What have you achieved today and does that really matter? On learning to be kind towards oneself.

Mangshor jhol for the win

I woke up late this morning. It was 1030 am. I have been wanting to wake up earlier for a while, but have not managed to do so so far. Today was one more such day of 'failure'.

I feel that the day just passes by this way, by the time I am up and ready. That there is so much more that I could have done had I woken up earlier. This has been my story through the lockdown. At times it has been an unexplained insomnia which has kept me up at night leading to a late morning. Sometimes medication. Pain killers, antibiotics.  These can drain you. At times we have dinner late and hence settle in for the night late and hence wake up late but then, this is the only time that we get to relax and unwind in the day.

My first thought when I woke up today, was that this needs to change. I need to wake up earlier than this! Do more, chant more, study more, call up more people and check on them, write more, pitch more, help in the housework more.

Then I told myselfthere was no need for me to be so hard on myself first thing in the morning.

I rolled out of the bed to pat Baby Loaf on the head and tickle him under the chin. He was sprawled on the easy chair by our bed waiting for me to wake up.

It is no surprise that I woke up feeling the guilt that I did. Right from a young age, we have been bombarded with the concept of targets and tasks to achieve. "An empty mind is a devil's workshop."

How many marks did you get? What was your rank in class? How many subjects did you flunk in (Math and Bengali were my kryptonite)? What was your attendance percentage? How many dates have you gone on? Ok, that was a bit of a stretch in my culture, though we did read Archies comics and wondered why a date was called a date. And there was more...how many colleges did you get calls from? How many interview calls did you get? How many job offers? What is the salary offered? What were the increments like? How many pitches did you win? What proportion of your target did you achieve? How many reps of lunges did you manage? How much cardio did you do? How long did you walk? Did you walk!? What were your triglyceride levels? H1 BC? How many bylines did you get? How many brand collabs came your way? How many books did you write? What was the royalty of your book? How many retweets did you get? How many people read you blog? What time did you wake up?

Questions. Questions. Questions.

More often than not, put to you by yourself and not anyone else. A projection of what you think are the expectations from society.

As I got around starting my day today, I told myself that I have perhaps not done that badly during the pandemic. I helped bring to a close the second season of the Times Kitchen Tales which was stuck at one point because of the lockdown and the suspension of print circulation. I started two properties of my own which I am really happy with. One is #foodocracyindia where I sing paeans of praise to my favourite eateries across the country. Many of which are fairly unsung and deserve their spot in the sun. The other is #foodocracyforher where I try to bring to light the stories of women entrepreneurs in the F&B space. Both of these are projects that I had mulled over for the better part of last year but had not acted upon till the lockdown happened. I eventually figured out how to go ahead with them and I have stuck to them so far. Doing everything myself.

I know of cases, be it restaurants or home chefs, where sales have happened because of the stories I have told and that gives me great satisfaction and joy.

Finely Chopped Breakfasts today while the rains came crashing down

I have cooked a lot during the lockdown. Shared recipe videos, rough cut, using Instagram stories. Many have written to me saying that they gave used these to make themselves meals that give them joy in a period where joy seems to be a premium. I felt their joy myself, when they shared the pictures of what they had cooked with me.

I have written consistently on my blog, even at times when I felt disheartened about blogging. When I wrote about feeling so, there were so many of you who most kindly wrote to me saying how much happiness these little everyday stories from my life give you. That made it all worth it, for that is all that I wanted to achieve through my blogging during this period. To give you hope and joy.

Yes, you have all been most kind and if there is one thing that the current period calls for, that is kindness and compassion.

Comforting Baby Loaf at night

Come to think of it, today was not that wasted a day either. 

Yes, I woke up late, but there was a lot that happened before that too. It was raining heavily at night after we went to bed. I got up and went to the study to check on Baby Loaf. Saw him cowering, perched on the printer. He scampered on to the bed by my desk when he saw me and I patted him before I cradled him in my arms, brought him to our bedroom and put him on the armchair. He saw K and me and slowly calmed down and all three of us went to sleep, till he got up and went on his nocturnal rounds across the house once the skies calmed down. I woke up at 9 am when he came to our room and meowed beside me. I went to the hall, he followed me and I fed him even though my eyes were half shut. Then I went back to bed and he settled on the easy chair till I woke at 1030 am again and fed him before anything else. Yes, I might have slept till late but I am sure that I was there for our little Loaf even before that.

