October 31, 2008

The Awakening

Of the simplest kind... of literally waking up. Chill has taken hold of Paris and most days even for a quick riser for me it feels really awful to be getting up away from the cozy warmth of the comforters to the cold, hard wooden floor and the sudden chill that engulfs you before you reach out for that sweatshirt. Every person has a different way of waking up. But for me it has always been the hot hot shower minutes after I rise. Nothing refreshes me better and wakens me faster and happier than that. For all those of you who are wondering - no, not even my morning cup of Felix Felicis aka Chai! For S, I think it's the laptop. Almost everyday, I can catch a glimpse of him bleary-eyed and yawning no sooner than he's tottering out of bed to go and push the laptop screen up to waken it even before turning on the room lights and with that the dull glow of the laptop illuminating his face (in more than one way, if you get my drift!)

On a completely different note, October has clocked the maximum posts for me... and none of them totally frivolous. Cheers to October! And here's welcoming my favorite month November :D

October 30, 2008

The Time-Thought inequality

Everyone's faced this. When you are deeply involved with something the time seems to melt by whereas when you are not, those 5 minutes you have wait for the train to arrive feels like eternity. I've experienced it first-hand many a time but today just jolted it back on me. I left school a bit early, it being terribly chilly and not being helped by the incessant boring drizzle. And all the way over to the train station, I was pondering a solution to a process problem that I was facing in my research. Absently I checked the schedule monitors and registered that it was 9 minutes to the next train, in other words, eternity. But as my mind was occupied with reaching a solution the next thing I knew was throngs of people rushing out of the shaded area towards the train that had arrived. Musing to myself at this marvel, I climbed in and leaned against my usual bar once more lost in thought. And after what seemed like merely a moment, I stared out the stationary train, glassy-eyed and unfocussed. The train blared it's closing horn 3 seconds after which the doors would shut. Just at that second my eye caught the station name.

Val de Fontenay

My stop. In a flash through the closing doors I darted out to the platform, shocking the many idling passengers I am sure. I couldn't believe that I was so consumed with my thoughts that I hadn't noticed the train make it's customary 3 stops before my own. Of course you know how it is when time never goes by. It just doesn't! There's certainly an inequality when you are occupied and when you're not. And its only glaringly obvious when you are unoccupied.

October 29, 2008

Dhideer Rasam

This post is dedicated to Priya. Get well soon.
Well I am sure most of us have come home some day feeling all tired and too bored to cook, or sometimes just too late to whip up anything interesting. Times like this though we probably end up binging on some junk there's always the hope that there was some comfort food. This one is mine. It's saved me a lot of trouble many a time and what's more its positively delicious and it's actually on the menu atleast 2-3 times a week among other dishes.

So for all those people who want a 10-minute yummy desi recipe or for those bachelors who wanna cook or just for a lazy evening here's my dhideer (instant) rasam recipe.
Hint - for the impatient, just read the blue-coded words for the order in which to add ingredients to get this done with!

1. A can of tomatoes (if you have fresh ones great... but the can saves time)
2. Butter - 1 dollop
3. One lemon or juice from 1 lemon
4. The usual rasam ingredients - rasam powder (3-4 tbsp), asfoetida ( a pinch), mustard seeds (1 tsp) and salt to taste
5. The extras (if you want) - a few curry leaves and a sprig of coriander for garnish, ginger if you prefer.
How to make it
1. Take a saucepan and melt your dollop of butter (you can use oil but the taste and flavour from the butter are totally worth whatever calories that it may add!)
2. Allow the mustard seeds to crackle and add the curry leaves, ginger and asfoetida and fry for about 30 seconds.
3. Dump the can of tomatoes into this crackling mixture and add salt to the tomatoes for all their water to seep out while cooking.
4. As the tomatoes boil, add water equivalent to the can of tomatoes to them.
5. When you see the whole thing froth from all the boiling (in about 2-3 min), add rasam powder to it. Let it boil for about a minute and turn it off.
6. Now add the lemon juice to it and stir it in and finally garnish with coriander and voila... you are done!
Serve with steamed rice or have it just as a soup. It's quick, light, flavourful and tasty. Try it out and let me know how you feel about it.

1. You can always add cooked toor dal just before adding the rasam powder to give it more volume. Take care not to add too much or it'll end up tasting like sambar.
2. You can also add garlic at the stage you add ginger for a different kind of flavour. As it is a strong ingredient, avoid adding too much of it.


