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message in a bottle (02.2003 - 09.2008)

message in a bottle (02.2003 - 09.2008) -

Last Build Date: Wed, 03 Sep 2008 06:56:01 GMT


Moving – Lock, Stock, and Barrel

Wed, 03 Sep 2008 06:56:01 GMT

 As a blogger, one takes great satisfaction in knowing that one is being read. Live Journal, with its friends list and extremely user friendly comments system guaranteed a certain audience to even the sorriest of my posts. However, it is now trying very hard to push me away and this morning, it succeeded. 

While trying out Chrome, I realized that unless I am logged in to LJ, I see tons of ugly ads on my page. Now, I have the basic account, with no extra user icons, that promises an ad-free Web page. So why is that everyone else can see ads on my web page? 

I am going to miss it. I am going to miss you and come back hoping to find a new post by you. But I am moving nonetheless. If you care, you can find me here. 


I shall probably see you on some social networking site. Until then, be good.

A Bad-day Gone Good

Thu, 28 Aug 2008 05:15:37 GMT

I stared at my wristwatch that struck quarter to ten as I stepped off the train. "I am going to be late," I thought miserably. As I made my way to the taxi stand, I noticed a long queue of passengers and a non-existent one of cabs. I sighed and counted that I was tenth in the row. The rain continued to pour down with all earnestness and all eyes were on the passing cabs. Time crawled. I waited. After a good fifteen minutes wait, I found myself at the front of the still very long queue. Finally, irritated at this unhappy beginning of my day, I ducked to get into my cab and muttered my destination without looking up.

As I adjusted my seatbelt, I heard “Achha.
My head jerked up and lips curled in a surprised smile. In the rear view mirror, I could see a middle-aged happy Chinese face. “Namaste,” it said.
“Namaste!” I responded smiling wider this time.
Kahana jaoo ge?” he was grinning this time because he already knew my destination.
“Where did you learn such good Hindi?” I asked extremely impressed by his pronunciation.
“From my ex girlfriend who was from India.” He quipped happily. “But my Tamilian girlfriend does not teach me any Tamil.” With this, he launched into a full-fledged conversation about how the young kids speak Singlish, which he does not approve of and insists on speaking proper English.

He then questioned me about India and had me flabbergasted. Unlike most other people, his knowledge was not limited to Delhi, Mumbai, and Chennai. He told me how he wants to go to Goa, Assam, Sikkim, Hyderabad, and Jodhpur. However, he would not even think of driving in Mumbai, especially during lunch hours. “What is special about the lunch hour?” I ask “The dabba-walas!” he tells me, probably chiding me for my ignorance in his head but aloud he continued to tell me about how the travel agents only want him to see Delhi and Taj Mehal, not good enough for him.

The eight-minute drive to work was too short but it did a wonderful job of lifting my spirits and as I paid him the fare and got out, “Thank you,” I said. “It was great talking to you.”

“Thanks. Can you see why I have many girlfriends?” he smiled, his wrinkled eyes twinkling.

I wish I could be like him and spread joy so effortlessly.

Note to Self: Flag down cab number SH 7551M wherever you see it.

My Hunt for the Veggies

Tue, 26 Aug 2008 08:59:47 GMT

Eating lunch has become an adventure ever since I moved countries. Happily, it is usually an exciting adventure unless it is a Tuesday. On Tuesdays, I eat vegetarian food. Now, going by the variety of veggies I see in the grocery stores, getting some vegetarian grub should not be a trouble at all. So why is that I have to struggle every Tuesday and discover places like the cafeteria of S.P. Jain Institute of Management Studies to have lunch?

Because it is the definition of vegetarian food which is amiss. When a Singaporean says vegetarian food, it means food with lots of veggies, along with the meat. So, the Vegetarian Rice counter in my local food court specializes in fish head curry, with loads of veggies on the side. It is very amusing, really. I have colleagues who often want to know what all is included in vegetarian food – “Is fish vegetarian?”  “And eggs?” “What about cheese?” Many believe that if it is not beef or pork, it is vegetarian. Now, they are not wrong. Well, they are wrong but it is not their fault. I remember that during my visit to Phuket, the guide had explained that hey had two kinds of food for us – regular and vegetarian.

Despite these varied definitions, I notice that 80% of Indians in Singapore are vegetarians, which is a big mystery to me. Back home, I am usually the only person lining up for vegetarian food, with at most two to give me company in a group of ten. In the same fashion, I notice that 80% of Indian women dress up in traditional clothes here, while the figure drops hugely back home. I am wondering aloud, in case you have any idea.

