Friday, 28 September 2012


The sales were on a few weeks ago. If the sales are on, I - obviously - can't be home. You know, purely out of consideration to towards boosting the economy and all that. Oh, of course it has nothing to do with just plain wanting to shop. Nothing. At. All.

So there I am, drooling serenely contemplating the gorgeous display windows, while chairing a debate between my right brain and my left about life in general... credit cards, wallets, bank accounts. You know, just random casual discussions. So while I won't get into which part uh, won, what did happen was that I glided over to the shoe stores. In my flats. Granted, they are lovely flats, all silver and nude and fun, but flats nonetheless. And the shoe stores are screaming 'heels'. Only heels. Colour blocked heels (saw a yummy lemon curd tart yellow!), vamp red stilettos, strappy black sandals to put the Eiffel Tower to shame. And guess what I can think of?

Yup, vertigo. They were the kinda heels that give me vertigo just looking at them. The thought of slipping them on, attempting to stand - let's not even get into walk - is another blog post altogether.

Do you have vertigo, too?

Monday, 24 September 2012


Not saying that technology is bad (though it sometimes often repels me), but when it comes to a few things, I can't help but thinking that simpler times (read the mid-80s/ early 90s) were way cooler.

Play dates, for example. For mums it still remains the same - the non-hosting mum gladly packing off her child to the poor (harried) mum at the receiving end, and secretly digging into her chocolate stash in ecstasy. The kids (that included my friends and I) went berserk for the time, with a gazillion outdoor games (a large chunk of which were on-the-spot inventions) and others played (or enacted, as the case may be) indoors. These included board games and jigsaws. Cardboard (and later plastic coated) boards, brightly coloured counters, dice, play money.... oooh.

The jury is out on whether tablets and other forms of e-play (for want of a better word) actually do enhance the child's skills, but I'm of the opinion that there is no charm to it at all. Take a tablet game that allows the player to design a cake and 'bake' it, followed by generously garnishing it with a multitude of toppings. All electronic. My idea of fun? The same game, but with cardboard cutouts (either made by Mum, or dicier versions that we helped her make, so very proudly) of everything, then popped into a play oven. Garnished, too. Maybe not with coulis or berries, but at least good old chocolate frosting and a cherry on top.

Here's some board games/ jigsaw puzzles from way back when:

Saturday, 22 September 2012


Milk is not my friend (unless disguised as ice cream, is an ingredient in chocolate... you get the drift). But when it pops up at your door in the morning in the cutest packaging, you can't help go awwww. Maybe Definitely go back to disliking it after a few seconds, but have an awwww moment in the interim, nonetheless.

See what I mean?


As I trawled the aisles of the food store, tossing in super healthy (ha!) goodies (read instant noodles, microwave popcorn, chocolate and such; you get the drift), I stopped short in front of a shiny new display that screamed the words 'organic' in large white letters. Anything new and shiny and fun (and oh, the packaging was fun!) strikes my eye (of course!) and the trolley develops a mind of its own and automatically grinds to a halt. It's not me, please note, it's the trolley to blame, as stuff I may not have planned to purchase gets rung up at the till. But I digress. But yeah, happens to you as well, right? Right? *hopeful look*

So the organic stuff. When the excitement of 'new!' wore off for a few seconds, I looked closely at the displays. Gorgeous packaging for everything, with uber cool designs and in a couple of cases, kitschy names too. Impressive. And yes - the product range included the gamut of lentils, spices and fresh veggies too. But while 'regular' red onions cost Rs 16/- (about 25 cents) a kilo, the smooth, plump organic ones were four times the cost. As for the spices, loved the packaging - corrugated cardboard (gasp!) and papier mache boxes (ooooh!) - but again, not so much the pricing. With a loud, thumping heart, making sure to check that no one was looking, I surreptitiously compared prices on both. And wound up with the organic cumin and pepper in my shopping cart. Also the onions.

Getting home, almost reverently dicing the onions for soup, decided that they smelt and tasted the same as any others, and thought that maybe the soup would taste different, if nothing else, to accommodate for the organic goodness. And oh, ditto the pepper.

As the soup was getting done, quickly whipped out the Berry to google up info on organic products. As expected, sifting through pages of wisdom, found that organic foods are healthier (duh!), have lesser chemicals and pesticides infused through them, are not genetically modified, contain more minerals, vitamins and other goodness as compared to conventionally grown produce. Or so they said.