Ever since I've gotten to Paris, I've been taken by a shoe obsession. You'll know what I mean if you've read Happy Feet and it's sequel on this blog. And here I am... yet again with a new pair of boots. These are ankle-high and I had been on the lookout for them. And they're black... so no worries about matching with anything else. They are smart, chic and at the cost of sounding like Monica (in F-R-I-E-N-D-S), I must add that they go with almost every attire. Look for yourself...

(P.S: It's hard trying to get the SLR to focus on both your feet especially with no one to help AND when you are wearing the shoes and are bent at a very acute angle trying to reach the 'CLICK' button on the camera.)

October 28, 2008

The Planner

No, this is not about the electronic one, not even the book style one. This post refers to those people who as a part of a 'group' are most adept at planning the social events for all those involved. And it's a lot more fun when there are other people as enthusiastic as you are to try and coordinate an entire get-together or event and to be responded to in an even more enthusiastic fashion. Hell, the second lot didn't have to plan or work out the logistics. They simply had to approve or disapprove of the potential plans made by the Planners. Back when I was at UC, we had a huge group and consequently there was always more than one person who was all 'enthu' to plan out other people's birthdays or Diwali bashes or just Saturday night dinners. I guess it was either the age that we were back then or the fact that everyone was single and so all company was welcome or both, but the occurrings have dwindled very noticeably over the past few years. Nowadays I find myself planning exceedingly simple gatherings to match the free evenings of just over 5 subtly interested people each time and always for something as simple as a movie or a bar or dinner. Anything else involves a multitude of planning and has never been as easy as it was before. I guess the group has shrunk from the large numbers of the UC days or even San Diego. More so, everyone has some other form of personal life too, other than one another. In other words, life happens.

October 27, 2008

Diwali goodies

Well yeah I talked to many of my friends, whose Thalai Diwali also it is. I may not have made a lot of dishes. But I did make one sweet, chakrapongal (Thanks Priya for the recipe) and one savory, vadai for keeping up the tradition.

Here are the pictures... They don't look very great thanks to the yellow lighting at home and the fact that it darkens very quick these days. But they sure did taste awesome.

On a different note, happy birthday VR.

October 26, 2008

Scorpion Avalanche

Orkut tells me that 27 of my friends have their birthdays over the next 10 days. That's more Scorpions than I bargained for... And that doesn't even include the ones whose birthday has passed in the Scorpio calendar so far or the ones that will come after these 10 days (including my own). And obviously it doesn't include the unique breed of people who are not on mundane networking sites like Orkut. It's insane! Who knew I had so many friends of the same breed? Who knew that so many people with the treacherous Scorpion traits like jealousy n possessiveness amongst many others could be friends and good ones at that? Just goes to show that my Linda Goodman days are long over. And people are to be treated for their merit and not their sun-sign's. And that sun-sign compatibility is to be left behind with the undergrad days of joblessness. For example, my hubby's a Scorpion. I guess that's the end of the story.

Happy Diwali!

Back we are at the festive helm of things as far as being Indian is considered anyways... The biggest festival is here - Diwali. And yet again I am not where I should be - India doing what I love the most - bursting crackers etc. This time is even more special because it is my Thalai Diwali. For the uninitiated, it is the first Diwali after the wedding. Everyone creates a big fuss over us, gets us all these new clothes and feeds us these array of sweets that would put the sweet shops to shame. Of course we are not in India to enjoy any of these spectacles. Hmph. But the husbad and I did go out and get new clothes a small fraction of the whole package at least to keep up some of the spirit. And unbelievably for the third year in a row, my sentiments remain unchanged from here.
So here's wishing you all a very very Happy and safe Diwali and a fantastic New Year ahead.

And specially, for allll my close friends who also got married this past year, wish you all a very special Thalai Diwali. Enjoy!

And finally, a very Happy Birthday to my husband :)

October 24, 2008

Tina Fey as Sarah Palin

Check out the mindboggling Tina Fey impression before Palin herself makes an entry

October 23, 2008

What's your mental age?

