April 30, 2009

The first one

Ah I bet almost everyone has this sentiment about new things. About what we all call the new “baby” of the house/life/call it what you like (until of course there is a real baby). That first new car (or old but your first one nevertheless), the new cell phone, your first laptop, the brand-new plasma TV (ok you get the idea). They are each very precious to us and terribly close to our hearts. We take dear care of them particularly when they are new and unscathed. But fate has it’s way (or you’re a klutz… or they’re related) or maybe it’s someone else’s fault… but there’s always that dreaded first scratch (or it’s equivalent) sooner than later – there are those few moments when you first catch sight of it and your heart skips a few beats and as you leap closer to take a proper look – is that really a scratch? And then that sinking feeling when you realize that it is and even then find yourself wiping it over and over again, just hoping it’ll go away. Or that huge sigh of relief washing over you if you’re one of the lucky few for whom it was just a fleck of dust or something else. But of course that first scratch is just waiting to inflict itself in the most mysterious of ways on the most precious of things. And after that? It’s not that the value of the thing goes down… but you learn to treat as it was meant to be – as a gadget.. not something with feelings… not something alive. Sometimes people just consider it dhrishti (for the uninitiated it's like a blackmark that will henceforth ward off the 'evil eye'). My brand new lappie had his first one today… And I had fleeting thoughts of getting him exchanged. But for such a stupid reason? No way.. he came with my name written in bold letters on his box and was custom-made for me. He’s all mine. (With the gender attached to him, you can see that he’s not transcended into the gadget realm just yet). And not for a while, I would imagine.

Amused about me and my laptop legacy? There's more here.


Alright, this one is not for you virtuous folk out there. This is for someone like me (I bet there will be many people nodding along as you read on) - someone who would rather avoid the confrontation than face the discomfort. So I spotted someone I'd rather not have (lets call them "X"), walking a few feet ahead of me and instead of catching up and exchanging casual (un)pleasantries, I did the first thing that came to my mind and lingered. I let my steps drag to try and increase the distance between me and X but I discovered that X happens to walk uncharacteristically slow and was apparently headed to the same destination as me. Which made me seem pretty stupid (I could see my reflection along the glass-paned buildings). I was sort of walking in slow-motion and anyone who's seen me walk can vouch that I am a fast walker. And so I felt foolish. As I crept along, another strange thought struck me. What if X caught my reflection on the glass alongside and wondered why I was snailing along? I dismissed the possibility as highly unlikely. But on the other hand, I might've appeared as a strange stalker as well.. walking a safe distance behind the target. Come to think of it now, I should've probably crossed the street and walked far ahead with my pace than drawl behind. Or better yet, I could've walked on ahead, caught up, thrown a fancy "hi there" and made a I'd-love-to-chat-but-I'm-in-a-terrible-hurry scene and gotten with it. As always, hindsight is 20/20.

April 29, 2009


It was one of those funny moments and it was funny only if you were looking at it or it was in retrospect but not necessarily while experiencing it. Last night before going to bed, I was trying to take off a sweater that I was wearing. My hands must’ve been slippery or it must’ve been the fabric. Whichever the case, while I was tugging real hard at the sweater to take it off with a fistful of fabric, my hand slipped and I ended up punching myself in the jaw. Ok, be honest - how many of you actually burst out laughing imagining it? Let me tell you.. it’s not entirely funny when it happens to you. Especially if you have a sore jaw to reckon with the whole day. Every now n then, my jaw’s been seizing up for half a millisecond before easing up and it’s certainly something I could live without. Gosh, if I had a euro for every time I’ve done something this stupid!

