Monday, September 28, 2009


A very dear friend had guests over for dinner. The Menu:

Starters: Mint chicken kebabs, tandoori chicken, paneer tikka, dahi-vada, choley chat, pappadoms and chutney

Main Course: Peas pulao, plain rice, aloo parantha, dosa, chicken korma, malai mushroom, saag murgh, mutton curry, matar paneer, khatti meethi dal

Dessert: Shahi tukda, apple kheer, barfi, jalebi and rasgulla

Liquids: White wine, beer, mango juice, sprite, diet coke

She prepared everything herself, except for the barfi, jalebi and rasgulla.
Hail Superwoman !!

Friday, August 14, 2009

13th August - 3 years ago...

... on this day, H and I became more than "just friends". The past 3 years have been the most happening and the most wonderful years of my life. I got him a few knick-knacks, one for each year. He got me a Tommy Hilfiger watch in line with the "leather anniversary" theme. I am totally in love with it. To celebrate, we had a dinner date at Benjarong. I stayed home today to work on a very special gift for H. More on that later...

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Highlights from our trip to Malaysia

Day 1 - Kuala Lumpur
The Twins:

The Twins at Night:

KLCC Aquaria:
Day 2 - Langkawi Geopark
View from the Cable Car:

Seven Wells Waterfalls:

Day 3 - Snorkelling at Pulau Payar

Day 4 - Relaxing at Rebak Island Resorts
The Rebak Island Shoreline

Open Air Ayurvedic Massage:

A hornbill outside our balcony at Rebak Island:
Day 5 - Free flight aviary, KL

Orchid Gardens:

Saturday, July 11, 2009

At War, with (the symbol of) Peace

We moved to yet another house. Our fifth one, in 3 years. It is very bright and airy, with two bedrooms, a study and 3 balconies. We wake up to a medley of bird songs, with a lovely breeze tickling the chimes in the background. Sparrows chirp, mynahs whistle, pigeons coo - our own version of the morning raga. Its like living in an aviary. Though I must admit, the novelty wears off fairly quick.

We got used to sending birds flying whenever we open the doors to the balcony. We dont mind them roosting outside the house. After all, we have plenty of space and it is a good thing to share. All was well till one day, a lone feather came floating down into the kitchen. I discovered a pair of pigeons peeping in from outside the exhaust fan, and shoo-ed them away. A few days later, there were more feathers near the sink and some twigs too. Climbing up on the kitchen counter for a better look, I saw a nest. A very rudimentary one at that. Maybe they had just started building it. I had to get them to move somewhere else, so I cleaned the twigs out. The nest was back the next day, only to have me dismantle it again.

I kept an eye on the spot for the next few days and was relieved that the pigeons did not return. That is, until I discovered down in the bathroom. And then the War of the Nest began. Everyday a bloodless battle of twigs was staged in the bathroom. I would clean out the nest every evening, and the birds would rebuild it during the day. The pigeons looked at me dolefully from across the block, but I didn't have a choice did I? Nor did they. This side of the house was perfect for a nest, because it was shielded from the Sun at all times. They were adamant, and did not shift to a new place. Ha, they obviously dont know me well...yet. The war raged all through the week, when on Thursday, just as I was about to grab the twigs, I noticed an egg. $&^$# !!! The birds win.

So now our home has 2 bedrooms, a study, 3 balconies and a pigeon-hole.

In celebration of their victory, the pigeon couple added another egg to the nest.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Bobo goes to a Party

It promised to be a wonderful day, the sun filtered into the little tree house, rays of gold, orange and red. Bobo, the baby panda burst into the room, shouting "Papa, Papa ! Its morning, wake up !". Lala, the mama panda woke up with a start and looked at the alarm clock by the bedside. "Oh!", said Lala, "its already seven !!". She jumped out of bed, and went straight into the bathroom, muttering to herself. Jango, the papa panda grunted, turned on his side and went back to sleep. However, Bobo was determined to wake his father up, and tugged Jango's pyjamas till Jango opened his eyes. The aroma of warm toast, laced with the slight sting of freshly squeezed oranges wafted in and woke Jango up completely.

"We will miss the train, Papa. We are late.", said Bobo. "Relax Bobo, we will reach in time.", assured Jango. They were going to visit Uncle Sikka, Lala's brother. Uncle Sikka lived at North Timberland, with his wife Bali Aunty and their daughter Ila. It was Ila's birthday and she was going to have a grand fancy-dress party. Bobo was going to dress up as a sailor. Jango brushed his teeth and joined Lala and Bobo at breakfast. Lala poured a steaming cup of coffee for him. Bobo drained his glass of milk at one go. Bobo was not allowed to drink coffee, Lala says coffee is for grown-ups. While Lala did the dishes, Jango took care of some last minute packing. Soon, they were ready to go.

