and she insisted that I have a Saadh day. When they arrived, I was gifted with a lovely silk shawl, earrings, and some very nice bath acutraiments. Sunday morning she started cooking and the lunch was delicious. We had sambar, rice, okra(very different from how I usually make it),lao(bottle shaped green gourd), cooked lao skin, kaala jamun, and eggplant. My mother-in-law is in India and feels like she is missing out on all of the preparation for the baby so she was very happy to learn that I was able to experience this day.

One valuable piece of information I learned this weekend was how to prevent stretch marks. Our friend told me when she was pregnant with her children that she was told to mix olive oil and water together and 30 minutes before you take a shower, you rub it all over your stomach and let it absorb into the skin. She did this and she had no stretch marks with either one of her pregnancies. I think that I will give it a try.

We have a little less than six weeks to go until our little one is here. It is so exciting feeling it kick and move around. We don't know what it is so it will be a surprise. Everyone has told me I look like I am carrying a girl so we shall see.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Picking the Perfect Okra

For any of you who live in the south, the Okra will be coming in soon. Those of you who live elsewhere and shop at Indian grocery stores, you are lucky enough to get okra year round. I love okra. My grandmother used to have her own garden in which she planted okra, corn, green beans, sometimes melons,lima beans, field peas and crowder peas. My favorite thing she would make would be boiled crowder peas(cooked in fat back of course) with fresh okra boiled on top. We also had great fried okra as well. Not the deep fried stuff completely coated with a batter, but sliced up and sprinkled with salt and pepper and lightly dusted with corn meal, then fried. Ahh delicious. I never learned how to fry it like that and was missing it terribly. Just like Bengali food that you cannot get in any restaurant here in the US, good southern food like grandma made is difficult to find when you eat out, especially in the north east where I live.
When my mother-in-law came to stay with us in Florida,she taught me how to make a fried okra dish that tasted very similar to my grandmother's. The first time I ate it, I thought I would cry, it was so good, easy to make, and similar in taste. I have found that the older I get, the more I want foods that I had as a child. It is a shame I never learned how to make alot of them, and my mother didn't either. Neither her or her sisters remember how my grandma fried chicken. What a shame.I would dearly love to have that recipe.
Later my mom did teach me to fry okra the way she does and my grandma did and luckily I can have it now anytime I want. It is always good to eat it with stew beef, cornbread, and cantaloupe.
When choosing okra, according to my mom, you want to pick the smaller pods because they are the most tender. In addition to that, my mother-in-law showed me a way to pick it out that is perfect every time. I am sure that those of you who shop at indian grocery stores and buy okra notice that the pointed ends are bent on alot of those pods. Well, there is a very good reason for that. When picking out okra you want to grab the okra and grasp it in a "thumbs up" manner holding the pod in your four curved fingers with the pointed end facing the ceiling. Snap the pointed end over with your thumb. If the end snaps off, it is fresh and will be very tasty. If it just bends and retracts, then don't buy it. It will be very fibrous and won't cook well.
I love both ways of cooking it and have included both recipes below.

My Grandma's Fried Okra

Okra- 1 lb. is a good place to start, but you can use however much you like.
Corn Meal- I use Martha White self rising corn meal but any finely ground corn meal will work. I always have to stock up when I go home for a visit because I can't find it in the northeast. This is great for making corn bread as well.
Vegetable Oil

Wash the okra well and cut the stems and the ends off. Cut the okra across into 1/4" slices, place them in a bowl, and coat with salt and pepper. Coat next with corn meal and mix all ingredients together well using your hands, until okra is well coated. There might be risidual corn meal in the bottom of the bowl. That is ok. What sticks to the okra will be all that you will need. It is not a thick coating.
Heat a pan on medium heat and put in enough oil to coat the bottom of the pan. Put one piece of coated okra in the oil. When this browns, turn it over and brown the other side. If it is too brown you may have to adjust the heat down a tad. When this is completed, add all of the coated okra to the pan. Let sit for two minutes and stir occasionally. You want the coating to gradually get brown, not right away because the coating will burn,the okra will get hard on the inside,and it will taste terrible and raw. If the oil is totally absorbed, add a little more if needed. When the okra is tender, take a thin metal spatula and chop up the pieces a little bit. When it is close to being done, you will see that the corn meal coating is browned, not burnt and kind of sticks together and the okra is very tender.

