I’ve been contemplating not doing any Mother’s Day interview with my mother this year because after having lost my dad, I realise exactly how painful it can be to be the one with NO DAD. I’m sure it feels the same to be the one with no mother. But then I thought about it for more than a second and realised another important thing: Even though I don’t have a dad now, I would still want to get to know my dad better. A few weeks after he died, I read the one interview he did for me and it brought me joy when the rest of the world was coloured in grey. For me it isn’t about grand gestures or phone calls or any of that token stuff. For me it’s just the gift of time to get to know my parents as people. A lot of what shapes us as humans are how we push through major life changes and sure enough, having kids was a pretty big one for my parents. …
Because it’s Mother’s Day in America this Sunday and because my sister is a first-time mother this year, I decided to spread my mother’s day interview wings to include not just my mama (interview 1 and 2 here) but Jane too! LUCKY YOU JANE. Pardon the lack of food (unless you’d like to see a recipe for mashed banana? Or hear about baby J drinking 40 ml of water for the first time last week? No?). I have a feeling that you’ll enjoy reading this more than any recipe I have written so far.
There was no way I was going to let my mother not be part of the second annual Mother’s Day interview extravaganza. She is the only mother I have and getting to know her as a woman is one of my favourite things now that I’m all grown up. A lot of what I do creatively is directly inspired by her. My memories are tied to her. She is the reason my sisters and I have our quiet confidence and strength. There are days where I sit and think about how I want this blog grow so I can maybe be known (it’s silly, I know). Then I remember that the most important people in my world are already here with me. They always have been – reading along, cheering with me and telling me that I indeed matter to them. “Read only by mama” is not a bad deal. In fact, it’s the best deal in the world.
I am here writing this as a very thankful daughter. I am blessed to have my mother. However, I know she doesn’t have hers physically present and it is a huge hurt – one that doesn’t go away without many, many what ifs. For those of you whose burdens are magnified on days of such publicised joy: I know, it’s hard. But all we have is today. We start there.
Happy Mother’s Day, mama. You already know all the answers.
(You can read the first interview here!)
1) Did you drop any of your kids on their heads? Asking because your other daughters are a liiiitle….
Actually, I had two falls while I was pregnant with you. Either you were one hard nut to crack or I was a tough mama, but you took your time to come into this world and with no damage at all. Jane and Gayle are alright!
2) Were you working/employed when you had Jane – your first? Did you get maternity leave?
Yes, I was employed at Bank of India and I had three months maternity leave.
3) Tell us all about your first job.
My first job was at Panjim at an office by the creek. It was Cosme Matias Menezes. I was there for just a month or so and I must admit, I did not like it. It was a large hall with all these desks that people sat at and the bosses had their cabins at the back of the hall. My starting pay was Rs 450 or 500. It was recommended by a friend of mine. I guess I just took it as I did not have any experience. The fun part was that during the lunch break, I used to walk for around five minutes and go and meet my friend, Patricia, who worked nearby. All I remember is my walk over the Patto bridge to get to work. Then I was assigned the job of dispatch clerk. Boring!
4) Did having children at home ever make you not want to work or did you enjoy your job? Foremost: Did you ever have a choice to not work?
In the early days, having children meant saving for their futures as also feeding, clothing, educating them. We did not have much by way of savings. Besides, the job I had at the bank was a steady one. Initially, it did not pay me as much and one advantage was that I was close to home and the timings were nice. I did not think of not working then because I could be home when you were up from your afternoon snoozes and spend the rest of the evening doing things with you three. I don’t have regrets about taking up this job because it gave me a chance to work with some really nice people and meet some nice (and not so nice) people. Besides, when your dad returned from his job at Saudi Arabia, he did not have a steady job and it was hard for us to save much. So I stuck on.
5) Enough of the serious questions: Why did you not let us watch Hindi movies when we were younger?
I thought they were silly and too long. I don’t know.
6) Did you do anything your mother (grandma) did while raising your own kids that made you think: Gosh I’ve become my mother!
