Monday 30 December 2013

New Year Resolution 2014

The New Year is just around the corner. Time to reflect on the year gone by. An interesting year, landmark in many ways. A little nephew to love, godmother to my best friend's angel, four new countries visited, connected with family whom I have known all my life but barely ever met, a personal loss for my father, letting go of expectations from some relationships, professionally a mind blowing year having done numerous projects with a leading food critic of the country, a new laptop, a new phone, invested in our second house, daughter's admission in the best school...at the end of the day, so much to thank god for. 

What I learnt this year is also important. I learnt that you can never be truly happy if you keep putting yourself last. Because then you base your own happiness on other people's actions and words. My resolution this year is simple. To love myself. That's it. No long lists, no dramas. I vow to love myself and put myself a few notches higher on my own priority list. To remain fit and dress to kill, not to show anyone but for the confidence that the image in the mirror gives me. To do work that makes me happy and gives me validation of my professional choices. To respect people but draw the line for those who do not respect me or value my feelings. To laugh more, worry less, hope more, repent less. To try new flavors, travel to new places, hold my dear ones close, do all the things that make me happy. 


Happy New Year everyone...what's your resolution??

Friday 27 December 2013

Say Something....

From my favourite television series (Grey's Anatomy):

If you love someone...you tell them...
Even if you're scared it's not the right thing...
Even if you're scared that it will cause problems...
Even if you're scared that it will burn your life to the ground...
You say it...say it loud...
And then you go from there...

Say something....I'm giving up on you....


Wednesday 25 December 2013

A traveller's Christmas


It is 10pm on Christmas and I'm tucked in my warm quilt after a dinner of Maggi and sausages, tired as hell but happy. I had a lovely day today...as is fast becoming a Christmas tradition, we packed our car and drove off out of the city, this time towards Garh Mukteshwar.

Enroute, we stopped at the famous Shiva Dhaba and had lovely kulhar chai with delicious pakodas. They were even kind enough to heat the paranthas mom had carried from home. The pakoras were crisp and yummy, highly recommended. We also stopped to walk into a sugarcane field and took some gorgeous snaps of the farms.


Chatting up with a farmer and hearing stories of progressive India. He has 4 daughters, all having done their post graduation and one living in London.

A Yash Raj set....train in the background, sarson ke khet, village boys running....ghar aaja pardesi tera des bulae re :)

The closest that the Holy Ganges comes to Delhi, people from the city flock to Garh Mukteshwar to wash off their sins. If you remain with the obvious, you'll see a dirty ghat on the banks of a muddy river crowded with touts pestering you. But if you can see beyond that, you may see what I saw. A brave display of faith, with people of all ages taking a dip in the icy water. Or the stalls that sold the most innovative little toys for kids (yes, my Sonu went crazy)! Or as the highlight for me is in any trip- hot lipsmacking food.


The ghats

The streets near the ghat selling interesting lil stuff

We asked around and the locals unanimously pointed us towards Raju halwai who's famous for his khasta kachori and puri sabzi. The puris were gobbled up in no time at all, especially as they were accompabied by a tangy kaddu sabzi, aalu sabzi and methi dana chutney.






200kms driven, a day full of laughter, surrounded by family, enjoying all that my gorgeous country has to offer. A very merry christmas indeed!!

posted from Bloggeroid

Saturday 21 December 2013

Twilight - A love for eternity



“No one’s ever loved anyone as much as I love you.”
― Stephenie MeyerBreaking Dawn

There is something amazing about Bella and Edward. Something almost magical. Something real, something pure...untouched. Having someone who can reach inside you and touch your very soul...someone who doesn't judge you. Where words are not needed, you just know how the other person is feeling instinctively. The absolute certainty about each other. Not even a flicker of doubt that this is the person that you want in front of your eyes when you wake up every morning. The sureness, of being born for each other and none else.

My favorite Twilight film is perhaps the one in which Edward leaves Bella and goes away...in the hope that she will be safe. The helplessness that Bella feels, how it drives her crazy. There is nothing that she will not do to get him back, even if it is only a glimpse of him. What happens to her is not important in her scheme of things. How incomplete she feels, how nothing is normal, nothing is real without him.

“I don’t have the strength to stay away from you anymore”


Complete and utter love. Selfless. Possessive. Eternal. Hopeless. Unrelenting. Forever...and a day. 

Thursday 5 December 2013

The irony of it all


Never have I been richer
My bank bursting at its seams
Never have I felt poorer
The thought of indulgence being a dream.

People surrounding me all around
Never have there been so many
Yet an island I feel like sometimes
For my thoughts, no one to give a penny.

Never have my hair looked as glossy
Or have I been in better shape
But thoughtless I am now in getting dressed
With a quick pony at my nape.

Ironic as life is
The image in the mirror seems
To others so fulfilled
In real so bleak.

