Tag Archives: Food Photography

Inspiration

8 Jun

I oftentimes wonder why or how writing went from being so easy and spontaneous to an act that needed more than just an impulse. There are times when you know you need absolutely nothing to write and all those words flow out in a congruous whole as if you’d spent hours stringing them together in your head; except you never did. And there are times when you try and try and you’re left saving yet another draft. I haven’t tried. I haven’t fought myself to sit down and write. It was something new I was trying out with pretty much everything — to stop fighting and wanting to control everything. I’ve been successful at times, and that’s what has brought about some peace in knowing that sometimes it just doesn’t matter. Those words will flow when they will. But that didn’t have to necessarily imply my putting everything else to a stop just so I could write or read or do whatever I had planned on doing.

One of the things I’m growing to learn is the importance of time and how, while it continues to do its own thing in its own manner, it can never ever be rushed. It’s almost like that beautiful cake you’re eyeing rise in the oven…open the door midway and it wouldn’t be close to what we imagined or toiled for. Everything has its time and its place…its right to bloom just when it is ready to. Everything else can be so premature and bitter…or less valuable. So yes, time… I’m growing to let go of it. In a world filled with shoulds and musts and existential labels, it’s hard to close yourself off without branding yourself in ways you never intended to. You needn’t be a rebel, a castaway, a slowcoach just because your clock didn’t match up to the pace of somebody else’s.

With half the year over, I reflect back only to find reassurance in the fact that there is an insurmountable inner peace in the act of just letting go. Letting go to thrive, to feel, to understand…to just live. It’s overwhelming just how difficult and simple it really is.

And from nowhere, I find myself back here…because I know, like I said earlier, that my words will flow when they are ready to. They will speak and my silence will feel content. The year so far has been jam-packed with that sort of craziness that I’ve never experienced before – it’s been trying, testing, overwhelming, rewarding, exhilarating… I see a part of me I have never seen before… it’s taking me some time to familiarize myself with her… to understand her… and I like what I see.

I’m finding my peace in the catharsis of food and cooking all over again… it’s that kind of therapy which needs no words, no explanations… no taking… just giving. It gives me a sense of time, patience, love and peace like nothing else. So you can imagine the magic I’m surrounding myself with because who can ever have enough of magic? And when it tastes good, if I may say so, then really, why not?

I’ve been on a baking spree trying to concoct things I imagine in my head. Sometimes it turns out top notch and sometimes I ask myself what I was thinking! This year round, I decided on walking the icing route and baking mom a cake for her birthday because homemade chocolate birthday cakes are one of those things that make a birthday, in my honest opinion, complete. Tell me you haven’t felt as close to perfect with that large chunk of beautiful chocolate cake in your mouth only to be too satisfied to even speak? Admit it. There is nothing like a homemade chocolate cake to get you going and also make you feel masterchef-like. Of course it takes more than that, but a good chocolate cake speaks. So here’s what I put up. It was comforting, warm, dense, light, healthily unhealthy and felt like home. That’s all one ever needs. :)

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Of course it’s also that time of the year when you let go of all your ladylike mannerisms and your appropriate, society-preferred prim properness to sink your teeth into the magic of what can only be a mango on a hot summer’s day. Nothing, and I mean nothing, can ever come close to spelling or feeling like summer than this gorgeous, gorgeous creation. Thank you, God. You’re more magical than I can fathom.

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Here’s also why I never bothered to do much. Because when the weather is languorous and sort of rainy and pretty, it makes best sense to let go, put those feet up, preferably with a parent or a loved one, and just allow the aromas of freshly brewed coffee take over.

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And bake olive bread to be had hot from the oven. And imagine for some time that your home has been ported to, let’s say, Italy, shall we?

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Or when you’re feeling rather adventurous, do you go and bake a lemon pound cake and try your hand at icing. I’m not a fan of icing. But sometimes, you might want to hop over to the other side.

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And if it’s not rainy and pretty, you speed things up with a cold coffee that reminds you of summers spent in the wait of that prized beverage right off the hands of your grandmum. Topped with crushed ice. And maybe ice cream. And accompanied by cold coffee moustaches.

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And here’s one that literally took the cake! I do dream of getting that cookbook in place and hopefully I will drink as many cold coffees as it takes to get my ass moving on it. But in the mean time, I have to take a step back and marvel at this beauty which I can gorge on minus wondering which part of my butt it went to. No yolks, no oil, no butter, a fraction of the flour one would normally use — now isn’t that just the best thing ever? It’s like telling a person who gets fat quick (me) that they could eat all they want and never get fat. Woot! Except I may want to omit the “you’ll never get fat” bit when I speak to myself. Bite into your reality and cake, will you?

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And then this. What stands between that marvelous poached egg and crisp toast? My teeth. And a million disastrous trials, of course. Next up, hollandaise, let’s touch baze!

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So yes, I’m getting fat on some kitchen experiments and essentials. Because, that my friends, is where my inspiration’s rolling from. Except, I wish, the fat would stay away. Gosh darn it!