April 26, 2009

Lowering the bar

Being in my mid-20s means that I have many many friends that are getting married/got married recently or are in the phase where they are partner hunting... ok you get the idea. Having been through the phase myself and still in touch with many of the eligible bachelor/bachelorettes, I have tried to understand what seems to be the most important characteristic that these people look for in their potential partners. Of course it is different for different people. While secure jobs and charming personalities make the list in most cases, still others are a bit more superficial like physical appearances and similar tastes in movies. Of course certain things may matter more to some than some others. For instance, while I think movies is an area that can be compromised either ways, someone else may see it as a deal-breaker if their partner cannot enjoy similar movies which they tend to interpret as their possible lone-time being split. To each one, their own. However, what struck me through this whole discussion was how the bar just went down when it was subject to an object of their affection. Almost everyone who’s still single and looking to mingle has had a crush or something more on someone else in the past. Amusingly, none of those people were of the “perfect” characteristics that are now being sought in the potential partner by all of them. For example, one of my friends was insistent about marrying a “tall'” guy. But I also happened to know that she had fallen for someone who was of average height earlier. And this to me was a clear sign that this particular expectation could immediately be done away with as a necessary ‘checkbox’ in the already tedious mating dance. If she ended up with a tall guy in the end, great… but there was no reason to ‘reject’ another perfectly great guy just because he wasn’t tall enough. Now substitute “tall” with any of the many many, sometimes odd expectations that people have of their partner, be it being well-travelled or having a “good vocabulary”. The reason I don’t necessarily see these as flaws is that there are no consistent definitions for these examples and they vary from person to person. And these are just some of the perks that I’ve witnessed as deal-breakers. Sure we all have that one big pet peeve and while that’s best avoided in our partners, surely, some of the lesser significant ones can be easily worked with. While one could unknowingly lower the bar for a previous object of affection, a person they didn’t even end up with, why can’t they lower the bar knowingly for someone they could end up with? Or is it the thought of settling for someone lesser than they ‘wanted’ dissatisfying? Or is it that they all think that there is someone better out there? Maybe it’s a combination of everything. But ultimately, as time passes, the bar steadily goes down, one peg at a time. Time sure levels out practically everything. Interesting, isn’t it?

Chocolate gâteau

With a brand-new oven sitting at home, what was the excuse not to experiment? Nothing. So I tried out a chocolate gâteau (for the un-French-ized, it’s a fancy word for cake).


It fluffed up good, tasted good and hence, was a decent maiden effort. As for the recipe, it was nothing fancy. It was your everyday recipe which you can google and find in seconds. I  just wanted to share fun pictures. Have a sliver, won’t you?


April 21, 2009

The haircut that wasn’t

Did it ever happen to you that you cut your hair and no one noticed? Just now, after you read that question, did your eyes shift up towards your right brain while you searched your memory? Was it like once in your whole lifetime when you got a “trim” or something? Now what do you do when you chop off 7 inches of your hair and still no one notices? Well, now you know how I feel! Unless you’re one of those I-got-my-haircut-for-my-own-satisfaction-people. I got a haircut last week and my curly tresses went down from waist-length to shoulder-length. And give or take 3 people, NO ONE noticed! Granted, from front I don’t look that different at first glance. But from back or when it’s let loose, it’s like hello, where’s the rest of it? And why why why isn’t anyone noticing? Take my parents… I was Skypeing with them the day of my haircut with my hair loose and in tight curls around my ears and they didn’t say a word. On the other hand, when I have it in plaits or anything equally unexciting, they speak about it all the time. And the second I mentioned the haircut out of indignity to invoke a reaction, I got the wrong one. If you’re wondering what I am talking about, read this post. And everyone else is totally on the “Hey wassap” mode. Grrr. Here’s another big fat disadvantage to having insanely curly hair. No matter how long/short, it looks short. No matter what the volume, it looks big. And bangs and blah need so much maintenance they are not even worth it. Add to that every time I call attention to my hair, I end up sounding pretentious. Hmph.


