Pure Randomness!

Pure Randomness!

Friday, December 21, 2012

Beaded Easter Eggs

It is neither Easter nor the International Egg day (there is indeed a day like that, it is the second Friday of October every year), then why an Easter egg post? I need to complete 20 posts in 2012, that's the only reason. I am too lazy to do something new and post and the few things in my draft will take more effort to complete. One another topic I wanted to write about is just too serious for a day on which the world is supposed to end. So what is better than writing about something I have done ages back.
This must be the easiest thing you can do with beads and the final output is pretty. May be that's why I ended up making 3 otherwise it is very difficult for me to do the same thing twice. I am in a mood to assume that someone out there is actually going to do this. So I am writing this as instructions for you to do it.

How to make beaded Easter eggs
Cast of characters
You would need egg shells, seed beads, nylon thread, glue and a very thin needle.

Step 1: Do this step as and when you use the eggs, either for baking that cake or for the egg bhurji.
Make 2 holes at the 2 ends of the egg shell and get the egg out by blowing at one end. I just don't remember what I used for making the holes, but you are resourceful enough. Put the egg shell(s) in soap solution and clean thoroughly. Leave aside for drying for a couple of days.
Step 2: Create long strings of seed beads by stringing the beads into a nylon thread. I actually made a bead threader for this out of a plastic container and a broken peace of plastic rod from a hanger (see it in the cast picture). In this put the beads in the plastic container, dip the needle into it and use the plastic rod to rotate it like a top. The beads will get stringed into the needle 7-8 at a time. The only problem is if there are beads with too small a hole which doesn't go through the needle, then you have to take the beads off and discard and continue.
Step3: Apply glue on top of the dried egg shell and start pasting the bead thread. Getting the start correct is a little difficult, persevere there after that it is easy. Keep applying the glue and winding the bead thread till the whole egg is covered. Keep aside for drying for a few days.
Mine are all plain single coloured ones. Many variations are possible and your imagination is the limit.

After all the world didn't end today; I really do not know whether it is a good thing or bad.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Sprinkles: yellow, white and pink

When my chocolate bar got over, I went to 'Bakers Needs' for a refill and found a bottle filled with really colourful sprinkles up in the front of the shop. I was tempted to get some and I could imagine how it would look on top a cake with snow white icing. Hm, does it really matter that I have never even once done any icing on any of the cakes I have ever baked. I can still imagine and do have plans.
After I have made my own colour from beetroot, I decided to try my hands on making some sprinkles too. I could think about 3 colours; the pink I have made, white by keeping it plain and yellow by adding some turmeric (though it turned peach instead), may be some brown too with some coffee or cocoa powder. When I did it I made the first 3 and one darker version of pink by adding a little extra beet paste. I was pretty disappointed with the pink I got from the colour I made from beetroot, it just dint match the colour I had in my head.
When I went about searching for instructions, everywhere I encountered the same 5 ingredients - powdered sugar, egg white, essence, colour and salt. The instructions looked easy like a breeze but doing it turned out to be something altogether different. First the one egg white looked too little for 1 cup of sugar powder. But when I mixed it together it was indeed enough or may be a little too much as the paste became a little runny. I was worried that the lines will run into each other after I piped them out, it did a little.

By the time I finished piping the dark pink the white was already looking dried on top, anyway I left it to dry for 24 hours as instructed. After that when I started taking the sprinkles off the paper, the only one which would come off is the peach one, none of the others would. I had to roll the whole paper and dump it inside the dust bin.

I couldn't give up on my sprinkles just like that. So after a few days I tried the beet colour again, this time it became purple. The piping bag felt so constipated, I got a wrist pain once I finished piping. Then I figured that my powdered sugar is not fine enough and made another set with glucose and kept it white. This time instead of piping them out on butter paper I piped them onto lightly greased steel plate and rubbed them off from the plate when it was dry.

