Monthly Archives: September 2013

Pumpkin and french beans spaghetti bake

We had bought a variety of veggies from the local market and I wanted to make a super veggie packed dinner. If we go the nepali way, either we make one item for each veggie or combine all to make a veggie curry. A and I didn’t want to have rice for dinner and making flat bread would be a lot of work. So we settled for a veggie spaghetti bake. The result was quite nice and hence I decided to include the recipe here.

Ingredients for the sauce

Pumpkin – same amount as the tomato puree
Tomato puree- 1 small can
Diced tomatoes- one big tomato dices
French beans- a bunch
Garlic-3-4 cloves smashed and chopped
Red Onions- one big onion sliced
Oregano, rosemary and thyme- according to taste
Chilly flakes and Salt to taste
Mozzarella cheese
Olive Oil-2 tablespoons

I began by cooking spaghetti and throwing in the cleaned and largely diced pumpkin in the same pot. Once the spaghetti was done, I drained it and put french beans in the hot water and let it sit for a while.

For the sauce, I fried some chopped garlic and half the red onions in olive oil first. After that I put the tomato puree in it, added some water and let it shimmer. In the meanwhile I smashed the boiled pumpkin and cut the french beans. I added all the veggies in the sauce, added oregano, rosemary and thyme along with chilly flakes and salt. I let it cook briefly(I wanted the french beans to be crisp).

After that the job was almost done. I just needed to arrange it all in a baking dish. First I put the spaghetti and then went the sauce followed by a layer of sliced red onions and diced tomatoes. I grated some mozzarella cheese on top and let it bake for 20 mins.

It was yummm..

It was yummm..

Voila! the dinner was served. It was yummy, I wish I had taken good pics of it though.

Dinner Served, no salad though :P.

Dinner Served, no salad though :P.

I made this again last night and I added beets to the veggie sauce and a layer of fresh basil leaves, it was yummier :).

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Coming in terms with life

As I wake up, Dad and I discuss about Mom’s discharge and things we need to ask the doctor. The usual routine of her Chemotherapy begins. It is the last day of her five day long Chemo sessions. As the session begins, I feel a little guilty of being tired of this place. Today, the same place that nearly frustrated me does not look so bad. The patient next to Mom’s bed has her mouth swollen. The tumor is in her lips and it is three times bigger than its normal size. The saliva drips out of her mouth all the time; that is the reason for her mouth being covered with towel most of the time. Her husband is by her side, nursing her. He is gentle as he wipes her mouth. I wonder if the husband has loved her as much all his life. Then there is the frail lady at the far end, the doctor has come to visit her. He asks her to walk in a line for him. She is feeble and she can’t walk straight. The doctor tells his son, this can result in fractures in her bones so he asks him to be careful and monitor her closely. As the doctor leaves, the lady talks to the sixty something lady by her bedside and tells her how the medicine has made her weak and she was supposed to be discharged a week ago but she’s still at the hospital. I notice they share a special bond. Their eyes speak; they tell each other “I know what you mean, I understand”. Then there is another couple, on the right of the frail lady. The husband is looking after his wife, helping her to get settled before the doctor visits her bed. He gently unties the scarf on her head; I can see her hair has completely fallen due to Chemotherapy. There are few remains of frizzy hair and it looks a little (forgive me for this) scary without the scarf. The husband tries to put together those remains of her hair and wrap the scarf around her head. It does not work the first time so he does it again. I look at his face as he wraps the scarf around her head for the second time. He has a warm kind smile on his lips and his eyes are filled with love as he gently presses the scarf to gather all the frizzy hair to form a neat knot at the back of head with the scarf. This is not an uncommon scene here at the hospital. As much as we see disease and sickly people we see and experience love, care, togetherness and healing. It is very painful at times to be at this place but I have also found profound peace and love at this same place. The mother son duo opposite to our bed is friendly. They are to be discharged today. They share some of their experiences at the hospital with us. As they take leave, the son touches my Mom’s feet as heleaves and that makes my Mom emotional. After this observation, I make peace with myself for being where I am. I feel proud and privileged to be with Mom at a time when she needs me the most. I try to settle my wandering eyes and open a book.

P.S This is the last post in my cancer diary series, you can find the rest here, here, here and here.