Ah well, I've avoided writing about this because it's not something you necessarily want to write about. But I figured almost everyone has been confronted with this situation, probably a lot of times in their lives - the urge to pee and with no available loo around. It happens in the most inconvenient of situations of course... long drives, longer journeys, mehendi (henna tattoo) on your hands, you name it... And once you find that elusive loo after what felt like your bladder might burst, the literal relief is probably the most palpable form of relief that one can feel. It's like all your tensions ease away (other than the literal tension of the bladder muscles loosening up). Back in India it never happened... maybe because I was subconsciously aware that the public latrines were best avoided. And ever notice how when you have to pee, that's like the top-most thing on your mind? You can't stop thinking about the fact that you have to go. Like all the other times when you don't, you are not even remotely thinking about the loo or anything in it's whereabouts. I can't remember the number of times that I have literally calculated the minutes to the nearest usable loo in such situations and coaxed myself that yes, I can make it and I won't pee in my pants. But gosh.. once or twice I didn't think I'd make it. I remember once when I had to return from renting a car here in Paris, I couldn't find parking near the house (of course you've read my woes on parking. You haven't??? Here you go!) and I'd had like 3 million gallons of water before going to pick up the car (I neither anticipated wanting to pee nor the lack of availability of parking - one of my rookie mistakes). And it was pure hell. I finally found parking about 2km away... figured I couldn't hold back from peeing all the way back home... almost considered diving into a café for a fake cup of coffee while really all I wanted to do was to use the toilet... but then reconsidered the option for having to fake niceties, looking at the menu, ordering, drinking more fluid and then going to pee. Instead I decided to keep up the momentum and semi-sprinted back home... only to discover that someone was moving out/in from/to our apartment.. bah, who cares? My apartment's on the ground floor and all I needed was half a foot of clearance to squeeze in, find my door and hop to the bathroom. It wasn't to be. For a frustrating 10 minutes, a huge cabinet blocked my door as the woman in charge apologized profusely and I tried to be as gracious as one can be in the situation... but looked nothing like it, while crossing and uncrossing my feet, making impatient sniffs and finally bolting through the door as if something was on fire. Something was. And two minutes later, I was lighter and relieved. I vowed never to do this to myself ever again.. to use the loo as liberally as required, go even if I didn't have to where there was a clean one available... blah blah. Needless to say, I haven't succeeded and neither was that my last time.

April 20, 2009

No means Yes

Ah, we've read a million forwards about how women think differently from men... everything from how we decode things that aren't coded to how when we say something, we actually mean the exact opposite thing. Quite the confounding species, us women. While I beg to disagree with so many sappy and silly stereotypical characteristics slapped on us, I have to grudgingly agree that a lot of times we say things that sound right but is not necessarily what we want from the bottom of our hearts. I think the most famous examples are when "no" means "yes". Here's a classic example -

Him: Hon, Our anniversary's in a week.. What do you want me to get you?
Her (what she says): Oh never mind, hon. Let's just go out to a quiet, romantic dinner, just us.
Her (what she probably means): I don't want anything extravagant but maybe you'll figure out something small to surprise me.
What he thinks: My wife's the best. Now I don't have to worry about getting her something she'll like. Whoosh!

And so he gets her nothing. Elementary mistake. Of course she's gotten him something to surprise him - a shirt, a cologne... something to say she cared. Yes, she did say she wanted nothing... but that didn't mean that he should have obliged immediately. It's not like he listens to everything else that she tells him anyways. No flowers even? Come on!

Typical scenario. At least most girls are like that. Hidden gestures... hidden thoughts. There are exceptions to this of course and some girls really didn't want anything except the quiet dinner. Those husbands/bfs lucked out. But the men soon learn to read the clues and try to make up for the fiasco. At least with the anniversary, you know you messed up coz she got you something. Good luck with the other occasions, like birthdays and Fridays and all that..

April 16, 2009

Surrogacy in India

Well, we were watching some French television and in one of the channels there was a programme that explored the reality of - Babies made in India: the whole Indian surrogacy scene. If you have no clue of what I am talking about, you should probably read this article. I knew that surrogacy was legal in India and I knew about the whole "womb for rent" publicity and everything. And I did guess that the costs in India had to have been phenomenally low to encourage baby-yearners from all walks of life and varied countries and cultures approach our country... but I had no idea that the costs were this low in comparison, nor that the women who undertook the task were paid less than a business-class fare from the US to India. Less than 5000$ for an entirely life-changing gift? One may argue that the $2000-$5000 they're given is way more than they could've expected to earn blah blah... but look what they're giving in return - a baby... which can only be tagged as priceless. No amount of in-vitro fertilizations or any other form of treatment could give a couple a baby born with their genes and that is purely theirs, only grown elsewhere. Call it weird patriotism or vague protectiveness, I feel that these people are being exploited. I doubt if these women would accept this pretty measly amount of money if they knew that elsewhere people were being paid 3 times as much to do the same deed. Maybe they would because they need it so much more for their survival than their counterparts, perhaps. I guess I was more disappointed that the doctors recruiting them for the job didn't offer to have them paid much more than they currently are being given, fully aware that the "going rate" is way more. We Indians seem to have embraced "outsourcing" of all sorts, including Surrogacy it seems, for this is a $440 million-a-year industry. . I guess the whole issue boils down to each one's opinion. And since there are no "fixed rates" at which this is viable, there is no right or wrong... except that to me this feels more wrong than right. Surely I am not the only one?