Bobo looked very handsome in his all-white sailor's uniform. He even had a sailor's cap to go with it. The three of them set off towards the big banyan tree, where the jungle-train stopped to pick people up. They saw a peacock dancing under the banyan tree. It looked very beautiful, with its bright blue feathers spread out. "I hope it does not rain today. It will spoil the party", said Lala. You see, peacocks dance when it is about to rain. Suddenly they heard a whistle, it was the jungle-train. The jungle-train was green and yellow, with a red engine. It was driven by a monkey, who had a string with a blue whistle around his neck. The monkeys knew each and every corner of the forest, and were best to work on the jungle-train.

Soon they were on their way to the North. The monkey was pointing out interesting things to Bobo. "There, beyond the mulberry bush is the Anthill Colony", said the monkey. Bobo saw a lot of ants marching in a line towards a group of small mud hills. "And there is the rabbit patch", shouted the monkey, pointing at a patch full of carrots and cauliflowers. Bobo looked just in time to see a number of rabbits running into the many rabbit holes. "Do they always run away when they see other animals?", wondered Bobo. He was thinking about the white rabbit he had rescued from a big bird, by the lakeside.

"The North Station", the driver called out. Bobo saw Uncle Sikka, Bali Aunty and Ila at the station and waved to them. Jango and Lala said goodbye to the driver and were busy getting the presents they had got for Ila. Bobo was so excited at seeing Ila, that he didnot wait for Jango or Lala. He jumped right onto the wooden platform. That is a very dangerous thing to do. Bobo could have hurt himself. Uncle Sikka, Bali Aunty and Ila rushed to see if Bobo was alright. Luckily for Bobo, the train was low and he was not hurt. But, Bobo was in tears ! It had rained the night before and there was a muddy puddle on the platform. Bobo had jumped right into the puddle. Poor Bobo. His white sailor's uniform was ruined. The muddy water in the puddle had splashed all over his clothes. He was so disappointed, he had burst into tears. Jango and Lala joined the group and tried their best to console Bobo.

"It is alright, you can take a bath as soon as we are home", said Ila. "Yes, and I will wash your clothes and it will be as good as new", said Bali Aunty. "Meanwhile, you can wear the spare Kung-fu pants that I have brought for you", said Lala. "Will the uniform be ready for the party ? Can I still be a sailor for the fancy dress ?", asked Bobo. Lala said, "Oh ! I am sorry Bobo, but the clothes will not dry so soon". Bobo's face fell and he started crying again. "I have an idea!", exclaimed Jango, and whispered something in Bobo's ears. Bobo smiled and his eyes lit up. They went to Uncle Sikka's house. Bobo went to take a bath and get ready for the party. He did not tell Ila what he was going to dress up as. It was a secret between Jango and Bobo. They were planning to surprise the others.

Soon it was time for the party. Uncle Sikka had invited their neighbours to the party. The kids were all dressed up for the fancy dress. Ila was dressed up as Dora. Ila's best friend, Mini, came as Mini Mouse! There were two Mickey Mouses and a Donald Duck. There was Cinderella, Snow white and Goldilocks. Then there was the Kung-fu Panda. It was Bobo ! He was dressed as Kung-fu Panda in his Kung-fu pants! Bobo went around the hall, showing Kung-fu moves. Bobo's act was the best ever and everyone clapped. Bobo was so happy. So was Ila. What a lovely surprise it was !!

"Its time for lunch", announced Bali Aunty. Everyone had a good lunch of sandwiches, crisps, carrots in honey, blueberries and grape juice.After the lunch, it was time for the cake-cutting. Ila's birthday cake was pink in color. It had "HAPPY BIRTHDAY ILA" written on it with strawberries. It was her 3rd birthday, and so she had 3 candles on the cake. Everyone sang "happy birthday to Ila". They cut the cake and everyone ate big pieces of it. It was a wonderful party.One by one the guests left. Bali Aunty and Lala started cleaning up. Uncle Sikka and Jango went to collect honey from the bees. Bobo and Ila were in Ila's room, opening Ila's gifts one by one. There were a lot of dresses, a building block set and a train set.The most special gift was what Bobo gave Ila. It was a small flip book, which Bobo had made himself. When Ila flipped through the book, she saw a bright red bud blooming into a hibiscus flower. It was beautiful. "It is the most beautiful gift I have ever got. What a wonderful birthday I've had! Thank you, Bobo", said Ila. Bobo was very happy. It had been a wonderful day for him too.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Five Ws and One H

I keep six honest serving-men(They taught me all I knew);
Their names are What and Why and When And How and Where and Who.
- Rudyard Kipling

The maxim of the five Ws and one H is a basic tool used in information gathering. It is/was used extensively in journalism, where a perfect piece would satisfactorily address all these 6 questions.So also in literature, academic research, criminal investigations, technical writing, business analysis etc.

