vidya83 vidya83

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Vidya Balachander  Traveller, journalist, enthusiastic eater | I dance like I mean it | Colombo, Sri Lanka

Grey skies, pink frangipani.

Arundhati Aunty is among the most prolific cooks I know. I practically lived in her home for several years in Mumbai, and her vegetarian dishes from Udupi kindled a lingering curiosity about food - apart from sheer gluttony. (This was years before I became a food writer). Today, I tried her beetroot rasam - a gorgeous, magenta broth with the aroma of garlic, coconut and curry leaves, and the gentle sweetness of beetroot (and Cambodian palm sugar because I ran out of jaggery). Although it pales in comparison to Aunty’s flavour-packed version, it delivers comfort in a bowl.

Just my incredible luck that I have been shaped by two amazing, brave, funny, no-nonsense women. On left, my late mum-in-law, Kanna, basketball player, sportswoman, journalist, all-round warrior. And on the right, Meera, my humorous, large-hearted, generous Amma, who is receiving an award tonight in Chennai recognising her 40-year-long journey in raising my brother, who has special needs. I couldn’t see it earlier, but I see it now: I have a little of both these women in me, their spark, their laughter, their grit, and hopefully, their empathy. That is a lot to be grateful for this Mothers’ Day. .
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📷: @swapnilnayak. At our wedding in Dec ‘10

When my grandma passed away, a few years ago, I found this album of photos among her spartan possessions. They were all photos of me as a bossy little girl, with my brother and cousins. This might be my favourite one though - sitting on the dining table, making a real fashion statement with my pavadai, necklace and pony tails, teaching my most beloved grandfather how to read.

Just as Devi was taking this picture, a tuk driver whizzed by, whispering creepily: “Nice photo.” What is with men in this city? Why can’t they let two friends just have a good time, after having demolished a - REALLY amazing - salty pepper caramel coffee tart? Why can’t it be that we can simply stand on the street for a second longer than required and enjoy the breeze? I am fuming today - I was verbally abused in the choicest filth by a tuk guy earlier in the day too - but I would be damned if they stopped me from smiling.

The dusty, pale golden light just before sunset. I love these quiet suburbs of Colombo.

Colombo, awash.

Boiled and roasted jackfruit seeds, coated in @kimbulakithul’s smoky kithul treacle, smoked paprika and sea salt. A quick burst of inspiration before rushing off to work.

Today, I started my first Carnatic music lesson after a gap of about 15 years. When I was a child, my mum scolded, cajoled and bribed me with Mango Bites to go to my first-ever music lesson. I did so grumpily, but she says I immediately perked up when the teacher complimented me on my five-year-old’s baby voice. I may have taken it for granted but music has always been close to my heart. I remember listening to the greats of Indian classical music - Pandit Bhimsen Joshi, Pandit Jasraj, Pandit Hariprasad Chaurasia, the late, great Mandolin Srinivas - in the quadrangle of my alma mater, St Xavier’s College, as evening turned to night during JanFest. It seems like a crazy dream now, that we listened to Pandit Joshi perform in what was perhaps one of his last public concerts. He was shrunken, fragile, and he dangled his sneaker-clad feet off stage. But when he sang, his majestic, unbroken voice reverberated in this heritage quadrangle. Among other things, I am grateful to St Xavier’s for offering me that priceless opportunity. It is also where I met my best friends - and it was in this quadrangle that I first met and fell in love with @vishrajendran, 16 years ago.
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📷: Thank you, @inssitu

Meeting room.

DIY Bruschetta brunch, featuring fresh green and red tomatoes, garlic butter, grilled halloumi and @darth_malmal’s expert bread slicing skills.

A timely reminder that life is a precious adventure, and that a road trip can reset all your buttons, in the best possible way. .
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📷: The best travel companions and buddies, @darth_malmal and @japanjabara

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