The final results were not that bad, though the whole thing turned out to be an adventure I was not prepared for. I started imagining yellow, white and pink and ended up with peach, white and purple. Anyway they have gone inside the fridge in an airtight bottle till I decide on what to do with it.
The natural colours are so lame. I would have loved to get some real bright colours in there. I hope I will be able to find some non carcinogenic colours which I can trust and then I will make some real good looking sprinkles soon.
Now the next question is where am I going to do with it? May be it is time for the checkerboard cake with snow white icing and sprinkles on top.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Colour me pink

I love food, but I don't like food which looks too coloured as alarms start ringing in my head the moment I see the colour. When we go out to restaurants where they serve coloured food I make sure that I specify not to add any colour while I place the order itself. So I am too scared to use colour in my cooking as well, as I keep hearing about the carcinogenic chemicals in the colours. So when I see a recipe with colour in it, I usually skip the colour and end up with something inferior to the expected result. The colour does matter.
So I decided to make some colour of my own and the first thing came to my mind was beetroot. Next time I went out shopping, I got myself half a kg of beetroot. Then it sat in the fridge for quite some days. One day I took it out and then it sat at my kitchen counter for days enough to make them sprout.

When I showed the sprouted beets to Shyam, he wanted to plant them in the garden.

I gave him the sprouts and peeled and cut the beets into cubes which I fed into my food processor.

My ancient processor took almost 10 minutes to get a paste out of it. I filtered the paste to get the juice out. I got a cup of juice from the 3 beets.

I can't add that directly to any recipe without altering the water content in the recipe, which matters quite a bit when it comes to baking. So I heated the juice to get as much water out as possible. I reduced the juice  to 1/4th cup, but then I started seeing black marks at the back of the spoon and got a little worried that I might get all the pink pigment in the beet juice to turn black by boiling it too much.

Then I decided to dry it the way I do with certain other stuff (like sweetened ginger mush left over from making ginger lemon syrup), shove it into the fridge uncovered. There it sat for a week as I traveled for a few days and when I was back I got something I could call a paste. I decided to store that in the same vessel as moving it would mean losses and after seeing the amount of colour paste I got from my half a kg of beet I dint want to lose any.

In the meanwhile the beet sprouts which Shyam has planted have grown to a nice size.

The idea was to use this colour and make something before I write up this blog. But I don't know when I will end up doing that and I just don't feel like waiting. I have a few ideas in my head, like making some sprinkles with the colour and also a checkerboard cake. But thinking about the effort involved, I just don't feel like starting either of them. Let it be for tomorrow.

In case you feel adventurous enough to try this, do wear gloves while handling the beets especially if you are looking forward to attending that party in the evening, as they stain very badly. Wear an apron too as I do not know what will happen to beet stain on clothes. I dint wear one, but I couldn't figure out what happens to beet stain luckily and very uncharacteristically for me, as I dint stain my clothes. Use steel vessels as the staining part is true for  porcelain or plastic vessels too, not just clothes.
In case you do it let me know of the results and also what you did with the colour.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Castillian Hot Chocolate: The microwave version

I had a few people commenting on my blog telling me that either they have tried or they are planning to try my Castillian hot chocolate recipe. Those who came back after trying it, had good things to tell. So this time when I had excess milk in the fridge, I decided to make it again, but this time in the microwave. My sister came back asking for the measures in cups and spoons as she doesn't have a weighing scale. So I halved the recipe, measured with cups and spoons and weighed the ingredients.

I mixed everything in my half liter milk bowl. I knew it was going to overflow if I dint pay attention. My maid suddenly decided it was the right time to show her dismay with my overflowing cutlery drawer and wanted me to help her pick the things which I don't use regularly out of that so she could store them somewhere else. I moved from in front of the microwave for less than 30 seconds and the hot chocolate was overflowing making my microwave a mess. So make sure you use a one liter bowl or bigger for this recipe.

Castillian Hot Chocolate 
Milk                  - 2 cups
Cocoa powder - 4tbsp
Sugar              - 1/4 cup
Corn flour        - 1tbsp
water               - 1/4 cup

Mix the corn flour with water without forming lumps. Mix the cocoa powder and sugar in a deep microwave dish. Pour the cornflour mixture into this, mix well. Pour the milk to this, mixing all the time till there are no lumps remaining. Microwave on high for 5-6 minutes, stirring every one minute. The mixture would thicken and look glossy and coat the back of the spoon. Serve hot.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Yogurt vs Curd