Friday 29 November 2013

On a Thali Trail

One of the best parts of being a food critic is that I get to sample lots of delicious food. My work, besides my interest, takes me to unknown or lesser known places in the search for good food. The last few months, we went around town checking out the State Bhawan canteens and what we found was lipsmacking good food (in some of them) at prices which were a fraction of what you would pay in a fancier place. 



My latest article on Rediff helps you navigate the food scene at the State Bhawans in Delhi. What not to miss and more importantly, what to completely miss. You'd be surprised at some of these, I'm sure. 

Check out the article here. 


Monday 25 November 2013

Balmy weather!

So I am in Canada. In the month of November. There is snow on the ground outside though indoors we are nice and toasty. But I'm not allowed to say it's cold. You see, whenever we step out of the car into the bitter chill and my nose is almost falling off from frostbite, my sister..my crazy Canadian sister...looks around, smells the air and coos "Oh it's sooo niiiiice"!! Atleast that is what I think she says as the sound filters in through my scarf, earmuffs and fur lined cap. And if I wasn't in such a hurry to unbuckle the car seat and save my only offspring from the onslaught of the arctic winds, I am sure I would have a fitting reply (ably supported by an incredulous expression).

Ok I admit it's not so bad. But it IS cold. Whatever your definition is, this fits it! And finally....finally today my sister succumbed! She actually changed plans and we chose to go home instead of shopping because today, wait for it....my crazy sis R finally said "OK, it's slightly cold".

It is only -10°C, with windchill freaking -16°C so yes, you could say that there is a nip in the air!!

AV decides enough is enough...I'm outta here!
Jokes apart, though my first snowfall was at Yosemite in California (and that was surreal in it's own way), yesterday's snowfall was just ethereal. From indoors ofcourse ;). With soft snowflakes gently falling on the ground, transforming the landscape into a winter wonderland. The trees seemed like someone had sprinkled powdered sugar on them with a sieve. Time seemed to stand still. It was unreal. It was pristine. It was gorgeous.

If only he was here to share this with me...


Wednesday 20 November 2013

Of Dreams and Reality

You're here, at this point in your life, for a reason.

No, this is not a post about fate and destiny. A few years back it may have been. But today, older and none the wiser, I believe in reality. My profound reaslisation is this...are you ready for it....(drumroll....)

"We are where we are because of the choices we make and those that others make affecting us". 

There is no greater hand involved, no guiding light, no stars of destiny. At every crossroad of life, we are presented with options. And we make the choice we believe to be the best one at that point in time. Sometimes, people make choices or decisions that affect our lives too. And an amalgamation of these choices brings us to where we eventually land up.

Movies and books have us believing otherwise. Entire generations have grown up counting stars and looking for signs or waiting for the perfect moment or person. One often lives in retrospect, fantasizing about 'what if' or look outside your life, dissatisfied with today, with the hope that something outside is better. This post is not about acceptance or resigning yourself either. It is merely about the fact that fantasies are always rosy. No one has a dull one. They seem exciting and promising, for the sole reason that they are untouchable and unreal. Reality has a way of sinking into your life and peeling away the magic. But if you look at your life in the mirror, you may realise that your reality could be the fantasy of millions of others. You may realise that you have been too harsh on yourself and on life. That you have everything around you to smile. And to be grateful. Because of the people who chose to be with you. To nurture you and stand by you, through good decisions and bad. To dream and to live with you. And as far as places go....that is a good place to be....  

Tuesday 12 November 2013

The kids figure it out

3 adults, 2 toddlers and 1 dog. Piece of cake, right? Oh, you have no idea!

Living with my sister has never been so eventful. Reporting in from Canada, we're holed up in the house today for my benefit, outside temperature being -9*. This trip has been super interesting, especially in terms of observing how N behaves around other kids. Growing up with doting adults around, my Sonu has always been the center of attention and always has someone to pamper her. Her cousins in Delhi are 5-7 years older than her so they also treat her like a doll, giving in to her every whim.

Act 1, Scene 2. Little Miss Muffet arrives in California where her 4 year old cousin has enjoyed a similar status in her kingdom. Thus ensues a constant battle for supremacy, each trying to come out on top. They enjoyed each other company thoroughly, yet always bickered over who gets what.

And the plot thickens. Canada brings her to her little brother A. For the first time, N finds herself to be a big sister, asked to be responsible. She did resist at first, wanting to remain the little baby. But eventually she started enjoying the role of being 'elder'. She now has learnt to share toys, be gentle with him (sometimes) and whisper when he is asleep. It is especially touching to see her overwhelming concern when he cries...she goes to him and asks him if everything is ok...even offers him toys to distract him. Being all of 2 years old herself.

Its strange that as a travel writer, my post from my Canadian travels centers around 2 kids. But then, with 2 toddlers in the house, it is far more action packed than any Jackie Chan film...