Key moment

So it was a typical weekday morning. S and I had boarded a bus near home to go to the railway station to get going to our respective places of work. I'd locked the door as always and shoved the keys in my left sweatshirt pocket. We were chattering away about something and soon were at the station and descended. I dug my hands into my pockets as I normally do and suddenly felt a very noticeable emptiness. Where were the keys? In that split-second of realization I panicked. I dug into my pockets frantically once more to make sure and then spun around just in time to see the bus pulling away from the bus stop and leaving. Another split-second of imagination saw me chase down the bus and find my keys below the seat I was sitting in. But that would be plan B and before putting that into action, I vaguely remembered something and dug into the top pocket of my backpack. And there I saw the fluorescent hue of my 'I love India' key-chain. Whoosh... I was flooded with relief. How many times have we played out an entire scene in our minds in the few milliseconds between panic and realization, or between declaration and revelation? One-too-many, I bet.

April 14, 2009

So dark the con of man

Title courtesy: Dan Brown

Ah today was one of those dark days on which I had to return a rental car. If you don't know what I am talking about, read this post. And as always, I had to fill fuel and then go around in 3 long and oblong circles around the rental place for the lack of parking. And since the agency is located on a one lane street, there was no chance of turning on the hazard lights and hoping one of the agency guys took the car and parked it elsewhere. And so I roamed from ville to ville (town) in search of nearby parking and for the lack of sufficient U-turns. Finally, I decided to give up and randomly entered one of the perpendicular streets vaguely near the rental agency. And I found one parking space. It was going to be a tight fit but it was possible. While I was mapping out my parallel parking 'route' mentally, a young man on the street offered to park it for me. I took the chance. I knew that the French were superb in parallel parking and this guy would take 5 seconds or less to park the car. I was right and he was done in a jiffy. I started thanking him profusely and I fully expected him to walk away. Instead, he asked me for a pen and reached for the blue rental information folder that I had kept on the passenger seat. I watched uneasily as he started noting the kilometers from the odometer and checking the inside of the car. Taken aback, I asked him if he was from Rent-a-car to confirm anyway. It was a valid question given that this was some random street and a sizable distance from the agency. He just nodded his response and proceeded on with his inspection. A sudden thought struck me. What if this guy was a con artist? What if he was pretending to be someone from the car rental place while really he was trying to steal the car? In the few seconds that he checked the car, I played out an entire lawsuit in my head. He started walking away apparently indicating that I was to follow. Surely this was going to be okay? And as he walked into the store, relief flooded into me. He was genuine. He was from the agency. And he gave me the receipt and everything and signed off on the rental. And the guy who gave me the car in the first place was there. All was well. I wasn't conned. There was going to be no lawsuit. Whoosh!

So dark the con of man = O(h) often cars honk mad (Sorry, couldn't think of a better fit in viewpoint - Anyone who can come up with a better one will get it on the post!!) :)

April 13, 2009

Lovely Loire

We’d been to a beautiful place in France called Loire. It’s also dubbed the “Val du Roi” or the Valley of Kings. And once you get there, it’s easy to see why. There are literally hundreds of Chateâus, each one prettier than the other. If the weather hadn’t played spoilsport, we could’ve seen a lot more and gotten far better pictures. But here, I leave you with a few sights to behold.


Chateâu de Chambord


Amboise centre ville


Chateâu de Chenonceu

Pretty, rustic and pretty rustic, isn’t it?

April 10, 2009

Outer body experience

Sorry to disappoint anyone who equated this similar to a NDE (Near Death Experience). This is literally sort of getting a third person view to something you are physically present to witness in. I had a presentation today… it’s sort of become second nature these days. There’s not the slightest whisper of nervousness and I seem to know what I am talking about so there’s no stage fear either. So, today while giving my talk, I knew my lips were moving, that I was saying the right thing… but I only sort of vaguely heard myself. Instead, the rest of my energies were concentrated on gauging other people’s reactions – were they following or lost, was I going too fast, was it interesting, etc. It almost felt like analyzing someone else’s talk. And at that exact instant, I thought I should blog about too. All this while tirelessly talking about superlattices. Weird third person perspective that.

April 9, 2009

Of forks n knives..