My 10 year old nephew said he didn't like okra but when he was here visiting us last week from India , I made this and he really liked it alot. If that is not a testimonial, I don't know what is.

My Mother-In-Law's Aloo Bhindi Posto (Potatoes and Okra with White Poppy Seeds)

1 lb. Okra
3 Small White Potatoes* chopped in half longways,then chopped into 1/4ths longways, then cut into small 1/2" pieces across.
Vegetable Oil
Posto-White Poppy Seeds
1 teaspoon Panch Phoron- a 5 spice mixture of whole black and yellow mustard seeds,fennel seeds,cumin seeds,and mehti seeds(fenugreek).
1 Dried Red Chili, broken in half
1 teaspoon Sugar
1 teaspoon Water

Wash okra thoroughly and cut off stems and pointed ends. Cut okra into 2 inch pieces.
Heat pan with oil just enough to coat the bottom on medium heat.
When hot, add panch phoron and broken dried red chili, cooking until spices start to sputter. Add okra and potatoes and stir occasionally until brown.
Once okra and potatoes are brown, add salt and sugar and stir well.Take your fingers and splash the one teaspoon of water onto the okra to create slight steam.turn to medium low, cover and cook until tender. When soft, add the posto to lightly coat all pods.cover and cook until posto is slightly tinged brown and it all sticks together.

*Note: If you are already serving a potato dish with your meal, you can omit the potatoes from this recipe.

I like to serve this with dal(lentils) and any Indian bread(If we don't have that, my husband uses tortillas). A small amount of Patak's Sweet Mango Chutney is outstanding to serve with this as well.

Both these recipes are great with fresh cucumbers and sliced red onions and make great accompaniments to any meal.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Odds And Ends

Hi everyone. Sorry I have not been blogging for two months but I have been feeling very under the weather. There is a very good reason for that as my husband and I are going to have a baby. We are very excited about it as well as both our families. The due date is October 16th. I have been nauseous every morning for the last 8 weeks, but am feeling much better now and will be posting more things from now on.

I have found very funny clips on youtube of a show that aired in the UK several years ago called "Goodness Gracious Me". It features a cast of mostly Indian comedians who are also the geniuses behind "The Kumars at Number 42". They do comedy skits about an obnoxious man on dates, a british guy who goes to south india to work and won't change his "complicated" name of Johnathan to something else pronouncable, parents talking about their son's grades, etc.. It is really hilarious and I have featured clips from the show below.

There are many more on you tube that are just as funny if you have a chance to look.
I find this to be a very insightful comedy show and I just love it.
There is also a comedian from canada by the name of Russell Peters. He is very funny as well.

I will be headed down south for the next two weeks to visit my mom so I may not be posting then. She doesn't have a computer but if I can use her neighbor's I may try to post something.

Enjoy the clips for now.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

A Fender Bender, A Hurricane, A Broken Toe, and A Moldy Apartment, ..Oh My! AKA.. Our First Year As A Married Couple.

As I mentioned in a previous post, we were married in September of 2005 and immediately moved to south Florida to live. I remember the first day I arrived. It was a beautiful evening as Sarat met me at the airport and we proceeded to go to dinner. We went to a lovely place right on the beach and had a delicious meal as the wind gently caressed the lovely palms. It was exciting starting our married life together in a new place and I really was looking forward to it. You know, I always said I would never marry a guy who didn't dance.. and I did. I also said I would never live in Florida or South Carolina.. Well what can I say. Sometimes life surprises you and you do what you gotta' do, but I digress.