In my next post, I promise to talk more about this gorgeous land...the yum food...the unlimited shopping. Till then, I hear a baby call me upstairs....adios amigos. 

Thursday 7 November 2013

American Diaries

In work environments where we have to fight superiors to avail our own annual leave, the concept of an annual international vacation is becoming rarer as we talk. Thankfully, by hook or by crook, we're still managing to see wonderful parts of the world. My week in US seemed like a long time to spend only in California when I booked tickets but I couldn't have been more wrong. The 6 days that we were there, no single day was wasted, every moment used to see something new, experience something we haven't before. 

I think one of the most difficult parts of going back home is going to be getting used to houses that don't have huge driveways and backyards opening onto lakes! I could gush for hours about the houses we stayed in, the lovely gorgeous and yet homely spaces, but frankly with the hectic schedules, we barely got much time to just sit back and enjoy them. There was so much to do! N ofcourse believes that in North America, every house has to have atleast 2 dogs...every family member we have been staying with has had atleast a couple. 

My nephew training his horse
It is a humbling experience living in the Silicon Valley. There is something intangibly exciting about driving through the lanes of Palo Alto or San Jose...addresses we've only seen on the HQ locations of iconic companies like Google, Yahoo, Apple, eBay etc. There is an energy in the place, of new things being done, the next big thing being cracked! 

Stanford - where I should have studied rather than go as a visitor!!
 We spent our first day in Sacramento, walking around the restored old town (which looks like something out of a wild wild west movie). The evening had a part of the gang from Morgan Hill driving in to spend the night ...though we all knew that it wasn't love for us that brought them..it was the promise of the world's most delectable Tandoori Chicken that one of my brothers grills up. The chicken was as mindblowing as promised and the nip in the air couldn't keep us indoors as we sat around the bonfire till late night, doing more tequilla shots than I remember doing in college! AND we all woke up early without a headache...what else can one ask for :) 

Winery in Napa
You can't go to California and not go to Napa Valley. The vineyards stretching over undulating landscapes was a treat to the eyes but to be honest, it seemed to be more hyped than the experience itself. We did manage to do a wine tasting and then headed straight for an absolutely delicious lunch of burgers, pizzas and some appetizers that we couldn't get enough of. Burgers we had plenty of in our week there...and not so surprisingly, the best burger we had there was from a chain (not unlike McD) called In&Out. The crisp and fresh lettuce added a crunch that set it apart from all else. Must do if you are visiting the west coast. 

The Golden Gate itself
The other awesome experience we had was when we drove up to Yosemite, home to the granite mountains. We expected it to be a little chilly but we did not expect to drive through snowfall, with snow flakes daintily floating down to earth all around us. The landscape was transformed into a winter wonderland, something out of a fairytale. Snow in October...in California!!! Who would have thought!

Winter Dreamland at Yosemite
Our 6 days in US flew by in the blink of an eye. But more than the things we did, I remember the warmth and love we received, how each person made an effort to make us feel special! My brother who has NEVER taken a single day off in the 6 years that he has been with Apple actually took 2 days off just for us! My bhabhis cooked delicious food for us....from Chole Bhature to Thai Curry, from Sticky Meatballs to Mutton Curry, we were spoilt for choice. And at the unearthly hour of 7am when we had to leave for the airport, we had everyone dropping in to say bye...enroute while dropping kids to school, while cycling to work or just out for a jog. BB, I know I probably wasn't as radical and exciting as you pictured me but you all were everything I hoped to find you to be...

Halloween time
A trip that was long overdue and one that will be cherished for a long time. The cold lands of Canada beckoned...but that's another travel diary. Over and out. 
 
Gold Rush in California
 

Saturday 26 October 2013

Hum to chale pardes...

Sometimes fantasies do come true.

When I was growing up, travelling abroad was a big deal. A really big deal. You talked about it for months before you even took that flight and don't even ask about bragging rights once you returned! If you went to London, you were pretty cool...but the top of the social pyramid was reserved for those who travelled to the Promised Land-America!! They came back with stories of exotic food, mesmerizing cities and the land of plenty!

When my brothers moved across the oceans some two decades back, my interaction with them was reduced to sending them rakhis every year with a handwritten note about the year gone by. This ofcourse was before Zuckerman came into our lives.

Our love for travel has shown us a glimpse of beauty scattered around the globe. But when I landed at San Francisco 2 days back, I felt like the school girl who had finally 'arrived'.

And it is all that it promised to be. The burgers are sinful, the drinks supersized and meeting my brothers as if they had never left.

Travel diaries to follow...but for now, let me sip my tea as I feed the ducks in the lake in the backyard...its a tough life, you see!!



posted from Bloggeroid

Friday 4 October 2013

A ray of sunshine


Something amazing happened today.