Well, we all know that the fork goes on the left hand the butter knife on the right hand. At least that’s how they place it around your plate during a formal meal.  But I’ve never been able to eat that way. The logic behind this arrangement is that the knife would be in your natural hand (predominantly right) to have the strength to cut whatever it is that you were eating while the fork held it down and then once it was cut free, you could use the fork that was still holding it to directly put it in your mouth. Makes sense on paper (at least to me). But while trying out, I’ve always found it bizarre. I switch hands. I use the knife on the left hand to hold the food down while I tear it away using the fork with my right and put it in my mouth. I’ve attributed this to the fact that it’s widely taboo to use your left hand to eat food in India (and we’ve been taught so). Even still, many many people have been able to make the transition to formal dining with etiquette and get it right. I haven’t. Consequently, once the waiters see the cutlery reversed around my plate, they assume I am left-handed and place everything accordingly (the wine/water glasses will go to the left instead of the right, etc). It’s a very subtle change but I’ve been amazed that so many places in France in particular have noticed and attempted to make it “comfortable” for me. For that matter, how many people know how to use the many different types of forks/knives/spoons that are cluttered around your plate during a formal meal? For this one, I can say I do. :D

April 8, 2009

Bye bye UCid

Boo hoo... They revoked my UC email account a little less than 2 years since I graduated. Well, that's pretty generous, you would think. And that it had to have happened sooner than later and I ought to have expected it. Not me... I don't remember seeing an email from them indicating that they were going to expunge my ID. All was well till last week when it stopped logging in. All those congratulatory emails, contacts, everything.. all gone in one second. And after contacting them about it, I realize all over again that it's all gone indeed. Now I realize that I should've backed up those things whether I needed all of it or not. But as they say, hindsight is 20/20.

April 7, 2009

Happily ever after…

Everyone wants this… the happily ever after in their lives. The three golden words - where they find the man/woman of their dreams, get married and live happily ever after. Of course that’s the fairytale version. And it’s short and sweet. In reality and in this day and age, however, there are more coordinates in the equation, more things that need to be perfect- that perfect job/career for both of you, that perfect house to live in… those perfect kids in the future… everything needs to align for those magic words to come together – happily ever after. In the earlier days I think people’s expectations were in accordance to times or what maybe considered not-too-ambitious these days. More women were homemakers where they would follow their husband to wherever he was working because he was the “breadwinner”. As with everything, there were exceptions. These days… both husband and wife are career-conscious and let’s face it, for a luxurious life, two incomes are better than one… and it’s common for both men and women to work outside their hometown. Take the best standing example – the oh-so-common situation in the US these days. I know so many couples who started out in different states and had to work their way to the same one. It involved compromises on either end for the final goal of being together to be achieved. It was never this hard in “simpler times”. It used to be uncommon for the guy to quit his job, move to the city where his wife was and even considered “giving in” to his wife (this was equated to being subordinate – don’t ask me why). Even after everything, maybe one of them didn’t end up with their dream job, the best salary or any of the other things that matter to each one individually. But this was “happily ever after” till the other things worked themselves out. Or till you worked towards them. And once that first step - getting together has been achieved, the rest of happily ever after should follow in due course of time (or so we all hope). Here’s to fairytales and happy endings!

Is East the new West?

The "R" word has hit everyone... No matter which news channel you're tuned to, you're bound to be bombarded by the word "recession" at least once during the whole newscast. For time immemorial, the "West" has been considered superior in many ways to the "East". Things are changing. Thanks to having been the most economically ahead, the West is also suffering the major brunt of the recession. People everywhere are insecure about their jobs, more so in the US and ever since the Obama administration took over, there's been a lot of job cuts (I don't know if they are related) and then there was the whole H-1 debate (as to whether immigrants should be given 'US jobs'), so on and so forth. Me being me, I have no clue about what this exactly translates into or how it directly affects us, etc. The only thing I know is that we need to be sound in our jobs, save on the side and curtail meaningless expenses, which make good sense, recession or not.

