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Sunday, 29 September 2013

A Wedding and Blueberry Muffins

One of my resolutions last year was to conjure up at least one post a month, no matter how pressing life's other demands might get. I was managing alright despite problem sets, exams and the occasional bout of writer's block until August came along.

In retrospect, arriving home with just two weeks to spare for one's wedding might have been too ambitious. We managed to pull it off though, but only because we had at hand the most spirited and committed wedding planners imaginable - the parents.

(c) Pooja Joseph 2013
Our wedding was in Changanacherry, a small town in beautiful Kerala. At least at my end, it was all planned remotely from Delhi, with my father on his trusty phone at all times of day and night, working out some little detail or the other. I think I am at my best when I have a project at hand, a task to accomplish, something to see through to the finish line. As the two weeks to wedding day flew by, I realise that of the many bits of me that come from my parents, that bit certainly comes from my father. He forgot all about his biggest complaints, including his chronic back pain and his bad neck, as he went about checking off one thing after another on his list. In the meantime, my mother was her usual worried self, hoping that everything would go to plan. After the wedding in church, and at the reception, a week later, her relief that everything had gone far better than we had hoped, was palpable. I now have even more evidence for the theory that my worry gene comes from her.

(c) Pooja Joseph 2013
Having been away from India when many of my closest friends - confidantes, co-conspirators and Agony Aunts - were getting hitched, I never had a ringside view of an Indian wedding. And so, even though Syrian Christian weddings are relatively simple by Indian standards, my own wedding was an education in the inevitable madness that accompanies an Indian wedding. In two weeks, we covered the length and breadth of Changanacherry and neighbouring Kottayam, shopping frantically, attending marathon trial runs at the beauty parlour, and rushing to tie up loose ends that we had left to the last minute.

Worry knows no distance. In the months before the wedding, even though I was too far away from India and too immersed in other pursuits to be involved in wedding planning, worry I did. About the make-up artist in Changanacherry and whether I would look like a Christmas tree on wedding day, about how long it would take me to pick my wedding saree, how silly I'd look wearing a tiara with a saree, following an old Syrian Catholic tradition like generations of brides before me, and so many other little things that now seem spectacularly insignificant.  

(c) Pooja Joseph 2013
In the lead up to the wedding, my non-Indian friends who planned to attend eagerly enquired about "Indian bridal tattoos", singing and dancing and my red wedding dress. Much as I love Bollywood, I cursed it, not for the first time, for its uni-dimensional portrayal of India. I explained that our weddings are relatively staid, that the bride traditionally wears a white or ivory saree tinged with gold, and that but for alcohol, Malayalis are not pre-disposed to merrymaking through song and dance. In the end, there was no Indian tattooing, but we did have singing and dancing with even the unlikeliest dancers in the family joining in, I had a pretty bouquet of white rosebuds, and in the wedding photos, everyone looks beautiful. I only wish I had let go a little more, worried a little less, and held on to every moment more than I did - a lesson that I realise, applies not just to weddings, but more broadly to navigating the hurdle race that is life.

My to-do list for the weekend is, as usual, longer than I would like, with assignments, readings and chores vying for top spot. I decided to ignore them all for a few hours, enjoy a cup of steaming tea and bake a batch of blueberry muffins. On Allrecipes.com, this recipe is titled "To die for blueberry muffins". Although I do not always take kindly to hyperbole, on this occasion, I have to confess that I could not have come up with a better name for these delicious muffins. I have reproduced the recipe below with a couple of minor tweaks. As you enjoy your weekend, take a few moments to forget about the hurdles in your race, and to celebrate your greatest blessings.

To die for Blueberry Muffins
(adapted from http://allrecipes.com/recipe/to-die-for-blueberry-muffins/)



Ingredients

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1.5 tsp vanilla extract
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1/3 cup milk
1 egg
1 pack of fresh blueberries (6 oz/171 gms)



Method
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Grease muffin cups or line with muffin liners.
Combine flour, sugar, salt and baking powder. The easiest way to do this, I have discovered, is to combine them all in a plastic container with a lid, close the lid tightly, and shake.

Next, place the vegetable oil into a 1 cup measuring cup; add the egg and enough milk to fill the cup. Mix this up carefully with a spoon and then mix this with the flour mixture. Fold in blueberries. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes in the preheated oven, or until done.