Sweet Memories

Fri, 15 Aug 2008 02:34:14 GMT

We were supposed to wear our white physical training uniform on the day, despite whichever day of the week it was. And for a reason too. The white us made the whole school turn into an ocean of white foam.

Every year on the Independence Day, we would go to the school for an hour. Empty handed, we would march straight to the assembly area and line up for the action. To be truthful, I was never too excited about the longish speech by the principal but the rest of it was fun. Patriotic group songs by each house – Raman, Tagore, Ashoka, and Shivajee – followed the speech and then the chief guest would hoist the flag and we would sing the national anthem. Although, singing the national anthem was a part of our daily assembly at school, it was always special on days like this. The drum beat was louder, the voices were stronger; it all seemed to have a meaning for a change.

The best part came in the end. As we would make our way out of the assembly area, the teachers would hand each of us a brown paper bag with a laddoo and a samosa inside. Such happiness for us little kids.

Happy Independence Day. :]

|| The Meeting ||

Tue, 05 Aug 2008 04:00:33 GMT

She was exhausted by the heat and by changing multiple buses. Not a very good thing when one is appearing for a job interview, she thought as she looked around herself. The receptionist sat behind a high wooden desk, only her extremely fair face with brightly painted lips visible. The phone kept ringing non-stop. Behind the glass door that separated the reception area from the work area, she could see the regular hustle-bustle of a busy Monday morning.There was another person waiting besides her. He was busy reading the newspaper as she sat back and scrutinized him. Around her age, this boy was dressed causally in blue jeans and an orange check shirt. And sneakers. Lines formed on her forehead as she wondered if he was here for an interview as well. But who dresses so casually for an interview? She was soon distracted by the absence of the interviewer. She had tried to be smart and had clubbed two interviews that morning. Well, it was the sensible thing to do since they were both in the same area, which was in general very far from where she lived.As she sat there hoping for an interviewer to emerge from behind the glass door, the orange-shirted boy ruffled the newspaper, the receptionist talked on the phone, and the clock ticked. When someone did walk out from behind the glass door, the big needle of the clock had completed half of its hourly journey.She then found herself being ushered into a meeting room with an oval table and chairs all around it. A fat wad of sheets was thrust under her nose and she was told that she had two hours to finish the test. She took a deep breath and began reading the test paper. In two minutes time, the door opened again and the orange-shirted boy walked in with a fat wad of papers in his hand. She looked up and smiled. He smiled back.An hour had passed as she sat engrossed in writing the paper when the door opened again and another girl walked in with another fat wad of papers in her hands. She looked at the two occupants of the room but did not let her expression change at all. She took a seat as far as possible from the other two people.There were still twenty minutes to go before her allotted two hours came to an end. Her paper was done. Almost. There was this one silly question carrying one mark that she could not figure out. Could she leave it? Leave a question unanswered when she had time! How could she? But she must hurry or else she would be late for her next interview. She looked around the room. The new girl was writing her paper and her expression was still the same as it had been when she had entered the room. She then looked at the boy. He sat across from her. In comparison to the girl, he looked much favorable. She cleared her throat and said, “Excuse me,” he looked up.“What is the distance formula?” she knew that this was an extremely simple, and hence stupid, question and was slightly pink as she looked at him hopefully.He looked at her for a very short moment and then said, “Oh, are you talking about question 32? But see, you do not need the distance formula. It is a trick question and the answer is there in the question itself. The correct answer is the time specified in the question. Option C.” He smiled. She gave him her fake smile in return and he got back to his paper.What the…! Speed x Time or Speed / Time was all she had wanted to know! She had asked him a question and he had told her everything except what she had asked. Slightly embarrassed by her own impulsive query and angry at his helpful response, she ticked option C and left the room.Back in the reception area, she handed her paper to the receptionist and thought that she should forget about this vaguely humiliating and hugely anger-provoking experience. She tried to calm herself down for the next round. After all, what were the chances that she would see that orange-shirted stranger again?---Can you guess the chances?[...]

Ponderings of an Idle Mind

Tue, 29 Jul 2008 09:48:25 GMT

When I had picked up his first book, I appreciated its simple words and very relatable descriptions. I could see that Chetan Bhagat does not write fantastically but he could entertain for a short while. In hindsight, we may call his book average, which it may be, but when it had first come out many enjoyed a few hours of Five Point Someone. Sadly, I cannot say this for his second book and the reason of its success eludes me just like that of the movie Raja Hindustani. Seriously, that movie perplexes me even after 12 years of its release.

