Monday, November 26, 2007

A day of experimenting and indulging

On Saturday we explored two new restaurants.
The first was Taam Falafel. I was surprised to find a falafel restaurant in Bangalore. I had only heard/read about how tasty a falafel is so I was not going to leave this chance to taste it myself. So on Saturday afternoon, I told Anurag that lunch is at Koramangala. He was scared at what he would have to eat since he had no idea about the food but being left with no choice ;) we landed at the restaurant at around 1:30. And there is no one there except the staff! I start feeling guilty about bringing Anurag to an unpopular restaurant. The staff was helpful, (they had to be coz there was nothing else to do) and told us about the food and were helping us to decide the order. There is not much to order there. Basically there are different combinations of pita bread, hummus, falafel and salad. There are also some juices and a dessert on the menu. We decided on a veggie platter which contains 2 pita breads, hummus, falafel, pickled veggies and a big bowl of salad and some chutneys. We have to assemble the whole thing on our own. So we started with the salad which could be eaten directly out of the bowl. It was quite good and so was the lemonade. By this time, thankfully, some more people came to the restaurant and we thought it is not unpopular after all. We started trying to fill our pita bread. They had given only 2 falafel balls. So most of the pita bread had to be filled with pickled veggies. Initially we were confused about how to go about filling the bread but later as we got the hang of it, it was enjoyable. But I personally didn’t like the pita bread too much. I have no idea if it was authentic or not but it looks uncooked. Maybe that is how it is but maybe I would have like it more if it was toasted a bit. We also ordered a pre-assembled taam falafel. So that we know what we did was ok or not. ;) This pre-assembled one had a lot more falafel balls in it and it was less messier to eat. The dessert was the show stealer. It was very different and very nice. It was something like the puff pastry sheets stuffed with dryfruits and some khova. I might be wrong about the khova but there was a milky taste to the dessert. It was different and infact quite good.

We discovered the other place quite accidentally. We had some work in Jayanagar 4th block and we saw this place called "Just Chocolate". That was interesting and so was the decor. We hopped in thinking a chocolate ice-cream will do no harm. But what we finally ate was a lot more than just chocolate ice-cream. :) It is a really chilled out place. Fewer crowds, is such a relief in Bangalore. We ordered brownie with a scoop each of chocolate and vanilla ice-cream which was floating on chocolate sauce with nuts. And boy! That was GOOD! The chocolate ice-cream was perfect, not too sweet, and not too bitter. It is difficult to find a perfect chocolate ice-cream in most places. Even the rest of the stuff was good. We also ordered a shake with chocolate and coffee. It could have been a little colder. But otherwise it was a perfect jugalbandi of chocolate and coffee. Each sip left the taste buds debating whether it is chocolate or coffee! We just sat there chatting even after finishing our drink. It is the kind of place where you feel at home and conversations flow easily. It would be perfect for dates and which is why most of the people there were college students. They also sell chocolates which are made there. I am not a huge fan of chocolates but I would still love going there often because it is the entire experience which made me love the place.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

A peanutty craving - Satisfied

Yesterday I made a different gravy for my mixed vegetables. I saw The singing chef blog and a peanutty gravy was something that was tempting me in my mind since a few days. Although i have never had a peanut based gravy before. So I took the veggies lying in my fridge. 3 small carrorts, some beans, a potato, half a capsicum and some frozen corn. I cooked all of this in some oil which had mustard seeds spluttered in it along with some jeera, hing and turmeric. For the gravy i blended a around a tablespoon of peanuts with half a tomato, some curd, coriander leaves, ginger, some mint leaves, few pistachios, green chillies, cinnamon, some peppercorns and cloves. This goes into the almost cooked veggies. (And psst...a secret..the leftover tomato soup also went in ;) ) I had to add a bit of coriander powder and sabji masala and sugar, out of habit. Can be left out.

The result was quite nice and did perfect justice to my peanut cravings. And to think i hated peanuts when i was a child! Well even now, I dont like eating whole peanuts as such but i am discovering the joys of peanut products like peanut butter and this gravy.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Day 4 : Ride back home

6:30 : We get up and get ready for the ride. The previous evening's drive from chickmagalur made Anurag decide against leaving before there is daylight.
7:00 : We have bread, butter, jam and tea and do the check out formalities
7:45 : I had walked down the mud road and met Anurag on the proper road. We start the ride to chikmagalur. We drive through the mountains and the thump of the bullet was resonating among the hills. We had to stop to re-arrange the bags.

9:45 : We reach chikmagalur riding through the potholed roads. Stop for idli and tea. The weather and the hills seem to have incresed my appetite.
10:15 : Leave chikmagalur to reach Belur. Some more potholes before moving out of chikmagalur. Then the good roads seemed such a blessing.

Haleebedu temple
11:15 : Reach Haleebedu temple. As soon as we reach people start pestering us to buy some pictures or idols etc. We move ahead and into the temple compound. There is a small museum there for which there is a 2 Re ticket. Every inch of the temple wall is a fascinating piece of art. The photographer in Anurag surfaced and went on clicking pictures :) We were mesmerized by all the carvings and forgot all the worries we had about reaching home on time. But as soon as we tried to get out of the temple, those hawkers started troubling us again. It was quite frustrating. We leave from there for the Belur temple

Belur Temple
1:15 : Reach the Belur temple. This was much more organised and better. No hawkers crowding us. There is a parking attendent who helps with the parking and guides us to the counter where we can leave our bags and shoes. The temple compund is also much bigger. In this temple, it is the pillars inside the temple which are more fascinating than the carvings on the outer walls. The outer walls had fewer carvings than the Haleebedu temple but were nevertheless beautiful. We were glad we stopped at the temples and didnt miss these wonders.

3:00 : After having lunch which was ok to fill our stomachs, we leave for Bangalore.

5:00 : Leave from Kamat near CR Patna after a cup of tea. Then we ride nonstop till we reach home. At around 6:15 it starts to get dark and later the headlights of the other vehicles dont allow us to keep up a good speed. Around 70 kms from Bangalore, the traffic also thickens. It is almost like riding in the city and not on a highway.

7:45 : We manage to reach Tumkur Road. We see a diversion for NICE road and decide to try it to avoid traffic. But as soon as we enter it, we are doubtful about where it will lead us to. We finally land up on Magadi road and have no idea where we are in Bangalore. We ask a taxi driver for directions. He asks us to go straight for 12 kms to reach Majestic. Somehow we get lost in Rajajinagar. Finally we find the way out to Majestic and reach home at 10 in the night.

The 4 day saga finally comes to an end. It felt good to be home and on a familiar bed. :)

Day 3 : An overdose of the hills

7:00 : The day starts. Today we have hired a sumo to take us to Kemmanagudi and other places.

8:30 : We get ready and are served breakfast. I had the biggest king size breakfast which made me ashamed at how much I was eating but I couldn't stop. We devoured 6 dosas, 2 omlettes, and an entire loaf of bread, butter, jam and tea between the two of us.

9:00 : We start for our day in the sumo.

11:00 : We reach chikmagalur. Buy a new backpack. And start for Mullayangiri. We start the climb through the narrow winding roads around the hills. The last patch to Mullayangiri was very narrow and it was a mud road. That was scary. We had to climb around 250 steps to the top. It was difficult for me to even walk so climbing those stairs was getting increasingly difficult. But with Anurag providing the motivation, we managed to reach the top. There is a small temple at the top. This is the highest peak in Karnataka. We captured some good views from the top. The climb down was very easy. After this we started for BabaBudanGiri.

1:30 : BabaBudan Giri was a unique experience. Two shrines - one Hindu and one Muslim stand side by side and they are visited by both Hindus and Muslims. 3 kms from there is Manikyadhara. Whoever calls it a waterfall must be joking. It is nothing bigger than a shower. It was a disappointing place with disappointing scenes like people throwing their clothes after bathing under that stream. It is supposedly a part of a legend to leave an item of their clothing behind. We left from there.

2:30 : Drive to Kemmanagudi starts. The roads get worse with potholes and flowing water on the narrow roads. The drive seems never ending with the same views and the same winding roads. We are hoping we reach Kemmanagudi as early as possible. But alas, the road seemed never ending.

4:15 : We finally reach Kemmanagudi. There was a canteen there. The only thing they could offer us as lunch was a bowl of rice, black channa, papad. After that we went to the garden on top of Kemmanagudi. We take a quick walk around it and start back to the estate.

5:00 : Drive back to the estate starts. By now I am fed up of the hilly roads and the coffee plants. Those are the only things we have seen the entire day. I am just counting the minutes to reach to the estate again.

7:00 : Reached chikmagalur. We had got cans with us from the estate. We filled petrol in them for the bike and started our climb back to the estate. Again those ghats and hill roads. I am nauseous now. But thankfully a while later I am in deep sleep. I wake up only once we reach the estate.

8:45 : Back at the Eagle eye estate. Freshen up and have dinner and sleep. That was a long day. Maybe we tried to see too many things in the same day.