Yesterday started off on a terrible note. Someone who I thought knew me well misjudged my intentions and the very core of who I am (no, that's not the amazing part obviously :)). I play it cool most of the time but the few people I make myself vulnerable to can reach inside me and cause me unbelievable pain. Which is what I felt.

How did I cope with it? I did the only thing I know how to. I wrote. I poured myself out on my blog and the moment I did, I felt lighter. I was reminded of who I am and not who people may perceive me to be. Once I felt better thanks to the catharsis, I deleted the post, knowing that seeing me upset would only upset my parents (the drawbacks of having your family follow your blog).

Now for the amazing part. In the past 24 hours since I deleted the post, I received mails from three completely different and disconnected people. A friend, an acquaintance and one who only connects with me through my words here. And these three people, in their own way, just sent in a word to see how I am. To tell me that they cared.

That is nothing short of a miracle. In today's seemingly fast life where we all seem to rush past each other, brushing away anything that may cause a diversion, I was touched that there were people who were concerned enough to notice that I had removed a post about feeling bad. People who wanted to make me feel better.

And make me feel better they did.

Thank you. You all know who you are.  

Here is a poem I read on Suchitra Krishnamoorthy's blog 4 years back and I still draw strength from it. 

Thursday 19 September 2013

Parenting Thoughts


A parent’s worst nightmare is not being able to shield their child from something terrible happening. When a toddler learns how to take his first few steps, the mother instinctively lunges forward to cushion his fall. A father teaching his daughter how to ride a bicycle walks half a step behind letting her feel independent enough and yet not be too far so as to be able to catch her when she heads for the trees. Perhaps the most difficult thing for a parent is to let go. To not be there with their child 24/7 protecting her from the trials and tribulations of life.

But the horror and pain that Nirbhaya’s and countless other parents felt is nothing short of unimaginable. The only thing worse than going through something as horrific is that is the knowledge that your child did. But if we fear and hide ourselves at home, we let the perpetrators win. The laughable sentences do no justice to the nature of the crime. Besides raising our voices to change the laws, what else can we do, you ask?

The answer lies at home. We hold the power of raising and moulding the thoughts of the children we raise. Here is what you can do.

Teach you son:
1) That women are to be respected and honoured.
2) Display affection and respect at home with your spouse. Your son sees the relationship between his parents as benchmarks for how an ideal relationship should be.
3) Teach him that chivalry is never dead. As he grows older, tell him that women will always adore a man who treats them like a princess
4) Never make fun of the judicial system. He must know that there are consequences for every action.
5) That his friends, girls and boys alike, are welcome in his home and on your dining table.
6) That defending a woman’s honour or helping a fellow human is the greatest act of bravery one can do.
7) That women and men are equal. Help your wife in the household work and respect her opinions so that he models the same.
8) As he grows up that love is a long lasting commitment but the true objective of love is to serve and seek her best interests.
9) That gender stereotypes are backward and redundant. If a mother routinely cleans up her son’s room and picks up his plate after he eats, she is unconsciously telling him that it’s what women are supposed to do, serve men.
10) Don’t trivialise harassment, aggression or abuse – verbal or non verbal.  

Teach your daughter:
1) Martial arts. Self defence can give a woman those precious few seconds to raise an alarm.
2) That she can come to you and talk about anything under the sun without you judging her.
3) That the wrongdoings of a handful of monsters doesn’t mean that the rest of mankind is unworthy. Tell her that there are wonderful men out there too.
4) Respect her individuality and treat her like an adult when she is in her teens. Rebellion can lead to terrible mistakes.
5) Be open minded and let her feel comfortable enough to bring her friends of both genders home. She should never feel that she needs to hide from you.  
6) Presence of mind. Teach her to be calm in moments of crisis and not to panic. If she can think on her feet, it’s a great gift you have given her.
7) That men and women are equal. Model this behaviour at home and never let her feel that men are superior to women or that different standards apply to them.
8) To embrace her assertiveness. Teach her that she has the power to say no.
9) Give her enough confidence that she doesn’t feel the need to bend to peer pressure or to conform to any perceived ‘acceptable’ social behaviour.
10) That her choices in life are limitless. That she really can become anything she wants to in life..and that you will support her choices.  


Wednesday 11 September 2013

Casting blooper of '50 Shades of Grey'

Highly disapprove and disagree with the casting of Christian Grey for the movies on 50 Shades of Grey. Does this guy below really remind you of the drop dead gorgeous Grey who makes women weak in their knees just by his presence? Casting blooper. This Anastasia Steel is way too pretty and Christian Grey not bad boy enough.


If they had listened to E.L. James, Ian Somerhalder below would have and should have got the part!! Now come on....just look at him!



Tuesday 3 September 2013

10 Things You Must Do Today



Have you ever lived a day as if it may have been your last? Everyone should have a list of Top 10 Things They Must Do NOW (and not wait for a sunnier tomorrow). My latest article on Rediff is a mere suggestion of what your own personal list could look like.