All said and done, I remain a fan of Indian fiction and if a book comes for mere Rs. 95, I tend to pick it up, even if to only satisfy my curiosity. So on one such curious May afternoon, I picked up The 3 Mistakes of My Life. I finished reading it today. If that does not say enough about the book, nothing else can.

Although nine volumes of teenage romance-drama, three fantasy graphic novels, a classic, a fantasy novel, and a few Manga comics punctuated my reading, I did manage to finish this book at last. I started reading Bhagat’s third book right after I had finished a couple of Agatha Christies. His bad luck that his ordinary writing got compared to an enriching piece. However, as I finished this book, I realized that in this very ordinary writing and in the choice of events, situations, and characters lies the secret of success of his not-so-great books.

I know many voracious readers who have to think for a moment before they can place Chetan Bhagat but I also know many more people who usually do not read but have read Bhagat’s books. They have also invariably read The Da Vinci Code.

Bhagat writes about India as it is right now and thus strikes a cord with the busy gen-y (is it still gen-y or have we reached gen-z?) He writes for the teenagers and twenty-somethings who do not care about books in general but flip through the newspapers twice a week and pick up their favorite sports/fashion magazine every other month. He speaks their language, he talks about what they have seen and not about what they heard from their parents or read in the history books.

So despite the ordinary writing, wafer-thin story line, and a repeat performance of the storyteller stunt, I can see that this book is going to do fairly well. The book (are you worried about spoilers?) gets into the Bhuj earthquake, Twin Towers, and Godhra riots; a brilliant period to pick up for a masala book, if you ask me. Anyone who is a little generous with ones emotions will feel strongly at one point or the other. For me the moment was when I heard about the Ahmedabad blasts while I was in midst of this book on Saturday.

So although you can write off Chetan Bhagat as quality writer, he possesses a definite knack for writing books that will sell. Raja Hindustani, however, still remains a mystery.

I See

Wed, 23 Jul 2008 09:38:34 GMT

Look up from the screen and describe what you see.

I see a sea of heads, faces hidden behind their computer screens. Up close, I see an empty water bottle, a tiny Yoda figurine, a visitor’s pass, a Starbucks coffee mug, a red and black pen, a yellow A4 size notebook, my Motorola phone, a tin of Impact mints.

Can you tell I am bored?

News Bites

Mon, 21 Jul 2008 04:40:09 GMT

Yesterday was a good Sunday, which was superbly welcome after the terrible Saturday (we clean on Saturday.) A couple of friends, who are also a couple, surprised the husband by dropping in. From India. Awesome. Merriment ensued.

Now that I finally have a girl to walk around with in this shopping heaven, I must get down to doing all things girlie. We shall begin with a manicure; while I get tiny stars painted on my nails, she is opting for fish.

In other news, I tried octopus yesterday. Cannot say I am a fan or even close but well, it is now on records that it has been done.

Now I meet another friend, who is red and has newly arrived in the seafood land, for lunch. What’s more, she is here to stay. Happiness.

They are an Attitude.

Fri, 18 Jul 2008 07:16:19 GMT

Last month Singapore saw its first official Toy and Comic Convention – STCC ’08. While there was a lot of coolness that transpired and would make an engaging long-ass post that no one is going to read, I am going to concentrate only on Blythe today. First, what is Blythe? Blythe is a doll designed by Allison Katzman in the 1970s. The main feature of the doll used to be her eyes – large and beautiful – that changed colors by a pull of a string. However, the dolls did not do very well and sold only for one year in America. As all great things, Blythe also became extremely popular after 30 years and the production began again in 2004. Priced expensively, the doll teased me in different styles from this stall in STCC. I was saved only by my camera. Click thumbnails for larger images.[...]

Eating Chinese without Manchurian

Thu, 17 Jul 2008 08:50:11 GMT

Despite Chinese being (one of?) the most popular cuisines world wide, an average Chinese cannot eat well outside his/her country.

I have come to understand that every country has its own version of Chinese food. India does, I know for a fact. English and Americans have also customized Chinese food, I learned from books and friends. So much so, that Little India in Singapore has restaurants that claim to serve “Indian Chinese Food.” Very amusing that Chinese have never heard of most of the dishes that are passed off as Chinese food at my favorite Chinese restaurant back home.

