Monday, November 16, 2009

The joy of getting it right

These days i'm becoming experimental with cooking. Now you need to know how my cooking evolved to appreciate the experimentation.

2006, Bangalore
Breakfast - Bread sandwich.
Lunch - Dal, Subzi, Rice
Dinner - Kichdi or Rotis with left over dal
Breakfast - Yours Truly. Lunch & Dinner - Roommate's generosity.

2009, Danbury
Breakfast - Cereal/Muffins/Idli,Dosa/Pongal
Lunch - Veg Curry, Sambhar, Rasam, Curd, Rice & Pickle
Dinner - Rotis with Kurma or Subzi.
All - Yours Truly

If this is not evolution what is. Atleast for me these are giant steps where cooking is involved. C'mon i make kurma, not in the likes of navrathna kurma but Egg Kurma and Peas Paneer kurma.

Cooking started with amma's e-adichan copy recipes. Or reading and somewhat memorizing Mallika Badrinath cookbooks. Now i can google a dish, surf recipes, pick and choose ingredients that i find most alluring and combine them all. Best part - the end product is still delicious.

Making muffins, Chocolate cup cakes to Mexican flan has elevated me into a seasoned chef. I can make onion sambhar without referring to recipes. Improvised to ginger kuzhambhu which sets your throats on fire and even have facebook friends who want my recipes.

There have been two inspirations for this cooking quest. First when you are trying a new recipe, there is a thrill and when it comes out delicious, you are soaring high in the air. Second when the hujband takes one puddi and says "Man your food is to die for"... SIGH!!(I know, too much illa)

e-adichan - copy cat kill the rat.(somebody can volunteer with the exact explanation)
puddi - one mouthfull.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

A peek into the future

Disclaimer: After hearing a lot of unflattering responses about my blog template, i finally set forth to change it. Hopefully this one is more readable. I admit there is a lot of work to do but atleast the wheels are in motion.

The new template had widgets which made things easy. I dint have to dig through the html code and replace bits and pieces, all i had to do was click on Add Gadget and everything was done.It took me all but 3 mins to figure out that(i know) and in that three minutes i was panic-striken!!!

It was like your entire life flashing in front of you in five minutes - Haven't you watched Armageddon or Gladiator? I can't bookmark my favourite blogs, can't link the labels in my post, can't tell the world that am a budding photographer.... This is a wee dramatic. But thats how things are told these days. If you dont scream, you wont be heard. Now is it the same everywhere or did living in the US rub it on me?

But back to Widgets. In that ignorant three minutes i was able to comprehend the helplessness and frustration my parents feel when i tell them they can watch Sun TV in a laptop.

When i taught my father how to start mailing,read news online,chat using the webcam, view photographs online, i thought it was an information overload and the minute i disappear he is going to abadon the laptop. But as always, he proved me wrong. He is doing his own research, marking his websites as favourites, helping my mother choose online magazine subscriptions when she comes to the US and am sure he is going
to tell me that he is bringing his laptop with him during his next visit. My parents have become tech-savvy alright. The bubble has embraced them or have they embraced it?!!!

For my mom, the laptop was the sign of technological leaps and bounds. She viewed it with aversion and blamed it for the distance between people in the same room.Ofcourse it was in stiff competition with the mobile. She completely disapproved of children below 10 using it and never understood why it kept us hooked on for hours. Its the same way i look at teenagers typing furiously in their cell phones racing against time.I think she has finally made her peace with this mini-idiot box while i continue to stare at the fingers that would fly on keyboards. (I'm not that old and i've been there, done that. Its impolite to stare but you cant help it esp when you have nothing else to do in a crowded train).

My efforts at keeping abreast with technology are going to fail at some point. My kids are going to call me backward and wonder how long it would take for me to catch up. I can hear them sighing and smirking at our rather slow pace of advancement. They would call us old-fashioned, look at Iphone, Ipods, Droids as antiques.

These days generation gap exists between siblings so the rift is going to be more pronounced. But like my parents, i would learn to make my peace with techonology. If you cant fight them, Join Them!!!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

New York Babieee

In true New York style, i state - The city never stops to amaze me.
It was pouring when we strolled through Union Square and Broadway but the weather was not going to stop the city from having a good time.

We started the day with BOOTS. Yes, leather and women are an intoxicating couple. The minute i stepped into DSW i knew what i wanted and although there was lot of distraction, i was focussed on my first love. After a bit of tamil cinema kind of climax we finally found the size i was looking for and headed out as a proud owner of Steve Madden boots.

Now we were in desperate need of coffee and headed towards Veniero's Pastry Shop. Needless to say, the cannoli melted in my mouth and the hazelnut coffee added spark to the day.