Read the article HERE.

Monday 2 September 2013

Burger Hunt in Delhi

My search for the best gourmet burger in Delhi had me looking high and low. Read about the winners and the Must Haves here


Friday 30 August 2013

Demystifying relationships

I was trying to think of the 'perfect' relationship the other night and I just couldn't think of one. It's true, everyone seems to be fighting their own battles. But as much as we struggle to float and find a state of contentment, we forget one very simple thing.

Social psychology has a concept which is so simple that it roughly translates into the English phrase - Do unto others as you want others to do unto you. We mirror our expectations. Unknowingly, we behave with people like we wish them to behave with us. If we want someone to go out of their way and plan surprises for us, we plan surprises for them. If we like to be cuddled, we cuddle. If we like our space, we give space.

And herein lies the fundamental problem of human relationships. We need to do to a person what that person likes instead of what we like. And in return, communicate clearly what we want them to do for us. Subtle suggestions through behaviour don't work often. If you like to be told that you are loved often, merely saying I love you to the person won't help. Instead, just communicate that you would like to hear it once in a while. Likewise, if you think a candlelight dinner is romantic, do not plan that for his birthday or your anniversary. Think of what he likes, whether it is clubbing or being with a larger group of family or friends, and plan something around that.

Relationships would be much simpler if we asked simply and gave selflessly. This only works in rational relationships where the partners care about each other and are compassionate. But if achieved, it can save many a hearts from ache.   

Sunday 11 August 2013

True words

The paradox of our time in history is that we have taller buildings but shorter tempers, wider Freeways, but narrower viewpoints. We spend more, but have less, we buy more, but enjoy less. We have bigger houses and smaller families, more conveniences, but less time. We have more degrees but less sense, more knowledge, but less judgment, more experts, yet more problems, more medicine, but less wellness. 

We drink too much, smoke too much, spend too recklessly, laugh too little, drive too fast, get too angry, stay up too late, get up too tired, read too little, watch TV too much, and pray too seldom. 

We have multiplied our possessions, but reduced our values. We talk too much, love too seldom, and hate too often.

We've learned how to make a living, but not a life. We've added years to life not life to years. We've been all the way to the moon and back, but have trouble crossing the street to meet a new neighbor. We conquered outer space but not inner space. We've done larger things, but not better things. 

We've cleaned up the air, but polluted the soul. We've conquered the atom, but not our prejudice. We write more, but learn less. We plan more, but accomplish less. We've learned to rush, but not to wait. We build more computers to hold more information, to produce more copies than ever, but we communicate less and less. 

These are the times of fast foods and slow digestion, big men and small character, steep profits and shallow relationships. These are the days of two incomes but more divorce, fancier houses, but broken homes. These are days of quick trips, disposable diapers, throwaway morality, one night stands, overweight bodies, and pills that do everything from cheer, to quiet, to kill. It is a time when there is much in the showroom window and nothing in the stockroom. A time when technology can bring this letter to you, and a time when you can choose either to share this insight, or to just hit delete. 

Remember to spend some time with your loved ones, because they are not going to be around forever.

Remember, say a kind word to someone who looks up to you in awe, because that little person soon will grow up and leave your side. 

Remember, to give a warm hug to the one next to you, because that is the only treasure you can give with your heart and it doesn't cost a cent.

Remember, to say, 'I love you' to your partner and your loved ones, but most of all mean it. A kiss and an embrace will mend hurt when it comes from deep inside of you. 

Remember to hold hands and cherish the moment for someday that person will not be there again.

Give time to love, give time to speak! And give time to share the precious thoughts in your mind.

And always remember, life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by those moments that take our breath away.

-  George Carlin

Tuesday 6 August 2013

Yeh hai Bombay meri jaan

I love Bombay in the rains. I do. I know I'm a sucker for rains anywhere but there is something magical in the air when the rain gods smile. And I was fortunate enough to be able to visit the monsoon city last week in all it's glory. It was a short trip but the highlights were meeting old friends, spending time with the relentlessly crashing waves and staying in a wonderful property! Well, I'm not in the mood for a long post and as you know, I have recently lost my inspiration to write, along with my appetite. So in the mean time, let the pictures say a thousand words. My trip to Bombay in technicolor.

Where I spent most of my time - sea breeze at Bandstand
Amuse Bouche at Botticino @ The Trident

Delicious Pasta with Prawns

Smoked Betki

Lipsmacking Tiramisu with a refreshing Raspberry Sorbet

Lovely personalised service

Chinese at China Garden in Khar

My gorgeous room


Watching the sun set and waves crash



Monday 5 August 2013

The Black Dog Easy Evening - An Experience to Remember!!