Anyway, anyone who remembers 2005 remembers a lil' ole hurricane named "Wilma" that banged into the south Florida coast in October. Now, before I talk about our experience, let me just preface this with I am known to have alot of weird stuff happen to me, in life, on vacation, whatever. I had a car where all the little interior gadgets(rearview mirror, gear shift button cover, window handle)started falling off, went on vacation and the handle of my very heavily packed suitcase came off in my hand, went to a museum in DC and realized I had left out tickets back in a hotel room, so we had to go all the way back to our hotel room in another district to retrieve our tickets, went to a restaurant, ordered a sandwich, and some of the luncheon meat was still wrapped in the deli paper. I bit into it and pulled it out with my teeth and my friend with me died laughing at the expression I had on my face. There are alot more incidences like this but that would constitute a whole other blog.

When we moved to Florida, we lived in a hotel for four months as it was very difficult to find an apartment. We had heard about Hurricane Wilma a week prior to it hitting our area as it came from the east and then scooted by in the ocean south of the state and then hit Mexico. It then turned and headed to the west coast and made landfall, moving east at a very fast pace. We woke up at 5:00 am to what sounded like tiles being scraped off the roof of the hotel. We were on the 5th floor of a very nice hotel and I got up to look out the window. What I saw amazed me. The hotel was an L shape and all along the other side of the L, the windows were all blown out.Coconuts from the palm trees had been blown into all of the rooms on the other side, damaging the windows. All the palm trees were being blown so hard they were bowed over touching the ground. Upon going downstairs, we saw there was a huge crowd of people staying there who had left their condos on the beach for a safer place. We had debated leaving town beforehand and ended up staying and I am glad we did. You get an idea of what a category 1-2( there was much debate as to which it was)hurricane is like and know you don't want to stick around for the next one. It was gone by 1pm that afternoon and luckily the weather became cooler because for the next 2 weeks there was no power. I have never seen anywhere that looked like a war zone, but that was it. Huge trees were toppled over from the roots through concrete and there were no working traffic lights at any intersection in town, It was very scarey. We left for Orlando and stayed there for 10 days. That was the southernmost hotel in that chain that had power, so basically my husband was the only one from his company that could work because he had power for his laptop computer. Unbelievable. Oh yes while we were in Orlando, we both had different visits to the emergency room , but I won't go into that.

Upon returning to Boca we dicovered that the storage facility where all our belongings were stored had roof damage and one of the vaults containg our belongings had water damage. We had, in the meantime, found a nice apartment to rent. On move in day, I had to go through all our boxes and get rid of moldy stuff. One of the ruined things was a chair that had belonged to my grandmother. I cried for days about that. What fun it was to open boxes and discover that all your shoes had turned a lovely shade of mold green. It was awful and one of the worst things that could have ever happened. The moving company made me itemize and price every item on claim forms that was damaged, so with a mask on, every day for a week I went through all of our belongings, bit by bit, and documented everything. Boy all that stuff sure did stink.
We kept calling the moving company and telling them that there was a potential for this apartment to acquire mold damage and they needed to do somthing about this.

Two months passed and we were scheduled to go to Kolkata in December for our wedding reception that Sarat's family was giving us. We were back in the hotel by this time because the stench of our stuff from being in the storage unit with no air conditioning for weeks was too much. A few days before we left, somebody who wasn't paying attention, hit my Honda from behind with their Toyota truck. Fun, fun, fun. In the meantime, the insurance company had ruled Wilma's damage an act of God and they weren't paying. We had argued with them to send someone to test for mold and guess what day they choose to call us to make all the arangements. Right-o the exact day we were leaving for the airport. Now we had to deal with all this from India. Luckily this situation was now being handled with someone from Sarat's company. While we were in India, A mold testing company came in and tested the place and Zowwie!, the spore count was extremely high. All of our belongings had to be removed, staged for spraying, and then were returned without boxes, so you can imagine the mess that greeted us when we went over to see it. I don't know what happened to my clothes dryer but it was dented and scratched. We still had to live in the hotel at this point. Upon our return from Kolkata I had to fly home the next morning because my dad had been admitted to the hospital and was very critical.
Four months later my father passed away and that was the hardest and most surreal thing I ever had to deal with in my life.