I can’t think of anything. Can you? (Editor’s note: Not really. But from you I think I got this habit of being unable to see dirty dishes in the sink. Hence I am constantly washing 1 spoon every 4 hours.)
7) Do you think there’s a point in your life where you say: “I’m done with parenting. I’m going to stop worrying and let them drive without a helmet and a broken headlight!” (This is a hyperbole, of course)
Worrying? That’s one thing I will never stop doing. But I know that God has given you all some wisdom to think through your choices before you make them. Once in a while we all like to stray but I always pray for each of you.
8) If you didn’t have children, what would you have done with your life?
I shudder to think how miserable I would be – and how miserable I would make your father. That thought has never crossed my mind. Now I have 3 special girls to be proud of. I have had the best years of my life watching you grow into pretty and talented ladies. You have given me a chance to be a mother.
9) You never told us not to drink/smoke/get high when we were growing up and we didn’t either. Does that surprise you? Would you pass out if I said I tried it all once? You can admit you’ve done it too of you want….
Doesn’t surprise me, just makes me proud. No I will not pass out, but glad it was just that one time.
10) Do you remember that time I failed in Maths (twice). Maybe three times. Or 4..I wasn’t counting. How did you know I wasn’t trying my best?
I knew you would not be good at Science subjects – Maths included, but you insisted, so we let you. I think you did try, but I am glad you realised that it was not your fore and changed streams.
Okay too much information.
11) Does it ever stop being strange to tell people “these are my children”? (I would die. I still do when I have to say “husband”)
I am on the other side of 50 so it is alright.
12) What is your dream job?
Definitely didn’t plan to work at a bank. I thought of working at some other job where I could travel.
13) What’s your favourite breakfast food?
Eggs mostly, but it is mostly on a Sunday
14) What’s the best food that your mummy made?
She made lots of yummy food – chappatis (she made triangular ones), loved the doce bhaji (with broken wheat) she made once. Also, she once made me ice cream (I can still taste it). Everything she made was tasty. Can’t just pick out one particular dish.
15) How was I from the ages of:
1-3 – cute and chubby
3-6 – little insecure and still chubby
6-9 – not so chubby
16) Tell all our lovely readers what a pain in the *you know what* I was while I was being born and stuff.
Funny, but I don’t remember the pain. I just know that it was the middle of summer and oh so hot. There was no electricity so they started a generator, which was so noisy, so nobody knew when you were born. Anyway, you were being held by a nurse at the back of the labour room with a cloth over “you know what”, and they would not tell me whether you were a girl or boy, thinking I would be disappointed with a second girl. So funny!
17) How exhausting was it to raise three children all under the age of seven? Did you ever feel rewarded (even though I know that’s not the point…)
I had help from Nanu, my dad (Babdi) and mum (Grandma) and then Romaldin. Without them, it would have been tough.
18) Jane, Gayle and I think you did a phenomenal job as our mother. How do you think you did?
Sometimes, I think I could have done better, by listening more and being more patient.
19) Do you still not care about Mother’s Day?
It reminds me of my mother. And that makes me sad.
20) Last question: Will you please live forever? Okay thanks.
If you never grew up, maybe I could live forever. No one has achieved that, so no chance.
Simple sautéed pea shootThis is clearly not the most original way to cook greens but it is the best. This was my first time eating pea shoots so I asked the vendor I bought it from how she cooked. Sautéeing came up and I went with that. Raw pea shoots taste exactly like peas! Weird, huh? The final dish ended up with a flavour that reminded me a lot of bhutta (Indian street-style corn on the cob) and I loved it. This dish would go well as a side with eggs or some heartier protein. Feel free to change up the oil, seasoning, or even the greens!
