June 28, 2010

The greener grass..

I am here to reflect once more how the grass is indeed greener on the other side. Forever it seemed like I complained that we wore sweaters or jackets in Paris for the past 8 months... and how the sun never seemed to shine in all it's splendor and what not. And the sun had it's revenge on us for my bad-mouthing. The temperatures soared to 30+°C and we sweated it out this weekend in Paris too.. showing the brilliant sights and sounds to yet another bunch of visitors.

Two days later.... the sunniest weekend in Paris in 10 months later... insane sweating later. (try the Paris metros in Summer).. many blisters later... infinite tan lines and infinite tanning later... I've realized I've asked too much from the sun. And maybe the time the sun was away wasn't too bad? Now either it has to head for some cover giving us some muted glory or I am going to walk around in ridiculous wide-brimmed straw hats uncaring about the stares I am sure to receive while making a thorough fool of myself. Like I said.. any way you look at it, the grass is greener on the other side. Any other experiences any of you'd like to share where you stumbled upon this universal truth? Comment away.

June 24, 2010

Got Milk?

You know that F.R.I.E.N.D.S episode where Chandler and Joey wager the girls that they can guess every item in Rachel's shopping bag because they know them so well? Well if you want a head-start on me, you've got to start with milk. And I'm not kidding. I don't know what it is with my Parisian obsession with milk. I like the milk in this country but that's no excuse to go scouting for different brands when you can't really tell the difference in taste between them. Yet, I do that. I like to try different brands from different stores just to see if my tea tastes any different. Completely weird. And so if you guess there's milk in my grocery bag, full points to you. 

The real reason behind buying milk with every grocery purchase I guess might be rooted in three things.

1. Unlike the US where gallons of milk are available to be purchased, here you have only the option of 1 liter bottles/tetrapacks or 1/2 liter ones (but in packs of 6 so I guess that makes up?).
2. Milk being a staple gets used as often as anything else.
3. The expiry date for milk in this country is insanely long. If the pack/bottle remains unopened it is likely to last for over 3 months and who's keeping milk that long anyways?

Oh and I hate getting up in the morning to discover that we ran out of milk and I have to go out to buy milk to be able to retreat to the solace or my morning chai. That's worth going into any trouble lugging back excess bottles of milk. Hence, got milk? Hell yeah!

June 21, 2010

The fine line...

This is about the fine line between sharing details and sharing too much details on social networks like Facebook and stuff. Recently I've marveled how some people have absolutely no qualms in posting stuff about themselves that may potentially harm anything from their professional opportunities to their personal relationships. On that note, here's a poll on where I stand in your opinion...

Brushing the results aside for a moment, I think most people are a little lost on what can be shared what's too much information. And I gave it a little thought and came up with just 1 question that they need to answer -

Would they be comfortable with their boss and their mom reading whatever's been posted?

Well that sounds fairly simple. But sometimes some people neither have their moms nor their bosses on their lists and hence have no boundaries either. On the other hand, its not just about the inappropriate content either, not just about posting pictures of one completely zoned out after a night of partying or the likes of it. It's more about sharing too much. Like breaking up over Facebook or publicizing one's fights and misgivings, rants and fantasies about other people (not celebrities) which are very real. I haven't understood that. For instance if someone broke up with someone else, why would they want to actually scream all over Facebook about it? I have the same question about a million other scenarios. And it's like people's personal boundaries have eroded into ambiguity with the popularity of social networking. Now getting "likes" or unwarranted advice/comfort from relative strangers is more welcome than actually sorting things out with one close confidante.

A while back, I read on Dear Prudence that someone found out that her best friend was getting married only through FB. That's just ridiculous. On the other hand posting information about the really big events might be ok (not like an invitation, but like an information). Like buying a house or moving to a new city- surely things everyone would like to know and find out eventually anyways. But then there's another thing I realized even as I write this post. Each person will have different boundaries. For instance what might be my too much might just be normal for someone else. Which makes the whole post moot, I guess? But then there's still something to ponder about. How much is too much? Comments appreciated.

June 20, 2010

Father Figure

Once more I am hardly going to dare to belittle my Appa's sacrifices and role in my life the way it's turned out by merely writing about it. Instead I am just going to pause here and thank God for having gifted me a father with whom I've succeeded in having a continuing close, extremely friend-life relationship. Neither my brother nor I could've hoped for anything better. Ever.

Thank you Appa and here's wishing you a very happy Father's Day on all our behalfs.

Firing the canon

So here she is… the newest member of our growing Canon family – a simple film SLR camera. I’ve only just loaded new film into the camera and I got to say I love the “sound” of clicking. There’s nothing digital about it. It’s all mechanical. And it’s finally refreshing to be limited. With the film SLR, thanks to the manual settings, you really got to know what you’re doing. There are no second chances for a single photo. And so this first roll is going to be entirely experimental. If any of the photos do turn out to be masterpieces, you know where you can expect to see them. Until then, just wish me happy clicking.
IMG_7293aMy new Canon film SLR.
PS: This one doesn't have a "on-off" button, just a "lock". Hence the poll.

June 16, 2010

Curb your enthusiasm..

Nope.. once again wrong. Not the Seinfeld writer's newer venture. This time it's photo-centric. About 6 months ago I wrote lamenting the fact that no one takes too many prints of digital photos anymore. Though its a serious advancement in technology and improvement in everything, we have allowed digital photography to cripple us on the basic level. You can read that post here. And so I took the plunge. A film camera. A return to innocence almost. But at it's best. A Canon. An SLR. 36 shots in one film roll. Better yet it's upto us to bring the best of our talent out in that. No more retouching. No more post-processing. Time to restrict the impulse and fire the Canon.

