Saturday, October 18, 2014

Let's not be superwomen. It's highly overrated!!!

Have been going through a lot of posts on social media about many feminist issues. Be it discussions on how regressive a festival karwa chauth is or if it's only the responsibility of women to take care of children or whether women should make career their first priority or family. And have been wondering why such confusions exist in women's lives only. Is it because society expects so much out of us or have we in our endeavor to be perfect in everything made our lives so confusing.

 I have always voted for "do whatever brings you happiness" school of thought. That doesn't mean I am not guilty of striving for perfection and feeling upset when I haven't been able to achieve it. I haven't attained Nirvana yet and I would be fooling myself if I said not attaining all doesn't bother me.

 However, the underlying issue is that we always want to be the best of employees, best of wives/ lovers, best of cooks, best of hosts, best of mothers, best of daughters, best of friends and often in juggling so many roles, we fail in our own eyes. Let's face it, we are not the best and can't be the best in everything, however hard we tried!!! And I think it's time we stopped trying so hard and just celebrated life as it is. Let's not beat ourselves and choose to do whatever brings us happiness.

 If fasting on Karwa chauth makes us happy, let's do it and not fear if our peers call us regressive but if it doesn't inspire us, let's not do it under the pressure to increase the man's life span. 1 day of fast surely can't make up for 365 days of smoking and every weekend's drinking session.

 It's time to enjoy our decisions, if we like cooking, let's cook, if we don't, let's just order and have fun with friends. Everyone remembers a good time and if you are having a good time, others will have fun too. Nobody likes to see a stressed host, spending all the time in the kitchen. We love good food but we have come to your place to spend time with you and have some fun!!

 We can choose to just concentrate on our career and get adventurous on holidays, splurge on vacations and spend some quality time with the husband/ oneself rather than be stressed about having a baby coz everyone else is having one or we can choose to have a baby and have fun raising it, let the career take a backseat if that makes one happy.

 One can choose to be single or be married. All I am saying is let's just have fun doing whatever we do, take onus of our decisions and stop blaming the societal pressure.

The whole idea of living in modern times is to be free and liberated in our thoughts ane be happy in our decisions and let others be happy in their decisions too. Let's not impose our thoughts on others and let's not get imposed by other's thoughts too. Everyone has a point of view and with social media on a high, everyone has a platform to express it. Let's respect, take whatever we want and leave aside whatever is beyond us, have faith in ourselves.

  I hope and I promise to try to do it myself. So to all the lovely ladies...please let's just enjoy living!!!!

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Festival of lights in the royal land - Rajasthan