Sour Curd from my kitchen
The whole discussion started with a colleague’s obsession with B12 vitamins. So while we were discussing the sources of B12, he mentioned curd has it. Seeing another colleague having a Danone yogurt cup in his hand, he told that even better is yogurt. When I asked what is the difference between yogurt and curd, he mentioned that they are different, but he doesn’t know in what way. The quintessence of curiosity that I am, I can’t settle a discussion like that and I went searching for what is the difference between yogurt and curd. I always thought they both are the same. After checking Wikipedia and few other links, I came to the conclusion that they both are indeed the same. In Wikipedia it is also mentioned in the curd page that in India the word curd always means plain yogurt and is called dahi in Hindi. I have heard people calling it as ‘curds’ also.
Actual curd is the product from the process of curdling milk in which the whey separates from the solids in milk and is usually done by mixing lime juice or vinegar into hot milk. But in India what we call curd is what in English is yogurt. The only difference I still can think of between the yogurt in India and from somewhere else could be the strains of bacteria found in them.
Even after presenting these facts to the colleague, he was not ready to consider the possibility that they could be the same. He wanted me to prove it by making curd out of yogurt. I forwarded the link for ‘Adamant in ignorance’ to him. I told him that if he can manage to get me a cup of yogurt in which there are active cultures, I will be able to make curd out of that and show. He also mentioned that the texture and consistency of both are different. The commercially available yogurt is not plain yogurt most of the time, there are thickening agents like gelatin and starch added in. It is also mentioned in the Wikihow for making yogurt. I also forwarded this link to my colleague. So after deliberating for a few days he told me that I might have a point in what I am telling. So we rested the case.
A few days later after coming back from lunch he declared that all except one agree to my view on yogurt and curd. And this new entrant thinks that it is so different that it is not even worth discussing.

NE, as long as you think it is not worth discussing let’s not discuss. But let me tell again, what most of us Indians call as curd is same as yogurt. Now it is up to you to come to me and prove it that it is not. I have stopped being adamant in my ignorance some time back, so I will not be surprised if you prove to me that they are indeed different, I am open to such a possibility.
In the meanwhile, my readers please let me know what you think.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Mango Badam Smoothie

After I had a bout of stomach problem which didn't seem to subside even after the course of antibiotic I took, Shyam declared the next day to be a fruit diet day. We can only eat fruits and vegetables. I was a little apprehensive as I am used to eating 3-4 meals a day, stomach upset or not, and have never done any kind of dieting in which I have to skip meals. The next day after we finished eating the coconut dosa, he remembered about our fruit diet and the rest of the day was further declared as a fruit diet day. So when I got tired of eating papaya and mango, I decided to do something more than just eating cut fruits. I dint have my D90 charged, so I decided to take pictures with my mobile phone instead. I later realised how bad that idea was, you will realise too when see the pictures.  
I inaugurated my recently bought wine glasses by serving the smoothie in those. That was not a bad idea indeed.
Those cardamoms are from my garden, can you believe it :)


Mango           - 1 medium sized (400gms), peeled and cut into pieces
(I used a Banganapalli)
Low fat milk   - 1 Cup, chilled
Sugar            - 1 tbsp
Cardamom     - 3
Almonds        - 15 small, blanched
Saffron          - a few strands (optional)

Grind the cardamoms together with the sugar. Add the almonds and make a paste by adding a tablespoonful of milk. Add the mangoes and a make a smooth paste by adding the milk half cup at a time. Pour or spoon them into goblets and sprinkle the saffron on top, if using.

The smoothie was licked out of the glasses. May be next time I will make it thinner and call it mango badam milkshake, that way there is no danger of broken wine glass in anybody's mouth.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

The class syndrome

Yohan's Xmas tree in the making
I usually sit there reading my book, how much ever long the flight is. It is not my cup of tea to chat with my co passenger, I am too introverted. But when I sat there and read a 7th grade text book in a flight and my co passenger made his curiosity obvious, I would not be the one to say no to a short chat either. So I explained to him what Teach For India is and what I was doing. I was just returning from my summer vacation and I was reading the text books I needed to teach the next academic year, so that I could prepare my long term plans for the year.
My co passenger found it all very interesting and was more curious to know what kind of kids I taught. So I gave him the profile of my kids. When he asked me why don't we provide them with vocational training rather than teaching them Math and English, I explained to him that there is nothing wrong with these kids' IQ or capabilities and given the right education they will come into the mainstream. That's when he shocked me by asking why do you want to bring them into the mainstream. Then he went on to explain that there is already a lack of opportunity, scarcity of jobs in the market. By bringing more people into the mainstream we are only making it more difficult to everyone. Now there will be more people fighting for the same jobs. If these kids learn Math and English they will not be interested in doing what their parents were doing and those jobs also need getting done.
I was fuming by then and still tried to reason with him telling that what we are doing is trying to create a level playing field, where no one is having an undue advantage just because he or she was born into an affluent family. If the people who are forced to do menial jobs disappear, then technology will have to take some part of their work. For the rest the dignity of labour and the wages will improve, so no one will feel bad about of doing them any more. 
He just wouldn't rest his case even when we were walking out of the flight. At the end of it he looked almost angry at me. I don't get angry with anyone very fast. But he had managed to tick me off. I asked him about his kids and he told me he has 2, one is 8 years old and the other 4. I told him that I am very sorry that his kids will have a tough time getting a job, as we are so damn bend up on making the kids of the rickshaw drivers and vegetable vendors also capable of being Engineers, Doctors and much more. I walked away wondering whether it was that same thought which made him feel so angry about what I was doing. 