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Writing and a Cheese Omelette

28 Apr

I swear I haven’t seen the face of this portal since I last wrote. I don’t know if it was a conscious or unconscious choice. But I do know that I’ve this weird knack of absconding as and when and I don’t particularly enjoy maintaining that tag per se.

Do I write every day? No. Do I need to write every day? No. I mean, yes. Do I want to write every day? Yes. Is it easy to come up with or have a lineup of things to write about on a daily basis? You answer that for me. I’m sure my answer is below the pit of pits compared to yours. I assure you.

But does that still motivate me to write? Yes. Because I do know how I look at the world and how I see the world unfurl in front of me every single moment; in pictures, in stories, in a storyboard that makes sense to the way I think, perceive and live my life. Can I translate that with ease here? I think the evidence is answer enough. But I’d like to believe that I can try.

This weird amount of optimism and inspiration is not a one-off Monday shot of life’s dose that happened to me. Although it has been a different Monday because I haven’t felt as inspired in a very, very long time, that does not, of course, mean that I’m going to give you a Pulitzer-worthy piece of writing because I am the same old me who does have her rather non-flashy blog still in place, doing its own thing. I just know that a lot has to happen here and in order for that to happen, I need to instill a certain sense of structure and discipline. And that’s where the catch lies because I rather dislike adding the word ‘compulsion’ to anything I enjoy doing. Don’t most of us? Or am I the only odd one out here?

That apart, not that I’m laying down a red carpet of excuses to take control of my abysmal writing practice, there seriously is that long list of distractions that just makes it impossible to create a sense of continuity writing really requires. I thrive on alone time not because I’m an anti-social specimen (which I can be more often than not), but because I find that that best allows me to think and process my thoughts. Isn’t it most irritating to have your maid ring the bell just when you’re trying to put things together, and then have her hover all around (even while she really is doing her own thing)? I hate it. I hate not having a designated space to write because I think that is imperative.

Of course, there are so many criteria that ought to be met for any creative process to take place and efficiently so. But I find some, if not most of them, as fleeting as can be. And therefore, it is difficult. I won’t deny having to keep my thoughts within and explore them later only to realize they’ve all dissipated and died. It is disheartening. But really, this isn’t a rant about how I have no space or how it is hard to find the space to do my own thing with whatever I may be blessed to have. Maybe I sound like a spoiled brat who wants it all. And yes, I do. Judge me. But that’s another story for another time and irrespective of whether that happens or not, I know I have to find a way. Therefore I don’t necessarily have to write every day but I do, because I believe writing; being a talent apart; needs to be inculcated, needs to be practiced. It is important to have that time, space and habit. That’s how I see it and that’s how I intend to keep it.

And so, in lieu of feeling pent up and being completely unable to write for xyz reasons, today was one of those days that, I think, the universe conspired to happen. Because I’m here, writing, despite having been steamrolled by Facebook, an alarmingly low spaced memory card on my phone which beeped red all over my face, my hunger, my forever hungry pigs, the strange summer heat which my body can tolerate but which my hormones are making sure I cannot, and being rung and intruded upon by my maid (who is quite sweet but whom I cannot like because of this sole reason. I’d really like my space, lady. Really!!). I’m trying. Who knows if I’ll disappear indefinitely after writing this post. But I prefer thinking about today. That’s been a top lesson this year. Think about today. Tomorrow is another day.

The blog also needs a revamp, I think. Maybe I will. But all the gosh darn awesome themes I like are beyond what I think I would like to pay for a blog theme, even if I was earning in USD. Bleargh. I’d really rather buy three fancy pairs of shoes with that amount. I’m not joking. But here’s what I did in the meantime.

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Am I on the right track to finding a new blog theme and doing up my blog and writing more often? I think so. I made myself an omelette. It was what made most sense in that moment when I was caught between writing about feeling inspired in general or between really, really feeling inspired while I wrote about feeling inspired. See? Also, I was feeling hungry. Or rather, I was feeling most hungry at that moment. So I had to break my thought flow and go make this very simple but totally gorgeous piece of art.

I love making art with my food. I think food is magic and the art that results from it, sublime. I do not have any other way of putting that across because that is how I feel about cooking and food. It makes me happy beyond belief. It’s that soul-satisfying moment that makes me believe in why I’m here and doing what I’m doing, which is actually confusing because I do not cook, do photography or write for a living. But yeah, you get what I’m talking about.

In keeping with feeling inspired, I decided to make this and enhance the experience + use it as a medium through which to further channel just how awesome I’m feeling. I’ve been listening to John Legend’s ‘All of Me’ (Tiesto’s remix) for a while now and the one line in it that hits the spot for me, after a slight edit is, “my head’s under water (inspiration) but I’m breathing fine…”. I’m not sure that made sense but that is exactly how I feel… that experience of feeling completely swallowed in, drowned and inundated in something so good that even though it’s so hard to breathe, you do it with so much ease… I guess they also call it feeling overwhelmed by something so good… you know?

