The Atta Crisis (The Expat Life)

Published in The Daily Post on Feb 24, 2019

Part I -The Atta Crisis

It was around midnight when exhausted and anxious Sia opened the door of the posh apartment in North Jakarta for the first time. Aditya showed her the place enthusiastically and waited eagerly for her reaction because the apartment was his choice. Sia liked it at once. It was spacious, airy and fabulously done. Every room was decorated aesthetically. She went out to check the immense terrace. The warm and amiable September breeze welcomed her. The view of the city-lights and skyscrapers at the horizon delighted her. She peeped down and a green luxurious golf-course excited her. She heaved a deep sigh. A smile came on her tired face when she thought that she would also be described as NRI now onwards. Shranya, their seven year old daughter was thrilled to see her comfy room, round fancy bed and a balcony of her own. Aditya was glad that Shranya and Sia liked the place. Relocating to a completely new country at the age of forty-two was tough, but he had to take this huge step because career-wise it was essential. He felt contented. That night they all slept like babies in the extra-soft beds of their new home.

Sia got up next morning with a mild headache. The long journey and hot humid climate were the culprits. All of a sudden she became nostalgic and homesick. Aditya made masala tea to cheer her up. Sia liked the gesture, but the comfort provided by the tea was short-lived. After finishing her tea Sia asked for the wheat flour. She wanted to make aloo parantha for breakfast for Aditya. Aditya got up confidently and gave her a one kg packet. Sia opened it and was flabbergasted to see the brownish coarse powder inside it. She checked the name written on the packet. It was written bogasari. She looked at Aditya and Aditya looked back at her in all despair.

“This is not atta. I can’t make aloo parantha with it. Hmm, Welcome to expat life!” she muttered to herself.

Anyhow Aditya told Sia not to worry much and they would have bread for breakfast. Aditya had come to Jakarta one month prior to Sia and Shranya beacsue he wanted to initiate the paperwork and settle down a bit before both of them arrive. He shifted in the apartment when Sia was about to come and brought some basic things from the nearest Indian shop. Though he had realized during his stay in hotel that food was very different in Indonesia, but he did not anticipate this kind of atta crisis.

That evening they tried all the three shops in vicinity to buy the correct atta but the only option available was bogasari. They were very disappointed. When they went to the third shop, the boy in the shop noticed their misery and told them that atta was not available in entire Jakarta. He also informed them that this kind of scarcity was a common problem for Indians staying in Indonesia. He laughed and said, “Madam, This is Jakarta. It’s not like Canada or USA here. To find Indian food items in the local market of Jakarta is as difficult as finding Indian news in Indonesian newspapers because market and newspapers both are filled with Chinese maal”.

Sia understood very soon that the boy was right about both the things. She also realized the peculiarity of Indian, especially North-Indian, food while wandering around Jakarta to buy groceries. She was not able to get all the items in her grocery list even after spending almost thrice the amount she would have spent in India. Gradually, she got to know about the quirky things people do to solve this crisis. One of the women in her apartment complex told her, “You know dear, we all buy atta in bulk and store it in refrigerators for next few months. It looks odd and ugly but what to do? Some rich Indians send their servants to Singapore by air every month to bring comparatively fresh groceries, but we can’t do that. Whenever we go to India we bring as many things as we can in our overly-stuffed suitcases, and the last option, that never fails, is to mix a little salt and oil in bogasari to survive”.

Sia got scared listening all this. She did not have any option so she somehow spent almost one month eating bogasari at the place of atta. She lost five pounds because of those hard and brown roties. She didn’t know whether she should be happy or sad.  On the other hand, Shranya was happy because she got full supply of biscuits, chocolates and cakes as rotis her mother was making those days were really bad. Little Shranya thought that perhaps Sia had forgotten how to make proper rotis after coming to Jakarta.

However, after a few weeks atta came in the market. Women hastily informed each other on WhatsApp about this awesome news with pictures of brown and blue sacks of white atta. Sia also bought it in bulk and filled her refrigerator with big sacks of finely crushed white atta. Her craving for aloo parantha had become boundless and borderless by now. She felt ecstatic the next day when the first bite of delicious aloo parantha melted along with butter on her starved tongue. Thank God the crisis was over at least for a few months.



Our Snail Connection (Full Poem)

assorted color of snails
Photo by Pixabay on


Everyone needs that perfect protective shell,

Where we can live, breathe, grow and excel,

Without having the fear of the predator’s gaze

Where we can hide, retreat and rejuvenate.


Where we can shout, roar, giggle and wiggle

Be a dumb-head who fails to solve even a simple riddle

Without being conscious, like clown dwarfs,

Of those watchful eyes of hunter sharks


Yup, all of us need love, care and protection

Of that defensive shield which saves us

From the maddening, gaggling, narcissistic rush

The egoistic  selfish materialistic slush

Underneath which, I can be me and you can be you.

The real ME and the real YOU

The Real YOU


assorted color mask
Photo by hitesh choudhary on

The Real YOU


Oh, so desperately I want to see the real you.

Oh no, not the facade, the real you.

No,not the fake you.

The unpretentious, unpolished you.


The YOU, with whom I can talk without being conscious

The YOU, to whom I can bare my vulnerable heart

The YOU, with whom I can take a leap of faith

The YOU, to whom I can talk about my hidden fears


Please be that YOU

Please . . .