Day 2 : A day at Eagle Eye

6:45 : The lizard's sound wakes us up more effectively than any alarm. We get up and hurry to get ready for the forest trek which is supposed to start at 7. After tea, the trek starts at 7:30. Within minutes from the start of the trek, we had to cross a stream of flowing water. One man tries to cross along with his kids but they slip and fall quite hard. That family aborts the trek and only 4 of us are now left for the trek. We follow our guide through the thick vegetation. I realize my fitness levels are the lowest as I am panting the hardest while the others are barely panting. We finally reach the top of a rock and great views greeted us. We sat there for a while taking in the views. And then we started our way back. I was glad I could complete the trek without falling and that feat was possible due to Anurag's support :)

8:40 : We are back at the cottage. We take bath and go to the dining area for breakfast. After a hearty breakfast, we get ready for the plantation walk

11:00 : We begin the plantation walk through the coffee estate. This time it was a larger and livelier group. We saw the two types of coffee plants: Arabica and Robusta. The guide told us that Arabica is costlier and more difficult to grow than Robusta. We had so go down a slippery slope. That was difficult. We saw the other plants which they had grown like pepper, cardamom, soapnut, cocoa, Jaiphal etc. It was pretty interesting. On the way we also saw centipedes, small crabs in the stream and a yellow frog.
Takeaways from the plantation walk

Can you see the frog?

After climbing back up the slope, we walk some more to reach the paddy fields. There is a lake behind it which is supposed to have a crocodile. We walk around the lake but no crok in sight. And we walk back up to the cottages.

1:15 : We reach the estate and to our cottage and just lie on the bed too exhausted to move. After a while, we go to the dining area for lunch. There was a waterfall nearby which we would have gone to, if the estate vehicle was free. But it wasn't and so a siesta was what came our way.

4:45 : We hurry down to the pond below for coracle riding and fishing. We wore the life jackets and got into the coracle with the oars. I was not able to get the rowing technique right and so my hands and shoulders also joined the other leg muscles in the list of aches in my body. There were water snakes in the pond. One of the snakes was right next to the coracle on my side, staring at me and Anurag had to warn me not to drop the oar in fear :) Then we were given the fishing rope and after a few attempts we managed to catch two fish. They of course throw the fish back into the water.

6:30 : Back to the estate reception area. After tea and snacks, we sit out there for a while. As it starts getting dark, I go back to the cottage to catch up with my book while Anurag plays badminton. In the cottage, I see a big lizard in the bathroom. I just close the bathroom door and lie on the bed and read. That was brave for a lizard fearing person like me. :) After a while I go out to watch the badminton match.

7:30 : There is a bonfire lit up and some music. Drinks were being served. We created our own drink by mixing strawberry juice with sprite. Not bad! After the bonfire and dinner, we check the cottage again. This time there are two lizards, two large hairy spiders and numerous butterflies in the cottage. We ask the manager to help. She sends a girl with a large broom who drives the lizards and spiders away and also gets us a mosquito coil.
Now I can sleep relatively peacefully. I guess this was the best day of our four day trip.

Day 1 : Reaching Eagle Eye Holidays

4:45 : The alarm goes off. I switch it off and we finally wake up at 5:45.

7:00 : It already 7 by the time we leave home. We reach Tumkur Road via Yeshwantpur at 8. It has lot of traffic mainly trucks. We finally get past Neelamangala.

9:00 : I am hungry and there is no restaurant in sight. We stop to eat biscuits and notice that the bags which we had hung on the bike were not holding well. So we tie the bag to the saree guard and hang the second bag on the other side. All of this takes around an hour. We decide aganist stopping at Shravanbelegola or Belur because we wanted to reach the estate before dark.

11:00 : We reach Kamat near CR Patna. The first thing we notice after reaching is that the bag which was hanging on the silencer side has burnt from the bottom. If we hadn't stopped here, things would have started falling out of the hole burnt in the bag. We access the damage. Our mobile chargers, camera cell charger, our sunglasses everything is burnt. It is a good thing that we had removed the camera from the bag. We eat idlis and dosas there and then use newspapers to line the bag so that things don't start falling out. Now Anurag hangs the bag around his shoulders towards the front so that it rests on the fuel tank.

12:30 : We reach Hassan and try to buy a new back pack but do not find anything good. Hassan is such a dusty, dry and hot city. And the roads are little patches between potholes. It was a pain stopping at Hassan.

1:15 : We finally leave Hassan and decide to move on without a new backpack. Belur to Chikmagalur was the best part of the route according to me.

3:00 : We are at Chikmagalur. The estate is 50 kms from here. We stop and call Eagle Eye for directions. We are on the hilly roads now. The roads have more and more bends and curves as we move ahead. At one stretch there was the hill slope on one side and a little bit of careless riding could land us into the valley below. Crossing some villages and coffee estates on the way, we reach a forest gate and the road after that was even worse. The final stretch was a mud road climbing up. All of this was keeping up our adrenaline and we thought to ourselves 'the estate better be good. The last patch was really steep and I decide to get down and walk to give Anurag and the bike a little less trouble. (Maybe to save my life too ;) )

5:00 : We are at Eagle Eye. Phew! Finally. I am in no mood to appreciate the scenic views greeting us. I am busy panting from the climb. We are offered the welcome drink. It was a strawberry drink and never before had strawberry juice tasted so good.

5:15 : We are shown our cottage. It was pretty good and neat. Anurag spotted a black lizard on one of the windows. I want it out of the cottage. The attendant says "It is ok. No problem". I have a problem. Please get it out. I say. The attendant seems to be more than half blind but thankfully with Anurag's help the lizard is out. After the much needed bath we feel better. As luck would have it, there was a problem with electricity at the estate. We sit outside in the open near the reception area. We are given snacks and tea. Some people are playing badminton and Anurag joins them while I sit with the cool breeze and the views.

8:30 : Dinner time and thankfully they had solved the electricity problem. After dinner we retire to our cottage. It was getting difficult for me to sleep between 12:30 to 3:30. I was surprised because I was one of the people who could sleep without any problem anytime. Some sleep is better than no sleep especially after all that happened that day.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Happy Diwali

Hope all of you had a great Diwali and enjoyed your time with family and friends. I had a different diwali this time. I and Anurag had gone to Chikmagalur on a four day holiday. Details on that coming up next. So watch this space.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Ras malai

I tried the ras malai recipe from this blog.

I added MTR badam fest to the milk. It is excellent stuff. Also added some milk powder. And finally some pistachios.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary and KRS dam

Yesterday was a holiday! yay!! And it has been a long time since we went for a ride, isn’t it? So there, we went to Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary and KRS dam. But this time, we didn’t go alone. Wondering how two people go alone? Well, Its not about people, its about their bikes. ;) 2 bikes, 4 people and lovely roads. It doesn't get better than this. Let me introduce you to the characters involved (in the ride).
2 bikes - our beloved Royal Enfield Electra and Yamaha RD350
4 people - Anurag, yours truly and Savita, Jai
Lovely roads - Bangalore-Mysore highway

The story (ride) begins with our meeting point on the highway. We thought of meeting at 7:30 but we finally met at 8:30. There is a marked difference in weekday mornings and holiday mornings. On a weekday at 8 o'clock, there is a lot of hustle bustle. But on a holiday at 8 o'clock, hardly a soul on the road. Within half an hour after meeting, we stop for breakfast at Kadu Mane. Super soft idlies and chai. Good food but costly. Tummies and fuel tanks get filled and we proceed. Jai's bike has new engine parts which impose a speed restriction. So our speeds are limited to around 50-60. I am not sure if we would have done better in terms of time without the speed restriction because we like going slow. Speed does have its thrill but slow is good too. At Mandya, the farmers had blocked the road by spreading sugarcanes on the road. Thankfully, we had only two wheels and could maneuver our way out. ;) We reached the Bird Sanctuary at about 12:15.
Took a personal boat for 250 Rs. The good thing about it was the roof on the boat protecting us from the sun. This apparently is the season of White Ibis and we saw a lot of them. One or two other kinds of birds here and there. And of course, the crocodiles. They looked like they were having their afternoon nap.
1:30 to 2:30 is lunch time at the Sanctuary. We reached in good time to catch the pre-lunch boat. After that, we had lunch at the restaurant on the premises. Food was quite ok. Most importantly, the place looked clean.

We decided to go and see the KRS dam as it is further down the road. According to, it was built in 1924, and is India's first irrigation dam. I like visiting dams because of the contrast you see on either side of the dam wall. This dam had still and calm water on one side and water flowing down rocks at great speeds on the other side. I wonder why we couldn't see the Brindavan Gardens because it supposedly is adjacent to the dam. Maybe we had to go further down but we wanted to reach back home around 6:30 so we didn’t think of exploring. And it is a good thing because it is really not fun riding in the dark. Dark after sunset that is. Dark before sun rise is a pleasure because watching the sun rise is so beautiful.

It is 3 o'clock when we leave KRS dam. Stop on the way at Coffee Day near Channapatna. Back home at 7:15. Savita and Jai still had to brave some more city traffic before they reached home.
Good trip especially if you are enthusiastic about biking because most of the time was spent sitting on the bike.