So yes, please go make yourself an amazing cheese omelette and allow it to take you on a joyride to places your soul wants to go to because really, this dish has the strength to.

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I don’t know if you can feel my sense of positivism from this post. I’m telling you it’s part omelette, part this universe doing its thing. Look at that. Look at that hot mushy cheese sauce inside that custardy but cooked egg. Of course, if you aren’t a fan of runny eggs, please cook it through by all means. We’re all here to float (and soar), so please do what floats (or soars) your boat.

I wasn’t fond of and still can be iffy about runny eggs because a) I don’t like the smell of eggs (cue to laugh at me), b) I don’t like cold eggs and c) I always equate runny eggs with raw eggs meaning they stink. But that isn’t the case as much, today. Cook it as you wish and let the rest of it show you its magic. It’s that perfect snack to snarf down on any given evening and can be washed down with anything chilled considering it’s summer. My poison of choice was cocoa milk today because I had to get dairy and eggs into my diet for the day and I hadn’t. Yes, I do eat. No, I don’t diet = I do not not eat what is meant to be eaten to stay alive, healthy and amazingly insane.

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I added cheese if I haven’t already mentioned that (am I supposed to erm, feel guilty?). And for that extra bite, I added a few jalapenos slices but not too much because I don’t like them overpowering the flavour of my dish. And seasoning, of course. Plus I cooked it just enough so that the inside could hold minus running helter-skelter (pun intended) but was loose enough to be held together by that gorgeous melted cheese inside. Therefore it wasn’t uncooked or raw, didn’t stink of egg and didn’t make me feel icky + was perfectly brown.

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Give it a try sometime. Add whatever fancies your heart and soul because soul food deserves all that and more. I was too lazy to thaw meat and wanted to keep it light enough for an evening snack. It sure lifted my spirits further this evening and helped me power through all these gnatty obstacles to come here and write, ever so randomly about life, writing and erm, eggs. Miracles can happen. And for good measure, here’s what it looked like on my plate, once again.

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More power to you! And if you’re a complete vegetarian, well, lots more power to you, always! :)

Thank you for listening. See you soon, fingers crossed.

Domestication

28 Mar

 

It happens. It happens when one moves out of home. It’s natural. It’s one of those things that astounds even the most tomboyish tomboys who never thought themselves capable of making tea, forget anything more “complicated”, in their words. I think we’re born with it because that innate button in us switches on when we decide to shift gears and take on newer roles in our life. It’s something a lot of us enjoy, to a large extent, irrespective of what a headache it might actually be. Because there’s a sect of us that will spend that last waking moment dusting those last dust particles off or doing whatever it is that keeps you from the need to just snuggle in bed and pass out, or pass out minus the frills of even changing. Right? I for sure know more than just a few who do, indeed belong to this category, and my mum’s right on top of that list. But I just don’t get it. I think that dust particle will eventually perch right back to where you uprooted it from and so, yes, I’d rather hit the sack than go teary-eyed on dust particles at odd hours. No, I don’t think I have a domestication problem. No, I don’t think I’m dirty, even though my mum may think otherwise (clearly). And no, I’m not apologetic about sharing my space with dust particles or unfilled water bottles for the night. Of course, needless to say, it’s the sense of absolute freedom that allows us to run our homes the way we want them run by creating a new sense of order and a set of rules that helps the entity of what our idea of a home should be, stay intact. It’s the joy in running the show that gets headily addictive, so much so, that we crave to get back to our home and routine after visiting parents. Or so I’ve seen and heard.

But there’s another case of forced domestication that occurs as well. It happens when your folks travel and leave you in charge of the scene, so to speak. While this is a good mix of newness amid the existing structure, it still comes as a rude shock because it’s forced. For lazy people like me, it’s one of those forced domesticated cases that keeps crawling up my back unannounced. Don’t get me wrong. It’s exciting. Because for someone who hasn’t lived on her own, it’s quite the welcome change. However, its welcome in my life is ever so short-lived. It’s exciting from Day 2 onwards because it’s weird on Day 1 when ma travels. She takes quite a bit of all our sunshine with her. So it’s a better time for all of us (the sibling, the pigs, the plants and even the maids) from Day 2. But come Day 5 and the concept gets a bit old. Because really, is there anything better than coming back to a spic and span home that smells so amazing and looks so spotless (I don’t know how–maybe ma dusts when she’s not dusting as well) and has food and groceries and feels alive, laden with sunshine and functional in general? I know, I’m pathetic. Very pathetic.

Anyway, so this forced domestication is on right now. The brother and I have quite some experience in this field because you just have to become domestic-smart if you have a mother who works and travels, you know? And I think we do okay. Except maybe at keeping those dust particles at bay because that’s the first thing that stands out to my mother when she steps in. Moms just have microscopic vision for this sort of stuff. I think that’s what it is.