However what prompted this post was an ironic twist to things. In India, the "foreign" mappilai thing (a groom settled abroad) has held very high status for many many years. And typically "foreign" translated to the US. Almost everyone wanted to send their daughter abroad and hence preferred a "US mappilai". I was amused to learn then, that recently, a guy friend of mine who's settled in the US was turned down for the very same reason. The recession has taken a very real manifestation in this case, where the parents were now concerned to get their daughter married to someone who could lose their job any day. And no matter how much he assured the prospective in-laws about his job security, perhaps it seemed like empty promises to them because the proposals fell through. Maybe people are being ultra-cautious with the whole 'better safe than sorry' outlook, but this personally, was one of the last things I foresaw as a side-effect from the recession. Add to that the many people who are all of a sudden India-bound, or just moving east - to Europe, Singapore, Japan, etc.. where the recession seems 'lesser'? I maybe mistaken about this but I suppose that many other countries have better job protection schemes than the US. And the "termination packages" are entirely sustainable till one finds another job unlike the US where you are asked to clear out your desk on fine day. So, till the economy recovers or maybe beyond, is the East the new West?

April 6, 2009

Spring is in

I always wondered why Europe changed it's time for Spring almost a month after the US did. Now I know why. It's because when the time changed in the US, we were still semi-freezing. But slowly over the past month, unbeknownst to us, the light has lasted longer (it gets dark only after 8 pm now), flowers have sprung on the grass, the trees have started sprouting leaves again, the chill has left the air and the crowning glory - my office is warm again (Why is this the crowning glory? Read these.) And after bitching about the cold that much, it was only appropriate that I welcome Spring with widespread arms. It was a long winter but finally Spring has sprung in.

April 4, 2009

Subtitle Alert!

Does this happen to you? You’re watching something with subtitles… and all you can see and concentrate on are the subtitles? You miss people’s expressions, the scene and what not, even though you entirely understand what’s being said, your eyes are completely drawn to the subtitles alone? I HATE when that happens.

Vegetable Biryani

Today S had the biryani craving… and having only just restocked the fridge, the ingredients weren’t lacking. And so I set about making it.
What How much
Veggies Whatever you can find!
Onions – 3 medium, Tomatoes – 2 medium, Carrots – 2, Potato – 1, Green chilly – 1, peas, etc.
Mustard seeds 1/2 tsp
Jeera seeds 1/2 tsp
Bay leaves 2 small
Cinnamon stick (dal-cheeni) 1/2 inch piece
Dried red chillies 2-3 broken
Ginger-garlic paste 1 tsp
Turmeric 1/2 tsp
Red chilly powder 3/4 tsp
Dhaniya-jeera powder (optional) 1 tsp
Curd 3/4 cup, beaten with equal amount of water
Cashew nuts/ raisins As you desire
Basmati rice 2 cups washed well and cooked so that they are separate and not sticky
Salt To taste
Oil 2 tsp
Coriander To season
1. Prepare the curd for marinating the veggies. Beat the curd with water. Add a pinch of salt and 1/2 tsp of ginger-garlic and mix well. Set aside.
2. Wash all the veggies well. Cut carrots and potatoes and 1 onion lengthwise, in thin slices and let it marinate in the curd for at least a half hour.
3. Cut the other 2 onions also in thin slices and the tomatoes in small cubes.
4. In a large skillet, heat the 2 tsp of oil.
5. Once the oil has heated sufficiently, add the spices in the order mentioned from Mustard seeds to ginger-garlic paste. Toss in washed cashews/raisins once the rest of the spices have cooked to brown them as well.
6. Next, put in the onions and the tomatoes that have been cut separately and cook on medium-high with salt to release the juices. Stir constantly to avoid any charring. Add the turmeric and the dhaniya-jeera powder.
7. Lower the gas to medium-low once the onion-tomato mixture has cooked fully. Add the marinating veggies with the curd and peas to the skillet and stir in. Add the red chilly powder and any more salt (if required). Close the lid and allow to cook for at least 5 minutes. The carrots and the potatoes take a while to cook on an open container.
8. Open the lid, test if the veggies have all cooked. Once you’re sure of that, turn off the gas. You are ready to stir in the rice.
9. Add the rice in small quantities to the veggies, stirring in carefully to make sure that you do not break the rice. Adding too much rice will not keep the biryani moist the way it should be and adding too little will make it watery. Keep adding rice to the mixture till you are satisfied with the consistency of the biryani.
10. Garnish with fresh, washed coriander leaves and voilà, you’re set!
Notes: To make the flavor more authentic, you could soak 5-10 strands of saffron in water for 10-15 minutes and “color” some of the rice with this to give it the distinct orange color and flavor for a more authentic biryani.
It suffices to say that we probably won’t be eating biryani outside for a long time. It was perfect. The flavor, the color, the texture, the taste, all of it. Serve with raita/chips. I leave you here with one more shot. Bon Appétit!

