Saturday, February 24, 2018

You'll be missed Sri...

It had been a relaxed outing with kids in a park. I was on my way back home, hoping to catch some quiet time, when my phone showed new updates. Breaking News about Sridevi!, it said. I eagerly clicked on it, expecting to hear about new movie plans or some such. Nothing about the news made sense. As it sunk in, I teared up in the subway. Condolences to her fans and the movie industry she grew up in. Condolences to her family and her daughters', on the cusp of their movie careers. They lost an irreplaceable mentor and coach in her. And condolences to my 12 year self who watched and re-watched her movies, mimic-ed her moves, fought her rivalries and felt her losses like only a true fan can.

Life, just like fame, can be so fickle.

Saturday, January 13, 2018


Settling back after a vacation is a bit like breaking up with a lover with mutual consent. You are glad to be back on your own bed, but you experience constant nostalgia. Getting back to a humdrum routine is taking some getting used to this time - specially after a marathon getaway like the one I just had.

I took a walk today, reveling in the cold, fresh air and clear morning sky in the streets. But my mind went back to the muddled, muddy and rain-drenched streets of the medina in Marrakesh. And how it was almost impossible to walk uninterrupted - you had to squeeze aside to dodge scooters coming at breakneck speeds. But oh, how much more arresting and full of happen-chance such walks were. I enjoy the return to my full wardrobe and plentiful supply of clean clothes. But I loved my 3 weeks of haphazard layering, fashion be damned! With no schedule to adhere to, our days were strictly guided by pleasure.

And the highs, oh the highs! Watching the rolling countryside of South Portugal at your feet from a remote hilltop house every morning followed by sunny eggs and coffee by the pool and an improvised game of pong! Walking along one of the most photographed beaches in the world clad in your warmest winter wear and trying to not get your boots wet. Discovering Christmas lights at every turn and still walking along in the promise of more in Seville. Watching your dad and husband race down sand dunes in the Sahara like little kids while the camels' jingle fade in the background. Dancing to Berber drums around a camp fire - and having your parents be a part of it too!

I know that, eventually, the memory of the bad flight back home and the trauma of misplaced luggage will fade. And so will this afterglow of a great vacation. I will 're-integrate' into my practical, busy routine. But the next time I need my dose of Zen, I will be able to shut my eyes and spirit myself away to my heaven for that short, precious time.

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Why I travel

We just got back from a quick 3 day getaway to Bermuda. This vacation will be special for several reasons - an important one being the relative ease with which it got planned. We have never been able to make up our minds about a location this quickly before. But all vacations are not like this, even the quick getaways. I usually put in a considerable amount of time researching a location and while it is eventually rewarding , it also takes a bit of a toll. So here's why it's all worth it for me!

1) A vacation is like an automatic reset. Coming back from a trip, jet-lagged and bleary eyed from the flight , I am still fresher in mind and spirit than before the trip. I have done some mental housekeeping, some consciously but mostly, naturally. 

2) I am a better employee! I am little more patient and punctilious and less likely to open Facebook on my browser ever so often :P My poor, overworked eyes and wrist also benefit greatly from this enforced sabbatical from a computer. 

3) Travelling gives me a somewhat informed point of view. I know a little bit more about the world. Before a recent trip to Sri Lanka, all I knew was that SL is a beautiful, but poor neighbor (to India), torn by internal strife till very recently. A short 5 days in the country revealed that it is not only a self-sufficient country, rich in resources, but it is also implementing eco-tourism in a way India hasn't been able to. I hope to go back to explore another part of this jewel island soon. Some years ago, we spent 2 weeks in Greece, travelling to various parts, settling in to a new round of austerity measures. It was the quiet, hustle-free time of the year, when the summer holiday goers and cruise ships have left. Chatting with locals over complimentary raki and touring their diminished markets, we sensed much of the turmoil that the proud Greek will never reveal. 

4) I get fit! As opposed to working out for a vacation, I do it while vacationing, strange as it might sound. Holidays are about waking up early (or soonish) and hitting the sights and traipsing the streets. So, hello toned legs! No resort stays where one spends time guzzling beer around a pool for us, thanks very much. Saving that for old age!

And of course, I get to explore my wardrobe :P That is high on my list of priorities, despite being last on this list. Can't appear too frivolous, no?

So, why do YOU travel?

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Travel Diary

Even in this remote, cul-de-sac location, I can hear the ice-cream truck! There is no escaping their jingle, come summer! We are in this quaint, waterfront house on  the Peconic river in South Hampton. This AirBnb property is very  modest  from  the outside but reveals a gorgeous, sunny layout from within, with a backyard right on the water.

We are just back from a walk through the ubiquitous Main Street. The summer crowds aren't here yet. No surprise. Despite it being almost mid- April, a temperature of 15 C max. with a chilly breeze pervades. Not beach weather. We brought back lunch from 'Citarella - the local gourmet, prepared food store - and ate in the backyard,  under the sun. Random comfort food, the sort that tastes good but doesn't really gel well, cuisine-wise, - Greek salad, cold Asian noodles and cheese stuffed eggplant. Liquor chocolates for dessert; they come all the way from Sweden, courtsey of good friends. M has retired indoors for a nap, I am savoring the sun a bit longer.The water beckons and glistens. A pair of ducks fly over, from the strip island across, with matter-of-fact curiosity. All is quiet except for the sea gulls and the occasional boat out for an afternoon stroll on the water, their friendly owners waving. All is perfect.

(Slightly improved excerpt from my diary, posted after reading Pico Iyer's 'The Art Of Stillness), at the fag end of summer.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Culinary weekend!

I love food! (even though that is not an association people make when they first see me :) ) So, a weekend where almost every meal was soul-satisfying needs to make it to the blog.