I am very proud of the fact that I can actually eat and enjoy proper Chinese food now. The first couple of times were not very easy. The smell put me off but it was usually an eat-this-or-go-hungry situation and then the taste grew on me. My Chinese colleagues, on rare occasions when we eat together, find it very strange that I can eat Chinese food. “Because Indians only eat from Indian restaurants,” they say.


Tofu and Fish: The soup is delicious though I could do without tofu


Dim Sums: They are gooier than the ones you get in Dilli Haat


Fried Rice: Have to be careful with ingredients unless you want to eat a cow


Noodle Soup: This is super yum and comes in all forms, chicken, fish, beef, veggie (if you are lucky, very lucky)


Clay Pot Rice: With bits of veggies and chicken in oyster sauce

Addendum: All pictures are randomly picked from the google search result for the dishes.

The Day...

Mon, 14 Jul 2008 08:46:27 GMT

Before I opened my eyes in the morning, I took a moment to decide whether it will be a happy morning or otherwise. I could hear the cool breeze and the rhythmic flutter of the curtain against the open window. It was surely going to rain but I need not worry, I do not have to go to office today. Happiness index rises.

I do not have to be at work because I am down with chicken pox. Happiness index dips rapidly by three points. But I can sleep in. Index rises one point. I turn over and sleep some more.

Around 9:30 am, I decide to have a bath. Bathing is not easy when you have the pox. You have to be careful not to touch those boils at the wrong place, but you still have to gently scrub the lotion from last night away. It takes long to take a bath.

Eat a lot of delicious food and make it healthy too are the instructions from the mothers. Who wants to cook delicious food for oneself? Not I. I usually eat three square meals. Dinner is the healthiest because husband is around to monitor it.

I work from home. Sit on the drawing room couch, my laptop placed on my lap, looking out at the greens of woodlands from my window every now and then. The rain comes often. It plitter-platters for a few minutes and then the sun shines again.

I sometimes read my book or take a short nap. And I wait. I wait for the pox to disappear. I wait for the husband to come home. I wait for the rain to come again.


Fri, 11 Jul 2008 13:51:50 GMT

Comics, as it has been discussed on this journal before, is a fantastic storytelling medium and those who (still) believe that comics are for kids should not even be lurking around this place. Alternatively, maybe they should gift their kid a copy of Sandman.

Being recently exposed to a huge variety of comics in mammoth comic book sections of enormous bookstores, I have been trying to get a taste of all kinds. That is how I came across Re-gifters.

It is a story of a young Korean-American schoolgirl, who like her family struggles to keep her Korean traditions in tact as she tries to make a success of her life in LA. This in itself is not path breaking, I know. Because what stopped my heartbeat was the presentation. The writer, Mike Carey, introduces the plot in the first three panels and then builds characters from there. He tells a tale in each short chapter with the most wicked titles and then moves the story forward with those. He maintains a dignified limit of pop culture references and pays special attention to building character of each one introduced.

The protagonist is cute as a button. She is extremely likable but realistic girl, who behaves like most teenagers only not. Her two adorable (to the reader, she thinks them nasty) brothers and her stick-through-everything friend are very cool as well. Not to mention her alarm clock that goes ‘Wake up and Kill Bill!’

The art, by Sonny Liew and Marc Hempel, is the kind I dig - no mess, clean, complete, detailed, and cute. Some full page panels are so much fun that I not only found myself coming back to them to check out what happened in the background but also googling them to make user icons.

It is an easy read that every comic lover should pick up. No, it is not a Watchman or a Fables but it is something. Something very good.

Oh yes and my copy is personally signed by Sonny Liew. He also drew me a super quick but delightful cartoon.

A lemon iced tea, please

Tue, 01 Jul 2008 10:02:54 GMT

It was an abnormally hot and sultry afternoon and I had been walking around for approximately four hours in a crowded convention hall. When I finally got out and ascended into a mall, (where else!) my throat was, as English would say, parched. So I stopped at the nearest snack stall and checked the menu. Feeling extremely hot and not very adventurous, I opted for good old lemon iced tea. I sat down on a high-stool and was waiting for my drink when I saw it being prepared. In this fashion.

The man took some condensed milk and mixed it in brewed red tea, which was piping hot. He then poured it from a glass held high into another glass a few times, and finally into a glass full of ice. He capped the glass, stuck a straw in it, and served it to me.

Some online research shows that this drink is called Teh Tarik, which is all very good but where is my iced tea? Even McDonalds serves this milky thing in the name of iced tea.