Recently, my wallet was relieved to come across more research that said otherwise. Turns out that overall, there was not much of a differnce between the nutritional content, although the organic food was 30% less likely to contain pesticides. There is also no concrete evidence yet that there is a discernible difference in the amount of bacteria from eating organically produced foods compared to conventionally produced foods.

And oh, my onion soup didn't taste different, either. I think I'll use up that saved dough to buy myself a new ebook reader.

Monday, 17 September 2012



And the good news is, some recent research on white bread that was lurking around as news in the papers. Turns out that all brown bread isn't good, because a fair amount of it has sugar and colouring. And also - happily - turns out that ignoring white bread may not be the best thing either; it comes with its own set of benefits (read nutrients). Yeahhh!

Here's my list of bread benefits (oooh, a list after long):
  • Tastes gooooood
  • Smells even better, freshly baked
  • Is compatible with all kinds of sandwich makings
  • Makes you sooo happy in the head (Seriously, have you tried baking a loaf? Or bought one fresh off the baking tray? Oh the sheer goodness!)
This only makes me wonder about food fads once again. If something's trendy, or is the flavour of the month, we tend to dump everything else aside, and scour the food aisles for just that product. And all else gets deemed 'bad'. But one day, the Product Fairy stops by, and things change faster than an F1 car revving at the start of a race.

Short lived or otherwise, I'm thrilled white bread is here to stay. Or at least, for now.

Thursday, 13 September 2012


Trending on the news - and not for the best of reasons - is a cartoonist these days. The guy was popped into a jail cell on charges of sedition, for what were viewed as offensive in the extreme cartoons. Of course, it's redundant to say that there are various views here: a faction of people mortally wounded by the said cartoons, while others have merely laughed them off, and thereby gone back to their lives. Another set of people have shrugged their shoulders and fence sat, and gone back into hibernation. That said, there is also a fourth lot, the ignorant, who asked, what cartoon? which cartoonist, did you say?

The cartoons in the limelight go all out to diss the state of affairs in the country currently. From desecrating the national symbol, to depicting canines ditching their favoured fire hydrants to relieve themselves on more sensitive surroundings... the said cartoons have it all. So Faction One objects, naturally. What Faction Two says is, aren't they just calling a spade a spade? Not everyone voices - or in this case, sketches - what they actually feel, and an even smaller number ask for free hospitality courtesy their government by putting them up on their blog. This guy did that. And got a lot of freebies in the bargain, including his 15 seconds of fame on all media possible. People who didn't read newspapers (Faction Four) picked them up, and got more information than they even wanted, given the very exciting stuff that the papers are otherwise crammed with. Others who didn't know cartoons beyond what they saw on the telly in their childhoods, suddenly woke up to them. Faction Three, Those With No Voice, just melted into the furniture when asked for an opinion, God forbid they meet the same fate as the cartoonist. News media benefited too; they had something apart from murders and robberies to report. Ah.

Now that's the story for you. It of course brings up the eternal question - how much is too much? In an attempt to raise a question/ point out facts(?)/ create awareness/ whatchamacallit, is it okay to draw no lines whatsoever, and happily believe that anything goes? The eternal debate of creative expression versus going too far rears its head.

Can the twain meet? Here's what I think: yes, one can express what s/he feels. However, offensive needs to be married with acceptable somewhere. It may not always be a win-win situation for both, but there is something to be said about a few things being sacred. Religion, flags of various countries - isn't there a reason they're topics (normally) approached sensitively? I'd say go right ahead and do what you want - but not such that if it were to happen to you, you'd react as strongly, as adversely, as the reaction you've just gotten. That old adage - do unto others as you would have them do unto you - tweaked a bit, maybe.

Monday, 10 September 2012


... is the new Long Island Iced Tea. Or at least, in my books.

That pic above? From dinner last night - good friends, good food, good conversation... and some wonderful fun, laughter and memories.

Wednesday, 5 September 2012


In India, we celebrate September 5 as Teacher's Day, to honour the birth anniversary of former president Dr S Radhakrishnan, a prominent thinker, philosopher and educator.

It's a fun day at schools, with the older students dressed up as teachers, and then going to teach kids from the lower grades. Of course, it isn't a serious exercise, and results in frivolity all around. And the mad dash to 'entertain' teachers - skits, dance performances; basically anything goes. The more colourful, the merrier. Teachers are seen leaving at the end of day, staggering under the weight of (mostly) hand-made greeting cards and flowers, and the odd gift or two. Nobody deserves the honour more, in my opinion.