So this Friday has been one of those days that I’ve waited to have in the longest time because I really do thrive on alone-time. But so much had to be juggled and I’m all set, which is why I’m here, writing my woes out to you because I won’t blame you if that’s what you think this is; some lame woeful rant. The laundry’s been done, the clothes hung out to dry, the house swept and swabbed (by the maid), bathrooms cleaned, piggies fed, plants watered, surfaces (and crevices) dusted, and everything in between. I also had just about enough seconds to manage to a quick run to the terrace because the sky decided to be prettier at sunset. At first I thought I’d skip it and focus on what was at hand but then, after a while, that run to the terrace was beyond my control. I think their theme for today was watercolours on canvas. Anyway, let’s see how long this getting work done streak lasts.

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This is why it’s the perfect evening. We’re all doing our own thing before we (the brother, pigs and I) settle in for the night. There’s manchow soup so apt for the soul. It’s a complete mood lifter as I have a burst of pickled green chilies pop in my mouth, accompanied by just the right amount of salt in a lovely, light, garlicky broth. That goes with a side order of music and writing – I’m pretty set. There’s more Chinese food waiting for a bit later. The pigs more or less spend their time being passed out and not batting an eyelid because we’re family and they have the luxury of time to do so. It’s summer. It’s what I would do if I lived under the shade of plants and was coated in fur.

On a completely (and maybe not so) different note, today has also been a day of eating out from start to finish.

IMG_9549 IMG_9548There were rava dosa cravings so Adigas happened for breakfast. And then, I think Mexican food is my newfound love because this is the third Friday in this month that I’ve snarfed Mehican food down. Because I’d had my share of burritos the past two weeks, I figured I’d have tacos today. And so I had not one, but two. Vegetarian ones, but still.

God help me. And this beautiful budding relationship between Mexican food and me. Or maybe I think we’ve decided to commit to each other already. *shrugs*

I guess this comes in with the forced domestication bit as well; the thrill of eating the world of junk from outside minus having to feel guilty about not having home food because you never really got off your ass and made that homemade food.

All said and done, I don’t think there will ever be better Domestic Goddesses than our mums. Ever. No matter how tomboyishly tomboyish they may have been once upon a time. ;)

Summer Treats

26 Mar

It’s hot. It’s bloody, bloody hot. My weather app told me it was 38 degrees yesterday. 38 degrees centigrade at 4pm is insane. But as dumbfounded as I was at seeing the weather update, I was also told to not rely entirely on it since it isn’t always accurate. But give or take a few degrees, it’s still shocking to see the city reach such scary levels. I know I talked about it in my last post, but evidentally, I’m still not quite over it.

Having said that, I don’t quite feel the summer (or any season) that much during the day thanks to the sterility of a concrete and glass airconditioned building. I don’t know whether that’s a good thing or not, but I’m sure as hell blessed in many ways because there are so, so many people out there who’re exposed to the rather harsh elements of nature, when she decides to be at her harshest, and otherwise. So I cannot complain. Not just yet.

I can, however, get back home and throw my bag and rush to the fridge to see what I can wrangle out to take on the weather. More often than not, that would indicate getting my hands on a cold bottle of water I can have the pleasure of sipping till my teeth go numb or hurt. To digress ever so slightly, do you also think that cold water doesn’t really really quench your thirst as much as regular temperature water does? I love cold water, I do. But I think it’s that perfect mix of regular and cold temperature water that hits the spot. That’s all one really ever needs.

But today, I decided I wanted this.

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Banana milkshake.

Of course, I’m never really just satisfied by adding two and two together to get what I want. When it comes to food, I like it all. And I don’t believe in ever holding back. I frankly find it most (almost) apalling (if I may use the word) when I’m told I “shouldn’t” have a certain thing. It’s like not knowing what “little butter on my toast” ever means. Smidgens of melted butter on your fingers while you eat buttered toast, now that I know. :D In this case, I’ve heard a million times over that bananas and green grapes are perhaps the most avoided fruits if you wish to lose weight. I’m sure there are reasons why such nasty things are said about these fruits.

But today warranted a banana milkshake and so nothing but a banana milkshake would do. Also, much to my horror (or fortune), I happened to open the freezer (in retrospect, I wonder why) and find and almost empty pack of ice cream that was left open. Now we know what happens to ice cream in open packs in freezers. So, I took it as a sign and emptied that into my blender jar as well. There. I’d done it. In there was banana, milk and now ice cream…watcha gonna do now calorie killer?

Needless to say, I added that chocolate sauce on it because I wanted it to look purrrty. I have absolutely no regrets. I feel most refreshed, alive and recharged. I think my body needed that and so it had that. I figure I could, if I ever decide to have the K words, keep small little surprises waiting for them in the fridge when they get back from school. This is perhaps the one and only time I’d think of something like this not because I’m dying to have them or get married or what have you, but because banana milkshakes always, always remind me of summer mornings we’d be served large glasses of them by my masi (aunt) back in Delhi. Summer treats. Special summer treats, always.

In this case, I’ll assume the K is my K brother for now. Because I know he’d whoop around on finding his share in the fridge, this evening. Small joys.