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

RTE and my blue aluminum lunch box

Ankita's 'I want to be a teacher' poster
I have more questions than answers. But I will start with a small snippet from my yet to be written autobiography. 
May be more than half the 2nd standard has done the migration from aluminum to steel lunch boxes. I am talking about the year 1980 -1981, no one brought plastic lunch boxes to school at those times. I still carried my blue aluminum lunch box. That lunch box might have given me a feeling that I didn't belong to the majority who carried steel lunch boxes. I don't remember now, but it is quite possible that I sat and had lunch with others who had aluminum lunch boxes. I do remember my lunch box every time I see any car in a particular metallic blue colour and get a sinking feeling in my tummy even now.
Some might think otherwise, but kids are a gang who is acutely aware of class division. So when we place the kids from a low income background with the ones from high income background, do we expect automatic integration of both. I don't think anyone is naive enough to think that it will be easy to integrate them when the 25% low income students are welcomed into the high income schools. But how difficult would that be, do we have an idea?
I have met and interviewed an awesome lady who has started a school in which she takes half of the students from affluent background and the other half from the other spectrum. She has started the school 4 years back. But she agreed regretfully that she is still struggling with the problem of integration. The rich kids and poor kids hung around separately from each other and she just didn't have an idea how to solve it. Remember these are kids of parents who are fully aware of the noble intentions of the school and have decided to send their kids to this school possibly because of that or at least irrespective of that. 
Now when the rich schools are forced to take poor kids, with all the resistance from the rich parents, will there be any integration at all? Are the poor kids going to be treated differently than the rich kids? Are they going to be segregated? Shouldn't someone really figure out the psychological aspects of this move before we push forward with this in the next academic year? 
As I said in the beginning, I have only questions. May be someone out there has the answers! Do you?

Monday, April 9, 2012

To B or not to B

While discussing with a few of my friends my post on 'boob watching' by men, the question came about the cup sizes. These women in question have much more than 'barely there'. I was really surprised to hear that they all are Bs. So who ever has named B as 'barely there' do not know the technicalities of the sizes. It looks like a size B can also be quite sizable based on the size of the body they are fitted on. Narrating this to a friend inspired her to draw this cartoon.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Adamant in ignorance

"Oh sure! Water can explode!" I exclaimed after hearing that water which was taken out from a microwave oven after heating, exploded on some one's face. I might not have even gone and searched it on the web. Then one day it happened to me. I heated the water in a beer mug in the microwave. After I opened the door, while I was just about to take the mug out, my phone rang. I went and got the phone and was walking towards the oven while answering the call, the water burst out from the mug drenching in and around the microwave. I just stood there shocked and reported it to my friend who was at the other end of the call. This was a very humbling experience and made me look at 'knowledge' in a completely new light.
I remembered about this incident when I was talking about 'Tuberculoid leprosy' to someone very close to me. His immediate reaction was there can't be anything like that, as tuberculosis is a lung disease. May be the fact that I was talking to him on April 1st also had an effect as in the previous one hour I had heard 'April fool' at least 13 times. He might have thought that I was also trying to pull a fast one on him. Then I realised may be he has never had a 'water explosion' moment in his life to think that anything is possible.
That was a mild reaction when compared to how two of my colleagues from Singapore reacted to the pins on the power plug of my laptop, when I reached their office for a meeting. They almost rolled on the floor laughing and telling 'round, round, round plugs'. In Singapore the plug pins were rectangular. I was amused by their reaction as I had seen various shapes, sizes and pin alignments on power plugs by then.