As a marketing professional, I have always been intrigued by Surrogate Advertising. I find it very challenging to think up of marketing techniques to employ in order to push brands where ATL Advertising is not legally allowed like in the case of Alcohol and Tobacco products. So much so that my thesis in MBA was also focused on Surrogate Advertising.

Thus, it was almost too good to be true when I got an invite for a Black Dog Easy Evenings Experience. An evening that combined gourmet food, alcohol and music, the stuff that dreams are made of (they had me at food anyways!). The menu had been designed and executed by the Italian Masterchef winner 2011, Spyros Theodoridis. In true Masterchef style, Spyros had created 5 courses, each paired with a different year of whiskey from the Black Dog repertoire. Dressed in my long forgotten black and white strapless dress and even more long forgotten black heels, I set out to have the time of my life. 

And have the time of my life I did. The venue was the Westin Hotel in Gurgaon, a classy property. What was interesting to me was the fact that the promotional material was co-branded with Westin which probably meant that they were partners in the event rather than just being a venue (and thus rationalising the cost further - brilliant). Surrounded by a mix of air-kissing socialites and corporate big-wigs, we got our drinks and had a canape or 2 to get our taste buds rolling. Being a 'Black Dog' event, the bartender was not too impressed by my question on what he had besides whiskey and wine, for I truly despise both. But he was sporting enough to mix me a Mojito (or 2 :)) which I flaunted to envious eyes wondering why I was the only one in the event with a cocktail!


The crowd then moved on towards the banquet hall which was laid out for a formal sit down dinner. Each table was set for 6 people and as we took our places at one, we were joined by 4 very interesting dining companions. I felt like something out of Pretty Woman when I saw the cutlery laid out in front of me- 4 forks, no less besides a couple of knives and a spoon. Then in a moment of inspiration, I remembered (again from a movie) that one is supposed to start with the outermost cutlery and work your way in. As the first course, the Summer Salad was served, the emcee of the evening started introducing us to the brand and what lay ahead. I daresay she seemed like she was high already, the amount of faux pas she made. The salad itself was light and refreshing with citrus flavors and a melee of textures from the nuttiness of the cashew to the mushy carrots and the crunch of the fresh greens.


But we were a forgiving crowd and the emcee was all but forgotten as the Master Blender for Black Dog, Richard Paterson who in his kilt personified Scotland in a way no AV could have, took centerstage. And that is when the evening started! Richard is a showman. He walked and he talked, he poured and he drank. He even threw a few glasses around! All the while, keeping the audience entertained and glued to every word. He shared the history behind whiskey and also taught us how to appreciate every sip instead of drowning it in ice and soda.

As he spoke, we were served the second course, Tagliolini with Tomato Pesto and Anchovies. I am a great fan of Pesto, albeit the basil version but I must admit that the tomato based one was equally pleasing to the taste buds. This came paired with the  Black Dog 12 Years and as I swirled a sip around in my mouth, I felt each taste center come alive as Richard had promised.


While we ate, a very talented musician performed for us in French, Italian and English. There never was a dull moment. Which can also be said of our table. Though we were strangers, we got along fabulously and before long we were laughing and kidding around like old friends. Spyros took to the stage now and explained how he had created the menu and how each dish was a blend of Italian tastes and Indian sensibilities. The 3rd Course, a creamy Risotto with Prawns was served thereafter, paired with the Black Dog 18 Year Whiskey. The Risotto was an interesting blend of flavors, much like the whiskey itself. With a hint of mint, small chunks of peach and flavored with licorice powder, it played a fine line between savory and sweet. But the real winners were the prawns. Succulent and cooked just right, the juicy prawns brought out the flavors of the dish even more.


As the evening progressed, I also realised the difference between each whiskey. As we moved from the 12 years to the 18 years and 21 years, the whiskey got smoother and I could even detect slight variance in flavors.

The 4th Course was perhaps our favourite course of the evening. Lamb Chops served over Creamy Potatoes drizzled with a sauce of Roasted Vegetables served with Crispy Beet. In all my years of loving and appreciating food, I have never had lamb chops so succulent. So moist in the inside and giving just the right resistance to my knife, I couldn't believe that this wasn't beef I was eating but lamb. The chops were truly incredible and the only course I polished off, even though it came in fourth and my tiny tummy was already stuffed.

Unfortunately I couldn't stay for the last course, as much as I would have loved to see how a soup made with whiskey could be served as desert. But a tiny tot waiting to go home and sleep and a hour's drive back took precedence and we bid adieu to our new friends and dining companions. An Easy Evening for sure, for the guests. But I could see the immaculate conceptualization and hard work that went into the backend to execute one so flawlessly. An Experience to remember, for sure.    

Saturday 27 July 2013

Raaaamu...Organic Aalu wala samosa lao :)


Snob value or healthier option - Organic Food comes with a truckload of perceptions and biases. My latest article on Rediff debates both sides of the story and gives options on how one can incorporate Organic Food into one's daily diet (if you should choose to).