We stopped by Lush which sells handmade cosmetics and some of them smell divine. You need to remind yourself not to taste them. They are handmade and last only a few weeks but that dint stop me from picking up a face pack with Garlic. I know Garlic is a first but the face pack is doing wonders.(I hope so)

We picked up dim sum and falafel for our dinner and headed to the subway. The carts that are parked on the curbside tantalizes your taste buds and i hear some of them are gourmet rated.

Later on, i figured that there is a dessert truck which runs around NYC and they were featured on Throwdown with Bobby flay. Their bread pudding is superior to Bobby Flay's but its something i have reserved for later.

Rain or shine the Big Apple never disappoints and although we dint party there, even a casual evening is well spent.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

When the grinding stops...

If you grew up in India and ended up married in USA, you would have a fair idea of what am talking about.
Right till my 12th, i dint pause a moment to think about why should i go to school everyday. It just happened and all i wanted was to ace my exams, score well in the entrance and get into a college that i dreamed off.

As with the rest of the flock, stayed put in college for 4 years, dint try to ace the exams. Fitting in, making friends, learning something about life and computers, i graduated(little bit of color). There were campus interviews to worry about and i did get through them and got a nice job in Chennai. Happy about the fact that i was returning home, i boarded the train as a graduate. Something to be proud off.

Worked hard for 5 years, raced the rats, got some accolades, travelled a bit and met some interesting people. Finally life catches up with you and i got married.

Disclaimer: Now this has nothing to do with marriage, USA or being a NRI.

With the economy hitting rock bottom, many of us ended up as dependants, students and entreprueners. When the grinding and racing stopped, am stranded. We are a generation spoilt for choice but then there is such a thing as too many. It doesnt help when you need to factor in 5 years of future into your decision.
I'm thankful that am not part of the race anymore. I've had the time to reflect on what i truly want(which seems to be taking a long time) and i have learnt not to be too hard on myself. I can finally take a break but i am still trying to enjoy it.

So its true.. the grass is greener on the other side huh?

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Land of Tequilla - Cancun, Mexico

My passport is my treasured travel companion. Besides it being a legal document, the colorful stamps is the pride of my trips around the world. Singapore, Hong Kong, Germany, Austria, Belgium, Italy, France, North America and the most recent addition - Mexico. Now thats a list to be proud off :)

Cancun, Mexico was our official honeymoon and a relaxed vacation(well deserved). Peeking through the airplane window i did not catch a glimpse of the aqua marine sea or the popular hotel stripe. But when you have travelled a while you accept that patience is a virtue. The airport is a good 30 minute ride away from the ocean and is located in the middle of nowhere(believe me).

Before i waited in line for immigration i was handed a blue form which stated that a new virus outbreak was detected and we had to notify any symptoms to the authorities. This did not alarm me, partly confident about my indian roots(we do boast of a superior immune system) and partly suspicious that this was a bogus threat. No fruits or nuts are allowed past security as per US regulations(whatever happened to mexican regulations) so i dumped the oranges mournfully.

There would be a good number of people trying to get you into a taxi or a shuttle for triple the fare so get past them and get out. Again my indian origins helped in skillfully wading through this while smirking at the crowd who fall prey. We got into the taxi and finally got view of the hotel stripe. In a minute you are suddenly transported to this new Cancun which has no connections to the city you landed. Here things are more grand and the hotels of every known brand tower the sky.

We stayed at nH Krystal which has a spectacular ocean front room, easy stroll to the beach, adequate swimming pools and excellent food. The hotel was a block away from all the night life that comes alive during the wee hours and ceases to end till dawn.

Friday was spent lazing at the swimming pool, sipping on tequilla(more about this later), riding the waves of the carribbean and taking a quick stroll to the malls, pubs, flea market and taco factory. Rise and shine to the sound of waves crashing in, which is the best way to wake up and we were ready to explore Isla Mujeres. Snorkelling and beaches are the selling points of this island so we followed suit.

The reef is spectacular and fishes are colorful. Snorkelling is a must do activity when in Cancun and it would help to know a good deal of swimming. If not, do not venture out into the waters and cling on to the boat for dear life, colorful fishes or otherwise. I can hear the smiles but i shall dutifully ignore.

Spread the beach towel and take a quick nap in the beach(Playa) or munch mangoes, coconuts and sorbet which the street vendors sell. They are a delight. You can rent golf carts, bikes, cycles and wander around the island which is just about 5 miles in all. There are quite a few sights recommended here.

Nightlife never ends in Cancun. We started our tirade around 11 and crawled into one of the bars. One of the traditions here is women with tequilla bottles and whistles, who hoard you to take gulps of tequilla and honour you when you are done. It is worth it :) Did i mention that tequilla is to mexico what coke is to USA.
It tastes great so dont be alarmed if you end up with a couple of bottles while unpacking.