I have won money, play station games and whiskey bottles (for friends of course) by telling 'bet' at the right time with some of these people. Then last week while discussing cars with a friend, we were talking about Volkswagen Beetle and he commented that it is bigger than the Volkswagen Vento which we have just passed by. I argued for a few minutes and left it thinking he will figure it out or may be I am wrong. He indeed figured it out and told me a day or 2 later that I was correct. Then I realised that after my 'water explosion' incident I am not even sure about things I am sure about, my being adamant in my knowledge is diminished so much that I have stopped telling 'bet' any more. May be it is a good thing, may be it is not.

Refer Hoax Slayer for more details on microwave water explosion.
Read about different types of power plugs in Wikipedia.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Get your eyes off my ....

There are a few studies and reports which say, staring at breasts increase the longevity of men. Anyway there is no secret about men and their obsession with breasts. But this doesn't give any man a right to openly stare. I don't know how many women face this problem, but I am 100% sure that I am not the only one. So when my friend was telling me about a common friend asking her boss whether there is any problem out there when he started talking to her boobs, I said I need to get it out here too.

You will always see some eyes gliding there, but the glance is averted instantaneously. If the averting is done with a slightly guilty look then 'Thank you very much'. But here I am not talking about the did-he-look-there glance.

Once I went to a colleague to discuss something. Since it was a Saturday, I was not in my usual  formals, but a t-shirt slightly tighter than the stuff I usually wear. For 3 minutes he talked to my boobs. After that I went and checked myself in the washroom and also checked with a female colleague. She confirmed, nothing wrong. I am a B, means barely there. So I thought, may be this is the first time he
is realising that I have something there. Though I thought 3 minutes is a pretty long time to check and confirm.

Recently again when I had to discuss something with a colleague, I went ".. and the boards will have to be..... (oh, where is he looking).. ready by then ... (oh shit, are his eyes stuck)... or else we will ... (I want to scream).. not have enough time to .... (What is he thinking? "Oh my god, my eyes  are glued. But you please continue talking to me, I can multitask") ... test everything before the ... (run, run, just run)..." And I walked away from there.

Next time if it ever happens again, I will ask the same question 'is there anything wrong there?'. May be, may be, I will feel bold enough to do that.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Let it rain

Rain, oh please let it rain
The earth might be cracking
The trees might be dry
But my heart is so thirsty
I can almost cry
Rain, oh please let it rain
I wait for the scent of earth
I wait for the sound on my roof
I wait for the lightning
Then the thunder
And once all the downpour is over
The drops that are hanging
On edge of the leaves
Rain, oh please let it rain

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Things I learnt today - 3

Have you ever waited for rain just because you wanted the scent that follows? I have done that. I am currently doing it as the rain clouds are playing hide and seek for the last 2-3 days. But did you know that the scent of the earth after the first shower is called petrichor? This smell derives from an oil exuded by certain plants during dry periods, whereupon it is absorbed by clay-based soils and rocks. During rain, the oil is released into the air along with another compound, geosmin, producing the distinctive scent. This oil retards seed germination and early plant growth. Information courtesy, as always, Wikipedia.

Have you ever seen a person with irises of two different colours, one green, one blue? Or an animal? Heterochromia iridum is the name of the phenomenon. Read more about it in Wikipedia.

One last snippet for the cook in me:
Basil is originally from India, though it is more used in Italian cuisine.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Castillian Hot Chocolate

In my last post about Sorrento, I mentioned about my hot chocolate which is even better than the Caffe Positano hot chocolate we had. It is extremely easy and tastes like heaven. 
There was a time when my daily news came from Times of India and that carried a weekly foodline column. When ever I found any interesting recipe in that, I cut and kept them. My Chocolate pudding cake recipe came from there, so did this Castillian Hot Chocolate. Times of India stopped foodline quite some time back and I stopped reading Times of India around 6 months back. But these recipes are gonna stay with me forever.

Castillian Hot Chocolate 
Milk                 - one litre
Cocoa powder - 55gms
Sugar               - 180gms (reduce it by 20-25gms if you like it less sweet)
Corn flour        - 25gms
water                - 120ml

Take the corn flour in a heavy bottomed pan. Add the water little by little and mix it without lumps. Add the sugar and cocoa powder and mix it. Pour in the milk stirring continuously. Heat it till it boils and simmer it for 10 minutes till the mixture has thickened and looks glossy.

I usually half the recipe and make and it yields 3 cups, but serves only 2 as I can't really stop at one cup. Try it, if you are a chocoholic, you would love it. 