April 3, 2009

I'm an IndYAN

I vaguely remember some rap song like that... "I'm an IndYAN.. I am an IndYan". This past week has been so weird. As Indian as I look, I have been confronted by a wide variety of people and been mistaken to be everyone from Spanish to Moroccan. I get that... maybe because of the jet black hair and matching eyes.. and maybe the kajal (kohl) in my eyes and brown skin, perhaps I look Meditteranean to the unitiated eye. Surprisingly though, no one guessed Indian. Hmph. Not even the Sri Lankan folks. Well, they often thought I was one of them. They would just break into Tamil with me... and well, of course I could reply... but our dialects were so obviously different that the second I opened my mouth, my Nationality was obvious. And this is all a shocker for I have always been told how TamBrahm I look. I think all us South-Asians (India-Pak-Sri Lanka-Bangladesh) look similar to many people... sorta how many people can't tell the difference between Indians from the east-China-Tibet-Japan. Funny how perceptions vary. If only perceptions could reach through to the varied cultures between all these countries.

April 2, 2009

Making the list

I am one of those people who needs to make a list for most things… even if it has just one item. It makes me feel organized and like I’ve thought things through. Even when I used to chart out my study schedules back in my student days (oh wait a minute, I am still there!)… I religiously made out plans to the minute hoping somewhere that I vaguely followed it. More often than not I would end up having spent more time making the schedule than sticking to it. And when I start making a list and have only one item, I usually add more things to it, whether they were entirely relevant or not. It makes me feel like I have an agenda. Very weird… but I know others who do it! Besides, having more than one thing to do promotes the need to complete at least one of the tasks enlisted. Indeed when I used to work for CTS, I used to have my own white board space on which everyday I would neatly enlist my “Tasks for the day”. As the day wore on, the guilt of not having completed any would slowly take over and I would work really hard to complete at least one major ‘bullet point’ because I took (and still take) extreme happiness in adding a check-mark to an action item once completed. That’s what seals the accomplishment, for me. My own acknowledgment of a job well-done (which I don’t give myself unless it’s truly done to the best of my satisfaction). And well, personally I need these silly boosts to elevate me to do the next item on the list (usually in the order of priority) and as the saying goes – If it ain’t broken, don’t fix it. Whatever works, works.

The Hail-Nails challenge

It's high time... Finally I've decided that I've got to stop biting my nails. For those who have no idea what I'm talking about, here's some reference to get abreast - http://jollyjaya.blogspot.com/search/label/nail%20biting. Having succeeded twice before on distinct occasions, I know I can do it. But I need to do it once more... NOW. My sad excuse-for-nails finger tops have become embarrassing especially in a professional environment (not that everyone's staring at my nails-or lack of)... but in this extremely Fashion-conscious country, every bit(e) counts. And if not for me, not for my poor long-lost-hope-nails, for the fashion element in this country, I have got to to grow my nails back. I realize that this is a hard task ahead. And so now, I am equipped with a lot of ammunition that needs to back up my flimsy will-power -chewing gum, weird nail polish, etc. All you long-nailed folks, wish me luck. Biters, join me in this challenge and let's beat it!

The reason I am making this public is in the hope that it will make me stick with it... and a few months down the line, I hope I can post pics of normal-looking, well-painted girly nails. Keep watching this space... I plan to post updates (not that anyone cares) but anyone else in on this challenge is welcome to post updates too!

April 1, 2009

The biggest pet peeve

Ah... anyone who knows me knows that I am a stickler for propriety in the written language (okay, even the spoken language). While errors on that end are not half as bad, especially when they're genuine mistakes, I think what crawls my skin unfailingly each time is when I read something that's written lyk dis coz dis iz d l8est shtyle in lyf. Big style-bhai alert!
I don't think I got the concept right even now... because try as I might, I can't write like that. This is how the younger generation communicates from what I've seen of the majority. Because you know, who's going to type all those extra letters in a word and waste, like 5 seconds! Time is galleons and so what if you spend it on Orkut/Facebook, etc? That doesn't mean that one should spend time typing the one extra letter that'll differentiate the word typed from what it was intended to be to what it was made out to be. Gosh! Even writing about me has me all irked and pouty. Time to end this post.