Directions :
Keep going on Bangalore-Mysore highway till you reach Srirangapatnam. Keep going till you see a sign on the right announcing the right turn for Ranganathittu bird Sanctuary. Take that turn and keep going till you see another sign on your right. Take that right turn and you will reach the Sanctuary. It is around 3-4 kms after you take the diversion from the highway.
To reach KRS dam, do not take the second right turn for Ranganathittu. Instead keep going straight till you reach a forked road. Take the road on the right and keep going straight. The dam was around 5 kms from the bird sanctuary.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Every city has a character of its own

It’s been two weeks since we had to go on an urgent visit to Mumbai. I had thought of writing about it but many times I just do not feel like writing. Now I have gathered up enough motivation to write. Just a week before we went to Mumbai, I was telling Anurag that I have really started liking Bangalore. Mumbai was never on my list of favorite cities. But another visit to the city and a week later, it miraculously appears on the list and that too very close to the top. It is not that this is my first visit but some things were different this time.
The experience started from the airport itself. We take a pre-paid taxi. The person escorts us to the taxi and we are in an air conditioned Honda city. Compare this with Bangalore airport where we take the pre-paid taxi slip and one of the cab drivers takes it from us and asks us to wait till he gets his cab. This takes 10 mins easily. Maybe the Mumbai cabs take more money but seemed ok to me considering the distances there.

I also got to travel in public transport systems. I used the famed local train, buses, and auto rickshaws. The local train was not a first experience. Maybe I was in a better position to compare it with other road transport systems. The thing that struck me most was that life would be impossible without local trains in Mumbai, for people who travel large distances daily. Yes, I had heard this before but this was the first time I experienced it. The journey which took an hour by car was done in 20 mins by a local train. To me, that was amazing. If you are just a little bit ready to accept the local train, you can be very impressed with it, like I am. Yes, you have to stand during the journey and if you are lucky, you will find a comfortable place to stand. I was lucky. It was afternoon and I was in the ladies coach. But to me, standing in the local train is far better than sitting in the bus. One, it is amazingly fast. Two, it is quite entertaining. People getting down, climbing the train and keeping track of when and on which side their station is going to come. I was looking at the other women in the coach. Some of them catching up on their sleep, some cutting vegetables. Most of them dressed with impeccable fashion sense. On my previous local train journey, I saw people selling things ranging from hair pins, earrings, fruits, vegetables and what not, on the trains. And people were buying them.

The bus and autos also deserve a mention. The bus conductors were very helpful. Anurag also told me an incident where a passenger had to get down before the conductor could give him ticket. So he just gave the money to the conductor and got down the bus. The conductor threw the tickets out of the window while he was in view of the passenger. The auto drivers, neither do they say no to you nor do they ask for more money. Both these things need major improvement in Bangalore.

Overall, it was the energy of the city which struck me more than anything else. I could just feel the energy and pride the people of Mumbai felt. Anurag rightly said you should always be aware if you are in Mumbai. Also, their attention to detail and their motivation to do their work the best they can. Well, this might not be true but I deduced this from seeing the shop keepers. The shopping complex next to our apartment had a single vegetable and fruits shop. That guy need not worry whether his shop is looking good or not. People will come to him anyway. But he had taken pains to arrange the fruits and vegetables in an appeleaing manner. All people are very courteous unless you do something wrong. I have heard tales of how people get beaten up if caught with slightest misbehaviour towards females. Another thing I noticed that people stand up for what they believe is their right. Compare it to the 'adjust madi' attitude in Bangalore where most things are tolerated.
It is true that every city has a life and character of its own. I am not trying to say that one city is better than the other. Every city is unique.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Old should be gold

I am writing after a long time but the incident I am going to write about happened around a month or two ago. I very rarely go to beauty parlor. It is not that I am so beautiful that I don’t need to go there. ;) I am just plain lazy. I never find the motivation or the drive to go there and spend at least an hour. Getting a hair cut is the maximum motivation I can draw. Anyways, the last time I had been to L’Oreal beauty salon was a month or two ago. An old lady had also come there. She had short hair and was nicely dressed. I was amazed to see her come for a hair cut and some other beauty treatments.
I was thinking, at this age, she has the enthusiasm to walk to the parlor and sit through hour long sessions. I admired her silently. But what I didn’t like was the attendants at the parlor were speaking of her in the manner of making fun of her. Old people need to be admired for not letting age come in the way of enjoying life. Older people also have a right to live the way they want to. Just because they are old doesn’t mean they have to sit at home and sing bhajans.
Weekend activity update: Anurag gets a card in office which can be used for purchasing food items. Mainly it is for buying lunch, snacks etc in office. But the remaining amount lapses this month end and so we went to the FabMall located inside his office and picked up as much food stuff as we could see, without looking at the cost. It was fun. We ended up with one and a half kg of pasta of different types, olives, olive oil, custard powder which makes 100 bowls of custard, pasta sauce, salad dressing and all the things which I would otherwise never buy. But looked like many people before us had already raided the place as most of the shelves were empty and we still managed to spend 2000 Rs. on food items. :)

Monday, July 23, 2007

Destressing in the lap of nature

Last week had been really hectic for Anurag. Late nights in office, work even on Saturday. So a de-stress break was much needed. As for me, I am always ready to de-stress (read I am the eternal travel bug). Here’s what happened:
Sunday morning 7o clock: Unusually early for me to be up. In half sleep I ask "Are we going to Big Banayan tree today?" Anurag replies "Yes. But you can sleep some more time. We can leave after 10".
I remember the heap of utensils lying in the kitchen sink. And the fact that maid servant is on leave. I finally get up at 7:30 and tackle the utensils in the kitchen while asking Anurag to take care of the camera and get the bull ready. Then prepare tea. After tea and biscuits, I go to the kitchen again to prepare parathas. We will take these with us for lunch along with the jeera aloo prepared the previous evening. And my favorite mom-made chundo. Lunch packed and oh dear..its already 10.
Anurag asks me to hurry up. Take bath and get ready.
11:00 am: We are out on Bannerghtta and fill up the petrol tank. We were armed with printout of blogs for directions to the Big Banayan tree. We have to hit Mysore road. The Mysore road passing through Banashankari is a pain. If all the speed bumps there are added up, it might equal the speed bumps in rest of thinks. Anyways, we soon reach Kengeri. Blogs say we have to turn right after Kengeri on Kumbalgod junction. I see no Kumbalgod junction. We keep going straight to cross Wonderla and reach Bidadi. We realise we have come ahead. U-turn and go back some 10 kms. Ask some people on the way and take the correct turn. Here's some help so that you won’t miss the turn like we did. After you cross Kengeri, you should see the Rajarajeshwari Medical college on your side of the road(left side). Go further ahead and you should see Rajarajeshwari Dental College on the right side of the road. It’s a huge white building. Right next to it is a road which goes inside. You have to take this road. There is a railway crossing and it is an industrial area. Keep going straight for around 6kms and you will reach the Big Banayan tree. The ride suddenly gets bumpy once you leave the 'makkhan jaisa' Mysore highway.
12:30 pm: We are there. Go around the Big Banayan tree. We took lots of pictures and admired the amazing maze of branches all over the place. I had read that the tree is spread in 2 acres of land. There is a small temple inside the compound. The sad part was people had written their love proclamations all over the tree. We were really sad to see that but otherwise the place is maintained quite well. Many people had come there and we also saw some sign boards mentioning some resort nearby.
1:00 pm: Leave Big Banayan tree and go towards Manchinbele dam following the directions on the blog printout. There aren't really detailed directions except, keep going straight and when you reach a forked road, take the left. Be prepared for a more bumpier ride. On the way we saw huge satellite receivers....that’s what I think they were. They were like dish antennas..only they were HUGE. We were going forward on the bumpy road which was still good due to the landscapes around us. Full of greenery and the weather was also good. The clouds were following us wherever we went. The road takes some twists and turns and dips and climbs. Suddenly on a dip, we see a newly paved out road. Wondering if its a mirage, we go ahead. It really is a new road...Overjoyed we move ahead.
Now comes the most memorable moment of the day: On reaching the top of one of the climbs, we see a lake below. The road almost dropping into the lake. It was an amazing sight. Took pictures and moved ahead. We saw the dam on the way but there was a locked gate telling prohibited area. And we wanted to ride some more on the new road so we just went ahead to see where this road leads us to. But after a while the new road stopped as abruptly as it started and the same old bumpy road stared at us.
So U-turn it is.
2:00 pm: We should have lunch. See 2 trucks parked on the side of the road and go and park there. Open our packed lunch and eat it. 2 dogs look at us expectantly. Give them a paratha and go back to the dam. This time lots of vehicles parked on the sides of the road near the locked gate. So we ask people and they tell us to park the bike and walk towards the dam from an opening next to the gate. We walk up to the dam. It is amazing. Lot of water on the one side of the dam and lot of greenery on the other side. The watchman comes and tells us this is a prohibited area but as you have come from far, give me 20 Rs and I will allow you to see the dam. Ok, so here goes 20 Rs. Whether the deed was right or wrong...we loved the sight from top of the dam. Finally the watchman drove us out. But we collected some information from him like the water released from the dam goes to Makedatu. And the dam was built 35 years ago.
3:00 pm: Out on the road. On the way we see a car going down onto a road. Below we saw the lake and lots of cars and 1-2 small buses there. People were going into the water. We also went down on the pathway. Had a nice time there. Went into the water and took pictures. Climbed some rocks around. It was good. It had turned very cloudy and we decided to leave.
4:15 pm: Back on the road and a little while later we see the rain approaching us. That was a first. To see the rain at a distance while we are still in the no rain area. And what a rain it was. Falling on us like little pieces of stone. But we got used to it in a while and really enjoyed the ride in the rain. It was lovely and from then on...the rain followed us where we went. The dry roads told us that it hadn't rained there but when we reached, it started drizzling.
5:15 pm: Back on the mysore highway. There is one diversion there near a petrol pump, saying towards kanakpura and hosur road. We took that diversion. Kya road hai. Too good. On the way, there is a meteorological observation center and around it, Freedom garden. Many vehicles were parked there and it looked good so we also stopped there. Spent some time roaming on the grass and admiring the water fountain. From the slope we could see the road, the fountain and the black clouds. Some sight it was. Anurag says this tells me India is shining. See the cleanliness, the roads and the discipline. Then I felt India is not too far behind the other developed countries.
6:00 pm: Reached Gottigere on Bannerghatta Road. That new route which we tried helped us bypass the horrible banashankari road with its mad traffic, jp nagar and we are near home. We stopped at Uphara Bhavan hotel in Gottigere and had tea, coffee and snacks. Back home at 6:30.
What a day! Completely de-stressed at the end of it.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

