Thursday, March 27, 2008

Food updates

Some of the things I made. Theres gula chi poli (jaggery stuffed chapati), til gul (sesame and jaggery ladoos). This I made in January for Makar Sankranti. Too late to be posting it!! I know but I always fall back on the proverb "Better late than never" ;) Then there is the home made equivalent of tandoori roti and chole. Also featuring my version of vegetarian momos with homemade sauce. I know they hardly look like momos...blame that on my poor photography skills....but believe me I followed the googled momos recipe I found on the net to a large extent. ;) These are half moon shaped momos which are steamed and lightly roasted on a tawa.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Ooty Conquered !!

Good Friday holiday expects us to go on a long ride. How could we waste a good long weekend like that? But the weather was playing tricks on us. We had taken permission to leave early from office on Thursday afternoon and had decided to go up to Mysore and take a night halt. But just before our scheduled departure time, the rain gods were out in full force and there was much indecisiveness about whether to go or not. By the time we were able to get out of office and try to decide whether to go or not, it was already 6 in the evening and we didn't feel up to the ride with the tiring decision making and the fact that we worked overtime in office in order to leave early. So we decided we will get up in the morning and check the weather and decide whether to go or not. We filled up the tank and the wallets and went to sleep.
We are up and ready before 5. The weather looks good so we arrange the new cramster bags which we had bought to avoid any luggage problems which we had faced before. The bag design is a genius (that's an exaggeration). I mean, it fits so well on the bike, has enough room to stuff a lot of things in it, and it has a design element for each requirement like some easy access compartments, bottle holders, rain protection and the like. It is an absolute must for people who are serious about going on long trips on their bikes.
Ok, so the ride is on at 5 in the morning. The weather is nice and cold with early morning breeze. It was a smooth ride till Coffee day at Channapatna. After half an hour break for the essentials we are back on the road at 7. There is a light drizzle and all through the way till Mysore, the rain gods were threatening us with a few drops here and there but I guess they like us and so they didn't bring forth a huge downpour. I was thanking the Gods for that.
We reached Mysore by 8:30 and didn't take the bypass road to Ooty and entered Mysore so that we could have breakfast. After searching for a hotel, we finally found a small one and had our staple travel breakfast of idlies and tea. We left Mysore by 9:15 and went through Nanjangud, Gundlupet. The road from Gundlupet to Bandipur is in a bad state. But in the forest, the road was good and the surroundings beautiful. We spotted deer and peacocks near the road but didn't stop to take pictures. The forest on the Tamil Nadu side is called Madumalai Wildlife Sanctuary.
After the sanctuary, there are two ways to reach Ooty. One is through Gudalur and the other through Masinagudi. The only thing we knew about the 2 routes is that the Masinagudi one had 36 hair pin bends while the other didn't but was longer by almost 30 kms. And that most people still took the Masinagudi route. We stopped to decide which one to take and finally decided on '36 hair pin bends' route. The hair pin bends and some portions of the road are quite steep. Even our 350cc Enfield was having trouble climbing at some places and it didn't help that Anurag and my combined weight was around 150 kgs and some more weight for the luggage. We saw even a few cars, specially the smaller ones having trouble climbing. The 25 odd kilometers of ghats took us nearly 2 and a half hours and some stops to let the bike cool down.
At 3:15 we were finally in Ooty in the hotel room. We had booked Hotel Villa Park through Makemytrip. It was slightly cheaper through the site than direct booking. It is a huge place with all types of rooms. We had taken the standard room which was slightly small but very clean. The bathroom was big, neat, functional and very clean. Trying to decide on a hotel in Ooty is very difficult if you are using internet as the source. Every hotel has some bad reviews written about it.
We had to wait till 4 for the restaurant to open and then we had some nice dosas and went back to the room. It was very cold and it was a good thing the hotel provides heaters in every room. We sat with our feet facing the heater and then went to sleep. We got up at 6:30 and decided to go for a walk around the market place near the bus stand. It was very near from the hotel. It was like bone chilling cold and I could feel my nose turn into ice ;) but it was really nice to walk around in the mist and clouds. No sooner did we reach the hotel, it started raining. Thank you again, rain gods!