Read the story here

Sunday 21 July 2013

The Ramzan Food Trail


I personally believe I have a lot of will power. But when it comes to food, I just can not stay away. Thus, except for one day in the entire year, I can not even miss a meal, let alone fast for the entire day. I find it an extraordinary show of personal will when people fast for long periods of time like in Ramzan.

The stunning and massive Jama Masjid, Delhi


Ramadan is the holiest month of the Islamic Calendar. Fasting from dawn till dusk, Iftar is the meal that breaks the fast in the night. Thus, if you have delicious and lipsmacking food on your mind, joining in on these revelries is highly recommended.

My fav. at Karim's - The Korma!

My latest article on Rediff is a Food Trail that guides the discerning foodie through the best Iftar options in Delhi. Don't miss this one!

Read the article by clicking here.


Thursday 18 July 2013

Lootera - An oldie but a goldie

Lootera doesn't have too much to pull the crowds in. Let's face it, there is only so much Sonakshi Sinha can claim to her name besides having a popular father and starring with the biggies. Or so I thought. To be fair, the only thing that pulled me to the movie was Ranveer Singh, the cheeky underdog whose endearing acting in Band Baaja Baaraat entertained thoroughly. I was to be proven wrong.


Lootera is set in the 1950s in newly independent India. The movie traces the unlikely love story of a Zamindar's daughter. The couple meet in her village but fates do not favour them. Until many years later when their paths chance to cross again.

The movie is nostalgic, the vintage cars beautiful and the entire feel of the film is something like a softly (and slowly) sung ballad. The only hitch is that it is predictable. Very predictable. There are 2 twists in the film and I found myself waiting for them to be revealed, rather than be surprised by them. Perhaps having read the story by O'Henry (that the film is inspired by), this was to be expected.

Having said that, there wasn't a moment in the film that I was bored. Agreeably, it was a slow screenplay. But one that you don't mind witnessing.

Ranveer Singh, unfortunately disappoints. Its not so much that he didn't act well as much as he held himself back too much. He was broody, non descript and often unnecessary. Only in some scenes did he break through the mould and be the effortless actor that he can be. Thus it is no surprise that his friend Dev seemed so much more interesting than him. So much so that at one point one is forced to wonder why Sonakshi didn't fall for him instead!

Which brings me to the best part of the movie. Sonakshi Sinha has never struck a chord with me. I find her unattractive, loud and an unneccesary accessory in movies. None of this is true for this film. She finally proved that she can act. Pakhi is soft and pretty when she needs to be and a fireball when required. She keeps the film together and she keeps it real. I am forced to eat my words!

All in all, not a blockbuster but definitely a film one should watch.

Rating: 3 on 5

Paisa wasool moment: An unlikely choice but the scene where they both battle for him to give her an injection. Simple scene but screams of passion and selfless love.
posted from Bloggeroid

Friday 12 July 2013

If thou must love me



If thou must love me, let it be for nought 
Except for love's sake only. Do not say, 
"I love her for her smile—her look—her way 
Of speaking gently,—for a trick of thought 
That falls in well with mine, and certes brought 
A sense of pleasant ease on such a day"— 
For these things in themselves, Belov├Ęd, may 
Be changed, or change for thee—and love, so wrought, 
May be unwrought so. Neither love me for 
Thine own dear pity's wiping my cheeks dry: 
A creature might forget to weep, who bore 
Thy comfort long, and lose thy love thereby! 
But love me for love's sake, that evermore 
Thou mayst love on, through love's eternity.

Elizabeth Barrett Browning 

Friday 5 July 2013

Letting go

I believe in Euthanasia.

Just reading the sentence above, you are probably shaking your head already. That is how controversial the topic is. Some call it playing god, some messing with nature. But doesn't medical science already do that? Play god? Decide who should live, how long and in what condition?

I am talking about cases where there is no hope of a recovery. About cases where the person is dying a slow painful death. Where god has already set the person's path to him but we with our medical interventions keep postponing the inevitable. We have the capacity to make the organs run artificially, for the heart to beat, the lungs to breathe. But this is not life. This is not how he designed it. It is not meant to be this way. Life is when you are conscious, aware of your whereabouts. When you have control over your faculties. Life is justifiable when you can maintain your dignity and your pride.

The rest is our personal selfishness. We hold on to those we love, not letting them go. More for ourselves than for them. We do not know how we will cope without them or how we can bear the burden of playing god for them. But sometimes we need to be strong. And show them the love and respect that they have shown us all their lives while they were alive. We need to say our goodbyes. And we need to let them go. Hoping that there is a happier place waiting for them. Away from the disinfectant smell of the hospital, away from the humming of the life support machines. Away from hanging on the cliff. We need to let them fall. So that they may soar.