I am thinking...rather wondering

I have got into this mode where I am thinking about what makes people choose their profession (read course as in college/university). It is such an important decision of a person's life but I feel most people are not adequately equipped to make that decision. People around me (including myself), mostly follow what is in demand or what seems to be a sane choice according to elders and parents. It is not that they hate the subject and still do it because it is in demand, though on second thoughts, I think it might be the case for a few people.
For me, I had software engineering as the first choice because I thought I had the aptitude to write software. An idea formed due to some stupid programs written in the computer lab of our school. At that time though it seemed like an achievement. And another important factor was that I would get a good job. After all, most, if not all, software engineers get jobs in India. Yet another important factor was less struggle and easier life compared to some other professions like architecture, fashion, hotel management. All three of them were also on my mind at the time of decision making. But they lost the race due to the difficult life they entailed. And family members did not think the professions were good enough compared to engineer/doctor. Becoming a doctor was just out of reach for me, I was not so studious. So, software it is.
Do most people make this decision in a similar way? Calculated decision? Or do some people get an inner calling telling them what they are meant to do?
I feel at that young age, we do not know anything about how things are in different professions. This is especially true of people not living in metros. Sometimes I wonder what if we have made the wrong decision. There is no way to find out…at least for me. But at least I am happy that I am not bad at my job. My supervisors say I am quite good. He doesn't always say good things. But it is ok as long as he doesn't say only bad things ;) So maybe I can safely deduce that I made the right choice. Maybe it is all pre-decided up there and we just have an illusion that we made a choice, when it really wasn't a choice but it was destiny or our fate decided by God.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Ramblings of an irritated mind

This week has not started on the right note for me. A migraine attack, a flickering right eye and an overwhelming feeling of running right out of office, never to return again. All of this since yesterday and still going strong. I have always felt like I am not doing the right job and have written about it before. But I have never experienced this strong a feeling of resentment towards anything related to software engineering. If I hear any of the words like files, code, meeting, functions, execution got the feel....All of these words make my brain heat up and let out smoke like a pan kept too long on the stove. I don’t remember the last time I was excited about my job. Am I made for some other job or is software engineering not for me? I work in a really nice company and the job is not so hectic either and I can’t seem to pin point a single reason why I should be feeling so fed up of working. How I hope I could just quit working! But even that is scary.
I hope my mind sorts itself out and starts to appreciate the fact that I have a job (seems like a remote possibility!).

Monday, July 9, 2007

An Experiment whose result was egg roll

This one was truly an experiment. I think I can call this egg rolls. Some background on how it happened and came to be known as egg roll. Friday night hubby dear had gone to meet his college friends so I was alone for dinner and I knew I can really experiment my heart out without worrying about backup food. And I wanted to do something with egg and wheat flour dough along the lines of egg puff. I love egg and specially boiled egg though Anurag likes more of masala egg..something like burji, omlette, egg curry and most of all sunny side up. So that was the root of wanting to boil eggs. And I read this post on how to boil eggs. I used to boil eggs before reading this post but initially there were a few failed attempts in terms of eggs being a little soft on the inside. Some interesting tips there to help peel the shells easily and avoid forming the bluish layer around the yolk. To get on with my take on egg rolls..sounds good doesnt it? ;) So on my walk back home from office, I was thinking what am I going to do...and slowly and steadily as I reached home, the idea had formed in my mind completely. So once I reached home, this is what I did.
Outer covering:
I mixed 1 cup of wheat flour, pinch of salt, pinch of sugar, pinch of baking soda. Broke an egg into it and mixed it and made a soft yet firm dough with milk instead of water. Covered and kept it for around 45 minutes. After that apply a teaspoon or two of oil and roll the dough in it.
Hard boil 3 eggs. Peel and cut them into pieces. Run 2 onions and a green chilli in the food processor. Head oil and add the onions and fry them till they are transparent. Add turmeric, salt, little bit of garam masala and the eggs. Mix and keep aside to cool.
Roll out thin chapatis from the dough. I didn't use any flour for dusting. If the chapati tends to stick, apply few drops of oil on it to help it roll. Once you have a nice thin chapati, put some egg mixture in the center in a rectangular from and fold the chapati over it from all four sides. You will have a rectangular block. Heat a nonstick pan and put the blocks on it and cook them from all sides, applying some oil once they are done a bit. It would be best if you have an oven instead of using the pan. Once the rolls are crisp on all sides, cut into squares and enjoy with some tomato ketchup.
Loved them, nice spicy and crisp. Had them for breakfast the next day too. Its lunch time here and writing this is making my mouth water....need to go and have lunch NOW.

Friday, July 6, 2007

Bottlegourd and some magic

There is some magic in the combination of coconut, groundnut and tamarind which works for me. I have been completely floored by its taste. Yesterday night I made this combination work for lauki. It was love in first bite. :) I had a lovely, tender, seedless medium sized lauki. And two potatoes. Why potatoes? Well, I didn’t have any specific intentions when I added it except that it will add volume to the sabzi so that I can take it for lunch tomorrow and second intention was a seemingly vain attempt that hubby dear will eat it. But only later after eating it did I realize that potato played an important role in the taste. It is undistinguishable and yet adds a subtle taste of its own. Lauki being pretty bland otherwise. Guess what Anurag ate it! And liked it!! on with the procedure. (Procedure word scares me as it reminds me of programming ;) )
So you have the cut up lauki and potatoes. Get a wok, heat oil and add mustard seeds to let them splutter, add hing, curry leaves (about 6-7), garlic (4-5 cloves), haldi and the vegetables. Stir, cover, open, add salt, cover and cook till done. What do you do in the mean time? Make the paste which is going to make the sabzi delicious. Take a handful of coriander, half an inch of ginger, a green chili, about a 4 inch piece of coconut, handful..Make it two handfuls.. of roasted groundnuts and about a 3/4th small cup of tamarind water. Grind it to a paste. While you grind this, the sabzi will be cooked. This sabzi doesn’t require much oil. Now add the paste to it and some water if needed, some jaggery and bring to a boil. It should neither be a gravy nor a dry sabzi..somewhere in between....I am confusing you, ain’t I? Well, my point is just that the paste should coat the sabzi evenly, not be runny like gravy.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Day trip to Pearl Valley

I have been craving for a a bike trip since a few weeks now. I don’t know whether it was more a craving to be with nature or a craving for a long ride on our beloved bull (Royal Enfield). But we haven’t been able to go anywhere because the weather and our health were not keeping too well. Finally this weekend we ‘had’ to satisfy the craving. Searched for some blogs on the internet for nearby places where we can see nature at its best. Finally we settled on Pearl Valley as it was near and the description was good. A waterfall just 40 kms from Bangalore sounded too good to be true. So the plan for Saturday was all set with the helpful fellow bloggers giving nice detailed directions on how to reach there.