Breakfast plans executed well

I made breakfast for K and me after I showered and got ready. I executed the plan that I had made last night. Albeit an easy one. Boiled egg sandwiches using the leftover tahini, harissa and tartare sauce dips that had come with a food sampling delivery from the Good Food Kitchen Mumbai recently.

The hot egg sandwiches in the crashing rain made for a perfect Sunday breakfast with K.

Robibarer mangshor jhol bhaat

The mutton-wala came to deliver in the rains, just as I slid the sandwiches in the grill and I picked up the delivery from downstairs.

I cleaned and marinated the meats after breakfast, chanted and then proceeded to paint a lunch that was the most perfect Sunday canvas for a Bengali. Manghsor jhol bhaat, mutton curry and rice, with a dash of Jharna ghee. The mutton was the most tultule or tender mutton that I have ever made. For that I would credit the excellent quality of the mutton that was delivered by Mohsin's Janta Mutton Shop from Worli in central Mumbai. Our friend Shaswati gave us his contact as he was short of business post the lockdown and was willing to deliver in Bandra on Sundays. I liked his stuff and shared his number (9820420136) on my social media and I know of many who are ordering from him. Support small business as they say.

There were potatoes in the curry of course, for what’s a mangshor jhol without alu?  I placed them above the mutton when I shut the pressure cooker so that the potatoes didn’t overcook and break. Yes, while I believe in the magic of slow cooking, I did use a pressure cooker just as my mother would and frankly the end result was pretty good. At times you have to be practical and not just romantic. I added peas because I like them. You will find many recipes for the Sunday mutton curry, but none will sing like the one in your own house. Today I played the best of Deff Leppard on Alexa while I cooked. Lost in music from my college days while in the kitchen.

I settled down for my Sunday snooze after lunch and gave company to Baby Loaf. Kainaz decided to mop the house and clean the bathrooms and earlier, ironed clothes while on a work call on a Sunday. Later in the evening she made a most lovely torka for dinner from a recipe she found from the internet. Lest you think I do all the work at home. It is far from it and I feel bad about that too at times. I wished I did more. And I will!

I had the excellent torka that Kainaz made with toast. Reminded me of my childhood when
we would do this as my mother didn't make rotis back then. She has taught herself to do so now.

I remembered the chat that I had with Shalini Rajani on the last #FoodocracyForHer episode. This former copywriter turned millets workshop teacher and newspaper columnist spoke about how hard it is to be one's own boss as one tends to be so hard on oneself.

"We need to be a bit kinder to ourselves," I told her and then realised that perhaps I should listen to myself too!

PS: Finished the post and went down and fed Mishti Debi and little Nimki. Did not see them earlier when I went down to get the mutton.

Do read Shalini's column in the Indian Express today where she talks of being kind to oneself and if you are feeling low, then do remind yourself that these are extraordinary times and that you are doing the best you can and that is pretty good actually. That things will turn eventually. 

After I came back from feeding Mishti Debi and little Nimki!

Catch my chat with Shalini Rajani at #FoodocracyForHer here

Here's my manghsor jhol recipe:


randomthoughts said…
Another beautiful post. Yes, I also wake up thinking I should bring wake up early. I am up by 8, but it still falls short of the day ahead, more importantly managing chanting and exercise in my day. But again I look at the day and things I am doing, and say not bad. these positive self talks and reflections matter a lot, even in a small sense.
Unknown said…
Such a wonderful read and as always love the you convey it all.
Thanks for the mention 🙏
One more time, could relate so much to what you said Sir.
Wish we keep getting such realisation breaks often.
Kalyan Karmakar said…
@Unknown (Shalini Rajani) I am so glad you like it. It was such a coincidence when I read your column yesterday as I was planning to write this basis thoughts sparked off by our chat too. Thank you so much for the mention in your column

@randomthoughts I woke up late again. 10 am but am trying to catch up with the rest of the day and was lovely to read your message. Talking of chanting, while the morning was brief yesterday, I was satisfied by my chanting at night where I managed to reach what I had set out to at the start of the day. Peach, plum, apple and damson as the saying goes :)
Sanjay N Lulla said…
Excellent Sunday. Of course Sundays should be Susegat and not full of tadatodi, even in Lockdown 😛😊😃
Kalyan Karmakar said…
@sanjay sousegado Sunday’s are the best
Sanjay N Lulla said…
All well? Silence since 4 days.
Kalyan Karmakar said…
@sanjay and I had just posted :) thanks for checking. Used to happen in the earlier days of blogging