I know that those who love me may not like this. But I would not like to live like that. I would like to go suddenly...without prolonged suffering. I would like to die when I am healthy. When I can speak my opinions and run a mile. If that is when I am 70 or 75 or whatever age, I would like to say my goodbyes and walk into the sunset. Because that is how I would like to be remembered. As a person who lived...who smiled...who thought.

  

Thursday 4 July 2013

An open letter to the Curious Mind

Dear Curious Mind,

I understand where you are coming from. Atleast I try to. I understand the need in you to know. To connect the dots. So I do not take offence when you, a person who barely knows me, asks me personal questions like whether I am married, how old my daughter is or where I live. Though I do not enjoy them, I can also understand your need to relate to my career decisions and explore the reasons on why I quit my job to write.     Or where my sister lives...since when...how many dogs she has etc etc.

The problem is that you do not just want to gather information. You want to plot a graph. And perhaps a character sketch. I so know when you ask me what school I am from, what the next response is going to be. Let me say it outright. 'Everyone' knows someone who passed out from DPS RK Puram. No, I do not know so and so. There were 2000 kids in my batch and I did not know 98% of them. Some I did not know by chance, some I chose not to! Similarly, there are more than 60,000 people who work in HCL and I think I knew around 50 of them. So the probability of me knowing so and so's friend's husband is as remote as a flying muggle.

I understand that these are the ways and means of polite(!!) conversation, an art that I fail miserably at. But if you really want to know me better, ask my opinions. Ask me how I feel about things or instances. Explore my mind and not my bio data! And perhaps, just perhaps I may choose to open my thoughts and myself to you. But if plotting the dots is all you need to do, I warn you, I'm not going to be a fun conversationalist!

Kind regards



Tuesday 18 June 2013

Clarity in a moment of panic

They say that when you have a child, your heart walks outside your body. For once, they didn't lie.

Yesterday, I almost died.

My baby got locked in my car. Strapped in her car seat, the key too far for her to reach and a child lock on her door. In the 20 minutes that it took us to break the window and get her out, I kept talking to her from outside her window, smiling wildly so that she wouldn't panic. Yet only I know what it took for me not to completely lose my mind and keep trying different things to get her out. It was as if my heart had seized, as if I couldn't breathe.

And once she was out and I could envelop her in my arms, it all became clear. How futile and insignificant any other emotion is. Yes, I am terribly overworked, usually unappreciated and an emotional wreck. Yet, I know when I hold her at night that she is the reason I exist. Just smelling her hair gives me strength to smile.

Someone asked me what I seek in life. Naive me replied that I wished to be understood, appreciated and wanted. I now realise it was never about me anyways. All I seek is for my Sonu to be safe, loved and happy :) And that is good enough for me...

posted from Bloggeroid

Saturday 8 June 2013

Empty page

I know I haven't blogged since a few weeks. And I know that is very unlike me. But I just can't write these days. I sit in front of a screen and stare at it, the words just seem lost somewhere. I hope they come back to me. They are my closest allies. They keep me sane on a stormy day. Till then... do bear with me.

posted from Bloggeroid

Monday 3 June 2013

Angel


Do you believe in angels
In those pure of heart
Believe that you’re connected to someone
Right from the start?

Have you ever smelt jasmine
Wished on a shooting star
Felt the rain on your face
Touched someone from afar?

I saw I saw an angel
Its touch was soft as snow
And as it whispered my secrets
I felt my heart aglow

A moment so very precious
As if time itself did stop
It rolled away invisibly
Down my cheek, a teardrop.



Bihari chic on a platter



My latest Rediff article is a Restaurant Review of a unique little Rooftop Cafe called Potbelly. If the name and the quirky decor doesn't entice you, the finger licking food sure will. Owned and run by 2 young girls who I happen to know since many many years, this is as good as the young Indian dream gets. Puja Sahu especially is such a super talented designer that I was one of the most disappointed people in town when she shut her lil boutique down to open this. Yet, I know now that I should have rejoiced. 


Do not take my word for it...go check it out for yourself. 

Read the article here

Wednesday 22 May 2013

Simple ways to de-stress

Long hours and high stress is as much a part of our lives nowadays as are air and water. My latest article talks about some simple things that can help you de-stress after a long day at work (or during it). Small steps, some of which go a long way.



Read the article here.


Sunday 12 May 2013

Meal for 2 under Rs.300, no kidding!

So the bad news first or the good? The bad news is that I am a little broke right now. High cost investments made recently are making me count pennies. The good news though, is that the beauty of Delhi is that you can still have a ball even if all you have left are pennies!

MI Meat Suppliers in Meherchand Market. My latest discovery
My latest article on Rediff shares 5 such eateries in Delhi where you can fill your stomachs with finger licking delicacies and walk out with a bill of less than Rs.300 for 2. Don't believe it? Read the article here