The next day, the weather was bad with rain and mist all through the day. So we had booked a van tour which would show us coonor and some spots in ooty. At most viewpoints, all we could 'view' was clouds instead of tribal villages ;) But they were beautiful views nonetheless. The tea gardens looked so beautiful especially in this weather.
At Dodabetta peak, I thought we have reached subzero temperatures (exaggeration again!)
We didn't go to the Botanical Garden and left the van there. We went roaming and exploring on foot. We reached Charring cross and saw a nice looking restaurant called 'Sidewalk Cafe' or something. As soon as we entered, we saw Rocky and Mayur and their team. These are the guys who go around eating food on highways ;)!! They come on NDTV Good Times channel in a show called Highway on my Plate. We really like the show and so we were happy to meet them. After some more roaming around and some shopping, we were back to the hotel.

The next day we had a nice Ayurvedic massage at the hotel. After bath and breakfast, it was already 10:45. Anurag went to an Enfield mechanic to show the bike as it had a strenuous ride up to Ooty. The oil needed to be changed and all of that took nearly 2 hours. So, we could finally check out after 1:30 only. We had lunch at the hotel after that and then left at 3. The mechanic had told that Gudalur route is a curse for the shock absorbers and so we went through the Masinagudi route again. I had my heart in my mouth for the entire 30 minutes it took for us to climb down the ghats. I had clutched the seat so tight, my hand started paining. I used to breathe a sign of relief for every hairpin bend that we crossed. Phew! I am glad we made it after all. Climbing up took us 2 and a half hours but we came down in just 30 minutes!!
While crossing the forests, this time, we saw lots of elephants close by. One tusker was almost standing on the road. We stopped at JLR restaurant after Bandipur for tea and reached Mysore at 8. We saw the lit up palace and hunted for a descent hotel. Finally found one and crashed for the night. Next morning, started at 5:30 and were home at around 8 and back to office at 10 in the morning.
Every ride we take on feels better than the previous!

Thursday, March 13, 2008

yummy soup!

These days I am trying to have soup for dinner so that I eat less chapatis and also eat something nutritious. I made this really yummy soup yesterday. I sauteed 1 onion, 1 long red carrot, half of a capsicum, 2 tomatoes, few cauliflower florets and half katori yellow moong dal in little bit of olive oil. Then I pressure cooked it with some water and salt. Ran it through the blender and seasoned the individual servings with pepper. I absolutely loved it. I guess the cauliflower played a great role in the result though I didn't add a lot of it. Even the small bit of capsicum goes a long way. This resulted in a lot of soup and since I am the only one who enjoys soup (Anurag won't eat more than 2 spoons when forced), I am looking forward to drinking it again today and tommorrow :)

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Its Spring!

I know it am noticing a bit late that spring is here. But atleast I am glad I noticed. On my walk between home and office, I see beautiful purple flowers in full bloom, leaves turning red on the trees. Everything looks so beautiful! I am making an attempt at being a more positive person and so it is nice when you encounter something beautiful in the daily grind and more importantly, you notice and appreciate it, without being lost in the humdrum of daily routine. I will try to keep my eyes open to notice more of such beauty even if it might be rare in the concrete jungle.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Jodhaa Akbar

Yesterday we watched Jodha Akbar movie. The most heard statement about the movie is that, "It is too long". Yes, it is more than three and a half hours long. But I didn't feel bored at any point of time during the movie. I find it really funny to say that my most favorite part of the movie was the jewelry through out the movie. The costumes were ok but the jewelry was amazing. Also they shot some of the scenes in real palaces I believe.
I completely failed to understand how this film could create controversies because no one is shown in a bad light in the film. I read up the internet and found that some people in Rajasthan find the story inaccurate. Some interesting reads about Akbar during my search : Akbar the great and Akbar the not so great. I think the controversy is only regarding the name of Akbar's wife. It is a quite common understanding that Akbar's favorite wife was a Hindu and that he had married several Rajput princesses.

But at the end of the day (movie), I do not care who Akbar’s wife was. All I care about is that I enjoyed the movie and Ashutosh has made a beautiful movie. The movie keeps its focus on the relationship while showing other important incidents in the life of Akbar. And needless to say, Aishwarya looks extremely beautiful and surprisingly, acts well too. While Hritik is a absolute eye candy for all females. In spite of this, you will forget that you are looking at Hrithik and Ash but you would be looking at Akbar and Jodha. And I also wouldn't like to slot it as a 'romantic' film. In fact, it is difficult to put it into a particular genre.

I hope to watch it again over the weekend. But of course, I wouldn't spend ticket money to watch it twice. I love history. I have always been intrigued by palaces and museums and all that links us to history. Not that I know history too well but I find it immensely fascinating to find out how people lived in those times. And this movie was perfect for a person like me. I know, it might not be completely accurate but I am not interested in accuracy otherwise I would have read history books. :)