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.