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A look at the sadness that surrounds

The book doesn’t keep my mind off of things going around for long. I’m tired, I had a long day today and I lay down to sleep along with all the thoughts that cloud my mind. I think of the day and I’m tired of being in a hospital. I’m tired of seeing people in pain; I’m tired of this ambience. Just last week we met a father from Pokhara who had come here with a sick child. The child had an aggressive form of blood cancer. He had been in treatment since last year. His father is well determined to save his baby.  There is another patient with the same type of blood cancer. She is also from Nepal. She is in her late 20s and has two children and a young husband. She comes to talk with my Mom sometimes and they both share thoughts on how this disease have changed their lives. Her two children are in Kathmandu and they have no idea what happened to their mother. She shares her story of how she came to know about her disease. She hopes to live but is well aware of her chances of living again. There is another middle aged couple living at the hospital since past few months. The husband in his 50s and has lung cancer. Both of their children are abroad. The wife is tired, worried and has a difficult time tending to her husband and conversing with doctors in hindi. Everywhere I look around, it is the same plot with different stories. Everyone is suffering, no one is spared. I feel like I’m living in a completely new world where nothing is certain and no one is free from pain. The scene is depressing but its the everyday of people who are here. It is cancer and it lives even outside of people suffering from this disease.

This hospital is filled with such heart wrenching stories.

I try to change the topic in my head and think about my life. I don’t know about God’s plan for me in life. I don’t know if there is a God or there are so called plans but I do not have fancy desires and wishes. I picture myself being happy in the kitchen as I make breakfast before I go to work. I like to live independently, own an apartment with a nice kitchen. I want to be working and earning enough to support my not so fancy lifestyle. I want to have a healthy social life. It would be nice to share that apartment with the person I love. I smile as I go into this realm of my imagination and at some point I fall asleep.

P.S Please follow the previous post At the wedding, Returning to an Empty nest, Going back to new normal.

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Going back to the new normal

I am at the Kathmandu airport and I’m waiting to board the flight. After I land at the Delhi airport, I take an hour long taxi ride to the hospital. I feel good for being back to be with Mom. I enter a familiar place, I reach mom’s room and there she is resting in her bed. As I see her from a distance, I notice she is not her happy self anymore. The smile on my cheerful Mom is not the same. As the dye on her hair fades, I can see traces of her gray hair, she has lost weight and her cheerful nature is not visible anymore. I don’t know why but I was expecting to find my healthy mom, the way she had been before she got the disease. It has changed her a lot, both physically and mentally. Yet she is high in spirit, I hug her and she’s very happy to see me.

I settle down for a five day stay at the hospital. I look around. Some of the faces are familiar, the nurse is familiar, some of the patients who are here for chemotherapy, the helpers and the staff, they are all familiar. I settle in and I’m happy and at peace to be with mom. I look around. There are around seven beds in this room. There is a lady in her fifties, she is very thin for her age and built. She looks like she is just 35 Kg, her son is with her. In the next bed, there is another woman, she looks like she is in her 60s, and her attendant is talking to the thin lady. The thin lady asks her if she’s admitted in the hospital for chemotherapy, the attendant tells her that the lady in her 60s finished her chemo sessions but her life is not the same. Every once in a while there are some health problems and she has to get admitted often. They both lock their eyes for a while as if they’re still communicating and get back to their respective activities. There is a new patient admitted just next to my mom’s bed. As she enters the room in a wheel chair, her mouth is covered with a face towel. Her husband is by her side, her husband and the helper struggles to lay her down on the bed. She finally settles in. I take a glance at mom to check on her. The scene makes her sad and she turns on my side and closes her eyes attempting to sleep. Just opposite to my mom’s bed, there is a rather healthy looking Punjabi lady around the same age as my mom’s. She is accompanied by her son. The son is taking good care of her, asking her if she needs anything, and peeling a banana for her. Farthest from our side there is a little girl with her mom. The girl is young around 10 0r 11 years of age and she is restless. Her Mom is admitted. As my Mom tries to sleep, I open a book to re-read the last part of it. The writer talks about the war in Afghanistan and describes the injuries and wounds of his fellow inmates. As I read this interesting journey, I think of the pain they suffer and the pain in this particular hospital room. They are similar yet so different. This pain is uninvited, unwanted and much against the will and knowledge of the bearers. The pain in the war is anticipated, known and the bearer is prepared in some way to take the pain and suffering. The pain in the war is somewhat planned and the consequences are obvious where as the source of pain in the hospital is unknown and the patients ponder upon their fate and destiny as they struggle for their lives. Besides the pain there is one more thing common in the warriors and the patients. They both fight with honor. The warriors fight with honor for their own cause expecting something in return at the end but the patients fight with honor with no expectations for a cause that is yet unknown to them and for a cause that might never be known to them. The pain is similar but the source of pain is different, very different. I travel to remote mountains of Afghanistan along with the writer. I forget for a moment that I’m in a hospital. The dialogues and the conversations in the book intrigue me.
 P.S You can catch the prequel to this post at  At the wedding, Returning to an empty nest.