Saturday morning I had an extension of yoga class where they taught us Neti kriya which aims at clearing the nasal cavity and prevents cold, allergy which are so widespread in Bangalore. So after I finished my class and reached home it was almost 10:15 in the morning. After that we were thinking should we pack something with us for lunch or have an early lunch and go as we had read that we don’t get good food there. Finally we prepared bread pakoda and ate quite a few of them and packed the 'Bingo' snacks with us. We were all ready with thick jackets as it is getting cold and cloudy here in Bangalore and it was also very windy that day. Next day we read in the newspaper that some trees fell on the road near cricket stadium. It was almost 12:30 by the time we left. We went straight till the road forked. The straight road leads to Bannerghatta national park, take the left turn from there and keep going straight. Lot of new construction and new layouts are coming up on the road. When you keep going straight, you reach Jigni town. There you will find a crossroad but don’t turn, keep going straight. You have to reach Anekal. If in doubt, ask for Anekal, which is what we did at the Jigni cross road. The auto driver said it is 11 km from there. Once we reached Anekal we were just going by instinct. I was the navigator and Anurag was the driver. You go through the road passing in front of the KSRTC bus stop and the busy town market. Once you are out of the town, some sign boards say Thalli Road. Keep going on the road and you will see a board on the right saying Happy Homes or something. Thats where you should turn and take the road on the right. It is quite near once you are out of Anekal. But we didnt take the turn, instead we kept going straight and finally reached the Karnataka-Tamil Nadu border with sign boards saying Welcome to Tamil Nadu and Welcome to Karnataka respectively. Took pictures, turned back and took the correct turn. On the way 2 boys stop us to give a 7 Rs ticket. The road also seems to be newly built. Kept going till we reached Hotel Mayura Nisarga run by KSTDC. That is the place where we have to park for a 3 Rs ticket. This is for two wheelers. It is more for 4 wheelers. There are some steps which take you down. There is a temple which was closed, Rocks, water and a small stream of water falling. Cannot be called a water fall. I had read that water is there only when it has rained heavily. But we were not disappointed. It was so beautiful. The rocks, the water, the butterflies, the trees, the trek, the weather, the was all so beautiful. It rained there and we were trekking on the mud path in the rain. It was the first time I was enjoying the rain without the fear of any consequences. It used to rain for 5-10 minutes and then stop for a while. It was nice to sit on the rocks and enjoy the beauty of nature. Whatever small stream of water was falling, it created small droplets and I had read that because the falling water creates droplets similar to pearls, the place is called Pearl Valley. Then we walked up and went to the restaurant and had tea. It tasted a bit strange..not sure why. We left from there at around 4:15.
The ride back was good…not as much traffic as we had while going. The roads are also good except for two patches of really slippery road. The TATA Sumo in front of us slipped and went right and again left before going straight. Anurag was scared more than me. I had two people to trust...Anurag and our bull. Not sure whom I trusted more to prevent falling ;) The ride has increased my love and respect for our bull. It has never failed us till now. The wind was so high that day; I could feel myself being pushed back or sideways due to it. Sometimes even the bike felt some push and pull due to the wind. I am glad we had such a sturdy vehicle...I would have been scared if we were on one of those plastic bikes.
Reached back by 5:30 and headed straight to the friendly neighborhood restaurant for 2 cups of coffee each, some idlis, dosas and chaat. Next day we were thinking of going to big banayan tree but were too lazy to do so. May be next time. On Sunday we went shopping instead at shoppers stop and Brand Factory. Also had lunch at The Dhaba at HSR layout. Food and service was unimpressive to say the least.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Dinner in a jiffy

After all the convenience foods bashing, I am all set to write how I put them to use yesterday. I reach home by 8:45 - 9 and to cook dinner after that is a challenge and convenience foods help me live up to the challenge. I prepared a exotic (I tried it for the first time hence 'exotic' ;)) vegetable. Mixed vegetables and paneer in coconut milk. Although I do not particularly like coconut, I give my thumbs up to coconut milk, obviously store bought, conveniently packed. So I got some pre-cut, packed mixed vegetables from food world, frozen peas, aashirwad multi-purpose cooking paste and the coconut milk. Also paneer, which I believe is no longer considered a convenience. I haven’t come across people who make paneer at home. I took some oil, put whole garam masalas like pepper corns, dalchini, bay leaf, cloves, elichi and let it sizzle for a minute. Add haldi and about a cup of mixed vegetables. Cover and cook till almost done. Stir the vegetables once in a while particularly if not using a non stick pan. Add salt, peas, paneer. Then about one and half teaspoon of cooking paste. Stir and add the contents of a small packet of coconut milk. Let it come to a boil and switch off immediately. And your dinner is ready in a jiffy.

Notice the absence of any spice powders like dhania powder, garam masala. The sizzling of whole garam masals in oil lends the flavour to this dish and so does coconut milk. Mild,creamy flavours is how I would describe this dish. Paneer makes this dish more creamier.

One more tip I would like to share regarding pav bhaji. Add little bit of beet root to the bhaji to get a wonderful color to the bhaji.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Oh for a breath of fresh air !

I am back after a long gap. Was not keeping too well in terms of health. Now I am fine or so I hope. Doc said the problems are due to stress. I would have been quite surprised to hear that but my mother (also a doc) had predicted the same cause. Stress has become such a common word in fact I should have been surprised to know I don’t experience stress. Looks like all people living in cities/metros are stressed. But still people want to live in metros. To live a 'high' life. To enjoy malls, super markets, convenience goods, frozen food, just a minute meal. But do we get any free time in spite of having all the tools meant for saving time at our disposal? What are we saving time for? So that we can work more, earn more and buy more time saving goods. Wow...what a vicious cycle. Of all the weekend options representing 'high life' (multiplexes, shopping malls, food courts and so on), my favorite weekend activity is going for long walks near the garden, better still riding far away from the maddening city towards nature. Simple joys, simple lives, simple meals, all of these are still the best sources of happiness. Do we need to live in cities for these things? I wonder why is a simple life of growing your own food and living in clean air, not considered a good option. It sounds like the best way to live, to me, but obviously doesn’t seem so, to a lot of other people.
Human mind is not the one to get satisfied says my husband. It wants to do more, discover more, invent more or just wants more...more power, more recognition which most often translates to more money. I guess humans were not satisfied just knowing how to grow/hunt food and eat it. They tried to find out ways to do things better and so the quest to satisfy the human brain with its endless power went on and on. Every five years there comes a new way to live and we wonder how we ever managed to live without this gadget.
But in the midst of all the brain power and innovation it brings, are we pushing ourselves as well as Mother Nature into danger? New diseases are cropping up trying to threaten mankind. But the human brain is trying to beat the viruses and bacteria in their quest for human suffering and I would like to think humans are succeeding. I hope we find a way to beat stress and pollution who are also on a quest for human suffering.
Global warming - the newest talk of the town, immediately comes to mind when I think of Mother Nature being harmed. I am sure we humans have the power to overcome it if only we put our brain power to use in order to regain what we have lost.
How I wish to smell clean air, the unpolluted smell of nature. Will this become a reality some day?

Monday, May 14, 2007

Weekend blogging, pizza sauce and pancakes

Another weekend gone by and comes Monday and with it, the wait for Saturday. But this weekend was different with many tasks being done. The most important was getting Netlon fixed. Well, measurements of the windows and exhaust fans are taken and tomorrow we will have a lizard proof house. Or so I hope. On Saturday, the inverter guy also came to install the inverter. The whole day went by just like that with people coming all the time to do some or the other work.
In the mean time I managed to prepare pizza for lunch. I had the pizza base ready, prepared the pizza sauce and used baked beans, capsicum, onion and mozzarella cheese for the topping. I got ready made breakfast that day with Anurag preparing bread-omelets and tea. Couldn't have had a better start to the day. Got out of bed and voila! Breakfast is ready, courtesy hubby dearest. We also managed to watch a movie on DVD in the afternoon with a few breaks in between. In the evening I was too full to eat anything. We went for a long walk and after that I had ice-cream while Anurag had bhelpuri and sev puri.
On Sunday morning, I made an English breakfast of pancakes topped with honey/jam. My first attempt at it and it was really tasty. Might become our Sunday special breakfast. Watched some TV and had a leisurely bath. For lunch, I made chole, rice and pudina flavored curd. Slept in the afternoon, watched 'Pirates of the Caribbean' in the evening, had dinner and again a long walk.
On Friday night, I had prepared lauki-beetroot halva. Came out pretty well.
A satisfying weekend. Though it did not come without its share of ‘Sunday evening blues’. I think what was great about the weekend was that I and Anurag got to talk. Hey, I don’t mean we don’t talk but to have spare time and to talk about things in general is a luxury. Otherwise everyday talk is limited to ‘wake up’, ‘what’s for breakfast’, ‘don’t forget to take your mobile to work’, or any thing which needs to be discussed. During and after the long walk on Saturday, we talked about our childhood, about the people in our lives....I came to know about problems people have in their lives. Someone has a mentally-retarded grownup child, someone’s mother-in-law doesn’t like her and is giving her a tough time, someone’s wife has gone mad even after giving birth to four children leaving the children deprived of mother’s love. Also of illnesses and how the illnesses were taken care of with pure love. Might not have saved a dying person but sure must have made them feel better. It was like an eye-opener for me. I always felt I have a blessed life. I had never seen people suffering. Almost felt like Prince Siddhartha (Buddha) who was unaware of things outside his palace. Well, I definitely knew poverty, suffering, misery existed but never knew anyone who has suffered. Really scares me as to how would I ever deal with anything but a rosy life.

Now to get into my recipe guru ‘avtaar’. How to make pizza sauce and pancakes? Fret not , recipe guru to your rescue :) Here’s how I made them.
I have come up with a pizza sauce recipe which I really like and it never fails me. Here it is :
In a pan, heat some oil, add 5-6 peppercorns, 3 cloves, a bayleaf, half an inch dalchini stick, 1 medium onion chopped, 6 cloves of garlic, sauté till onions are transparent, add 3 medium tomatoes chopped. Add salt, sugar, chilli flakes. Cover and cook till tomatoes are done. Now blend it with a hand blender. I removed the bayleaf before that as I was not sure whether it would mix. Use it for pizza, sandwich. I even used it for making gravy for vegetable.
Do try the pancakes if you like egg. It has a unique texture and tastes yummy. I used 2 eggs beaten with 4 teaspoons of sugar. Added about 4 tablespoons of flour, pinch of salt, vanilla essence, about a tablespoon of milk and beat some more till completely blended. Then heat a pan. Spread a little bit of ghee on it and pour a bit of the batter. Pancakes are generally thick unlike dosas. Cover and cook till done on one side on slow flame. Turn and cook the other side. My pancakes didn’t need any prodding to separate from the pan. They came out on their own. That's one way of knowing whether its done. Once out of the pan, spread some honey or jam on it, fold and serve hot. Perfect to start a weekend.