Street dancers, local restaurants, mayan artifacts, pubs, malls, cafes are all part of the night walk and you can have a great time if you are careful where you enter. Some of the places are pricey and disappointing so do your research on this.  Coco Bongo has the longest lines for entry but is very pricey so we tried Corono Bar instead which has great dancing and no cover charge. A late night snack at the Taco Factory is worth every bit and take note of the cashier who is working with ten hands(fast and efficient).

Sunday was the day to relax. The beach was our first stop and we spent a good part of the day riding the waves before they crash into you. We lay near the shore in the sand where the water caresses you and pulls you into the ocean. The hotel had a paya or a hut which you can rent for a good afternoon nap. Armed with bolsters and a book about mexico, i was fast asleep in a moment's notice.

Mexico is the land of tequilla, pina coloda, nachos, salsa, beaches and fun. Mexicans will speak spanish even if you dont follow them but a word or two would get you a free taxi ride, a ocean front table, tobasco sauce or even extra salsa. It has been a land of struggle with no political stablity or great leaders but the tourism industry flourishes inspite all this.They are hospitable and eager to please but you can get nothing for free. When shopping remember to bargain and you can get some pretty bags, artifacts and handcrafted items.

Cancun is not just a spring break destination but a great vacation spot. Enjoy the sea and dive into the aquamarine ocean and it is worth every peso. But remember to say Muchas Gracias!!!

Monday, June 15, 2009


I dont really know if its the books i read or spending a couple of weeks with my sister, i have new respect for this realtionship. When we were young, we were either fighting or scheming but now we added so many new perspectives to each other.

Looking up to her is a way of life for me and without a blink i would accept any opinion she throws. We have both learnt not to be judgemental of our choices and how to help each other with problems that really matter.

When i was a kid, i wanted to have a bigger brother. I assumed having one would be fun and he would shield me from all problems and take care of me. Now i would never trade having a sister. Not only is it easier to communicate but an elder one has often been there so she can give you a better ear to your problems.

We have grown from being best friends to confidants but we never let the silly kids in us go. Even now when i go shopping i get something for her and she never forgets to buy my favourite things. I can turn up in her doorstep anytime of the year and she is never going to ask a question and we have learnt to silently communicate with each other. A smile, a wink, a glance we know how to translate all that. I have learnt to appreciate the ways she looks out for me and her reprimands.

Its so much fun to have a sister and i feel so blessed to have one who is so special and i think its a special kick if you are the younger one.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Colors of life

We went shopping for curtains yesterday. I was adamant on buying something with color. I was bored of shades of brown, white lace or those dull half white ones. I wanted shocking colors - Brick red, sunsent orange, lemon yellow, leaf green, sky blue and wine red.

The idea of buying curtains in such loud colors would not please my husband, which is why i was harboring the colors in the safety of my mind. When i find what am looking for, i would ensure we buy it. Now dont call me cunning, this is how my gender works - atleast most of it. We dont proclaim what we want loudly and undeniably but find ways of getting it done - which is what matters.

The only pleasing color we found was a golden leaf curtain in walmart and i refused to pick anything else that was not in line with the colors i wanted. We have a brown sofa, black flat screen, brown coffee table, the house was screaming for color. P.S: We dont have a rug yet :-)

I have always heard from tourists to India how they are shocked by the colors they see there. Personally i have never thought of it as one of the prominent features of India. There were other things that made India special(to me). But after weeks of searching for color, i realize what we dont have.

Its spring time here, the leaves are a green that is so fresh and some trees have white, pink, purple, magenta flowers, even before the have leaves. It is uncouth to miss the colors you see while you drive by but what stops the designers to translate these colors to fabrics.

I'm not sure whether its the spring or the failure of my shopping expedition but i'm going to drink in the colors on my trip to India this time, to savour and relish later.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

I miss you

We had Mira Nair as a guest lecture in our city last week and i have to say, the lady can speak well.
The crowd was mostly caucasians sprinkled with desis and most of them have watched monsoon wedding, salaam bombay & missisippi masala. The effect Slumdog Millionaire has on people. Let me clarify, i'm not going to patronize that slumdog is an Indian film or that India has finally arrived. How many times can India arrive at the global stage?

Mira Nair's talk on Namesake rang a bell closer to home. When we were heading out of the hall, i was thinking to myself, what is it with us that we want to fit in? For me India is always home. I can live here till i die but i would never feel nor call it home. The heat of Chennai, the madness of Rajni, the blaring of Sun TV, the buzz of vegetable vendors, friendly neighbours, not so friendly neighbours, gossiping aunties, swarming relatives, exotic weddings, colorful dresses and a piece of me. I would miss all that eternally. But this post is not about that.