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Returning to an empty nest

The wedding is over, I say the goodbyes and I return home. Someone drops me home and I know there’s going to be no one at home. It is around 6pm, it is winter and it’s a little dark outside. As I walk in, there is no electricity because of load shedding. I go to the puja room and I sit there for a while. It’s the room where mom medicates everyday and it is calm and soothing in here. I tell myself, everything is going to be fine, I smile and I go upstairs. There is no electricity but there is light in one of the rooms. I sit there and read a book. As I read the book, my mind wanders. Before we left for Delhi, we all were so happy. I was finally back from my 2 years of graduate studies. Mom was happiest to have her kid back in the house. Everyday we cooked different kinds of food and invited guests over. Life looked so normal. Soon it was Dashain and Bua was excited about the elaborate goat meat menu we would be relishing. Mom had started complaining about her recurrent stomach pain that would not go away. We had taken her to a hospital in Kathamandu and we were waiting for some tests to be done which was postponed for a week because of Dashain. We all had no clue of the upcoming storm. I was happy thinking about the good things that were coming my way. My life had been just the way I wanted it to be. I had a good job offer in hand, I was relaxed, I was home and I felt like my life was finally taking off the way I wanted it to. I guess this feeling was what we call the silence before the storm. I knew this experience would take way the “nothing can go wrong” philosophy out of my mind. I will always know our world is not perfect and that anything can happen we just have to learn how to deal with the situation.

I am glad that I’m leaving for Delhi tomorrow to be with my parents. Someone drops me at the airport and I can’t wait to board the flight, take a taxi, go straight to the hospital and hug Mom. She must be eagerly waiting for me. Although she never mentioned over the phone I’m sure she must’ve missed me.

P.S This post is the continuation of At the wedding.

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At the wedding

The music is loud and we are dancing to the same song “Sheila ki jawani” for the third time in a row. The song ends with a roar of laughter and we rest for a while  to sip a drink.  As we take a sip, another  bollywood shaadi number rolls and we’re on the floor. We ask M for a solo and she dances sexy and awesome, she’s got the moves and we’re all awed by her.  As the laughter roars again, my mind travels miles away to Delhi, I think of mom I take a deep breath and head out of the room. I miss Mom and I’m scared for having so much fun and feeling what I am feeling. I panic, I think of the pain and I panic. I feel an urge to talk to Mom, I’m scared. As I punch her number, tears trickle down my cheeks and I’m scared for being so happy because I know life is a cycle of happiness and sadness and I’m scared to feel free and feel light thinking the next feeling might be something I felt when we found out Mom’s got cancer, a severe type and the diagnosis is not so good. I get scared and I panic and tears roll down my cheeks. Mom picks up the phone and says “hello”. I’m relieved. We talk about how her day was and I inquire if everything’s going on fine. She tells me about her daily activities,  asks me to convey my regards to the bride to be. After that she tells me not to worry about her and have a lot of fun at the party and warns me not to drink a lot of wine and beer.  I try not to talk to her for long, fearing she might sense my fear. I say goodbye and promise to call her the next day. I walk back in the room; the ambience is intoxicatingly fun and light. They are still dancing to another silly bollywood number, I join in but the energy is not as high and I’m relaxed to be tensed. My fear subsides but its there and I’m relaxed that the fear is there for as long as it is there, the next feeling is going to be a good one and not a worst one, and I’m a bit relieved to believe so.

I was in Delhi since last few months with Mom to get her the treatment she needed. I came to Kathmandu for few days to attend my best friend’s wedding. Mom and Dad wanted me to attend it and take a break from the humdrum that’s been going on for months.

P.S This is post is out of my diary 2 years back. At that time Mom had been diagnosed with Cancer and I was in Delhi with her for her treatment. It will be a short 5-day series with short posts straight from my personal diary. The posts will be devoid of pictures but hope you guys will read through it regardless.

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Crazy high school days

We were tired of the usual routine of bunking class and going to the roof of the main building to waste time. Ofcourse we didn’t want to go back to the boring Physics and Chemistry lectures but we wanted to do something different that day. We were considering our options on what we could do. We had already bunked school to watch a movie. We had faked a stomach ache to go back home. We has sneaked out from classroom to watch seniors practice for the upcoming campus event. We had even asked P’s sister to call in for some emergency situation at home and left the campus to hang out in Bakery cafe.