On a more interesting note, the autocomplete on Google's Search Engine came up with some fun stuff. You enter the first word of your query, and it throws up possible search strings. A compilation of strings which topped the list when I typed in the 5 Ws and 1 H:

1. Who wants to be a millionaire ?
2. What is twitter ?
3. When is easter 2009 ?
4. Where the wild things are ?
5. Why is the sky blue ?
6. How to tie a tie ?

So what if I dont know how to tie a tie ? I still score a decent 5 out of 6 !

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Cape May and Atlantic City

It was a beautiful, sunny Saturday morning. We started off early and drove down to Fisherman's Wharf, Cape May. I managed to get a few good snaps. Green grass. Blue sky. Fluffy white clouds. Bright orange billboards.

We reached Cape May around half past noon, so we decided to have lunch before we hit the water.Lunch was at Lobster House. This is an establishment with a difference. There is a seafood restaurant for formal dining, next to a bustling fish market. There is a raw bar, and even a coffee shop ! You get a wonderful view of the marina if you decide to eat outside. The sound of the waves crashing on the boulders, and the smell of the sea.An incredible experience. A bit too crowded for my taste though. About as touristy as it gets.We had seafood platters, served with french fries. The crab cakes were by far the best.The seafood was fresh and delicious. The freshest fish I've had in a very long time. The shrimps, scallops and fish were cooked to perfection. The oysters could have been better, but I am not complaining.Right now, Lobster House is at the top of my food guide to NJ.

After lunch, we headed back to the harbor. The tide was out and so jetskiing was ruled out.We found "Hell Yeah Watersports", offering wakeboarding, wakeskating, waterskiing, tubing, kneeboarding, and boogie boarding.Their boat would be back only by 5 p.m. We decided to roam around Cape May and return to Hell Yeah at 5.We went looking for a wineyard, and ended up in a house, with some grapevines fighting for survival in the backyard.There was a board which announced wine tasting, in a small garden shed, with hardly space enough for 5 people !Suffice to say our wineyard experience was pretty sour.

Our next stop was at an Alpaca farm - the Bay Springs Farm, of the Nuessles. Alpacas are South American in origin and produce one of the world's finest and most luxurious natural fibers. The fiber grows very thick and woolly, and the alpacas are sheared once a year. Apparently, the alpacas in the Bay Springs Farm were shreared just the day before. Unfortunately, We missed the Alpacas in all their woolly glory.The fiber is used in a wide range of apparel and textiles, like scarves and sweaters. We saw quite a few stuffed toys made of alpaca fiber, in the small shop set up by Barbara Nuessle in their patio.There were some pouches, wall hangings and table mats on display as well.

On our way back from Bay Springs, we saw a signboard which pointed to Higbee Beach.It sounded exotic, and we took a detour only to reach a dead end as soon as we turned into the side road.There was a small clearing, just about enough for parking 3-4 cars. After the clearing, there was grassland, with a small path leading to nowhere.From the main road it looks as if the sideroad will lead on to the beach, the hedge deceptively limiting sight.Just as we were leaving, another car drove up into the clearing, looking for the beach, no doubt. At least we had company ! We went to the Cape May beach and had a photo session, trying out different settings on the SLRs.

At around 5, we returned to Hell Yeah and rented the boat for an hour. We met Mario,the captain, in the boat. There was also this other guy in the boat, who was giving us the hardsell on Captain Mario and his exploits on water.See it, to believe it at was amazing, sitting out on the front of the boat, with the wind sweeping through my hair. The ride was bumpy in patches, when we ran into rough waves at intervals. Then we got into the tubes, which could seat two at a time. And boy, was it fun or what!Mario would whip up a wake and swerve, sending the tube flying over the crests, and plunging into the troughs.It was fantastic. Too soon, it was time to head back. We were drenched from head to toe, but grinning ear to ear.

On our way back, we went back to the beach for another photo session. We also stopped at the Light House. There was a beautiful promenade near the light house.You could spend hours looking out at the sea. It was getting dark, and there was a nip in the air. So we bundled back into the car, steering towards Atlantic City, for my first shot at gambling.We spent the night casino-hopping - Bally's, Caesars, Borgata et al. I even spotted an Irish pub. Though we didnt gamble, it was still a lot of fun watching the tables. There were people from all over the world, from all walks of life.An interesting study for anthropologists. And economists - it definitely doesnt look like a recession.

Phew, what a fruitful weekend.