The Miracles of Pub Food

25 Mar

I doubt I need to say any more about what this blog post is going to be about. :)

For one, I’m here again, drinking tea on a weekday evening because life this month can safely be categorised in the FML section, without a doubt. I’m not going to bitch about it because I hear it’s going to get worse, so maybe you’ll be witness to my rants and hair-tearing sessions in sometime, worry not. It’s uncanny whoever came up with these random sayings and thoughts, the one of their’s I choose to use right now is “when it rains, it pours.” However, Bangalore’s pouring in that summer heat on her denizens, alright. I never thought the city would see this day and that even if she did, it would be in some God-forsaken era when I’d be long dead. But here are those rather brutal 38 centigrades beaming down on us strong and steady, and here are you and I. Peachy.

Since the weekend seems so far away, I figured I’d talk about the one that went past us most recently because I really have to. And before I begin, I must remind you that I (still) am on Lent.

If you’re a resident of Bangalore, have you visited the good ol’ Windsor Pub? If you haven’t, I’d recommend a visit. We started going there quite young because back in the day when parents and their friends liked their pints of beer, you’d tag along as well, because times back in those days were amazing. It certainly wasn’t as messed up, complicated or difficult enough to warrant IDs. (Not that I think IDs are bad at all. In fact, I’m glad there’s some semblance of checking, if there is any.) So we’d tag along and get to eat all the good food because when parents drink, they’re happy. And when parents drink their chilled draught, they can be the best parents ever. Right? :D

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Pub food has always fascinated me because it’s so unapologetic about the way it is. And by this I mean that it never really has to meet any particular gourmet standard. Therefore I like using the adjective unapologetic because it’s there, and you enjoy it. There’s no pretence, there’s no fakeness, there’s just some God-awesome food. And each and every pub has such a characteristic array of foods signature to it, even if all of them serve you that plate of french fries.

I’m not a pub-hopper because most of them are either too loud or too garish (music/ambience/crowd-wise) for me. But I’ve had some of the best foods at these places and I’d go back for seconds without a doubt. Heck, I’d take in that extra loud music and kids acting crazy just so I can eat. But I cannot imagine a pub without that loud music and loudness in general. I don’t think it’d be a pub if it were sombre and played piano classics in the background. That’d make it a lounge bar, I guess. So yes, it’s crazy, but I’d take all that a pub has to offer so I can eat and eat and eat.

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It’s obvious that Murphy’s still alive and kicking because I happened to visit Windsor Pub over the weekend. The mother quite likes the place and so we decided to give it a visit. My only grouse with that place is that it’s so hard to find a table. But that apart, I think it’s pretty much up our alley of pubs we’d return to any day. So I was at a pub and I was (still am) a vegetarian and a non-drinkard. Fancy situation to be in. But then I decided I was being too harsh on myself and decided to order what can only ever be one of the best things I’ve had at any given pub, anywhere. You may laugh all you want, but the magic I ordered that night was this.

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Crab Rasam.

Rasam is and always has been such a Tamilian thing. I have no memories of rasam being any other way, forget being non-vegetarian. But given all the amazing food that was doing the rounds, I may have broken Lent by ordering myself crab rasam. And it was absolutely worth it all. For those of you who can digest the thought of a non-vegetarian rasam, do please have it. Don’t have the chicken rasam. Have the crab one. It also gives me a reason to go to a pub when sick. How beautiful is that?

This is one of the most mind-blowing rasams I have ever, ever, ever had. It’s tangy, spicy, peppery, light, warm, crazy, explosive and of course, magical. It’s everything you want a rasam to have, and with crab! It can not get better than that. It just cannot. Like I said, if you’re willing to go past the boundary lines of rasam, give this a shot. But I wonder how it’d go with beer. If you’re a non-vegetarian teetotaller at this pub, this should be on your list. Crab makes everything magical. I don’t think I fared bad for being in a pub during Lent. The mother and brother had this and they thought it could do better. The other dish of theirs I look forward to snarfing right down is the Andhra Curry Leaf Chicken. Delish!

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Vegetable and Chicken Stews with Appams.

The one thing I love about pubs here is that they serve some of the most magnificent curries with dosas. I’ve gorged on the dosa+chicken curry combo at Pecos and the absolute bomb of dosa+crab curry/masala combo at Stones. Mind-blowing.

The other not so regular stuff I usually wouldn’t order when at a pub, but have had and thoroughly enjoyed is the Mushroom Manchurian at Purple Haze and the Chicken Tacos at Mojos. Of course, it’s needless to say that french fries are my weakness and that I’d wage a battle with you even in my sleep if you presented me with a plate of them.

I, unfortunately or fortunately do not have pictures of the beauties I’ve talked about. This only means many visits are impending. While Mojos looks like a new-age Pecos which I find rather chimney-like and therefore claustrophobic, let’s see what can be done to get my hands on the brilliance that is pub food. Some day, I’ll write about the magic of London’s pubs as well.

Are there dishes you’d recommend me to try? I’d love to. :)

Ending on a rather random but apt thought for the time-being, here’s what I found and thought.

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Even the yuckiest things have a sense of beauty to them.

Here’s wishing you a lovely Tuesday. And if you’re going to drink, cheers to you!