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Experiments in Cooking and Me - II

Another cooking experiment born out of boredom of eating cabbage the same old way. Anurag loves cabbage so I make it often though not as often as he would like :)
It is specially made after he is made a scapegoat for many of my experiments and I have to make up for it. I do not have any aversion to cabbage but making it the same old way with potatoes every time makes me run away from it.
Yesterday was one such day meant to make cabbage. Since I am back from my vacation, I hadn’t prepared a proper home cooked meal. So this was the way to start on a right note or was it?
I wanted some kick in my cabbage not the plain old cabbage with only few masalas for flavor. I had on impulse picked up some pudina, a raw mango on my vegetable shopping spree. Yes...I am going to add these to the cabbage.
It had to be completely different. I had started out with the idea of adding capsicum and peas instead of potato but what resulted finally was better cabbage sabzi than I had ever made before. At least that is what I thought.
I had left office early yesterday so I had time to cut the cabbage into neat thin strips. I don’t like using food processor for cabbage as it makes it too tiny. Do you too face the same problem?
Ok, so I cut about one small cabbage, I cut a capsicum into small pieces. I grated one medium carrot. I cut the raw mango into very small pieces. I could have grated it but I like cutting more than grating :)
I heated oil in a wok. Added jeera, ajwain, til, saunf to it. All on the spur of the moment. Some haldi, chilli powder goes in. Then the cabbage, capsicum and carrot. Sauté on high heat for about a minute and cover.
Now add little bit of cut raw mango. About 7-8 chopped pudina leaves, salt, sugar, dhaniya powder. Cover till done. A beautiful aroma fills the kitchen. Anurag arrives from office and asks "Pudina ki sabzi hai kya" :)
It looks as beautiful as it smells. Carrot adds nice color to it and cutting veggies neatly does make a difference in the beauty of the final dish.
The saunf added a good flavor. I could have left ajwain out I believe, maybe next time. I couldn't figure any difference in taste due to sesame seeds. Maybe it was too less to lend itself to the dish.
But overall, I really liked the taste. Slightly tangy with a hint of saunf. Best part is it cooks quickly. Only the preparation takes time.
Another good experiment. But I think I liked it more than Anurag did.

Sunday, May 6, 2007

My vacation and a Survery

I am writing a post after a long time. I had gone home for a week. I had a great time and ate all the good food and relaxed a lot. I hope life could always be like, sleep and make merry. I know it cannot be and it is fine because I don’t have any major regrets about the way life is right now.
On the flight home, an old man was sitting next to me. He had a bag full of papers. He was going through the papers and discarding some of them and putting some of them back...hopefully arranging it. He finished doing it about 15 mins before landing. But he was the most restless person I had seen, He couldn’t sit still for even the few minutes. He opened the tray table and started looking at the papers again and then writing something. The air hostess had to ask him to put up the table and sit straight. He looked really sad about sitting without doing anything. He must have been glad to get off the aircraft.
I also had a nice time shopping there in Gujarat. It was a great experience compared to the shopping experience here in Bangalore. You can bargain, you can choose from a huge variety. The shopkeepers there are really interested in selling their stuff and they try to make a personal connection and help you decide among a mountain of clothes. That's what makes shopping fun.The biggest problem with buying clothes in Bangalore is that in sometime everyone around you will be wearing similar dresses.

There is one more purpose to this post as the title suggests - a survey :) If you have read the blog, you have a fair idea on what I feel about babies. I want to know from you - married, or unmarried, with children or without children, men or women, boys or girls :)
Do you want to have babies? Why?
Please leave your comments with your views on why would you want to be a parent/why would you not want to be a parent.
I just want to know the thoughts in general. Because I am not able to figure out reasons for having children. I really feel people with children are not able to live the way they would like to. Also, there is already enough stress in our lives, why add the stress of raising children. I know most of you would not agree, that is why I want to know why you think I am wrong. And those of you who agree with me, please leave those comments also. I would be glad to know we share similar views.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Dreaming Big?!!

Yesterday I was watching KBC while waiting for my husband to return from office. I am not a regular viewer of the show. But, yesterday, I missed my swimming classes. I am planning to miss it today too. Well, I have a reason which I am stretching to bunk 2 days of swimming. I haven’t learnt much of swimming yet. But day before yesterday, after finishing my swimming class, I felt feverish with huge amount of body pain and for the first time, I was not able to point out which part of my body was giving me the most pain. ;) Also, by the time I reached home, I was shivering and had to take 3 blankets in the summer month. But now I am as healthy as I can get with 2 tablets down my throat.
Coming back to KBC, a young guy was a contestant and he said 2 crores are not enough to fulfill his dream which was to topple the government of Swaziland and be the king of the land. What a dream! May I say...weird dream! It got me thinking that only young people can dream of becoming kings/queens. I haven't come across an older person with such dreams. They have more realistic dreams like owning a flat/bungalow or a small/big car depending on the state and 'thinking big' capacity of the person. Again, people get 'older'(mature is a better word I guess) once they start earning their own money or at least after the initial high of earning money gives way to 'I need more than this' race.
Weird dreams are replaced by realistic dreams, adventure is replaced by boring routine, and enthusiasm for life is replaced by the race for all things material.
I can't imagine myself wanting to be a queen. I would say, let me own a small apartment first. But then, who wants a small apartment? How about a duplex flat, a penthouse, a bungalow with at least 2 cars parked in its compound? Better not go so far. So, I guess I am left with no dreams.
One of my friend says (He has taken it from a book) "Dream, and the whole universe conspires to help you realize your dream". But if you are one of those lazy kinds (like me), the universe might not help you!
By the way, heard of Swaziland before? I hadn’t. It is an African country. Coming to it, maybe the contestant could have dreamt bigger and wanted to be king of Switzerland instead. ;)

Monday, April 2, 2007

Never try Gujarati thali in Bangalore

Yesterday I went to ‘Zaika’ restaurant in Raheja Arcade in Koramangala in hope of eating Gujarati thali. There was a mention of this restaurant and that it serves Gujarati thali, in Bangalore Times on Friday.
And as you know, I have been praising Gujarati food; I thought we can try it out. But now, after eating it, I can understand why people wouldn't like Gujarati thali.
It was bad. They tried but the result was far from the real Gujarati food. Yes, they made it sweet. People should understand that sugar is an ingredient in Gujarati food, but it is not the only ingredient. There has to be a good proportion of spicy taste in it and sweet is just to offset the spices. Anyway, what made it worse was the price. Priced at 125 per thali, and limited food, it made matters worse. The katoris in which they provided the vegetables were so small, they could be meant for infants. Me being used to the unlimited Gujarati thali with lots of dishes, it was a major disappointment.
I guess everybody read the Friday article and came to eat the thali. So there was a waiting time of 20 mins outside the restaurant. Then once we were seated at the table,
10 mins later a waiter comes to clean it and put fresh table mats (paper ones) and get us glasses of water. After another long wait come something which could pass of as cold milk and some papads which we thought came to our table instead of the neighboring table. But the papads were good. Another long long wait for the thali and when it came, it was like a needle to prick my excitement. They tried to make undhiyo which was ok.
They tried the potato curry (gujju style). Major disappointment. Didn't finish even the infant size portion of it. Then there was kadhi which was the only thing which was close to the real taste. Also a piece of khaman/dhokla with sweet chutney (sweet being the key word :) ) They give 3 chapattis and a bowl of jeera rice. It is quite enough to fill your stomach but does not leave you satisfied.
The owners have an idea but they haven't planned the execution well (in fact not at all planned). Nothing compared to the execution style of neighboring ‘Gramin’ restaurant. It does leave you impressed and satisfied even if you have to wait for your turn at the table.
Let me leave Gramin to another blog. All in all, go there if you are really craving Gujarati thali and have no other option. Never go there if you want to see what a Gujarati thali is...