The lucky streak started on Friday. The husband was working from home and so I stirred myself to make more effort over lunch. I am very happy  when I get a chance to put leftovers to use.There was some rice sitting in the fridge, the default accompaniment to every Seamless delivery. Turns out this slight hard, slightly old rice is perfect for quick fried rice. This is the expedited path I followed: Stir fry finely chopped ginger, garlic, onions and then any veggies you might have on hand. I never skimp on the ginger - important to add that punch. Remember to add some sugar as well to help the flavor and add color. Add the rice and the soy sauce soon after. Since soy sauce is salty, taste before adding the salt. Some recipes add in the vinegar at this point. I like to have vinegar separately on the table - in a bowl with chopped green chilies and more ginger.
All of this took me around 20 minutes. Topped off my plate with some stir-fried shrimp as a reward for my efforts while the husband got a sunny-side on his.

Ventured into Williamsburg later in the evening to look for baby clothes for my husband's new nephew. Decided to eat at St. Anselm on a whim. Now, we have visited and liked St. Anselm before. Being vegetarian, however, a restaurant specializing in grilling isn't going to be at the top of our regulars list. But this experience changed that for us. Despite their prohibitive wait-list (2 hours! which we used to find parking and browse baby stores) plus a further 30 minute wait for proper seating (no, I don't want to sit on a hard, tall stool at the bar - not after such a long wait anyway!) St. Anselm delivered. We decided to order a bunch of their appetizers and small plates to get a taste of everything.The peach-tomato salad, the haloumi-pea leaves salad, the spinach gratin were all worth the wait. The charred cauliflower brought back memories of my Dimma's phulkopi jhuri bhaja. The wine, though a tad expensive, perfectly complemented the flavors.We also managed to squeeze in some dessert (what a blessing it is to have expandable tummies!) - vanilla ice-cream with peach pie. Pure bliss! Exactly what a randomly special meal should feel like!

On Saturday, we pigged out at a special rakhi lunch cooked by the m-i-l. Lotus roots (bhe) in a light curry, saag paneer, a very toddler friendly red salad with beets and a great halwa.

Partly out of guilt and partly out of boredom (from over-eating!), we ended up walking all the way from 46th street to 14th. We did make a few pit-stops but since those pertained to shopping, our poor feet did not get any rest. When we finally reached Williamsburg, we were thirsty (and hungry again.) A quiet, airy pub beckoned. Williamsburg has tons of these cute establishments. Ordered wine with a small appetizer of Welsh rarebit. Really savored both the refreshments and the ambiance.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Day 1

Tampa/St. Pete's for the New Year's! I wanted to have an unplanned vacation this time. So it feels good to have such an unplanned, fun, first day.

1) Took an early morning walk on a beach. This is an all-time favorite of mine. Correction: It wasn't really early, more like noon. But pretty early for the 1st of January :) It wasn't even a beach really. Just a stretch of sand overlooked by a much-frequented local bar/cafe on the water. We had sea-gulls for company. And a variety of other shore birds, in fact. The ice-cream lady was just setting up her stand. Another holiday couple held hands and whispered. A few older groups parked on the far side and chatted. Later, we grabbed a drink at the cafe as people came in for brunch.

2) Explored a 'vintage' house at length. Our base here is a spacious and cozy outhouse built atop a garage in an old part of St. Pete's. The interiors are a treasure trove of vintage furniture and knick-knacks collected by the hostess over the years. Everything from the ceiling fan to the can-opener is quaint and old-worldly. There are tons of quirky books (I spotted a 1940s edition of the Girl Scout Handbook!) and a 'sewing room' with a closet full of vintage chic! What more can a girl ask for! There is also a ukulele with a manual for quick learning. I don't think I can go back to staying in a hotel room again. Strongly recommend AirBnb to add character to your holiday!

3) Drove around at night and watched beautiful homes. Now this makes me sound voyeuristic  and creepy but I am sure this is a common enough sentiment. This part of town is packed with gorgeous old houses. I love lit windows, cozy living rooms with lamps and bookshelves and paintings, Christmas decorations, people dining at set tables with vases...Besides, every once a while we took a turn and reached the glimmering water. What's not to love?

I also did some things I loved yesterday. Namely: read a good book straight through the flight (Murakami's book on running, if you must know). I rarely get the luxury to read at a stretch, having to break away to keep an eye on dinner or the subway stop. We also made and enjoyed a nye's plan with minimal research. I am always thrilled when that happens. (Dinner at the hotel restaurant which was exceptionally good and a movie in bed - NightCrawler which was good too. Perfect for the weary traveller.)
 And my last favorite thing for today? I wrote my first blog post of the year :)

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Nonsense ki Night!

A very fun week-night catching a movie at Times Square!

Being away from home, I miss most Bollywood releases, unless Netflix obliges. The few I do watch at the theaters are much less fun, being in pardes.  Having a noisy, fun-loving audience around you increases appreciation of an inane-but fun movie. In my case, it is especially hard to enjoy a movie with the husb. - he is great one for eye-rolling/yawning/fidgeting/scratching/stretching during a movie and that does not increase my enjoyment.

Anyway, so I decided to watch HNY to give myself  a break during a busy work week. I decided to ditch the husb. for a fun gf.  Very smart decision. We laughed at almost every joke and drooled in unison at SRK. My expectations were also realistic - I knew what I was getting into (having watched Chennai Express last year).  We had such a great time! So here is why you should watch Happy New Year too!

Because - SRK really has 10-pack abs. (I didn't know it was possible, but I counted).
Because - Deepika is so like-able.
Because - 'Mera Pyar Shalimar' (ROFL)
Because - I love snake dance,
Because - It is so bad, it's good!