- 2 tbsp vegetable oil
- 1 1/2 tsp black mustard seeds
- 4 large garlic cloves, minced
- A bunch of pea shoots (loosely about 3 cups worth), tough bottom stems removed
- Juice of 1/4 of a lemon (you can use more if you want more tang to it)
- 1/4 tsp chilli powder
- Salt + pepper to taste
Heat a pan over medium-high heat and add the vegetable oil to the hot pan. Wait 30 seconds and then add the mustard seeds to the pan. Once the seeds start to pop add the garlic to it. Sauté the garlic for 15 seconds until it only slightly browns. Be careful to not let it burn. Add the pea shoots to the pan and sauté for about a minute or two, until the shoots wilt and turn a brighter green and a little brown in parts. Squeeze lemon juice over the greens while they’re still in the pan and sprinkle some chilli powder on top. Take the pan off the stove and season with salt and pepper. Serve warm. Enjoy!
She already questioned me on what I was going to do with her answers when I thought it was very simple and obvious. My mother’s name is Jaqueline D’Souza. People call her Jackie. She lives in Goa with my father and works at a bank. She’s worked for herself and her family ever since I can remember. I had this one person say to me: “I don’t know how mother’s can work when they have kids. That’s just wrong!” To them I will flip a big bird. Because what’s a mother if she can’t take care of her children the way she chooses? She has done it all without asking for the spotlight and as much as she’s going to hate being the subject of this post, she deserves it. Every mother does. Happy Mother’s Day, mama. Even though you don’t…sorry, try not to eat sweet things, cake is an indication of celebration and you need to be celebrated….from one million kilometres away….on this place we connect.
1) I’ve always wanted to ask this question so here it goes: What is your favourite colour?
2) Do you like when your children remember it’s Mother’s Day?
I am kind of embarrassed because I am not the kind of person who seeks attention. Also, I need to know you feel the way you do year round and not just that one day.
3) If you could eat a whole cake, which kind would you pick? (Please say Orange-cardamon!)
I would like a vanilla cake with ground almonds – just plain. Yummy!
4) What are your top 3 favourite vegetables?
Cauliflower, baked cherry tomatoes, green beans
5) How did you meet your husband (hi, father!) and how did you start having googly eyes for him?
Random visit to our house by husband. I guess he had to force me to make googly eyes at him. Persistent is what he was.
6) Did you re-gift your wedding presents?
I don’t remember. Maybe the common ones. Some I still have.
7) What made you do something so insane like have three children?
Put that down to not attending marriage formation courses!
8) Okay, what’s your favourite part about being a mother of three insane children?
Watching you all grow up into pretty lovely and talented girls (all on your own merits).
9) Do you read my blog?
Very avidly. I am disappointed when you don’t keep writing. I check on a daily basis for new updates.
10) Imagine yourself as a human fulfilling your own needs rather than the needs of 2 pesky children (not including me). What would be your greatest wish for yourself that you could fulfill in the blink of an eye?
I wish I was younger and didn’t have the health problem I have so I could travel a bit. I would love that.
11) I really don’t want to ask this questions but can you tell me some of your biggest regrets?
My greatest regret is not really listening to my mother (she probably was asking for just some comfort and companionship which I did not realise until it was too late). Second regret is that you live too far from us, and I miss having you around/home (but Matt is a good person, so I will take that back).
12) Can you overcome these regrets?
No. I just have to grin and bear it. Nothing can be done about it. Too much water under the bridge.
13) If yes, can I help? If no, can I help?
14) Do you believe in fate?
Yes. It’s inevitable.
15) What’s your favourite childhood memory?
Do I have any? My childhood was not very pleasant. But I do and always picture my dad waiting for me at the airport when I went there on holidays. And he did stand out above all the other people. In my mind, I still have that picture. He always dressed smart. There was this other one, my mum would take me to the market to shop (though I found it a pain, because she was always bargaining and never did buy me anything). There was this blue checkered dress with a matching sling bag that I really did want. As always, my mum never bought it for me. Later, there was this cousin of my dad’s, Aunty Phil, who gifted me the same dress on my birthday, and I was over the moon!
16) Tell me a wonderful story about Grandma from when you were growing up.
