Thai pumpkin soup – and Sadhana haircuts

Am super excited today! So excited I’ve been jumping around like a 5 year old rather than a sedate too-far-past-fifty maami that I actually am!

Why? No knee pain, I hear someone say? Doc’s given me a clean bill of health after worrying times? Naah – nothing so un-exciting – though i am excited about that too!

I’ve got an appointment with my hair stylist! Yes, yes and YES! After having been too scared to step into a beauty parlor for close on 13 months now (in case that spiky green monster lying in wait just about everywhere gets me, along with the rest of the world) , I’m actually going to get a haircut! I almost can’t believe it!

Come to think of it – that was exactly how I felt when I wanted my first haircut at the age of five. Begging, pleading, promising a whole lifetime of saintly behaviour even got me nowhere with my mom – who decreed that my locks, long and curly, should NOT be cut! And so i continued to disconsolately trail my way to school every morning, imagining a short bob at the back (I had just seen the first movie of my life – The Sound of Music – and fallen in love, with the rest of the world – with Julie Andrews. I had ALSO seen a picture of another heroine, closer home this time and was even more enamored. This was the glamorous Sadhana of Bollywood. I have absolutely no idea of her acting or her dancing or her diction,  though I do remember a pout, but I do remember the exact length of the hair cut straight across her forehead in bangs. Très chic.

Well, at least if I knew the word “bangs” outside of Deepavali crackers and the even less likely word “chic”, I’d have probably thought the latter was a baby hen, so young it hadn’t acquired a full name even, missing the end ‘k’!

What we kids, along with every kid in India then called it was a “Sadhana cut”. And all of us hankered after it… Only one kid I knew – really knew, actually got the cut  and promptly became the style icon of class 1, section D or whatever I was in!

She knew it of course and so tossed those bangs around as much as she could. We didn’t blame her – I’d have done the same thing if ever my mother had agreed to cut my two plaits tied up with shiny blue ribbons (well, shiny when new, many faded shades of grey as they faded during the school year), the plaits crisscrossed across the back with plait A on the left going up to ear B on the right and …well you get the drift!

In hindsight now, I’m pretty sure my curly locks would never have lain obediently flat across my forehead like my heroine’s, they’d have probably stuck up like a gas flame halo around my face! But hindsight is a thing to be sneered at, of course!

When I left home for college, of course the first thing I did was to get a new hairstyle with every single haircut – some of them pretty disastrous too. The only one that stands out in my memory is one where i looked – not chic, but like the grandmother hen – and yes, you guessed right – I’d asked for a Sadhana haircut!

But never mind, hair can always grow back. Broken childhood dreams not so easily! And so, my dear reader, take warning and let your kids have their way in the matter of haircuts and other small stuff!

But always feed them well! Perhaps with this …

Curried Thai pumpkin soup:

1/2 cup shallots or sambar onions – peeled

3-4 flakes of garlic

1″ piece of ginger – peeled and sliced

10 cashewnuts

3 cups red pumpkin, peeled and chunked

2 tomatoes, chunked

1 carrot – peeled and sliced.

1 pack of coconut milk – about 1.5 cups

1 tbsp butter

Chipotle peppers – 1/2 tsp (gives the whole thing a deep, smoky flavour)

Lemon grass – 2 full stalks – tie into a bundle

Thai basil or regular basil – 2-3 tbsp

Red chilli – 1

Turmeric – 1/4 tsp


1/2 tsp per bowl pumpkin seeds or peanuts

1/2 cup sliced onions – fried with a little oil or butter and 2 tsp of sambar or rasam powder and a 1/4 tsp garam masala

2 tsp ginger juliennes – crisped up on the tawa

Mint leaves.


Fry the onions, garlic, ginger and red chili in 1 tbsp butter till golden yellow. Add the vegetables and cashewnuts and cook till tender, adding two cups water.

Cool and puree till silky smooth. Strain if needed

Bring back to heat, adding lemongrass, basil, turmeric and coconut milk. Simmer for about ten minutes. Remove herbs.

Add the chipotle peppers.  Serve out in bowls and garnish with a tsp each of roasted seeds, onions, ginger juliennes and fresh mint on top.