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Sorrento: Giant tomatoes, sunsets and oranges

After the picture tour of Rome and eating the best pizza in Naples, Sorrento was our next destination. Running behind a small truck, filled with vegetables, was the first thing I did after I landed in Meta di Sorrento. I had seen a vegetable in the truck which I had not seen earlier, or so I thought. So I landed up in the vegetable shop, puffing and panting, following the truck after running for a kilometer. The lady at the counter told me it is pomodoro, and showed me a smaller tomato, when she realised that I dint understand what a pomodoro is. There I bought the tomato and brought it to our home stay, to my friends' amazement.
My mobile posing with the heirloom tomato
The home stay where we stayed had the best sunset view of all the places during this trip. We took our evening tea, stood, clicked and contemplated at the balcony in silence.
Sunset at Meta

For the visit to the Amalfi Coast we hired a car and drove from Sorrento. I was the designated driver and ended up driving looking straight ahead while others enjoyed the view. The roads were pretty winding and I needed to keep the car on the road without rolling down the hills. Once in a while I ended up looking at the view while driving, to the absolute horror of my friends. They all wanted to drive the car, but after seeing the winding roads and the beautiful view, none of them drove.

Driver has a horrible tan

Driver had her moments too
I had the best hot chocolate at Caffe Positano, the only hot chocolate which can beat that, is my own hot chocolate, for which I will post the recipe later.

Waiting for the hot chocolate

Reflective mood after the hot chocolate

Beautiful view from Positano

Amalfi Coast
I just realised that I do not have a picture capturing the beauty of Amalfi Coast and Wikipedia has a beautiful panoramic picture.
Sunset at Sorrento beach
We had been seeing these oranges hanging on the road side trees for a long time. We had not managed to pluck any oranges as they were always at unreachable heights. After watching the sunset at the Sorrento beach when we were walking back, we again stood around the trees staring at the oranges.
Preets can't reach the orange
After seeing my Iowa State Cyclones sweat shirt, 2 Amercians struck up a conversation with us, telling they were from Iowa. After some time, we asked them to help us get the orange. After jumping up for sometime they shrugged their shoulders and told us that it was not possible. Preeti retorted, "May be you dint try hard enough". After looking around for a minute, one of them lifted up his daughter to the tree and she reached and plucked the orange for us.
This time I try hard enough!
 We left from Sorrento the next day morning with hearts contend with giant tomatoes, delicious hot chocolate, beautiful drive, radiant sunsets and helpful Americans who would try hard enough when pushed.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Stop! I will give you the password!

A friend of mine, who has been following my blog for some time now, complained recently that my blogs have become too girly now a days. Here comes one more girly one. The ones on which he has complained were on cooking, which were not really that girly, considering there are as many male cooks around as there are female ones, or more. But this one is going to a beauty parlour, can it get any more girly? Dedicated to you, Mr.

I go to the beauty parlour once in 6 months. I have established here already earlier that I am an extremely lazy person. Remember, my friends told me not getting my hairy arms waxed is sacrilegious to the very idea of being a woman? But I haven't started doing that yet. But on every fourth visit I decide to do a facial. That is every once in 2 years, see I have done the math for you.

I like the shoulder and upper back massage she gives me. May be next time I will just ask her to continue doing that for the whole one hour. But then she turns me over, starts chanting the name of all the concoctions and starts applying those on my face.
Torture weapon
Then comes the comedo extractor (I figured out the name of that recently). That is when I become the protector of the worst nuclear device. I am the only one with the password which can launch the device. The lady starts torturing me by trying to loop the extractor through my nose walls and lower lips. I grind my teeth and refuse to give the password. Arggghhhhh... She gives me a nasty look and continues. After the ordeal is over, I come out of the room huffing and puffing, when she looks at my upperlip and asks me, "Shall I thread?". Oh no! One more time I need to hold the password in. I am really surprised that that night I don't wake up shouting, "Stop! I will give you the password".

I get out of there swearing and promising myself that I am never ever going to put myself through this torture again, only to come back after 2 years trying to get the password out to those people who want to destroy the world!!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

And the award goes to.....