One good thing that did happen to us in June 2006. My mother-in-law came and stayed with us for three months. It really helped me keep my mind off of things. It was great. she showed me how to cook alot of Bengali food during that time. She got to know the owner of the Indian grocery store where I shopped as well as I did as she spoke to him in Hindi. They lived in Delhi the first eight years of my husband's life before returning to Kolkata, so she speaks Hindi pretty well. It was funny, one day we were standing in line there to check out and I was telling the owner that I had learned how to make samosas from scratch. He always liked to hear what new things I was learning to prepare. There was an American lady behind us who had this shocked look on her face and exclaimed "You MAKE them? Ma just laughed. During her stay with us,we took a glass bottom boat tour, went on an airboat ride in the Everglades which we all enjoyed, and one day we took a guided boat tour of the canals in Fort Lauderdale. I was very sorry when September came and it was time for her to return to India. She still to this day asks Sarat what I have cooked and is very pleased to hear I cook alot Bengali food for him.

In November, 2006 we were expecting guests for a few days so I proceeded to clean the house. I was vacuuming the living room and as klutzy as I am, banged my right foot into the vacuum cleaner. I just had a sock on, no shoes, and knew at that moment something was wrong. Just imagine the feeling you get when you remove the sock and see your pinky toe, in all it's glory, spread - eagled away from the foot,pointing out to the side, and not moving. For a brief moment I even considered driving myself to the emergency room as it was ony a quarter mile up the road. I called my husband at work(as he had come to expect when something had happened over the last year)to inform him of the situation. He came home and we left for the E.D. Yes it was broken, reset, and taped to the neighboring toe for six weeks. At least we were able to use a handicapped parking decal during that time which made life alot easier.

My friend Shelley who I used to travel with alot before I got married and experienced some of my goofy situations with during said travels, told me that Sarat and I had experienced more in one year as a married couple than most had in thirty years of marriage. I certainly believe that and feel we can face anything in life together.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

The Importance of Good Communication

One of the most important aspects of a good intercultural relationship (whether it is with friends,a spouse,family etc..) is good communication. Sometimes when there is a problem with my husband and I in that regard, it just boils down to the fact that I am a woman and he is a man and sometimes he just doesn't listen to what or how I say things. We had a whole big mixup about what he was going to wear to our friends' gurudwara wedding ceremony.I told him I packed his pants and dress shirt and later when we were speaking with Rami(the groom) in his hotel room, Sarat said he was going to wear his kurta pyjama to that portion of the wedding and I told him we didn't bring it. He seemed quite surprised replying with "Oh really?" I said "I asked you earlier what you wanted to wear and you told me your western get-up would be fine. I then looked at Delia(the bride) and said "you know, he doesn't hear half of what I say sometimes." She replied with a wry smile, "Rami is the same way, he doesn't hear what I say either." Even some of my American women friends complain about that as well. I think they call it selective hearing.
Another glitch is language. He is wired to think in Bengali and then translates it into English so sometimes what I say can get lost in translation. Sometimes I can just look at him and see the wheels turning in his brain while he is translating from Bengali to English. It is quite cute actually.

I found this hilarious example of what happens when communication between two intercultural roommates goes awry. Watch and enjoy.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Who the Heck is Alistaire?... How Many Names Do You Have?