This post has been a long time due. Finally I get time to jostle down memory lane and pen down the happy memories from my Diwali vacation. We have decided to travel to atleast one new destination every year. This year thankfully we travelled to 2 new states. The blog on Kashmir is already posted, now it's time for the colourful Rajasthan. We took the flight to Udaipur aka city of lakes via Delhi on 2nd Nov 2013. At 6:30 pm, looking down from the ATR aircraft, Delhi looked like a bejeweled bride, all decked up before Diwali. It seemed like the Almighty had just strewn some stars and it splattered and clustered on the ground. From the aircraft, Delhi looked like several clusters of stars. The sight was amazing. We landed at Udaipur around 8 PM. The whole market area was decorated with lights and was closed for vehicles. We decided to take a detour and go to the Ambrai restaurant for dinner before checking in our hotel. It's a beautiful restaurant situated by the Lake Pichola. The view of the palaces and the fireworks from the restaurant was breathtaking. The food was good too. The next day we explored the City Palace museum. It has an awesome collection of the armory of the kings and provides an insight in the lifestyle of the royalty. We also visited Fateh Prakash palace and took a boat ride to Jag Mandir, which is another beautiful palace in the middle of the lake turned into a luxury hotel. An old musician was playing "Ajeeb dastan hai ye.." (an old Hindi movie song)on cups and bowls. It was quite peaceful sitting by one of the jharokhas looking at the lake with the soulful music playing in the background. If we didn't have a timeline to take the boat back to the city, I would have loved to spend the entire evening sitting by the jharokha. The best part of the day was a surprise visit by my lovely sis and brother in law at Jagat Niwas, where we were having dinner. I still can't believe they drove all the way from Ahmedabad to Udaipur just to surprise us and made Diwali truly memorable for us. The 4 of us went back to the rooftop of our hotel and enjoyed the fireworks till late night. It was a good change to feel the chill in the air for us Mumbaikars. The next day we started our drive for Jaisalmer, the golden city. On the way, we visited Saheliyon ki bari, which is a garden made for queens and their maids who accompanied them as part of the dowry. It is full of fountains, though not very well maintained. We also visited Ranakkpur, known for the beautiful Jain temple made of marble. It's a grand temple with beautiful marble pillars. We reached Jaisalmer by 7 in the evening. We checked in at Lalgarh hotel in the city. The hotel is coowned by Narpat Singh, aka Naru. We decided to laze around after the long drive and have dinner at their rooftop restaurant. The rooftop provides a great view of the Jaisalmer fort in it's full glory. It was decorated with lights and looked very grand. The evening was full of friendly banter with Naru, stories of friendships, love and loss. On 5th Nov, we left for the fort. The street the fort is lined with handicraft shops and loooks very colorful. We checked in at Garh Jaisal, a boutique hotel in the Jaisalmer fort. There are only 7 rooms in the hotel and all are unique and beautiful. Ours had a nice window seat, actually more of a window bed with a view of the city. I checked in and dozed off for a few hours at the window seat. We had yummy chicken chowmein for lunch at the hotel's rooftop restaurant. The chowmein was surprisingly good. We decided to explore the place on foot. We went through narrow bylanes, passing by houses, temples, shops. The top attractions of Jaisalmer are: 1. Gadisar Lake: It's a man made lake, once the only source of water in Jaisalmer, constructed by the first ruler, Raja Rawal Jaisal. It's a picturesque lake. There are sarangi players on the way to the lake who play soulful tunes. There is also a Government emporium, where tourists can buy the traditional lehariyas and bandhni dress materials, quilts and other knick knacks that Rajasthan is famous for. We went to a small family run restaurant called Cafe The Kaku which is newly started by this very young and entrepreneurial chap named Sahil. The view of sunset is great from the rooftop restaurant and we enjoyed the converation with the very enthusiastic and hospitable Sahil over the traditional Rajasthani dessert dish "Ker sangari". 2. Patwaon ki haveli: One of the largest havelis in Jaisalmer and is a cluster of 5 small havelis. It gives an insight in the lifestyle of the wealthy and influential. One can see the entire household from living room, kitchen, kind of utensils used, bedroom, vanity rooms of the lady of the house and the recreation area for the men to entertain guests. Apart from this, the Jain temple and the fort are also worth a watch. However, we went during Diwali and it's a popular and closer destination from Gujrat so the place was very crowded and we gave it a skip. I loved shopping for the silver jewelry there. However, one should be very careful and shop from the known jewelers only. We stayed in Jaisalmer for 2 days and then left for Sam Sand Dunes. On the way, we visited the abandoned Kuldhera village. There are many stories that go around the abandonment of the village by the Paliwal community, which used to inhabit the village. The version that we were told is that the Paliwals were a very beautiful and talented race. One of the days, a Mughal emperor set his eye on a beautiful Paliwal girl. He wanted to make her his mistress. The headman asked for a time of 3 days and they abandoned the village overnight and went in different directions to save the girl. The Sam Dhani Resort is ideally located on a hillock in front of Sam Sand dunes, 42 Kms from Jaisalmer. It has 8 beautiful cottages with attached washrooms. We were given a warm welcome on the beats of dhols and nagaras and welcome drinks served. We checked in one of the very beautiful and comfortable cottages. We took a camel ride to the dunes and enjoyed sunset in the dessert. It was my first experience and I totally loved it. In the evening, the resort had made an arrangement for folk music and dance and outdoor buffet dinner. It was a fun evening. We checked out in the early morning the very next day. It was a chilly morning and it was very difficult to leave the resort. I just wanted 1 more day in the dessert but so is life, one always wants more of the beautiful things. It was a dream to visit Rajasthan one day, which was made true by my husband. Special thanks to Nirav Vithlani for all his help with research and introduction to Naru (Narpat Singh), who made the whole stay and travel very easy and comfortable for us. We were given a drop till Jodhpur, where we met our friends and drove back to Mumbai.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Mystical Kashmir