We've heard many people use this term... sometimes in a derogatory manner. But the other day VR and I were discussing how we pretty much considered ourselves to be the age we were when we set foot on Cincinnati to begin our Masters degree. And it's been 4 years since then. And because of that, all of a sudden when my real age dawns on me, I feel disproportionately old. And it's unsettling. I think the reason behind this is that leaving India (or one's own country) and going to the US for a degree all by oneself was a big deal. And that was the last life-altering change that took place in our lives. Even including marriage. The responsibilities multiplied when we first had to live alone, cook alone and manage bills, accounts, shopping and what not alone all amongst trying to keep the grades high and those all-nighters for assignments, midterms and finals. And we each mastered our individualities, developed our personalities and the metamorphosis from dependent child to independent adult was fast completed. Which is why even after something as huge as a wedding, I still feel the same age as I was when I first went to the US. And all of a sudden, we're reading about these actresses and models, who are 1986 born and even later. And for one fleeting second, the thought crosses the mind - is it legal for them to work, even? And suddenly you realize it's 2008 and they're 22 and yes that's legal. And that time's going faster than you've accounted for. Hell... practically everyone you know is married or on the verge of even including the boys (men is more appropriate) of your age. Many of your classmates are having kids and it's obvious that we're all very very grown up. I guess it helps everyone to be at that comfortable age that they can relate to. For me, it's 23. What's yours?

October 22, 2008

India Shining

It seems to be a good period for India in a couple of unrelated fields at least. India blasted off her first space mission to the moon. Read all about the ISRO's accomplishments here - http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/7679818.stm . This is a milestone (or moon stone, if you will) on any grand scheme of things and this mission is being monitored all over the world. Go India!

And on an unrelated, yet very Indian topic, the Indian cricket team thrashed the Aussies in the second test at Mohali for their most convincing test victory against the 'unassailables'. Read all about that here - http://content-uk.cricinfo.com/indvaus2008/content/story/374802.html . And add to that Sachin tendulkar now holds the record for having made the most test runs ever and for being the first batsman to cross the 12,000 run mark ever. Want more stats? Read here - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sachin_Tendulkar

India - Rock on!

October 21, 2008

Eiffel again

Some things, you just can't help taking pictures of.... This is one of those occasions. The day was brilliant and the angle of the light playing on the tower was perfect. The result - a postcard from Paris.


I don't know if this is true of many people... but it is of me, which is why I am writing about it in the first place. I hate the sound of the alarm in the morning. I bet all of you are thinking - Well, duh... who doesn't? But no, I guess what I mean to say here is that I hate the sound of the alarm sooo much that I rise almost exactly a minute before it's due to ring and turn it off. That happen to anyone? I know there are many people out there with the most famous claim of all, in this aspect that is - "I don't even need an alarm to get up." And then there is something about the biological clock here. Yes of course I've gotten up without an alarm too... but usually it's about 9:30am by then if it's not an afternoon nap. Or it's the time I wake up to switch off the alarm before it's irritating noise fills my head. And I've realized that no matter how soothing the ringtone you set (if it's the cell phone), when it turns out to be the alarm it has the deadly potential to irritate. Talk about morning blues.

October 16, 2008

Beauty and the geek

Remember that show that used to come on US television? For a while there, I was quite the regular watcher. But that's not what I'm talking about here. It's the fact that it's 15°C outside ... beautiful sunshine... fabulous fall colors (yes, there are a few barren trees... even still), empty park benches barely a few feet outside my office and here I am... cooped in, researching electrodeposition, sputtering and other mundane MEMS processes.
Beauty - Outside. Geek - Me.

But yes, the weekend promises to be exciting... S&I have family visiting!

October 15, 2008

The 26 year old student

France is a country with many provisions for students/people of the lower income group, etc. But I was really sad to discover that most student benefits end the day you turn 26. It's almost as if they think you shouldn't study past the age of 25 or that if you wish to study past this hideous age, you are on your own and the government doesn't plan to help you. One of the main places this affects me is the railway/metro pass. It costs a steep 90€ a month with a huge variety of places you can go to. Even then! I discovered that students under 26 can get a 50% discount on that. And students above 26? A measly 2%. I wonder why that's even there! And then for most working people, 50% is compensated by their companies in their allowance. Not for us... because you are supposed to be able to get the transport system offered discount. I am a wee bit disgruntled ever since I found out. Hmph. Also in tourist spots... students under 26 can get tickets also for upto 50% off with their IDs. Not if you're over 26. I think it's a national rule that once you cross 25, you'd better be contributing to the household income... or go jump.

Sadly, this affects the highest educated bracket, like us doctorates, or the latecomers who decide to go back to school. Hell, at least the second category had their fair share of bucks before return to academia... I think this is just one of those days, when you can find fault with almost anything. But something tells me I am a wee bit reasonable here.

October 13, 2008

The understandable English

I don't know how many of you do this, but I've noticed I do this ever since I realized that it makes it easier for non-English speakers to understand - I alter my English to be grammatically incorrect but structured more easy to understand.