I just realized...

Mon, 30 Jun 2008 10:37:13 GMT

that we Indians talk a lot at workplace. After a few days of cribbing about silent colleagues who shut others out, I realize that it is not they who speak less, it is us who chat a lot at work. Or maybe it was specific to my last job that I had for close to four years.

Public Service Announcement

Fri, 27 Jun 2008 09:52:53 GMT

Saving is a great habit. Hunting for cheaper alternatives and bargains is the birth right of every Indian but when it comes to footwear – never compromise. Money spent on a good pair of shoes is investment. In the name of healthy feet that bear the burden of your person, please never buy cheap shoes. Thank you.

The City of Heels

Wed, 25 Jun 2008 03:51:04 GMT

While I am no Carrie Bradshaw, I am still a girl; and like all normal girls, I too love my shoes. However, being a big supporter of comfortable wear, I usually limit my heels to special occasions when there is limited walking.

Singaporean chicks, however, do not agree with me. They wear their heels everywhere, from grocery stores to shopping malls, from food courts to fancy cafés, from metro to street shopping, from work to stroll by the riverbank. Fascinated I watched, wondering how their dainty feet endured so much of high-heel walking. Then I noticed!

It is a perfect example of “where there is a will…” Besides using that comfortable gel padding available at all general stores to stuff beside your toes or under your heel, there is also an easier and inexpensive way out. You buy shoes one size bigger! Yes. So, the back of your foot never touches the edge of the shoe, which when worn with heels is the biggest trouble maker, and you never get shoe bites! Weird but marvelous.

In the mind of a child

Wed, 18 Jun 2008 07:42:22 GMT

I was about eight years old and having the best vacation of my young life. We, folks and I, were in the hills of Pahalgam, Kashmir. Papa was there on work though, and mum being an army officer's wife was also on duty. I, on the other hand, was totally free and having a time of my life. As if the green hills and the distant snow-peaked mountains, the sounds and current of the river Lidder, the tall and dense forests of the Chinars were not enough, we were also staying in luxury tents.So as I said, parents were busy with their respective duties, I usually was left alone to wander on my free will with a few directions and rules. One such idle sunny morning, I decided to collect the fragile mauve flowers of the great Chinar trees that surrounded our tent. I went on a trail imagining myself to be Red-riding Hood for a while until the image of big bad wolf flashed in front of me and the idea ceased to seem enchanting. After spending almost the entire morning gathering flowers, I collected them all in my frock and got them back to the tent. Now, I had to find something to do with them.Sitting on the make-shift bed covered with pure white bed sheet, I laid down each flower carefully on the bed  and admired them. I was sure parents would be super happy to see my handy work. In the excitement, I decided to decorate our little tent. I ran about putting flowers on each table. Somewhere in the enthusiasm, I knocked a jug of water that was sitting on the dressing table. It wet the white tablecloth and ruined some of my flowers. I sighed. I did not want parents to see the mess and had to do something before them came back.As I removed the contents of the dressing table to take the tablecloth off, I noticed a bright purple stain on the pure white cloth. I freaked. For a moment, I stood there staring at the purple stain willing it to disappear. It did not. I forgot all about my pretty flowers and decoration. Now, I had a single mission and that was to clean the stain off the tablecloth before the folks saw it. For the life of me, I could not understand how those fragile mauve flowers could have left such a bright stain! But I had no time to dwell into such matters. Mummy was, and is till date, very gentle and forgiving. Papa, on the other hand, would be most definitely classified under the category of strict fathers. Especially when it came to messing with other people's stuff. Now this tablecloth happened to be other people's stuff. We were staying in the army's tent, weren't we? Someone would see the stain and report it to who so ever cared about these things and that guy would ask papa to explain and then papa would come home and ask me! I was fucked, only I did not know the word back then.I stood on my toes to reach the wash basin's tap and rubbed the bathing soap on the stain with all my might. But no, the stain would not go away. I tried and tried and tried again. After what seemed like hours, could have been ten minutes, I decided to confide in our orderly, as given the advantage of age, he was sure to know a way out. He helped me scrub some more and then gave up with a sigh and asked me to talk to mum.How I passed time till noon is something that I have not understood till date. Worried about the wrath that was ready to befall me, I sat outside our tent gazing downhill at the other side of the road where my parents sat doing stuff in one of those green tents. At last mum came. Thankfully alone. And I told her. Do you know what she said?"Do not worry, girl. I too mistakingly got my lipstick on the tablecloth this morning. The laundry guy will take care of it. "I then looked at my mum's face. Her l[...]