It's been a long time since I have been at this space. Actually, it's been so long that I have had any personal space. Ever since, we have moved to Mumbai from Bangalore, life has been crazy. The work pressure, commute and just the challenges of living in a metro. We needed a vacation desperately and we chose Kashmir as our preferred destination for the 15th Aug long weekend holiday. Parents were not very happy about the decision because of the violence in Kishtwar making headlines. We still decided to go ahead with the plan and take it as it comes. We were travelling with another couple and all of us were pretty excited and counting days for this vacation and nothing could stop us. We took a direct flight from Mumbai to Sri Nagar, where we had arranged for a driver to pick us up from the airport and take us directly to Gulmarg. Though, the loos at the airport are not very clean, it's advisable to use them before embarking on a long journey as you don't get restrooms on the way to Gulmarg. The sight once we were out of Srinagar was very beautiful. The streets were lined with beautiful cottages with red or green roofs. We were enthralled by just the expanse of the houses, the space and the clean air after living in a space crunched city like Mumbai. We made a stopover at a restaurant for lunch. We had heard so much about Kashmiri cuisines from friends and didn't want to lose any opportunity. We ordered for Rista and Yakhni. The food was so yum that we all were grinning from ear to ear like satiated cats and were licking our fingers. Since it was Aug, we were told the weather would be warm. However, it started pouring that day and the weather got quite chilly nearer to Gulmarg. Thankfully, we had carried warm jackets, just in case. We had to change into jackets at Tangmarg. The drive to Gulmarg was so scenic, majestic hills, beautiful flora, curving roads, clean and sharp air. It was just mesmerising. I have never seen a place as beautiful as Gulmarg. It was really heavenly, beyond description.
We checked in at Gulmarg resort and just chilled there for the evening. Next day, we had booked gondola rides but because of the weather, the operators said we could ride only upto phase 1. However, we were lucky and by the time we reached phase 1, the weather cleared and we were taken to phase 2 as well. The view from the gondola was awesome. Somehow, it reminded me of the 1st scene of jurassic Park, when the plane lands :)
It was very cold at phase 2. we had to hire jackets and boots. There was a small patch of snow as well, where the locals were taking people for assisted ski rides. We had the yummiest maggi ever for lunch at phase 2, before we came down. The next day, we got up early in the morning and went for a walk till the temple. After the trek, we had no energy to walk back to the resort so we hired horses. It was my 1st time and I was a little scared. However, it turned out to be a good experience except for the sore back for 2 days.
we had to return to Sri Nagar that day. On the way back, we went to an apple orchard, though the apples atill had 15 more days to ripen. Sri Nagar traffic was quite difficult to negotiate. After a tedious drive, we reached Gorkha house boat at Naginn Lake. We were taken till the house boat on a shikara. I had just seen shikara rides in movies till now and our energies were restored seeing the shikara. The shikara rower was singing a Kashmiri song and he also gifted me a garland made of lily. It's a tradition as they give the garland to the lady riding in the shikara.
We didn't like the rooms in the houseboat at first glance as they looked too gaudy, decorated with carpets all over. Also, it was smelling a little musty because of the rains. The guys went out in search of liquor. It's very difficult to find liquor in the state of Kashmir. There are only 1 or 2 stores and is mostly available in army canteens. We girls went for a stroll in the adjacent garden and the store selling carpets, pashminas, etc. It's very important to buy this stuff from the right place as more often than not one tends to get cheated in terms of quality and price. We bought a carpet from a cottage emporium near Nishat garden the next day. The shop owner spent good amount of time explaining the intricacies of carpets and showing us carpets, ranging from INR 4000 to INR 7,00,000/-. The carpets were exotic and felt so soft. Kashmir is full of gardens. We chose to visit Nishat and Chasm-e-Shahi. Nishat garden oversees Dal lake and has 12 terraces, representing 12 zodiac signs, 11 of which are open to public. The garden is well maintained and looks very beautiful.
We woke up at 3:30 in the morning to visit the floating market as it opens at 4:30. The shikara ride to Dal lake, where the vendors sell vegetables ans flowers was very beautiful. It's something else to see sunrise Sri Nagar, riding in a shikara. One has to experience it to understand the glory.
Naginn lake, unlike, dal lake is still very quiet and not too commercial. People are very friendly and hospitable. I just enjoyed sitting in the balcony of the houseboat and gazing at the lake. I just couldn't get enough of seeing the lake and going for shikara rides. The attendant, we called him Chacha (Hindi for uncle) was very hospitable. He served us yummy, home made breakfasts in the morning. The gobhi paratha was to die for. I especially loved the Kashmiri cuisine, Mirchi Korma, Goshtaab, Yakhni, Rogan josh or just sipping Kahwa (kashmiri tea), sitting in the balcony of the houseboat. It was heavenly.
I would love to go back just to gaze at the lake and enjoy what nature has to offer, away from the madness of the city!!