PS, this post is not an advertisement or a paid article.

Monday

24 Mar

There’s this month called March we all know too well. It really bodes nothing much to so, so many people because it’s just another month in this dozen bunch we’re blessed to see year after year. It could be a special month for those who have special occasions to celebrate during it. But that apart, it’s quite the whirlwind for every single other person on the planet who juggles numbers, at any level. Don’t you think? It’s a crazy, crazy month. It’s the month where you often forget what the difference between a weekend and a weekday really is. And it’s safe to say that that time of the year has well and truly arrived.

I don’t think that trend will ever, ever change. Here I am, post my work day, taking a short break, having consumed copious amounts of tea I wouldn’t even dare down on a weekend. I thought I’d write to you at the cost of staring at my laptop screen, but I’ll see what I can manage to squeeze out before I get back to more work.

I love being busy. Like I’ve mentioned before, being busy gives me that sure-shot green signal I need to escape, to floor that accelerator and vanish. It’s just me cruising or speeding down that road, all by myself, with that rush of adrenaline or whatever else it is that gives us the high of keeping up with work and getting ahead of it. I’m not sure about the getting ahead bit yet considering there’s an entire week before the month and quarter come to an end.

It’s a busy time. It always has been. That’s something I dread and look forward to. It’s that kick I get in knowing I’m working on the businesses I need to work on and give them advertisers exactly what they want. It’s that satisfaction knowing we succeeded, as a team. It’s the high knowing you’ve brought that dough home. But it’s also that nagging pain in the ass that lingers and reminds you just how slow time can really pace at. March has been like that. At least March 2014 has. It.just.doesn’t.seem.to.get.over.

So while there’s work and so much of it, I’m back from office, taking that break I was talking about before I deep-dive right in again. And here’s why I’m here; to share just ow I’m savouring this break of mine, savouring being the word in focus here.

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Isn’t it lovely when you really get to make the most of what you’ve got and feel the satisfaction of knowing you’ve done so? Here’s how I’m spending my break – drinking chai, having crispy toasts with butter and writing. And there’s music as well. It hits the spot. Today. It fits. It’s perfect for this moment. And I’ll take that, because I’m here, making the most of what I have. My manic Monday has given me a spot to take out my umbrella and sort of beach-bum till it’s time to get back. Except, if I were really at a beach, it wouldn’t be called tea time. :)

There’s so much to talk about the passed weekend and I sincerely hope I find the time to write about it because there are some interesting things to share with you. In the meantime, I do hope you’re having a not so manic Monday. If you are, I’m sure your beach-bum time’s around the corner too.

Here’s powering the last of Maddening March through. Cheers!

Simple Things

21 Mar

IMG_9345 IMG_9341 IMG_9343 IMG_9344 IMG_9361 IMG_9362 IMG_9363 IMG_9309To say that it’s been a hectic week is pushing it. Pinch me, I can’t believe the much awaited weekend’s finally here. It’s time to kick back and just be.

There isn’t much to say. I think my pictures will do all the talking that needs to be done. My head feels a tad bit overcrowded and maybe I need the caffeine to sort things out before I figure out what’s going on.

In the mean time, here’s what I’ve been hooked to ever since I heard it. It’s a track that played at the end credits of one of the episodes of this series called Girls. Have you watched it? I just about managed to catch up on its latest episodes and this one track stood out for everything it speaks of and of course, its placement in the episode. Give it a listen. It’s beautiful. It’s apt. It speaks my mind.

Smoke with me babe
And lay with me babe
Laugh with me babe
I just want (the) simple things
I just want you.

So simple. So powerful.

It’s been a week of indulgence all through. Which reminds me, I’ve been talking to my friends about randomly wanting a burrito loaded with goodness and that occasional cappuccino because sometimes you just want that random burrito and cappuccino. And from nowhere, both happened. It’s strange how things happen. Not that it’s hard to find these things today. It’s just strange how they come to you when they do.

You could give California Burrito a try, if you haven’t already. I can just about manage to finish (and by finish, I mean stuff my face beyond belief) a mini burrito. I still feel rather full from lunch, that’s the only hiccup. But I can’t bare to waste that mini burrito. It’s just wrong to do so. I quite like the spicy chicken one. My friends do have their rice bowl and they quite enjoy it. But I don’t think I have the stomach for it, not for the time being at least. Sigh.

Simple things.

That’s what the good life’s all about.

Thank you for listening to this random post.

Have a beautiful Friday.

PS, Mexican food is…rajma-centric and still so top notch!

Holi

17 Mar

Today is Holi and I came to know that it’s one of the biggest festivals of the year, today. It’s strange when you stay so far away from a place that’s home, in the root sense of the word. I still haven’t discerned which is home; whether I’m from the north or south, but I’d like to believe that I’m an awesome mix of both, with a lot of me leaning towards the North-Indian side, in the root sense of the word, like I said earlier. I don’t know if that made any sense, because it sure as hell didn’t make any sense to me.