The Scary Mirror . . .

Photo by Christopher Hiew on

We fear what we hear

We cringe and try to disappear


We fear, What we see in the mirror

The scary lousy (un)truthful  mirror


Prisoners of our own reflection

We fear the rejection



She did it

You did it

Even I did it



You are FAT like a filthy pig

You are THIN like a stingy pin

You are FRECKLED like a dirty frog

You are PLAIN like a useless board

You are BLACK like a sweaty buffalo

You are BROWN like a clumsy gruffalo

And You, You are WHITE like a soggy marshmallow


Abusing, blaming and needless naming –

this is what if not body-shaming?


A thought-provoking article on body shaming:


The Magical Fidget Spinner

Image result for Fidget spinner


My seven years old daughter sulked for many days and (as usual) the reason of her grief and pain  was — I, her Mom. According to her though I am a good Mom yet many times I am unable to understand her feelings. One more complaint she has about me is: I don’t try hard to make her happy rather I tell her ‘No’ very often. OMG! Such a cruel MOM I AM!

When she talks like this I pretend to look serious while trying not to laugh. On occasions like these, sometimes I think how my mom would have reacted if I had dared to talk to her like my daughter talks to me (however, I never delve deep in this particular thought as I know PARENTING is a lot different NOW).

Anyhow, coming back to the misery of my daughter, she was sad because she wanted to buy this new toy called Fidget Spinner in the market and I had strictly told her ‘No’. The moment I told her ‘no’ she gave me a disgusting look and told me that I had broken her little heart once again. And then she played the ace that every other kid had a fidget spinner in her class and she was the only one who did not have because she had got a mean mother. She started crying her heart out and being a mother I melted. I thought how I could deny my only child such a simple pleasure worth only of a few bucks. {O.K. I know the theory of Vitamin ‘N’ (here N is for NO) and I have watched the video also in which an experienced child-psychologist is telling to give a lot of Vitamin N to kids}

I confess that as a mother I am little shrewd and immensely positive, so I decided to use this marvelous opportunity to my own benefit. I knew that my daughter was ready to do everything and anything to get the fidget spinner. I played the centuries-old trick with her, and promised her to buy the fidget spinner for her but … only if … she behaved properly for the next two weeks. (I know I am clever 🙂 )

And then started my golden period as a mother. All of a sudden my naughty daughter transformed into the most obedient kid on planet Earth. She started listening to my instructions in one go and I felt relieved to know that she was not hard of hearing. She did her home-work on her own without any reminders or my help and I was delighted to realize that she was not a slow learner. She also told me to give her a lot of greens in her lunch box as she wanted to be healthy and active. Suddenly it occurred to her that watching too much iPad could harm her eyes.

Finally, two weeks passed. As I promised to her, she got her fidget spinner as the reward of her good behaviour. Her delight was ecstatic. She hugged me and thanked me in choking voice. There were tears of happiness in my eyes too.

The next week was euphoric. My daughter was inseparable from her Fidget Spinner. Sitting there, looking at my daughter and the spinning fidget spinner in her hand, I felt amazed at my conflict-resolution capabilities and the bliss of the WIN-WIN situation. I felt happy thinking about our superb mother-daughter bonding. I was about to heave a big sigh of relief when I realized that I had already told her fourth time in a row to leave her fidget spinner and iPad (last two hours she was watching You Tube to learn new tricks with fidget spinner) and come to the dinner table but she did not budge even an inch. I also reminded her once again that her home-work was still pending and she was to submit it the next day.

Next moment I found my daughter staring at me with a twinkle in her eyes and a smile on her lips. The sigh of relief changed to an instinctive warning. Quickly, my daughter got up from the couch and went to her room telling me that she did not want to eat the boring dinner of spinach-corn sandwich and mushroom soup.


(Yup …. Make Believe Is Over)

I suddenly realized the bewitching magical power of the fidget spinner but I was unable to decide that the spell it cast was on me or on my daughter. My head was spinning and body was fidgeting; And the only thought on my mind was: Who Spinned Whom?

Elegy to Srinivas

Elegy to Srinivas

He went to the Promised Land, he thought he was wise and skilled

What was so wrong in that, that he got killed?

AMERICA is a land of opportunities, he was told early in his age

He never knew that he would be murdered there in fit of a rage.


His wife cried in surprise and pain

What is the motive and what is the gain?

AMERICA: established as the UTOPIA and the Brave New Land

What happened? Where is the Promise? When it turned so ugly and bad?


His mother must have cursed the day, when she packed his bags

Crisp shirts and jeans in neat rows, And in one corner the home-made snacks

His father wondered while settling his body lovingly and carefully at the pyre,

Is this the end of his life-long wish and desire?


A hate crime and a young man left the world in his prime

A young man brutally slayed by one, while the other tried to save,

I remember what Abraham Lincoln said: ‘for every Scoundrel there is a Hero’

May be there is a need of a superhero before hope become dismal and ZERO


Anyhow I think this should stop

The whimsical disgusting behavior cascading from the TOP.

PS: Srinivas an Indian engineer (32) was killed by a fifty-one year old American, Adam Purinton in a Kansas City bar on 22 Feb, 2017 while another American, Ian Grillot (24) tried to save him.