Sunday, June 10, 2012


Sitting in mumbai by our balcony in my favourite rocking chair, lucky (our dog) sprawled on my feet,enjoying the rains with steaming, hot cup of lemongrass tea, i can't help but relive the phi-phi memories. Ours was a monsoon wedding and phi-phi was the chosen honeymoon destination. We flew to phuket from bangkok and then took a ferry from the pier in the morning. The timings of the ferries can be confirmed by the tour operators at phuket airport.
The view on the way is quite scenic. The beautiful bluish green shade of water, lovely hills is just mesmerising. The island is pollution free as the preferred mode of transport is ferries or bicycles. We chose to walk. We stayed in the beautiful hotel cabana,which is just outside the pier. The hotel has its own swimming pool with a fountain in between and a very good restaurant. After freshening up and having a good lunch of prawns, we headed out to explore the city. Phi-phi is a small island and can be easily covered on foot. Though, the island was badly hit by tsunami, it has managed to rebuild itself and still look so beautiful and serene. We saw some places which were marked as tsunami hit.
The lanes are dotted by spas offering all kind of massages and tour operators offering courses in scuba or taking tourists for deep sea fishing. We were also handed pamphlets of some parties happening that night. At night we chose to go to club hippie's. Hippies is an open air lounge by the sea. We chose a tree house kind of place to sit in. It was cozy and nice. They were serving starters and drinks. There was a competition going on on which couple can finish the assortment of mixed drinks served on a table placed in the centre. There were a few shots and a pitcher of mixed liquour which was supposed to be drank through a straw. An Australian group won the challenge. Loved the early morning walks, watching the village wake up, fishermen going to work, stores opening up slowly. Then having the most amazing food, going for a swim in the clearest water that I have ever seen, catching that much loved afternoon nap and again going for a walk, exploring new restaurants and eating....Glorious 3 days of my life!!!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

get well soon lucky

Lucky teaches me new things about myself, emotions i didn't know existed. Day before yesterday he had gone for a walk and he returned with a bad limp. The doc sensed a fracture in his paw but gave him injections and asked to observe him for a day. However, as there was no improvement, we got an x ray done and our fears were confirmed. It is a fracture. He has got a plaster on his foot. I have never seen anybody getting a plaster before. It is hard to believe! But i have never dealt with this situation before. I was dealing with all sorts of emotions:
Anger for having to move him from a calmer city like bangalore to this hustle, bustle where my poor lucky can't even walk without falling or getting hit by a vehicle, though it's a residential area and not a main road,
Hurt to see him going through all this when the poor soul doesn't realise what's happening
Amused at how he still tries to jump over us not realising that he will fall
Sad to leave him and go to work tomorrow.

It's going to take 3 weeks to heal and i wish that i could stay with you for all this time, that i didn't have to tear myself and go to work leaving you behind. I love you,lucky and i pray that u get well soon :)

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Cuppa Joy

I love my tea. It's like a religion for me, just like cricket and bollywood is for people. There is nothing in this world that brings more joy to me than a steaming hot cup of tea. I am the happiest person if I get my tea on time, i.e, just after waking up, around 10 am in office, around 3 pm in office and at whatever pm I reach home (if it's not dinner time) and anytime in between if am getting bored. I am in seventh heaven if I manage to get a cuppa just before sleeping as well.