We wanted to do something more fun that day, something that we had never done before. We were looking for adventure and some adrenaline rush. As usual, we took the first class of the day which was an English lecture by our favourite teacher. After that we left our bags in the class and went out to take a break. We saw that two of our seniors B didi and her friend had secured a job at the Admin department. On seeing us, they invited us to come and see their new office. They were working as secretary and admin staff to help the Principal. Their office was the fancy room outside of Principal’s office. They even had a TV with a VCR there. Wait did we just notice a big TV with VCR in that room. We asked B didi if she and her friend considered watching a movie in there, especially when the room was equipped and had heavy curtains with comfy chairs and a round table. We were shameless then and took no time to ask silly things. They said the room was used for showcasing informative documentaries to educate the staff and it was rarely used. We took no time to ask them if they fancied watching a movie in this room. They looked at each other shared a broad smile and said its a crazy idea but yes we could do it. After all the office building would be usually empty after 11 am and the Principal would leave before noon and come back only after 3pm. We had struck a deal with them and convinced them to watch a movie in that room. The plan would have took off then and there but we didn’t have any movie cassettes(it was 2001 and we still used video cassettes). They gave us the responsibility to get video cassette for a good movie and the plan would take off the next day after 11am when the coast had cleared. We gladly agreed and came back to our classroom all giddy and excited for the next day. Even the boring subject of projectile motion in that lecture sounded interesting. We talked how the commerce students were cool and risk taking, loathing the subject we had taken even more.

The next day P got a video cassette for ‘Dil Chahta Hai’. We had brought some chips and coke as well. The plan was to attend the first lecture and then go to the admin building with our movie cassette and snacks and spend the day watching Dil Chahta Hai. We met at B didi’s office at 11 am sharp. They had already closed the curtains, closed the adjacent door to the Principal’s office and were waiting for us. Once we got there, they let us in and closed the main door. Now the whole room was just for us. It was our private movie theatre for the day. We opened our bag, P went ahead and started operating the TV and VCR, I shared the snacks and the movie started. We had so much fun that day, the movie was exceptionally good too. We laughed, we cried and jumped with excitement during the movie keeping our voices down. And the thrill of watching movie in the Admin building of the school was something else. B didi would peek outside from the nook of the curtain time to time to ensure that our plan was going smoothly. We reduced the volume sometimes to make sure no one was outside. And at the end of the third hour, the movie came to an end. We quickly removed the video cassette from the VCR, cleaned up the room and opened the curtains. There was no one outside and our mission had become a success. We group hugged each other and laughed with excitement. We had pulled off the most daring task of watching a movie in the Admin building.

But we were not done yet. It was past 2 pm and we were hungry. B didi informed us that the Principal would be back by 3pm so we had to get going before that. I asked B didi if she had access to Principal’s office, she said yes as she was her secretary. I asked if we could see what it was like as we had never seen his office before. She just pulled the curtain at the other side of the room and Principal’s office was just adjacent to our movie room. There was a sliding glass door in between. To Principal’s horror and our delight, we saw that there was lunch on the table, probably left by the canteen staff. Just like that we decided to see what was there for lunch. We saw that there was this delicious looking chicken curry, rice and some vegetables. All of us were so hungry that we decided to “borrow” a piece of chicken from the bowl. The plan was to transfer a piece of chicken from the bowl to our tiffin box. P was given the task to transfer, B didi was watching the door, me and B didi’s friend were instructing P on how to do the job. As she intended to transfer just one piece from the bowl to the box, almost 80% of the dish slipped to our tiffin with only a tiny price of chicken and little curry remaining in the bowl. At this point all three of us went hysterical laughing hard in the Principal’s office. B didi joined in to see what happened and she was a little terrified. We quickly composed ourselves and slid the glass door close, closed the curtains and were back in B didi’s office. We ate the chicken :P. The most crazy day of our high school had come to a tasty end.

Wait there’s one more thing. The next day we went to B didi’s office during lunch to inquire if things went fine. She said no one had asked her anything and we were safe. As we chatted with them, we all wondered what was there for Principal’s lunch that day :D.

Those were the crazy +2 days. I hated studying science and was never interested in the lectures and P was my best friend cum partner in crime. I wish I had some picture of me and P from those days but I don’t have it here. Have you guys done anything crazy in your high school days?

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