Whirlpool of My Life

Fri, 13 Jun 2008 07:52:35 GMT

I have a tendency to crib about small things without paying any special attention to my words. I cannot remember clearly but I am sure this is what must have happened a month or so ago.

I returned from my workplace in Hyderabad, which is very conveniently located only 2.5 km from my extremely comfortable house. I picked up some veggies to go with the pasta I planned to cook for dinner. An hour later the husband walks in and we sit down with a tall glass of juice each and discuss which movie we want to watch tonight. Somewhere in between the movie, the pasta, and the time for bed, I go "my life is so mundane. I wake up, go to work, come home, play a game, and sleep. Then I start all over again."

The husband must not have paid attention to this meaningless crib but someone else did. He who knows it all decided to give me a taste of a non-mundane life. Yes, this is what must have happened to my extremely comfortable and predictable life until last month.

In less than fifteen days, I wrapped up my life from Hyderabad, said my b-byes and flew to Delhi. In Delhi, I packed some more, said hurried b-byes to some more friends, discussed life and priorities with family and my boss and then flew to Singapore. Once here, it took exactly five hours for my Singapore-is-a-fun-city bubble to burst. The city is still what it was eight months back when I first visited it but my perspective has changed. Then, I was a happy tourist willing to spend my dollars on awesome toys, comics, books, and oh-so-hot dresses. Now, I am a lost soul searching for a house and a job in a foreign land. Yes, this is what you get for speaking without paying attention to your words.

Life is not bad right now. In fact, at the moment, it is pretty good. We have been put up in a very fancy service apartment, which is bang in the middle of the most happening section of the city. I begin my mornings with a swim in the wonderful pool surrounded by palm trees and yellow umbrellas. I sit in Starbucks and make posts on LJ during the day. I walk around soaking in a very different culture. I marvel the joys (and disappointments?) of this materialistic world of shopping malls. But in between these activities, I contact a thousand agents to fix up viewings for a house to be rented, research the job market of Singapore, and worry. A lot.

But this time, I know better than to crib. :)

In search of a home, away from homeLong ago - The Carpenters

Thu, 05 Jun 2008 04:06:10 GMT

I am now in a huge shopping mall of a city, where people do not believe in laughing much. Yes, I am not kidding you. I have been here four days and I have not seen a single person on the road smiling. That has to be odd, right? I mean you have bags full of goodies from Prada and Gucci in your hands, did that purchase not make you happy at all?

Singapore - a city I had fallen in love with instantly when I came here on a short trip last year. It is amazingly clean, there is rain all the time, has disciplined  traffic, is extremely fashionable and super cosmopolitan, also has a beach! But this time it was different. Let me begin from the beginning.

So I toppled and slept in the flight after a drink of Bailey's Irish Cream and when I woke up the hostess was already collecting stuff and readying us for the landing, so far so good. After landing, like a couple of headless chickens, we hurried to the currency conversion counter and got a pre-paid card for the phone -- folks to be called up immediately as per orders. By the time we made our way to the conveyer belt to collect our luggage, everyone else had already cleared up. So we picked our suitcases and headed out. The apartment turned out to be a good twenty - thirty minutes drive from the airport. We checked in and I jumped around in glee on seeing the luxuries that welcomed me for the next one month. I knew I would ultimately find something to worry about even in this duration but right now, I was happy. The bubble lasted exactly thirty-seconds and then our luggage came up. Only one of the suitcases was not ours. I freaked. The husband freaked. Called up the airlines and headed back to the airport. After a good ten minutes of "what next?" we bumped into the party who had picked up our luggage by mistake. Exactly similar suitcases, what are the chances? Pretty high, considering this has happened to me once before as well.

Since then I have been roaming the streets in awe of ultra slim girls with flawless skin who never show a hint of a smile. I like what I see but I have a strong feeling that there is a lot still hidden from me. This city is definitely not as embracing as the last one was, but I am hoping I will warm up to it somehow. After all, it does drizzle all the time here and there is this fantastic pool in the apatements. I should go out buy myself a swimsuit now. I promise to keep you posted about my explorations and adventures with food.