I was just wondering if one can determine their tea personality by their general traits and was doing some research on the net, when I stumbled upon this quiz "what tea personality are you?" on the site (exactly what I needed). They have some cool quizzes (too good for me as I am quite jobless right now). I won't share the quiz coz of the constraint of space but would definitely share the personality types according to the tea you like. Here it goes:

1. Green Tea: You are subtle, but you have a very strong presence. Your proponents claim that being around you makes them feel better both spiritually and physically. Your personality is an acquired taste for some, but once someone is your friend, they're with you for life.

2. Herbal Tea: You are a true original. You are a nonconformist and your moods vary greatly. You can be soothing, energizing, and uplifting, but sometimes you feel a little weak. People have a definite opinion about you, whether positive or negative. Children are particularly drawn to you.

3. Lemon Tea: You are a peacemaker. You love to be the one who smoothes things over and makes everyone feel good. You don't like to cause a scene, and as a result, you are sometimes taken for granted. People may not often solicit your help, but you are always there when they need you.

4. Iced Tea: You are very trendy and fashionable. People love your smooth character. You may be a big fan of accessories or embellishments. Sometimes you can come off as a bit reserved, or cold. Women especially enjoy your company.

5. Black Tea: You are a true classic- strong and dependable. You may not be the most adventurous or quirky person in the room, but you're the one most people turn to in times of trouble or distress. You always have energy, and your moods are generally stable. Just about everyone likes you.

Well, I don't know why they didn't mention our Indian milky tea, adrak wali chai (ginger tea) or our true Mumbaiya cutting-chai. For me, I don't know what personality type would I be as I like green tea with a dash of lemon/ honey in the morning, ginger tea in office, iced tea in the afternoon, mint tea in the evening and cutting chai for time pass (true Mumbaiya ishtyle). I am also doing some more research on tea types in different countries, more on that in the next post.

Till then, enjoy your cuppa joy!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Childhood fantasies and new recipes

Since childhood, I have always fantasized about a man, who could cook and clean. However, love is blind and I am in love with somebody who can do neither. Oh yes, he can make yummy cheese sandwiches and Maggi and he can clean really well, if one is really motivated enough to remind him nth no. of times to get him to do it!!! So, somebody in our family of 2 had to pick up the spatula and you guessed it right, that was me!

Now, I was never trained or interested in cooking. My mom is an awesome cook and we never had the need to step in the kitchen. The college years were spent in hostels so we got crappy canteen food. Even after marriage, for nearly a year we were in Bombay and it was quite difficult with my work timings to cook so we had hired a cook.

Once we shifted to Bangalore, with reduced commuting time, I had more time at hand and decided to finally venture into the kitchen. From being an experimental cook, I turned to being a full-time one in a matter of 2 years. Previously, the subject of cooking was like how Mathematics is to a few people. Whenever, people started discussing recipes, I would space out after a few sentences and travel in my own wonderland. However, now I try to learn new recipes through net or through books. The recent one that I experimented with and which turned out to be a great success was Murgh Awadhi Korma (recipe taken from Femina Cookbook). I have tried my hand in cooking chicken several times and every time somehow the gravy becomes watery, But this recipe changed it all. So, here it goes (it's a little improvised from the actual recipe)...

Murgh Awadhi Korma

(ref image from Google)
Make a paste of 2 tsp cumin seeds (jeera), 1 strip of cinnamon (dalchini), 2 raw onions, some garlic, a little ginger, some black pepper and 1 cardamom(elaichi). Roast 2 chopped onions till they become brown and make a brown onion paste. Heat 3 tbsp of Ghee in a kadhai. Add 1 bay leaf (tej patta) after the ghee is hot and the paste of all the spices. Add the brown onion paste as well. Roast till the onions become translucent. Add turmeric powder, salt to taste, red chilli powder, coriander powder and a bit of garam masala powder. Let the spices simmer for a bit. Add the chicken in the spices and let it cook for 10 minutes. Add some water and cashewnut paste and let it cook for 5 minutes. Transfer the contents of the kadhai to a pressure cooker and cook till one whistle. Garnish with some chopped cashews and you are ready to serve. :)

So, enjoy the recipe and while you are at it don't forget to share some of the latest recipes that you tried and succeeded with...