So today is Holi, one of those festivals we usher spring and summer (I guess) in with. There’s a lot of colour, water and food involved, of course. Memories of Holi, back when I lived in the north, were laden with it all beginning with that essence of it in the air. One just knew Holi was around the corner. And then we had quite obvious (and most often obnoxious) signs of a festival with loud speakers everywhere, with an effigy erected at almost every junction, to be lit at the eve of Holi to signify the triumph of good over evil. I don’t know much about the mythological aspect of this festival and maybe it’s time I read up about it. But since I’m so far removed from it, I feel like I’ll be excused for not knowing. :D

Holi was always welcomed in by our verandahs stocked with cans of oil, bags of ingredients and a large stove at the corner where I remember my paternal grandmother spending almost all her time, dishing out magical goodies after magical goodies. I don’t remember seeing her get up from there as she produced sweet and savory treats for the entire household, family, friends and neighbours, perhaps. That was a lot of cooking. It wasn’t me, it’s my genes. I blame my family. I blame them for throwing me head-on into this blissful world that completes my life so beautifully.

We’d always wake up before the sun to get an oil bath before we head out to watch the effigy ignite. And once the sun was up, we’d be out, laden with powdered colours, water guns, water balloons and buckets that didn’t ever speak of drying up. Balloons got thrown at each other, colour got splashed when you weren’t looking and there was never really a sign of stopping. We’d go back in to recharge with all that had been prepared over the days that led up to Holi, unwashed hands, too nonchalant because we’d race to go back to the terrace and keep the spirit of the festival going. The baths thereafter were painful, except we got bathed by our mothers, or aunts. So it wasn’t half bad.

The last time I celebrated Holi, if I can call that a celebration, because I stayed cooped up inside the grilled balcony of my uncle’s friend’s house, was in 2011. Here’s the thing with Holi; the more you hide or act coy about not “getting dirty”, the dirtier you’re bound to get. So you might as well throw your hands up in the air and ring in the spirit of this festival, with fists full of colour, while you’re at it. The great thing about Holi is the bhaang, a preparation made from cannabis leaves, that one gets to have, if you’re old enough to do so. I’ve never given it a try but rest assured, if I do get the chance to celebrate Holi back up north again, I will give that more than just a try. :) Why must one stray from the norm, right?

Here, in Bangalore, there are almost no signs of Holi. We had work as well, today. So, there’s no wonder I was oblivious of its arrival. Perhaps it’s a good thing because the festival really has begun to become dirty over the years and I’m quite glad to be away from it. As time progressed, Holi took a back-seat and wasn’t one of those festivals I really looked forward to. It’s not Diwali and only Diwali that I love so dearly. But, having said that, and keeping in mind the gene pool that I’m blessed with, I came back home to get a few things ready for Holi, because it’s the done thing. In my head, at least.

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I managed to make namkeen mathri (savory crisps), shakkar paare (sugar crisps) and gudd chawal ki kheer (rice and milk pudding seasoned with palm sugar), which was a first since I’ve never really ventured into the territory of rice kheer before. I feel happy. Because no matter what or where I’ll be or under what circumstances, it’s heartening to know that certain things remain the same. And that’s the beauty of tradition I thrive on because it happens, almost unknowingly. Things get passed on, unconsciously.

Holi will always remind me of sitting with my grandmothers and watching them cook. Sometimes, all you need is to just be there. The rest sort of takes care of itself. It really does. And memories supersede religion. Almost invariably. And so comfortably. There’s no doubting the power of associations, memories and experiences. They catapult us to places we’d never dream of. In the best ways possible, in this context. :)

I hope you have a lovely festival and a beautiful year ahead.

And here’s what I would dance to, today, even though this isn’t a track pictured on Holi. Turn it up, as always. :) ;)

Sinful Saturday

16 Mar

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Adrak chai (ginger milk tea) on a Friday and Saturday are much savoured by the over sensitive caffeine me. It’s something I look forward to minus the worry of having to toss and turn in bed for most of the night. But, as much as I love the idea of it, I think the turn in weather has brought about some changes as well. It’s slowly time to keep them hot beverages aside for a summer afternoon and reign in that blessed cold coffee. Well, that is what I’ve been craving for, for a bit now.

In between catching up on Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal and Downton Abbey, the craving made me head all the way to the grocery store in order to get whatever I needed my dose of weekend cold coffee to have. It was sumptuous and a tad bit sinful as well. I’m not complaining. I never really complain about sinning over food, really. What can I say, I’ve been converted and have moved over to the other side before I even knew it.

So there it was, and it was quite the welcome break from that cup of hot tea. Of course, this can only ever be a weekend affair thanks to that over-sensitivity I was talking about. Also, I don’t think I can afford to sin on an everyday basis. :D Plus it was pasghetti time again this weekend, so it was sin written all over my Saturday. Sumptuous sinning. :)

The visit to the grocery store also had me pick up this new series of ice cream bars called Magnum that I’ve been hearing the rounds of. Have you had them before? They’re supposed to be more chocolatey and rich, is what I heard. I gave them a try. And I don’t think I’ll be trying them anytime soon again. For one, a single bar cost me 85 bucks. It was a chocobar. After having paid anywhere between 5-25 bucks on a chocobar all my life, I think this was too rude a shock to me. Why was it 85 bucks? Because the chocolate coating around the vanilla bar is thicker, for sure. Also, the vanilla bar in itself is so much more rich and creamier and therefore, thicker.