Too Soon

Mon, 26 May 2008 06:29:55 GMT

Breezy mornings, and waking up on the call of the idli vendor;

Mad traffic, overcrowded autos, and walking down to the workplace;

Tall buildings, silent bays, glass pane and the view of red treetops;

Random lunches, grocery shopping, and experiments in the kitchen;

Unclear multilingual conversations, then watching regional movies to decipher those;

Exploring cuisines and eateries, to get over the disappointment of the houseful board;


Lazy weekends with friends and films, sipping soda in that dark room;

Calling home all the time, and forgetting bills that needed paying;

Walking home with a friend, or with some music;

The moments, the places, the habits, the people - will all be missed.

I am Sixteen, Going on Seventeen…

Tue, 20 May 2008 12:37:17 GMT

I totally feel like a teenager these days. An American teenager, no less. The feeling of course is as far removed from the reality as can be given that I have never been to America, and I exited teenage almost a decade ago.  This feeling comes from my two main occupations at the moment. I have been watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer and reading The Princess Dairies. I know, I am not only too old for these but also too late as the years go. But as I said, these little things do not seem to matter. Watching and reading so much high school drama made me think about my school days, which had very little in common with Buffy and Mia's. Yes, I too worried about exams and boys back then but I was neither a vampire slayer nor a princess of lesser-known European country bang in the middle of Italy and France. But thinking of school days, what I remember most is my close bond with those five other girls. It was strong and beautiful. I am still in touch with four them today but we have all drifted apart and have very less in common, which is very disturbing in a certain way. Friend one: We shall call her Dolly, which happens to be her pet name. She was the prettiest girl in our class – the one with big brown eyes and thick long lashes – beautiful in every conventional way. Her dad, sadly for her, was the Geography teacher, which meant that she had to take an extra subject (Geography, duh!) in plus two and slog longer hours than the rest of us. Now Dolly was always under pressure to perform well because most kids whose parents were teachers in our school were slackers and Dolly’s dad did not want his daughter to live up to this reputation. I think this is the reason she never realized that the cutest boy in our class (who read Atlas Shrugged and Gone with the Wind during the free periods and wore songs and poetry!) had a thing for her. Not like Dolly never did anything but study. She always found the right excuse and the time to catch every movie that starred Saif Ali Khan (Ew! I know he is quite decent now but I am talking Aashiq Aawara and Yeh Dillagi days.). The rest of us laughed at her because she chose Saif over Shahrukh, but she did not care. I liked Dolly a lot; she tied up with another girl for the position of my best friend. I remained in touch with her during my graduation days, despite us being in different colleges and then we did our PG together. Only, by then she was married and also had a kid. She used to talk about her kid during our weekend classes and then drag us along to meet him and her husband at the end of it. At 21, I did not want to spend time listening about diaper change and stuff. She is the only friend who I am not in touch with anymore. Friend two: She was the Cool Chick, the most adventurous of us all. She always had fun things to talk about and obsessed about Shahrukh Khan when she was not balancing a P/L account. She claimed that she had never had a crush on anyone but Shahrukh Khan, and needless to say I found this very disturbing. Yes, there was a time when I thought that she would turn out to be a lesbian hiding behind the façade of SRK fandom. However, this thought was misplaced because as I write this post, she is carrying her first baby. Friend three: She is the Surprise of our group. Yes, this girl was mostly quiet, though when she did talk she was very opinionated. Her mum was also a teacher in our school and that too of Sanskrit. If you have ever been to a school that teaches Sanskrit, you know that those teachers [...]

Mind Wriggles

Fri, 16 May 2008 11:36:51 GMT

I had forgotten how much I enjoyed puzzles until I picked up Professor Layton and the Curious Village.

Question 1:

A brother and his elder sister are sitting on the breakfast table when the bro says, “Sister, if I take two years away from my age and add them to your age, you will be twice my age!”

To this, the sister responds, “Hey but if you give me another year of yours, I will be three times as old as you!”

How old are these two kids?

Question 2:

You enter a camera store and the shopkeeper tells you that you can get both the camera and the case for $310. He goes on to say that the camera costs $300 more than case or you may say that the difference in the price of the camera and the case is $300.

You decide to just by the case at the moment and give $100 to the shopkeeper. How much change should you get back?

Question 3:

Five cats can catch five mice in five minutes. How many cats will it take to catch 100 mice in 100 minutes?

This one is the simplest.

All questions taken from the video game, "Professor Layton and the Curious Village."

Addendum: I am going to screen the comments on this post. Shall display them all  tomorrow.

Because ice cream isn't exactly health food and cheese makes me fat...