Grandma had this amazing talent to sew, crochet, knit, cook, etc. She was good at all she did. I never did pick up that from her. She stitched me this lovely pink dress with motifs and did up my hair for my birthday. Also for my First Holy Communion and Confirmation, she made me clothes. We never ate out because she always cooked at home.
17) You know she’s watching over you, right? She’s part of your DNA. You can’t escape her.
Yes, she will always be a part of me. She once told me she was relieved when I was born. Guess that’s why I don’t have a sister. I would have liked to have one, then I would not be so lonely.
18) Are these questions okay for you?
They make me want to cry! (Editor’s note: Oops)
19) Do you love your life?
I am content. I don’t think I would be comfortable being one of the rich and famous, or the other extreme. We are comfortable and that is enough.
20) Last of all, who’s your favourite daughter and why?
Why would you think that I have a favourite daughter? I don’t put anyone above the other, so there (you were hoping I would say you!!!!???) (Editor’s note: Yes)
Happy Mother’s Day, to you women who are crazy enough to parent living beings and do it oh-so-well. This cake’s for you!
I feel slightly proud of this recipe. I came up with it (FIRSTIES!) using the amazing cake ratio Beth shared on her latest blog post over at Local Milk. I am not much of a baking genius. I feel I get lucky a lot (wink wink) but I’m really trying to be a little more calculated with baking, a far cry from when I’d say “Hey! That looks like cake batter” and put it in the oven at some temperature I’d just Froogled. Googled. The cakes did not taste like diapers. They were amazing. Just don’t ask me what I put in them. Cake maths is a wonderful, magical thing so go read the very helpful link that gave birth to this cake.
- 125 gm all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 tsp fresh ground cardamom seeds, save the skins
- Zest of 1 orange
- 125 gm cane sugar
- 95 gm honey
- 2/3 cup milk, at room temperature
- 1 extra-large egg (62.5 gm), at room temperature
- 62.5 gm unsalted butter, at room temperature and softened
- 3 whole cardamom pods
- 1/4 cup water
- 2 stalks rhubarb, chopped
- Powdered cane sugar to sift on the top
- Orange slices to decorate
This cake was baked in a 9-inch circular cake tin. An 8-inch tin would work well too. Once you’re sure that your main ingredients (milk, eggs, butter) are at room temperature, you’re ready to begin.
Sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt in a large bowl. Mix the ground cardamom seeds and the orange zest into the flour. The smells from this to-be-cake batter might make you want to stop and eat flour but I urge you to carry on. Next, mix in the sugar and honey until it’s well incorporated into the flour. It will be slightly lumpy owing to the honey but that will disappear when you whisk/beat it with the liquids.
In another bowl, whisk the egg and milk by hand. If you have a cake mixer, use it to mix in the butter with the egg-milk mix. If not you can use a hand blender (electric cake whisker, if that’s what you call it) and mix them until the butter is mostly all disappeared into the liquid. You can also use a whisk but it will take you a little longer. Keep aside for a quick run to make “cardamom tea”.
In a small pot, add about 1/4 cup of water and 3 cardamom pods + the used skins (if you saved them). Bring the water to a quick boil and then take it off the heat. Quickly put a lid over the pot and let it steep until the water is warm to the touch. Discard the pods and keep the water. With your hand blender on, pour this warm cardamom tea into the egg-milk mixture. Mix while pouring slowly. Once it’s in, pour the liquid into the large flour bowl and blend together the contents until they’re smooth.
Heat your oven to 325 degrees F. Butter the cake tin and then line with parchment paper. You can also butter the parchment because it makes the cake less likely to stick to the tin and that’s a wonderful thing. Pour half the cake batter into the tin and then add the chopped rhubarb to it. Pour the last of the cake batter to the tin and then pop it in the oven on the middle rack. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean. If you notice that the top of the cake is browning too fast and the cake has not cooked completely yet, cover the top with aluminium foil and keep baking in 5-minute installments, keeping a close watch on it.
Let the cake cool completely before taking it out of the tin. Dust the cooled cake with powdered sugar and add the sliced oranges on the top. Consume voraciously.