1. I tried running this experiment but it didn't work - I run experiment but it no work
2.I'll run you through this process and then you can do it on your own (or you're set) - I do one time, you see and then you do, then you ok.
3. I'm not done yet - I no do.

And so on... I suppose you get the point... At the end of it, I feel silly and like I've taught them the wrong way of saying things. But as they say, whatever works, right?

True love stories

Some love stories just touch you...like this one - http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20081012/ap_on_re_us/holocaust_love_story

And when it's like this, you know is meant to be. In a time of such difficulty... reunited worlds apart... Somethings just make you believe in fate. This is one of those.

October 9, 2008

A fresh look

As you may have noticed, MindBlogging has a fresh new look. I was inspired and helped to a great extent by Priya in achieving this final product. Do drop a line to let me know if you all like it!


Oh look it's fall..

It happens every year. One day there is the chill that goes with an ending summer and another day, you look out and the trees are all changing colour rapidly. It's Fall and it's here. And it's the most beautiful time of the year. the weather's great and the outside is gorgeous. I took these shots from just outside my office. If I don't feel like working, nature's to blame. Take a look...

Pretty, isn't it?

October 8, 2008


I'd never heard of such a thing till I saw this video on BBC - http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/video_and_audio/7658334.stm.

And then I read about it in wikipedia - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/E-cigarette

The world is getting insane. That's for sure. This one contains nicotine too... but not as much, it claims and is a 'healthier' option. Why would one want to smoke an electronic device now? Of course the fairer question would be why one would want to smoke at all... With all the 'SMOKING KILLS' and every other sign brandished on the box, it's a big wonder that they still sell more than they used to at any given point in time. This, for a world thats supposedly more health conscious. Whatever!

Toilet seat ideas

Nope, this is not about the ideas you get while on the seat... But this is those ideas that make the seat a perfect place to have those other ideas. Confusing? Well, that sounds about right... Check out how most of the loos are in Japan. (Notice left of the seat, the option buttons)

And a close up of the options now...

Mind-blowing. Here's ushering in the age of toilet technology. They have seat-warmers, sprays, water pressure control n what not. Imagine, if men could spend hours together on the ordinary boring toilet seats, what must the situation be like when you can have warm seats and sprays and what not. The Japanese are way ahead of most countries in technology. And this is just an example of just how diverse their technology is and where all it has been put to use. Maybe most of their ideas sprung from here. What say?

October 5, 2008

In love with Japan

Some cities are just easier to fall in love with than some others. With Tokyo and more so what I saw of Japan, it was easy. It wasn't like love at first sight. But it was pretty close. At the outset, Japan looks very similar to rural India, maybe because the Narita airport is located far away from the main city. Once you close in, the buildings grow taller, the advertisements sleeker and the area busier. They have many many train operators and at first glance, it seems like a daunting task to find one's way in a place with unfamiliar directions and language. But the moment you ask someone for help, you know that you are in good hands. The Japanese are perhaps the most helpful people in the world. They go completely out of their way to help you, answer your question or direct you. Most of them understand rudimentary english and can with ease point you in the right direction. Some others go out on a limb for you, like a girl who walks more than 15 minutes in a direction unrelated to her just so she can point you to the right place or the station manager who runs down 2 flights of stairs to tell you that the train that he said would go had departed and the next train was in 10 minutes. I was blown away. Tokyo is as busy as any other business epicenter in the world but its not 1% as rude. People in New York, Paris and Bombay have a definite chip in their shoulders as opposed to the ones in Tokyo. Take the restaurants for example. The most popular method of ordering, for a foreigner is to point out the food in a colourful pictorial menu. But sometimes there are no pictures and then it becomes a game of charades between you and the waitress. And once you explain that you are vegetarian, 99% of the time, they make you something special... something not on the menu and at the end charge you a measly amount for all their effort. And all this with the widest of smiles, the lowest of bends and the sweetest of 'Arigato gozaimaaas' singsong greetings.

Even with the Metro ceasing operations as 11pm, the city never sleeps. People cram into the last metro after having had a long dinner with drinks with friends/colleagues. Then there is the light effect at night ofcourse. All those tall buildings emblazoned with lights, creating a Times-Square effect on all of downtown Tokyo, no matter what the area. The food and lodging are all reasonable. But the people are the best and have left a lasting impression on me and helpful as I am, I have vowed to try even harder from now on.

There's sooooo much I can write about Tokyo. And I will. Under subsequent posts... under different titles. But as of now, there's just one thing to say. Compaii to Japan!! (Cheers!)