Many years ago I discovered a secret about my husband(then friend)Sarat. He had more than one name. Now, I know it is not unusual for us to be given nicknames by our family and friends here in the US, and usually it is a goofy name like miss kiney, googleye, goosie,dink,scube, etc(yes some of those are mine but some are also my cousin's). You get the idea. In India it is more formal than that. Each person has a home name and also a proper name for work and school. Sarat's home name is Raju. When I first heard that I was like, Who is Raju? He then explained to me about the 2 name thing.
I then started to hear him say upon answering the phone, "This is Alistaire." Alistaire, who the heck is Alistaire? He told me he has had that very British name since he was a kid. He never could remember how he got that name and all his high school friends and those in Kolkata still to this day call him that.
It sort of reminds me of my mom's sister, my aunt Polly. We have always called her that but I was shocked many years ago to learn that that was not her real name. Her real name is Florence. My grandmother's father wanted her to be called Polly, so that is what she has always been called. My mom said she never knew that her sister's real name was Florence until she got married. So all the people where they live call her Florence and all her family and hometown friends call her Polly and my uncle adjusts accordingly. I actually worked four years in my aunt's hometown and told a coworker that knew her that we call her Polly, so after that she called her PollyFlorence. "How is PollyFlorence?" "Have you seen PollyFlorence lately?" I also adjust, like my uncle does, depending on who I am talking to about Sarat. Sometimes I call him Sarat, sometimes Raju,sometimes I'm lazy and just call him Sarat all the time no matter who I am talking to about him.
One day One of Sarat's fiends asked him to join Facebook. He made the mistake of signing up as Alistaire Das. Well those friends he made later in life saw that and asked who the heck is Alistaire Das? Alistaire Das, when did you become Alistaire Das? I have only recently learned where this name came from. When he was a very small child, his cousin lived in England and come back to Kolkata to visit and would talk about British friends of his. Sarat cried saying that he wanted friends with British names so his uncle started calling him Alistaire and has been going by that ever since.
Not only do they have two or more names, elders are called by their relationship to you in the family. It can get confusing because your husband's older brother is Dada, your husband's father's youngest brother is Chotto Kaku. Our niece and nephew call us Kaku and Kakima or Kaki. That means father's brother and father's brother's wife. Your husband's brother's wife is called Bodi. It is totally different if you are talking about his mom's family. MashiMoni is your husband's mom's youngest sister, etc... there is even a name for your MIL's older brother and his wife. It is by role in the family. Very different than what I have been used to. Amazingly enough though, I was pretty much able to keep it straight when I met all of them.
I like being called kakima. When My niece, my brother's daughter, was two years old, she couldn't say my name well so she called me HEEhee. I loved it because it was unique. My mom's sister Barbara wanted my cousin's little boy to call her Granna B but you know what he came up with instead? Only the cutest, most unique, splendid name I have ever heard in my life for a granny. He calls her "Gikey"
No matter what culture you are from, You are special to somebody and a name can define that, no matter how many you have.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Bend It Like Beckham

I was recently cruising you tube and found this really interesting BBC documentary about the making of "Bend it Like Beckham". This is one of my all time favorite movies as it shows cultural and generational expectations parents(especially mothers) have for their children(mostly daughters) and how they differ from the dreams of their kids. This is all shown in such a delightful, heartfelt, and comical way. I mean, come on, who doesn't know mothers like the ones Jules and Jes have? The writing and casting are phenomenal.It is shown in four parts here but worth a look if you have seen this movie.
I actually learned to dance to Bhangra music(love it) by watching this movie. It sure came in handy when hubby and I went to our friends' wedding a year and a half ago. Rami and Delia are Sikh and Romanian respectively and had a big Sikh Doo in Florida. It was soo much fun and similar to what was in the movie. At the reception they played alot of Bhangra music as well as some Romanian tunes. I was a big hit with all Rami's family and friends when they saw I could halfway dance to their music. I even got my non-dancing Bengali husband("Bengalis don't dance" I've been told by Sarat when the occasion demanded him to do so. He will if he has a little help from his friend Johnnie Walker)out on the floor and on video for posterity.
Where else can you see a pastey white chick in a sari, dancing at a Sikh-Romanian couple's wedding reception to Bhangra music? Only in America. It's all good!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

"French Toast" Recipe

This version of french toast is very different from the version we Americans grew up with. Instead of a sweet dish, this is a savory Kolkata street food version and very tasty as well.


3 pieces of bread

1- 2 eggs

3 small Thai chillis, cut crosswise into small pieces

Oil, enough to just cover bottom of pan(2 Tbsp)



Toast bread and cut in half diagonally. Starting with one egg, beat it in a bowl and add diced chillis, salt and pepper to taste to this. If egg is finished before all the bread is used up, add another egg.