Friday, March 30, 2007

Memory Lane down Gujarati Food

Two posts about food in a day!! That means at least two things:
1. I have food on my mind.
2. I don’t have anything else to do. :)
Well, let me leave it at that. Now to get on with what inspired me to write this post. It was this blog
This blog has some mouth watering, mind boggling.... gujju recipes. I am a great fan of gujju food. I was literally going mad looking at all those pictures and recipes. Although, I am not a Gujarati, I spend my entire childhood there and I was the one in our house to love any kind of Gujarati food. Well, rest of my family isn't too keen on food. That explains the size difference between me and them. ;)
Thinking of the Gujarati food does make me nostalgic. You might wonder what is so special about it or you might think its all sweet. But that is far from being true.
To taste real Gujarati food, you need to come to Gujarat. How can someone not like the food? I find that hard to imagine.
The khakaras are quite famous, so is dhokla. Dhokla does make me weak. These days in Bangalore we get dhoklas at food courts in the malls. I can’t pass by a stall featuring dhokla without eating it.
The dhebras...hmmmm....fried puri like but so much yummier than puris. And then there is chundo, the grated mango sweet, spicy all at once. I can eat it with anything or when I eat something I did not like, I refresh my taste buds by eating a spoonful of chundo.
Then there is handvo. You can eat it any time of the day. And the can I forget that? I spent my childhood days waiting for undhiyo party to happen.
And the day it happened, I was one excited kid. We used to go to a farm and there they give 'matla undhiyo' (translated to pot undhiyo). They bake the beans, the sweet potatoes, potatoes etc in earthen pots with their mouths covered with dried grass or something. Then serve these baked veggies with spicy green chutney, also the sweet chutney, sev, oil
We had to take the beans out of their covering, mash the potatoes and them mix all chutneys and eat it. I will remember the taste all my life. Nothing can beat it. Then you have jalebi with it. It is the yellow, crisp jalebi unlike the orange, softer version which I saw in Maharashtra. I love the yellow jalebi. Haven’t eaten it since I left Gujarat :(
The other version of undhiyo which is more cooked vegetable kind is also great.
Then there is this fulvadi with mattho. Fulvadi is fried vadi...not sure of details but extremely spicy and when you have it with curd based mattha, it tastes just perfect.
Oh yes, then there is ‘papdi no lot’ (translated to papdi dough). You wouldn’t have heard of people eating dough but once you taste this you will wonder how the dough can be left to be turned into papdi (similar to papad). The steamed dough is eaten with oil drizzled over it. I am pretty sure, women in Gujarat would hide some ‘papdi no lot’ from family
members otherwise they can never prepare papdi. The oil is poured to reduce the spiciness of the dough.
I can not get enough of Gujarati food. Though the real fact is that I have had it only few times till now. I am not talking of the gujarati thali. That I have everytime I go there but the other things that make the Gujarati food so much more fun. We didn't prepare this at home so I had it only when friends and neighbors used to send them to us. I am thankful to all the people who introduced me to the delightful tastes of Gujarati food. I hope everyone gets to taste it. It will remain with you forever.

Experiments in Cooking and Me..

I am writing this post because I am happy I concealed the lauki (bottle gourd as they say in English) in a dal and had my husband eat it with relish. But mainly because I knew all of you are missing me. I can get quite self-praising (is that the word?) at times, as you can see.
Is your husband a fussy eater? Husband species are meant to be fussy, I believe. I had chanced upon a wonderful methi matar malai recipe on the net and also had methi at home. But I didn’t have enough time to prepare it, starting with separating the methi leaves. I saw a nice, small and tender lauki at Nilgiris’ newly started vegetable section and I knew I had to buy it. I was looking for some vegetable which will be fast to cut and this lauki fit the bill and making it tempting was the fact that it was so tender and without seeds. I don’t like lauki seeds. That is not being fussy. Ok?
But the problem was making my husband eat lauki. I thought of mixing it in dal. He really likes dal. I went home. Took out a cup of toor dal, then I thought let me mix in a bit of masoor, then a bit of chana dal and then yellow moong dal. The dals look lovely and specially the masoor adding orange to yellow. Washed them and kept it soaking in water. Ok, now I am telling you the recipe so that you can get your husbands to eat lauki ;)
See, now I consider myself a recipe guru. Yes, the continuation of the self-praising phase.
I cut the lauki into small pieces and added to the dal(s) and cooked it in pressure cooker along with salt till it gets mushy. You can see the lauki pieces among the dal if you look hard. Till then I put rice to cook and went about tackling the methi which needed immediate attention. Till the dal cooked, I got all the methi leaves in Ziploc bag and hoped they will stay till I get time to cook them. I also got 2 small onions, 3 garlic cloves, 2 green chillies and 3 small tomatoes cut into small pieces. Now take a kadhai and put some oil, add mustard seeds and jeera and hing. Add the onions, garlic and chillies.
When onions are done, add tomatoes and haldi and let it cook till tomatoes are almost mashed. Add this to the cooker. I did this coz adding the dal to kadhai was more difficult :)
Add everest garam masala, little bit of sugar and chopped coriander. Let it boil. This is quite thick in consistency. We had it with paratha and curd and rice. If you are wondering, where did the parathas came from, well, I had the dough ready in the fridge and my experience says old dough makes better roti/paratha. Maybe its just one of my weird beliefs.
For once, I got a good result from my cooking experiments.

Similar thing can be done to brinjal, karela. But this will be more of sambar style with tamarind, jaggery and maybe sambar masala instead of garam masala. I am yet to try it with my husband. This will be more challenging than the lauki.

Monday, March 5, 2007


This weekend, I happened to meet some babies. On Friday evening, I went to see my friend’s baby who is three and a half months old. On Saturday, we went to my cousin sister's house. She has a 10 month old baby. Everyone thinks babies cute. Even I think so, but only if they are other's babies. These little creatures are good to see from far but I am not sure if I would want them in my close vicinity. Babies are cute but only till they don’t start crying, till they don’t start peeing and till their moms are around. Left alone with a baby, I don’t know what I would do. You might think what kind of a girl wouldn’t want babies? Before marriage, I didn’t have any views on babies. At that time, I thought of it as a natural phenomenon -> "All married people have babies."But now, I am not able to figure out why people wish to have babies in the first place. My husband says, people feel it as a miracle that a woman can create a new life and bring it to this world. But I fail to see the miracle part of it. I mean, yes, it might seem like a miracle to someone ignorant but we all know the science behind it. right? And after all, this world is not such a good place to feel proud about bringing someone else also to suffer in it. My husband says, children would be company for old age. We would have somebody for support. This seems good. But I am not sure how much will the next gen support their parents. Somehow I feel pretty sure; they would run away in their teenage, never feeling a thing for their parents. We should be prepared for the worst. Even if by luck, they turn out to be good. Good is again relative, few years ago, marrying someone not selected by your parents was considered bad, now it is ok. Who knows few years later, living with parents might not be considered ‘good’. Why would people want to live their entire lives just for their children so that they can leave them in their old age? Once people have children, I have seen them living, thinking only about the children, never about themselves. I would rather live my life for myself and spend all my money on myself. Yes, I know I am selfish.

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Do software engineers love their jobs?

Well, I think they don’t. I haven’t come across a single software engineer who is 'very' happy with his job. May be I know only these types of software engineers! If there is a sense of accomplishment by doing a job, maybe that would result in job satisfaction. My cousin sister is doing her post-graduation in Gynecology. Once she told me that the job is extremely hectic with work hours going up to 36 hrs at a stretch but still when she comes home at the end of the day, she feels very happy and satisfied. Maybe she saved some lives, brought some little ones to this earth. That looks exciting. But as they say, the grass is always greener on the other side. If by chance, a doctor is not able to save a life, may not even be his fault, I can’t imagine what a dreadful feeling that would be. Thank God, I am not a doctor. It is too scary to deal with life and death.But I can’t bring myself to say "Thank God, I am a software engineer" either. It is a much safer profession compared to doctors. Study less, Earn faster. What more can I ask for? Looks like something is missing or maybe everything is missing. Every morning when I wake up, the first thing that comes to my mind, "What day is it today?" Oh no, it’s a Wednesday. 3 more office days before I get a break. Everyday I get up waiting for Saturday to come.
The kind of excitement that can be expected at a typical software job is :
a. Getting your code to work
b. Completing your job before expected/in a new (better) way than usual.
Oh yes, then there is the excitement of getting the salary revision letters. That is exactly what I come to office for. I like the independence money gives. It’s nice to have your own money and yet have your husband take care of most of the expenses.
Sometimes I think I should consider change of profession. But then, there is nothing I know other than sitting in an air-conditioned office and typing away at the keyboard. Sometimes, I think I experience a lot more stress than my colleagues do, in similar situations.Learning something new causes a lot of stress for me and this is what every software engineer has to continue doing all his life.
Have you ever wondered why are so many people living on this earth? Hey...I have started going on a different track but its ok, after all, it’s my blog. Some people have said that everyone comes to life with a purpose. Well, what's the population of this earth? And if we consider insects, fish and all living creatures, are there really so many purposes to live? I have no idea why I am living. Well, my husband will have a tough time if I am not living. If that's my purpose then why do I have to work, I mean go to office. If I don’t go to office, I will get bored at home. And of course, I won’t get money. I can always get it from my husband but it’s not the same. Hmm...Looks like money is the only reason I come to office. Then whether I like it or not, I have to come to work, and actually do some work with the hope that it might help somebody. And also with the hope that it doesn’t make life tougher for someone else ;)

Monday, February 5, 2007

Time flies or does it?!! To-do task lists

Sometimes I wonder why I don’t ever get time to do the things I have been intending or resolving to do from quite sometime. Does time fly? Sometimes I think it does, especially on weekends :). Before you know it, it is Sunday evening and you start getting Monday morning blues. But then if I think some more (something I rarely do), I think time doesn’t fly, I let it fly. Now today is Monday and I think the weekend got over a bit too fast but if you ask me what I did on the weekend, well, that’s a tricky question ;) Hmm.....coming to it...I am glad at least 2 tasks could be finally done. One was getting the gas connection transferred from my friend. Oh well…this task was not done completely coz we didn’t take the gas regulator with us. But still, a good start! Hopefully, next weekend will see the end of this task from the to-do list. The other was to get my husband buy some trousers for him. He wants to wait till all his trousers are torn or damaged to buy new ones. At least this task is off the to-do list. But alas, the to-do list keeps growing at a faster pace than our ability to finish it.
There are some tasks which require taking decisions. These are among the difficult to complete tasks and remain on to-do lists for ever. There are some other types of tasks which are among the front-runners for the oldest members on to-do lists like studying, tasks involving going to govt. offices :) Discussing about future plans is one another task that never really takes off leave alone reaching a conclusion.
Looks like the unfinished tasks are due to lack of willingness to complete them. Brings me to the saying "Donkey can be brought near water but can’t be forced to drink it". Am I calling myself a donkey? That’s ok but completely unacceptable if others call me a donkey.