It is a funny feeling to get an award for blogging. I have seen a lot of the blogs I follow, having awards they have got posted on their blogs. I always thought of them as professional bloggers. I am just an amateur. I blog for the fun of it, nothing more, nothing less. But then I still got the Versatile Blogger from Malini Rajesh. Thank You so much Malini.
But then, this is kind of a chain award. Bloggers pass on this award to other bloggers. Now the disbeliever and the digger I am, I wanted to figure out who has started this award and how long it has been going on. I went searching in google and the earliest I could reach was May 16th 2010. The blog from which she has got the award had gone defunct and there the trail went cold. So, I decided to just play along.
There are rules too, to be followed for this chain to stay alive.
  1. Nominate 15 Fellow Bloggers
  2. Inform the Bloggers of their nomination
  3. Share 7 random things about yourself
  4. Thank the Blogger who nominated you
  5. Add the Versatile Blog Award picture to your blog post
So here is my list of 10 versatile bloggers, either I consider them versatile or their blog versatile or both.

1. Aparna of My Diverse Kitchen
2. Gayatri of Life. Unordinary
3. Anupama of Easel and Bytes
4. Divya of Easy Cooking
5. Janaki of Sincro Station
6. Priyanka of Slice of Life
7. Shaheen of The Purple Foodie
8. Nehal of Bibliophile
9. Nags of Edible Garden
10. Ria of Ria's collection
too lazy..

I found 10 versatile blogs and 5 of them are exclusive food blogs (versatile in their cooking, though). That must be telling something about me, burppp.

Now comes the hard stuff. 7 random things about me. Huh!
I asked Shyam to tell me 7 random facts about me and the first one went "You are weird" and then "You are straight forward". So I would rather make my own list, he is of no much help here.

1.When I start talking to some one new, sometimes I can go on talking for about 4 minutes before he or she cries, "you are a mallu".
2. When I go to a buffet meal, I first go check out the dessert counter to see how much starters or main course I should eat.
3. I have watched the movie "My cousin Winnie" 58 times.
4. The senior girls in my school used to call me 'half nut' and I still don't know why.
5. My favourite colour is lilac and so is half my wardrobe.
6. I love tattoos and getting tattooed, but... :(
7. I am the laziest person I have ever seen.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

In a Sunburned Country

I liked the book 'A short history of nearly everything' and liked the author's style. So when I asked for recommendations on any other books of his, my friend suggested 'In a Sunburned Country', a travelogue on Australia. I didn't waste any time in ordering it and got the book in 3-4 days time (thanks to Flipkart). This is the book through which I fell in love with Bill Bryson and his humour.
Of all the types of humour, I like the self-deprecating type. Bryson scores there, hands down. Here is an excerpt about his jet-lagged self falling asleep on a trip to see the city of Sydney.
"I am not, I regret to say, a discreet and fetching sleeper. Most people when they nod off look as if they need a blanket; I look as if I could do with medical attention. I sleep as if injected with a powerful experimental muscle relaxant. My legs fall open in a grotesque come-hither manner; my knuckles brush the floor. Whatever is inside - tongue, uvula, moist bubbles of intestinal air - decides to leak out. From time to time, like one of those nodding duck toys, my head tips forward to empty a quart or so of viscous drool onto my lap, then falls back to begin loading again with a noise like a toilet cistern filling. And I snore, hugely and helplessly, like a cartoon character, with rubbery flapping lips and prolonged steam-valve exhalations. For long periods I grow unnaturally still, in a way that inclines onlookers to exchange glances and lean forward in concern, then dramatically I stiffen and, after a tantalizing pause, begin to bounce and jostle in a series of whole-body spasms of the sort that bring to mind an electric chair when the switch is thrown. Then I shriek once or twice in a piercing and effeminate manner and wake up to find that all motion within five hundred feet has stopped and all children under eight are clutching their mothers' hems. It is a terrible burden to bear."
I haven't laughed rolling on the floor reading a book for a long time. With this book, once I started I couldn't stop. So when my neighbour called up and menacingly told "satham podathe" (don't make noise), I really thought I was laughing too loud. Only after a few seconds it occurred to me that she was telling the name of the movie which we were planning to watch the next day.
The conversation which followed after the author was asked to take photograph while looking at a 56 feet giant lobster perched at the side of a highway:
'You can tell people it's an engagement photo,' I suggested.

He liked the idea. 'Yeah!' he said keenly. 'Meet the fiancee. She's not much for looks or conversation, but jeez can she scuttle!'

'At Wauchop there's a Big Bull,' he added.

I raised my eyebrows in a way that said: 'Oh yes?'

He nodded fondly. 'It's testicles swing in the breeze.'

'It has testicles?' I said, impressed.

'I'll say. If they fell on you, you wouldn't get up in a hurry.'

We took an extended moment to savor this image. 'It would make an interesting insurance claim, I suppose,' I observed at last.