PS: Will post pics of the new camera soon (but through digital means of course).
And here's an interestingly elementary question and poll to finish -

June 14, 2010

Broken faith?

When I suddenly think back to some things that I tend to do, I realize that I have accepted certain things without question. These have been imbibed into me from when I was very little and though I probably don't know the premise of the evolved action, I haven't bothered to question it at all. For instance, the thottu-othifying - the practice of touching something with your fingers (typically of the right hand) and brushing them across your eyelids in an action of seeking pardon. For instance if you step on a book (which represents Goddess Saraswati or knowledge, no matter if it is indeed your Chemistry textbook or instead a trashy movie tabloid), you do the action of thottu-othifying to absolve the wrongness of the deed. You see? Similarly I have unquestionably followed in the typical Hindu faith of Idol worship. And no I am not ashamed of being "backward" nor do I question the power of that faith... when one stands in front of an idol, bowed by faith, and with an almost conversational plea in front of God, I think it's empowering. Especially to believe in an "upper cosmic force", something that can change things for you the way you yourself can't.

However, the purpose for this post was none of that. While cleaning the Swami Shelf (the cabinet that holds all my Godly possessions) yesterday, I came across a broken idol of Pillayar (Ganesha). It must've broken perhaps when we moved or something. And of course I felt inexplicably sad. I also felt that this shelf was not the right place to keep the idol anymore. Instead I decided to do a Visarjan (submerging the God's idol in a water body to represent the cycle of life and death) and ended up submerging the idol in the river Marne near my house. Why? Again one of those things that was put in your head for time immemorial. Did the idol lose its power? Did I stop believing in its power now that it had broken? Did I believe that the God wasn't happy there anymore? I don't know as a matter of fact and I only did what felt right. Was it right? Was I cheapo to purportedly banish the idol away? Again, I don't know. Was the faith broken? Not exactly. I believed that the idol would rather return to the water than be displayed out there in my Swami Shelf. Ok before I start sounding any closer to butterfly net territory, let me leave it as one of those things - to each one, his own. And in matters of faith, it is whatever that works for each one.

June 10, 2010

Lipsmacking – Samosa channa chaat

So the other day I had time on my hands... Hence, dinner was served. Piping hot and all from scratch. Enough said. You’ve already gotten the channa recipe. And the samosas? Separate blog to follow.
samosa - Copie Crispy hot samosas. Serve piping hot with ketchup/chutney. We’ve saved these to serve with channa as chaat.

And here’s a shot of the full dish as served…
IMG_7214 Served with freshly chopped onions and tomatoes and a hint of yogurt. Add samosas to channa only just before serving.

Bon Appétit!

June 9, 2010

Postcards from Quiberon…

As promised… courtesy the ‘S’ in our SLR… some pics from our visit to Quiberon, a coastal region in Bretagne, the North-west of France.


And one more…



June 7, 2010

The rental car and the mental tension

So going out to rent a car in France? Easy-peasy right? However, paperwork rules in this country and for all it's beautiful landscapes you'd better hope you can rent a car to enjoy it to the best possible extent. As we were going to Quiberon, this past weekend and we hoped to take in the coastal views and a lot more with the help of a rental car of course. So we waded down to the Hertz at the Rennes gare, armed with our reservation. There was a short line of 5 people before us. And a "scene" was just starting to unfold in front of us, given away by the exasperatedly angry voice of the front desk lady battling 3 just-arrived tourists from a different country. They had a reservation, a valid driving license from their country but no International license, so to speak of. And that was the problem. For those who've never heard of an International license, it may sound like a strange thing. But the knowledge of its existence in India gave me the slightest jitters. I too, had only an India driving license and no international license. But according to the French government rules, one can drive with the license of a different country so long as they are a student. Or so I believed. And the various car rentals over the past 2 years stood testament to my belief too. However the lady at the counter was real hardcore, unwilling to budge to any threats by the dissed clients and showed them the "rule book" and eventually the door. I pondered only for an instant if indeed they expected US state driving license holders to have an International license as well. It seemed highly unlikely. But I had better things to worry about at the juncture and painstakingly waited while the other 3 people ahead of us in the queue quickly furnished the required documents and sped away with their keys.

Come our turn. Cold sweat was threatening to appear on my forehead. And in the instant before we handed over my papers and our reservation to her, my mind flashed to me the million possibilities in case we too were shown the door - How would we get to Quiberon that was over 150km away? Take a bus/coach/train? Ditch the plan? Cancel the hotel? Camp around Rennes? Approach another car rental agency? However I smiled and uttered the golden passport - Bonjour to her and passed her all my IDs and documents all at once. And in return she uttered the words that held literally held the keys to our weekend getaway - Et voilà - vous avez tous! (There you go... you have everything that's required!)

Relief crept in at first and then filled all of us rapidly. We hadn't realized that we were indeed holding our breaths. Banished were the worst case scenarios. To top it all, we were given a gorgeous brand-new keyless entry, button controlled 7-seater Renault Scenic 2010. It was a bon voyage. On that finishing note, a picture postcard from Quiberon or the adjoining island of Belle Île shall follow soon... Happy sunshine and hello summer!