Looking back, you never do appreciate your teachers much while still a student. I remember desperately attempting to blend in to the walls on Open Days, when the parents (invariably Mum) would need to stop by school to meet with my teachers and get a heads-up on the progress I was making. Or not. Most teachers were held in awe, while a few others were more relaxed and approachable. However, whatever be their style of functioning, looking back, there's so much I learnt from each one of them. Some of them were super special, and I know I'm the person I am today thanks to their contribution.

Did you ever have that special teacher(s) who encouraged you always? Who was a parent away from home? A teacher who, no matter how grim things seemed, was impartial and firm? Loving, even? One who taught you right from wrong, but in such a way that you didn't even know you were being taught - and still changed for the better? Thankfully, over my academic career, I was blessed with them.

That's academia for you. But it's not just people who imparted formal education that need to be appreciated and told how much they've made a difference in your life. Do spare a thought for your very first teachers - parents. Siblings, even. Friends. And the list goes on.

As I type, I still am learning, and hopefully, will continue to do so. And pass it on.

Tuesday, 4 September 2012


Yesterday was a day of torrential rainfall in the city. It started to rain around mid-afternoon, and by evening, even those proverbial cats and dogs were overshadowed.

People started to leave work earlier than they otherwise would, trains were running late, roads were flooded - yes, flooded, with much more than knee-high water in places - and let's not even start on the traffic. My usual 45-minute commute took me closer to three hours, and apparently I was one of the luckier ones, both in terms of comfort and travel time. Why? Because while local trains were bravely ploughing along, they were devoid of electricity - ergo no fans - and were packed beyond imagination. Those who travel by train here would know what I mean, and for the others - let me see - it's about four people to a square foot of space. With maybe one more squeezed in for good measure. So there's heat, humidity levels at a crazy high, and no light (save for what would filter in from the windows and the doorways) to speak of. And then, these same trains made unscheduled halts for as much as an hour between stations, owing to flooded railway tracks.

On the roads, while I was safely ensconced in the air conditioned confines of my cab, negotiating the traffic was a nightmare. (I'd thought ahead and booked myself a cab in the morning itself; having made up my mind that it wouldn't be fun to drive myself home in the evening. Thank goodness for instincts.) Plugged in to my music, I'm glad I wasn't the cabbie. So there you go, not that the roads were brilliant, either. To add to the vehicles, people were spilling over on to the roads (not that we use our pavements to walk  on, even on a good day) and adding to the treacherous driving conditions. Of course, there was no saying where the potholes might be, so negotiating your way (both humans and cars) was tricky. Unless you were an SUV, in which case you barrelled on regardless.

This morning, while the rain continues - though feebly, in comparison to yesterday - the chaos does too, although to a smaller extent. Trains still continue to ply late, traffic snarls exist, and people troop in to work close to noon. Happy employees like the significant other are told to work out of home, so as I leave earlier this morning, he is happily sunk into the couch with his morning cuppa and the papers. Hmph. Envy.

The point of this rambling is just one: year after year, the city goes through the same situation, at least once every monsoon. Nothing changes, really, but that the number of people braving the mess have grown ten-fold, while the infrastructure has shrunk ten times. Development projects, while more appealing than food at a Michelin star restaurant on paper, are just that - on paper. They don't materialise, and when they eventually do - it's years too little and too late. What ails the city? Lack of one cohesive administrative body, one that takes accountability for its actions. With the buck being passed from one to the other (given the number that claim to be working for the city), there isn't any one that stands up, acknowledges that they're responsible, and functions as such.

We keep drawing parallels between the capital city and financial capital. Mercifully for them, there is just the one body that is accountable for the city's infrastructure. That is why you see projects being flagged off, and completed within a reasonable time frame. There is someone who stops to question what's happening - or isn't. The reasons for this - votes, public support at elections - may be questioned by a faction, yes. But if that's the case - I say, so what? Wouldn't you want to vote for such a party/ person? At least the work's getting done, which is why you elect someone in the first place. So no, there is no favouritism per se. It's initiative. And drive.

Things can change here too. All it needs is a spark.

For now -  and for a few more monsoons, seemingly - maybe we'd best invest in a boat.

Monday, 3 September 2012


You know those things called Mondays? Who likes them, anyway? Working a six-day week, the lone Sunday zips past, and before the coffee has even kicked in, bam! here's Monday already. Meh.

As if it's not bad enough it's Monday, you bump into people on the elevator in your apartment building/ at work. Worse if they're the moronic cheerful sort, who love Mondays, are perkier than Betty Boop and hate weekends because "there's nothing to do". I hate when they go, "So, how was your weekend?" C’mon, really, like you even care. So I debate about whether to launch into a tirade about the laundry, my washing machine that's on the blink, about woes with my house help, or how I ran out of vegetables and had to survive on Maggi (which isn't a bad thing) for Sunday lunch and dinner. But no, I don't - only because I'm mortally afraid that I'll get a reciprocated update. So the thing here is, what's the appropriate response to "what's up?", "how was your weekend?", "how are you" and the like? You get my drift.