'Yeah!' He liked this idea, too. "Or a newspaper headline: "Man crushed by falling bollocks".'

'"By falling bullocks' bollocks",' I offered.
I can keep writing more from the book, but then that's not the idea. So go ahead, get it. It is worth having in your library. Or call me up and come over and you can borrow my copy.

Monday, January 9, 2012

The best pizza ever!

So Naples is off our list of places to visit after some deliberation. We read in various reviews that the place is still filthy and the garbage problem is still not taken care of. But fate would have it that we land up in Naples for our connecting train to Sorrento on a day of strike and we were stranded there for a few hours. So we decided to make use of the time as effectively as possible. 
After dumping the luggage in lockers we decided to go in search of pizza. Our guidebook suggested Pizzeria Sorbillo Antonio E Gigi as the top one. We decided we didn't want anything lesser than the top one. We found the place in the map and started walking. It was a pretty long walk from the railway station and after asking 18 people for the way, we ended up in front of the place. We were tired after the long walk. The place was densely packed, with a lot of youngsters making merry over pizza and beer. 
Live band inside Gigi Sorbillo
Eating out with 2 vegetarians and one pseudo non-vegetarian is painful. I decided to order a pepperoni pizza. That means I have to eat the whole pizza. Once we started eating I realised, the whole walk, the wait and the ordering of the whole pizza was indeed worth it. I not only enjoyed the pizza (look at the size of it), I enjoyed even the last bite, though I knew I was eating more than double the amount of food I usually eat. I told my friends that it was the best pizza I have ever eaten in my life and I had to tell this to the chef. So while walking out we watched the handsome duo in action. One stretched the dough, made the base, filled the sauce, toppings and cheese. The other moved each of the prepared pizza into the wood oven and out of it. They posed for us and with us and I also told them that it is the best ever pizza I have had in my life. I could not have been the first one to tell them that, but that made them happy still. 

I did the walk back to the railway station in a dream and promised myself that I am going to come back to Naples to eat pizza again. So if you ever end up in Naples you know what to do. We indeed saw garbage piled up sky high on the streets of Naples. But when you can eat the best pizza ever in the world, you forgive and forget.
Here is the address:
Antonio e Gigi Sorbillo
Via Tribunal, 38 Napoli,
80138 Italy

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Resolutions those were not meant to be!

It is another new year. Another resolution time. Long time back I have taken the mother of all resolutions that I will never make any new year resolutions. It had made life so much easier. But this year suddenly I felt like breaking the old resolution and making some new resolutions. What do I want to change! Hm, good question. Let me think.
1. Refurbish the house. I moved into my new house in 2003 December. May be it is time I furnish it properly, put up proper drapes, make the under the staircase aquarium. Phew! That indeed sounds like a lot of work. Let that wait.

2. I used to read a lot of books earlier. But it has fallen over the last couple of years. May be it is time I made sure I read at least 15 pages every day. That way I might finish all the books I have bought and kept in the next 4 to 5 years. Too much work? May be not. What if I ended up travelling again, can't commit. Let that wait too.

3. Too long since some wax has seen my legs and a thread has seen my eyebrows. My friends with whom I have traveled Europe have told me after seeing my hairy arms that, it is sacrilegious to being a woman to have hair on arms. Oops, I really didn't know that. May be I should start waxing my arms too. Ooh, that really sounds like too much work again.

4. Half my garden is empty. May be I should fill it up with some really beautiful flower plants. Ooh, too much work.

5. I should finish up the half finished painting, the half finished bead and thread works. Now you sort of get the point. Too much work.

6. Stay away from the laptop after reaching home. Really? Should I?

7. Exercise. It seems, this is the second most popular new year resolution. I am surprised, I thought this would be the most popular. Anyway, after my badminton partners have started showing "attitude", I have stopped playing regularly. It is not that I am bad, I do beat them once in a while, but then they are, you know, "men". There went the only exercise I could do without feeling I am exercising. Finding another one, again looks like TMW indeed.

8. Have a baby? TMW.
9. Start the school. TMW.
10. Dulce Cuppy Cakes? TMW.

I think, the lazy bum I am, is better off really just continuing how it is now. The mother of all resolutions will stay. May be let me go through 2012 like this itself and if the world doesn't end on December 21st, I will think up a list for 2013.
I always say "When the pain of not changing exceeds the pain of changing (read TMW), you will automatically change".