Thu, 15 May 2008 11:58:22 GMT

Can I please replace milk with olives in my diet? Pretty please?

|| Missing Penang ||

Mon, 12 May 2008 11:47:58 GMT

I am missing Penang today, which is very odd given the fact that I have spent only a few hours on that isle. So when I shut my eyes to remember the point I want to mention in the document at hand, I see the winding road to the QueensBay mall with the ocean on one side and the skyscrapers on the other. For a moment I see flashes of extremely clean and almost hauntingly empty roads and then the terribly crowded and almost suffocating sight of the Prangin mall blinds me. After almost an hour of thinking about the day that I spent in George Town, I have decided that I will reminisce about it once and for all and then get back to my document. --- I step into the huge building my eyes wide and breath held for a moment. No, it is not my first time in a mall, nor is this mall anything out of the ordinary; it is mostly the excitement building up inside me. I run from one showroom to the other looking at every designer item and not noticing much because I want to see it all in the designated one hour. I want to buy something just so I can remember this day – this feeling more than this day, actually. --- It is a huge shoe store. I look around and I see so many fancy things that I cannot decide what to pick up. I look at the shiny golden belle shoes for a few moments and then look away to search for something less jazzy. I look at one pair after the other, discarding everything because I am impatient: too red, too flat, to high, to broad. Ultimately, I am pointed out a pair of black open-toe sandals that zip up at the ankle. “Gorgeous, but too expensive,” I say. “I will buy them for you,” he says and I thank him with joy, forgetting that as of last week our finances have merged and his buying is not very different from me swiping my own plastic. --- It is post lunch time and I am browsing those endless shelves labeled ‘Fiction’ in Borders. I turn around to face the graphic novels section and marvel at those ultimate editions, neatly wrapped in sheets of cellophane paper to prevent us from finishing the book in the bookstore. A boy of around ten, his shirt un-tucked and his uniform shorts a little dirty, is going through the latest comics with great earnestness. I close the book in my hand and observe him. This is serious business for him; unconcerned with his surroundings he looks for the right issue and then moves to graphic novels to lust for those expensive items that his pocket money would probably not buy. I watch him pay at the cash counter and then walk out of the store looking content with his purchase. --- I look out of the window of my luxury bus. Most buildings are old and remind me of the British era, except the temples. There are a lot of those, one after every ten buildings. This view undergoes a quick transformation as the bus turns from the crossroads. Now, I see huge skyscrapers and wide clean roads. This mix is what makes this town so different from the rest of the cities I visited in the last few days. When I get down from the bus in front of another huge mall, I find myself in a completely different part of the town. Here people ride on trishaws (also called bugbug) and the emptiness that I had been seeing since morning is replaced with huge crowds of locals rushing about. --- At twilight, I stand in the queue to get back onto the ship. As I approach the port’s exit I turn around for one last glimpse of the beautiful George Town. I see an ancient whi[...]

Recipe: Awesome Mac and Cheese

Thu, 08 May 2008 14:26:05 GMT

Yesterday I found a quick recipe for macaroni and cheese by the amazing PW. I tried it as soon as I got home, replacing some fancy ingredients with whatever I had at home. The result was super duper awesome, which means the recipe should be shared further. Mine is a simple five step recipe that serves two; I suggest the interested parties visit PW for the original one as well.

How to Make Awesome Mac and Cheese in Five Quick Steps

Step 1:
Preparing the ingredients


Boil 1.5 cups of macaroni until soft. Chop one onion, one medium-sized green bell pepper, three-four mushrooms into tiny pieces. Take three tablespoons of frozen corn and set them aside. Shred some cheese and take some homemade butter or fresh cream.

Step 2: Sort Out the Spices


You need olive oil, oregano, red chilly, black pepper, and of course, salt.

Step 3: Saute the Veggies


Put two tablespoons of olive oil in a nonstick pan and heat. Add the spices and stir to mix with the heated oil. Add onions and then the rest of the veggies. Satue until soft but do not let them turn into mush.

Step 4: Add it All


Hold your breath and add the boiled macaroni to the veggies. Stir and mix. Then add the shredded cheese and two tablespoons (full) of butter. Mix.

Step 5: Ta Da!


Stir gently until the butter and the cheese melt and mix with all of macaroni. Sprinkle some black pepper. Yum yum, your awesome mac and cheese is ready.  Enjoy.

Fact: This is three times faster than the usual mac and cheese recipe, which requires baking but is delicious as well.