Cut to lunchtime Monday. Scene on the elevator, rinse, repeat. Twice. Briefly contemplate tossing in something that’ll range from mildly to severely risqué and/ or scandalous, but throw it up in favour of the less brutal. Also the fact that I'll need company at lunch through the rest of the week influences my decision. So I throw in a movie instead. And a fabricated visit to the nearest mall, singing about the sales. Sneaky. When I turn to the colleague and politely enquire about her weekend, I'm given an  insight into the angst of bringing up a nine-year-old, grappling with the mother-in-law and an ill pet (dog). In graphic detail. At lunch. Really, the dog isn't the only one with buggered innards now.

Come Monday week, I'll invent something that I can describe in lurid detail as revenge. Until then, I'm still glassy-eyed from the information overload on the anatomy of a canine.


Vanilla cupcake with sunshine-y frosting. Ended the weekend on a sweet note... literally!

Sunday, 2 September 2012


Or maybe you'd prefer couscous?

Yup, the foodie in me rises again (if ever asleep in the first place).

This is what I give a two thumbs up to, what with the world getting smaller, a global village, glocal and other similar management jargon. I like that I can explore world cuisine, and not just in a cookbook.

Indian telly grew up too, with the advent of satellite television. While I'm not a fan of the soaps, I do love sitcoms and lately, food shows. Needless to say, I'm happily hooked on to one as I type, and can't wait to get my weekday fix of gorgeous food, beautifully plated (see, new word - courtesy said show!) and completely droolworthy.

Initially, when a ganache slipped into my life, as did everything from a lasagne to (gasp! chocolate) fondue to a beautiful cucumber gazpacho I was breathless. You know that proverb about kids and candy stores? Well. I did enlist some help - the good old Internet, to translate some of the exotic sounding names for me. And of course those ingredients. It got only better when slowly those only-on-telly foods sprouted on our local world food store shelves. It all seemed more real now.

Then restaurants moved beyond pizza, and tapas bars came in. When a fizzy lemon soda transformed into a smooth red wine sangria, teeny cubes of apple et al, and tostadas didn't sound like toaster pronounced with an odd accent. They also turned Michelin starred, hatted.... ooh!

On my next holiday, I'm gonna be sampling loads more local flavours than ever before.

Saturday, 1 September 2012


Received what I believed was a forward via BlackBerry Messenger a couple of days ago. Turns out, not only was it not a forward, but had actually happened with the colleague who sent the message earlier that day.

The brave guy was relying on the city's crumbling infrastructure to get somewhere, and hence found himself on a local train. Sitting next to him was apparently an extremely pretty girl, with distinctly Oriental features. Of course, a conversation had to be struck (initiated by him) and with some luck, the rest of the train ride (and whatever else) would be made more pleasant.

So the guy (let's call him S) comes up with (what he believed then to be) the prefect opening line -
S: So what do you think of India? Isn't it a beautiful country?

Now for the rest of the conversation -
G (the girl in question): Yes, it is.
S: Do you like India?
G: Oh yes. I've been staying here a while now.
S: Really? So have you been staying in Mumbai long?
G: A while, yeah.
S: So where are you from originally? (names a couple of the Far Eastern countries, hoping to hazard a lucky guess and get even luckier)
G (complete with deadpan expression): Actually, I'm from Nagaland... India.

Basically, our South Indian hero didn't just put his foot in his mouth, but both his feet and his hands too.

By the time I was through with alternating between rolling my eyes and laughing, I texted back to know just how big his black eye must be.

Turns out he apologised profusely to the very much Indian girl, muttering something about not making assumptions any more. No phone number in his wallet of course, just a cold shoulder.

And then we talk about unity in diversity, cultural melting pots and (hopefully lesser) racism.

What makes it sad is the fact that such is the state of our country - one section doesn't recognise, let alone acknowledge the other as its own. Diversity that clearly co-exists with ignorance, indifference and apathy. Who's to blame? The powers that be for letting things get this bad? Where there is no communication - let alone connect - between one part of the country and another? Where there is neglect, and chaos, and a constant feel of being alien, the outsiders? There's loads more that can be said on the subject, and probably none of it may suffice. I guess all we can do is hope and pray - and act - for change.