My brother tried the chocolate truffle one and said it was all chocolate and lots of it. If that’s your bar of chocolate, then go for it. Having grown up on chocobar and having so many associations with it, I wouldn’t rate this one too high. It’s like paying excessively for something you’re so fond of, except it isn’t really the thing you’re so fond of. Toying with a consumer’s idea of associations and concept of brand is quite a tricky lane to go down on. For the company that tried doing it, I hope it works for them because really, nothing for me could ever beat a simple chocobar. I really could do without the richness. I’d save that for a more sumptuous dessert than a bar of ice cream. Besides, the vanilla bar inside tasted more milky than vanilla-y to me. Fail.

Give it a try. Maybe I ought to try the other flavours as well. But if the simplest of them all made me feel this burdened with unnecessary richness in a time when I would like lighter dessert options, I’m a bit wary of trying the more decadent ones. After all, chocobars and their other counterparts always bring back memories of waiting to hear the ringing bell of the mobile ice cream cart on your street, of running over to the ice cream guy and buying whatever your mind fancied, even if it was that orange/mango iced candy bar that so sealed the deal almost every summer afternoon. It’s hard for anyone to replace that which is so etched in one’s memories of something as deeply set as childhood.

“Clean” Fridays

15 Mar

Going on Lent has shown me another side of what living life without the consumption of alcohol and/or non-vegetarian food could be like. I never thought my life revolved so much around the two. Not that I’m fond of alcohol or that alcohol is the central aspect of my social life, or even life, for that matter. What I really do care about is food, without a doubt. And I’ve realized that I absolutely refuse to pay large sums of money to consume vegetarian food outside unless I’m eating something that is better than the vegetarian fare I get at home. On a daily basis, we’re vegetarian 95% of the time, so really, I don’t think I’m missing out on much. Bleargh.

Therefore, I’ve been spending time doing things I’ve always wanted to do but didn’t do because my Friday evenings ended up being spent in the company of friends over food and that beer for friends + that occasional rum+iced tea in case I felt like a drink. Have you tried that combination? One small (or whatever portion fancies you) of dark rum dunked into a glass of lemon (only) iced tea. It’s most mind-blowing and refreshing all in one. I will always be grateful to my ex-boss for introducing me to this beauty. Also, it was his way of initiating me into the world of guilt-free consumption of alcohol. :P Which reminds me, I heard the most sad news ever: that the production of Old Monk rum has been stopped indefinitely. I was most heartbroken. I hope they start right back. Till then, I’m left without a choice of poison. I don’t really know if that’s a good thing or not. But I can live.

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I’ve spent almost 98% of my life, here, in Bangalore. I’ve passed this lake so, so many times as I’ve grown up over the years. Some of it just hasn’t changed while some of it has, as is usually the case with a lot of things. While I have visited it a couple of times, I haven’t really spent much time at this lake because I don’t really stay close by and it hasn’t been a place I really, really wanted to go to. But over the past few days, I’ve wanted to go for a walk by it and given how gorgeous Bangalore’s spring-summer collection of 2014 is, I figured it would be a good idea to give it a try since I couldn’t really go have mince on toast and my rum iced tea.

It was a beautiful experience. Water has this enigmatic way of magnetizing you. It calls you towards it and also has this sometimes eerie way of telling you to keep away. I say this because I am afraid of water though I really wish I could let go to it and enjoy it for what it is. The lake, per se, isn’t as stinky as it used to be, which means the municipality seems to be doing a pretty okay job at keeping it clean and tidy. There’s a jogger’s lane around the periphery of it which made me feel grossly inadequate and unhealthy what with people (and kids) running everywhere. I reminded myself that I was here for a different reason and that sort of made it okay for me. There are trees aplenty and plants and birds, as well. It takes me back to my childhood days when I would pass it on my way to school every day. I’m always reminded of the army camps that live/work there and, who, I guess, use it for various purposes as well, if not own it. There’s a weird sense of identity you get from that lake, an identity that makes you feel you’re Bangalorean just like how Hyde Park may give one the identity of being a Londonite, I guess?

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An evening by a lake is something I’ve never really done, here, in the city. So I’m glad that’s check-marked off my list of things to do, here, in Bangalore. Couple that with hot chips, egg hakka noodles (sigh, when will you be here, Easter?) and episodes of Frasier in bed. That’s a Friday well sorted. Plus I feel like I’m 35+ because I didn’t spend my Friday night out, dancing to (Honey Singh’s) music in a club somewhere after, something that people my age would (still) easily do. Just saying. And here’s what I’ve been listening to on loop. Who said I can’t access chaar botal (four bottles of) vodka while on Lent? ;)