When we are here or in any other part of the world, the first thing we do is google fellow indians in the neighbourhood. We try to find a community, make a close knit group of Indians. I dont suppose there is anything wrong with that but i have always frowned upon the clannish behaviour. Yet i would happily be a part of it here. The joy of finding a Indian grocery store, googling theaters that screen indian movies, finding meetup groups, visiting temples i have done it all.

There is also a group of Indians here who have a chip on their shoulder. They would not smile at you at restaurants acknowledge your presence at the grocery store(not necessarily Indian). This breed of Indians think they are "smarter" and more "modern" . They would not want to socialize because we are prob a class lower. It makes me grin, sometimes at their perceptions and sometimes at their ignorance. Wearing shades, straightening your hair, wearing tighter clothes(sometimes much too tight and much too short) does not make you cooler. Infact it makes you insecure. (Pardon me, but i'm not generalizing). It makes me wonder if i trace back the roots, then we would prob be even related.

I'm not condemning indians who wont socialize with fellow indians not am i appreciating the people who do. We have our own battles to fight,  our own principles and our own lives to live. So strictly no name calling or judging the people who are not like me. It just makes me wonder if we have finally reached a stage where being in a foreign place does not make you special. I have always remembered my cousin who use to fly back from US every two years and the entire house would go crazy on his arrival. I would wonder why is it so special when people return?

I can strongly say this craze has finally ended. Being in India is a choice many people take voluntarily. Going to a foreign land is what many people choose not for better living but for a better experience. Somehow i can see the changes happen right before me. The next generation would prob choose to be home and that would be a better option. That is why my friends, India has finally arrived.

Being at home still makes you special and content. We dont have to change our outlook, make excuses for the accent, wonder if the neighbours can smell our curry powder or even change our wardrobe. Everybody knows what it takes to come from a country of myriad colors and diverse traditions. The better part is we feel proud about it. You dont realize how much you miss something until it is really missing!!!

Monday, March 16, 2009

Reliving moments

Monday mornings were mostly blue... A year ago, the ecstacy of sleeping in for over 15 mins would cause a whirlwind shift to my schedule. The rush to the bus-stop, wondering if its going to be the volvo or the SAP Shuttle, whether i would be lucky to get a place to sit, praying that there are no jams on the way, wondering if my manager is keeping tabs on the no of times i come in late, day dreaming about mondays where i dont have to get set and go, half awake and aware of the crowd, sifting through the work-to-do and the deadlines to meet.... the fast paced life of a working professional!!!

Many evenings have gone by, blissfully unaware off, there have been days when i have never seen the light shine outside, except during coffee-breaks and after lunch walks. Dinners were always fast-to-cook nice-to-eat consumed hurriedly during the wee hours...

Spring could slide to summer and to autumn and slow down at winter without raising a reaction except a sigh here and a shrug there. Weekend trips to Chennai to veg out in my fav couch was always my idea of recharging and the ride back to bangalore was always with a heavy heart.

Now although i miss chennai, weekends are fun-filled and there are no deadlines. I can stand and stare at the sunshine as long as i want.. Bikin, hikin, cyclin.. have time for all that. Dinners are always delicious and we even have desserts that are sinful indulgence. Yet is it possible that i miss that life?

What is it about us? Why do we always crave for the things that we dont have? Why is it that the grass is always greener on the other side? I dont want that hectic life back but i think somewhere along the way when you dont get to work, a part of you is lost.. the lack of identity. Dont get me wrong, i love my life as it is.. but i would also love to do something that would be food for thought!! I need to figure it out, which is why am thankful for the time i have now...  until then... am enjoying the lazy days and the hot home cooked meals!!!

Monday, February 23, 2009

The art of Skiing

It all happens when the winter sets in and there is snow everywhere. You  want to get out and get somewhere but all you can do in this dreary weather is skiing/tubing or watchin' movies/musicals.
Since i wanted to be outdoors and i wanted to check whether i have improvised the art of skiing, i was inviting trouble.

Its not that i hate skiing or i suck at it. Its just that i never get better at it, or maybe i do but its definetly happening in a very slow pace. Atleast this time i dint fall as much and i even learnt to get up without taking my skiis off. This was perfect solution for attempting to ski for much longer.

I have learnt that its definetly easier if you are lighter and also helps if u have shorter skiis(would have to push forward harder). You can never trust the ski instructor and you hate him as much as your fourth grade math teacher. It works if you act in reverse to your instincts but how the hell do you do that? It hurts when kids who have just learn to walk jet ski and land next to you when you have almost managed to ski four inches forward without falling. Holding on to a rope with your skis and without your poles to move forward is a sure recipe for muscle ache the day after.

We went skiing in Nashoba Valley, Boston this weekend and although i dint ski really well, i enjoyed it better than last time. The next time i can do it without the instructor, so am definetly moving forward. Mohawk has to wait until next year!!