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

eat happy

Eat Happy - the tag line of a very happy looking eating place called "Mast Kalandar". For some reason I really like this place coz whenever I go there, I never return anything less than ‘happy’J. I remember when the place had newly opened on Bannerghatta road; a very café sort of look with bright colors used everywhere, lot of orange and yellow…the chairs are orange too. It looked like a good place to go to if you want to get into a sunny mood. I hadn’t gone there for a long time as I was not sure about the kind of food there.
I went there for the first time some months ago after I got married and after I was tired of cooking dinner every weekday :). As soon as I entered, I realized it’s a ‘hatke’ (different) place…starting from the menu to the method of ordering. The menu is put up on a colorful wall behind the counter. You don’t get your menu and don’t get to order from table but you do get food served on the table. That was a new one! But the menu is so exciting that it compensates for the inconvenience, if at all you can call it that. There is a parathas section with some interesting parathas called Tom, Dick, Harry or Healthy Sprouts, Cheesy Spring Onion and more… Then there are combos with kulcha or rotis in combination with some sabzi, dal, salad and chutney. Then there is a rice section with the likes of rajma-chawal, kadhi-chawal, biryani. You also have a few starters, few drinks like aam panna, mango lassi and desserts.
As you would have guessed, it is a completely North Indian vegetarian restaurant…one of the few in Bangalore which serve authentic North Indian food at affordable prices. There are times when it’s been a hard day in office or I feel like eating something really nice, I end up coming here. The dal makhni which they serve with most combos is really good. I never had the parathas. I am not much of a paratha fan coz of the oil and ghee layered on it. There are healthy options available too. There is also the saag, makke ki roti combo.
The food served is piping hot and has a very fresh taste. I can go on and on about the food. Before I forget to mention the other good things about the place, let me tell you about them. The place has a friendly feeling with the waiters very good at their work...neither ignoring nor crowding you. There are magazines, newspapers kept there and people spend time here relaxing over a good and healthy meal. You might even be reminded of 'maa ke haath ka khana'. It is an ideal place to go when you want to eat food which has a home cooked taste and at the same time want to go to a proper clean restaurant.

trip to pondy

It was the Republic Day long weekend. 2 days before the weekend, we started thinking whether we should go somewhere. Deciding now would mean going on the Bullet. And we were quite glad we don’t have other options open. Because the excitement of going to new places on a bike is matched only by few others. Finally, Friday the Republic Day arrived but we were quite lazy to get up early in the morning and so the day went on. By evening I was getting restless and missing what would have been a good trip somewhere. So I started dropping hints that I want to go to Pondicherry. And my intelligent husband picked up the hints and by night after dinner, we decided to start by 5 am and go to Pondicherry.
As always, the alarm went off. I switched it off and went to the bed again. Tried to wake up my husband and went to sleep. But this time, the desire to go was strong and I got up again after half an hour and so did my husband. We did everything starting from packing in a little more than an hour and finally we took off to Pondicherry by 6 am. Petrol and air stop at Hosur and we were on our way to Krishnagiri on a good 4 lane highway. Early morning rides are even great. To see the dawn breaking and the day setting in slowly while we are riding away amidst great looking landscapes is a real pleasure. Took a diversion to NH66 from Krishnagiri. Here the road was not that good. Some potholes surprise you as you go on an ok looking road. Look out for crows sitting on the roads. We were at a considerable speed and few crows were sitting on the road and they flew a bit too late and one of them hit my husband’s hand on the bike's handle. Poor bird broke his wing I suppose. But it was better than hitting our helmets or the brake. After the patch of about 40kms of the 'not so good' road, we were back on smooth roads and the next destination was Thiruvannamalai. We were there by 9:45 and decided to stop and see the temple and also have breakfast. Yes, there isn't any place before this where you can expect a decent breakfast. There is a Reliance A1 plaza after Hosur where you can stop for breakfast. But nothing after that or before Thiruvannamalai.
The temple at Thiruvannamalai is huge and quite nice. It is a huge complex with temples in it and also a pond. There was a small queue and we had to wait for darshan. But the temple can get very crowded if there is some festival related to Lord Shiva or on Fridays. There is an elephant in the temple who blesses people with his trunk. There seemed to be a significance of red color coz most women were wearing red sarees and men wore red kurta and lungi. We went to a nearby restaurant just outside the temple. As soon as we sat, we were given plates of idlis and some sambar. That was the only thing they had at the restaurant. We were hungry and ate the idlis for the first time without a spoon or fork as the restaurant didn't have spoons. By this time it was 11:45. We got back to the Pondicherry road. On the way there is Gingee Fort, some old ruins of a fort. We stopped to take pictures. The fort looked quite good and if it wasn’t for Pondicherry we were tempted to explore it more. But we satisfied ourselves with pictures and went ahead. We were in Pondy on the beach road by 1:30. The view was so great that my husband just parked the bike and without locking it, went to look at the ocean. I took the keys and followed. Clear green-blue water and huge waves hitting the rocks made us forget whatever tiredness we had.
Our landlords in Bangalore are basically from Pondicherry and they were there at that time. We called them up to ask about a good hotel where we can check in. Aunty and Uncle came and took us to Ashram guesthouse but both of the guest houses were full. We tried few more hotels but everything was full. Looked like half of the people from Bangalore and Chennai were in Pondicherry and we were also a day late than the others. Finally all of us went for lunch and after that Uncle gave us his relative's newly constructed house to stay. We went there and slept. In the evening we came to the beach road again. It was full of people, good music and it was very lively. There were "Freedom Jam, No Bread" concerts going on all over the place. We took a stroll on the rocks placed facing the sea. Then we sat on the rocks, listening to the waves. It was heavenly. But the sea doesn’t look so friendly at night. But believe me; you would want to come again and again just to sit there looking at the sea and listening to the waves and letting the ocean breeze run thru your hair. We had dinner and went back to our house (we could call it our house even it was just for a day).
Next day we had breakfast and again went to the beach road to get a morning view of the sea. It was beautiful in the morning too but we couldn’t spend much time there as there were other places to see also. We went to a boat house at Ariankuppam about 7-8 kms from the beach road in Pondy. It is a nice picnic spot. We did pedal boating in the backwaters. Speed boating also available there. Then we took off for Auroville. To reach there we need to go towards the East Coast Road which goes to Chennai. On the way we saw a taxi with Auroville written on it and we thought we will follow it. A little while later I realized that Auroville might have been left behind and the taxi was going elsewhere but the road was so good with the sea on one side that we followed it. The taxi turned down onto a mud road and we could see a beach in the distance. It turned out that the taxi was going to the Pondicherry University guest house and the beach was behind it. But we were not a bit sorry for the wrong route and in fact quite thrilled to see the virgin beach. It was a beach like we hadn't seen before...not even in Goa…pure, clean sand, clear blue water and huge waves. There were crabs on the sand. And nobody except a very few locals on the beach. We went into the water and enjoyed the waves hitting us. It was fun.
Finally we reached Auroville. Unfortunately, Matrimandir which is the major attraction is open only till 12:30 on Sundays. So we couldn't see it. But even otherwise, Auroville is a very peaceful place full of greenery. People from 30 different countries stay here. It is the vision of The Mother and is a township dedicated to experiment in human unity. Go through the site to get details on timings for visiting and to get an idea about Auroville.
There is a cafeteria at Auroville. And I have to mention this. The homemade kulfi which they serve here is something out of this world. Never had a kulfi like that before. It was so soft and tasty...just melts in your mouth. The walnut cake and chocolate brownie are also good. On our way back from Auroville we wanted to see the beach with rocks one last time before we left and so we took that route to reach home.
We left Pondy at around 4 and took a night halt at Thiruvannamalai. The hotel Anurachalam had quite a descent rooms considering the place looked like a village. We set out to have dinner at the restaurant belonging to the same hotel. It was an experience in itself. The waiter, if we can call him that, was scaring us more than serving us. :) He gave us banana leaf and when he came back with dosas, he ordered us to clean the leaf with water. Then he stood just behind our table as if to see how we are eating. And when we gave him money, he said something angrily in Tamil which thankfully we couldn’t understand. We were still hungry but we left from the place. All the restaurants in Thiruvannamalai seem to be serving only idlis and dosas. We went to a more inviting restaurant and it seemed much better compared to the previous experience. We had another dosa there and went back to our room thinking no more dosas for at least a week. I really missed the Bangalore style sambar. The sambar here looked like it didn’t have the sambar masala and had just the dal.
I was fast asleep before 9. My husband was busy watching TV as he got to do so after 2 days.
Next morning we left at 5:30 and were in Bangalore by 9:30 braving the traffic near Electronics city and BTM. It was a great trip and we look forward to our second visit to Pondicherry whenever it will be.
Some Precautions before taking the trip -
1) Avoid going in summer as the weather here is very hot. Even in January. People from Mumbai might be reminded of the weather there :)
2) Book hotel in advance specially if going on a long weekend.
3) There are big mosquitos in the area. So use mosquito repellents.