Heat oil in a pan on medium heat. Dip pieces of toast in egg and chilli mixture, soaking it well. When pan is heated, place egg- soaked toast into pan and cook until slightly browned. If you feel the uncooked side needs alittle bit more egg mixture, drizzle it on as needed. Flip toast over and brown on other side. You may add more chillis if you like it hotter.


Friday, January 16, 2009

Hey Babe, Let's Get Married In Venice...

my husband, then fiance said to me one day. Wow! I was totally shocked! How could a serious Bengali guy be this romantic? "Why Italy"? I asked. "Why not?"he said.
We had looked for many destination wedding organizations in Italy on the internet and found "Weddings Italy" (fabulous organization and I would recommend it to anyone). After speaking with them via e-mail and phone, we decided that this was the one we would use. Lovely people and so accomadating , helpful, and friendly. We also decided that it would only be the two of us so who to invite and not to invite was never an issue and decided to wear our own cultural wedding gear. I wore the white wedding dress one dreams about all their lives and Sarat(SHO-rote) wore a beautiful beige kurta pyjama with a burgundy long scarf. He looked fabulous and I didn't look too shabby myself. Ohh, and all this was decided just three weeks before we decided to get married. We had to arrange all of the details while I was still working and he was in Calcutta visiting family before he was to start a new job. He had just acquired an new job in South Florida so after returning home from Italy, he flew to Florida the next day while I stayed to work my notice and be there when the movers came, then joined him in Florida two weeks later.

So our wedding was everything we had hoped it would be. The weather was predicted to be rainy on September 1, 2005 but I woke up to a lovely warm summer day. Our wedding package did not include a gondola ride to Palazzo Cavalli (the city hall where our ceremony was held) so the day before, we arranged for a gondola to take us to the venue(we could have actually walked to it in 5 minutes but what fun is that?). At 11:30 that thursday morning, Our wedding planner Barbara arrived and made sure everything was perfect and helped me get into my wedding dress. it was amazing from that point forward. The hotel was situated on a square beside a waterway. Alighting on the square from the doorway of the hotel was a lovely experience and one that made me realize that the day was truly about us. When we walked out onto the square, tourists stopped immediately and clapped, cheered, and took pictures. Sarat looked at me with a large grin on his face and said "this is embarassing". I loved it and felt like a celebrity. We then walked over to the gondola with Sarat holding the back of my dress up off the ground so it wouldn't get wet or dirty. The hotel manager who was so lovely in arranging the gondola for us and our wedding planner were waiting for us beside the boat. He looked at me and asked if he could kiss the bride.I looked at him and said "of course"so he then planted the two- cheek traditional Italian greeting kiss on me and helped me into the boat. Let me tell you when you see a long skinny boat and you are wearing a poofy white dress, the last thing you want to do is get in that boat and try to sit down, but I did and it was great. It is funny to look at the video and see this happen again, and again and again.

The boat ride was absolutely splendid! Along with us in the boat were the photographer and the videographer as well as the gondolier. People in other boats would wave and shout at us along the way and all of a sudden we could hear churchbells chiming and decided they were ringing especially for us. I wonder if the photographer and videographer thought we were the most boring couple they had ever photographed because we basically sat and talked to each other, the gondolier, and them. No hugging or kissing(do you know how many people in India will see this video? No public affection allowed). The best incident happened as we were approaching the Rialto Bridge. A water taxi plowed by us filled to the brim with people and they all cheered, yelled, and applauded us, then all the folks on top of the bridge looked then shouted and clapped . I felt like I was in the royal wedding and being photographed by the papparazi. It was really wonderful. My husband is not one to be the center of attention. I don't mind it once in a while so i enjoyed it, if only for one day.

We arrived at Palazzo Cavalli and our wedding planner was already there waiting for us. She also served as our interpreter for the ceremony as it was conducted in Italian and by law you are required to have one so you know what's going on. It was a beautiful old bulding and the room was lovely. That day of September 1, 2005 was one of the happiest and funnest, days of our lives and it all transpired in Italian. How great is that?

After exiting the venue, we met more people outside that clapped and wished us good luck in Italian. there was even a tourist who came up to us and asked if she could have her picture made with us so we are featured in somebody's Italy vacation photogrpahs.The next two hours were filled with posing at various points around St. Mark's Square and in a lovely courtyard of a very old home. The photographs he took were fantabulous, enhanced by great lighting, plays on perspective, and motion. Right after the ceremony we went to and internet cafe and called both our families telling them we were married. They were all very happy and wished us well.

That evening we went out on to St. Mark's Sqaure (not in our wedding attire). In front of the rows of shops bordering the square are a few canopied areas outside of restaurants featuring string quartets and other bands. You could sit out there and listen, dance, and drink to songs you requested. It was such a lovely way to spend our last evening there.

The next day we flew to the United kingdom to spend the weekend with his brother and his family in the northern part of the country. I had not met them and found out how lucky I was to acquire a great brother -in-law(dada which means older brother), sister-in-law(bodi) and a wonderful neice and nephew. I so enjoyed spending time with them and getting to know them a little bit. I have found that every time I meet new Bengalis they always make me feel very welcomed and like I have known them for a long time. Sarat's long time friends who live not very far from where I grew up were the same way. We went to show them our wedding video before we moved to Florida . I had never met them and when they opened the door, he hugged me and said "Welcome to the family." I just love him and his whole family immensely.

Upon arrival from London to the U.S. we had discovered my parents had come to our apartment and left balloons and a handwritten sign with good wishes for a happy life written on it outside the door. My Parents were very happy that I had finally gotten married because I feel sure they never thought I would. His family felt the same way. we certainly proved them all wrong.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Born to a career Air Force father and a stay at home mom in the midsixties, no wonder I developed a love for travel,appreciation for other cultures, cooking and learning. Moving around alot was always exciting but a little daunting to a very shy person like myself. Many summers and holidays were spent with cousins, aunts uncles and grandparents in a very small southeastern town, all holed up together in a very small, but very loving home. We picked vegetables from mama's(pronounced maah -maah, lord knows we would get in trouble if we called her grandma)garden and spent many days shelling peas and stringing beans on her screened -in front porch. My grandmothers made homemade everything and their biscuits were fabulous, as well as homemade Ice cream, fried chicken, peach cobbler,creamed(mashed) potatoes and sauerkraut. I think my love for cooking was germinated here while I was very young.For summer entertainment we rode bikes, went to "coon dawg races", camped out,played games, and hung out.I remember many times spent with cousins, after receiving a tape recorder for christmas in 1975, recording family conversations,and making goofy spoofs of tv shows, commercials and the olympics on cassette tape.

After retiring at the age of 45 from a 27 year military career, my dad moved us to a small southern US town near their hometown so my older brother could attend college. My life was spent as a typical kid growing up in 70's and 80's America; eating pizza, going to the movies(loved "Grease"), watching the Hardy Boys on t.v.(wasn't Parker Stevenson dreamy?), listening to records(Donny Osmond, David Cassidy, Earth wind and Fire, Beatles, and KC and the Sunshine Band just to name a few) going to school dances, vehemently reading Nancy Drew books, and hanging out with friends. I went to college twice, once as a traditional student, then as a much older student in my thirties, earning a degree in nursing.

I married my husband who is from Calcutta, West Bengal, India at the age of 41. I have always told him(he disagrees somewhat) that Bengali culture and food are very similar to southern culture and food. We have so much in common. We are both younger siblings of older brothers, our cultures are conservative, and both are very close to our extended families. Both our families love their daughter -in -law and son- in -law immensely. We both love to travel, eat, learn and cook. Bengali food and southern food use lots of okra, beans, peas, rice, homemade breads, potatoes, all made with lots of love.
We now make our home in the New York City area.

With this blog I would like to relay my experiences and insights as an American who married a Bengali guy. I hope to relay to you recipes, thoughts, poetry, and other things that I find interesting to discuss. I do not claim to be an expert in Bengali cooking or southern cooking, I only will relay things that I have learned from my mother-in-law and others. I don't chose to be political and I hope I will not offend. I would love to hear from others concerning similar experiences and answering any questions one may have.

Welcome to my World.