Search this blog and beyond

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Watchmen - Alan Moore (Illustration - Dave Gibbons)

I got this book at random will just to read something light and easy. Boy was I surprised at the outcome! Watchmen is on the list of Time's top 100 novels of all times and I was not disappointed.

Imagine a bunch of costumed super-heroes. One would immediately think of Spidey and Batty and the lot. What happens to them as they grow old though? What happens if Spidey and Batty got into a fight? Or if they just got bored of their job? Well Watchmen is a story of such super heroes and their lives outside of just being great and strong and all goody goody. It is about their weaknesses, vulnerabilities and their not so super heroic sides. The story is set in the 1980s about an impending World War III and how our super heroes save the day yet again..or do they actually? That is the question.

I simply loved the novel and just couldn't put it down. And the graphics! Rich graphics! It just enhances the reading experience so much. I must say that in some sense it limits your mind by already feeding it with images but its just a different experience altogether.  I am not sure if the subject as such is everybody's cup of tea, but just give it a shot.

Grab the book! The only question I have is where can I find more???  

Monday, November 7, 2011

Friday Fragments - 4th November

Heyylooo! Here I am back with my weekly ritual of unloading. Its been 3 long weeks since the last Friday Fragments. So here's what has been happening.

---) We visited my cousin's place in Virginia and headed towards Luray Caverns and Shenondoah Valley.
 Stalactites - hold on 'tight' to roof and Stalagmites - 'might' reach the sky - the guide told us how to remember which is which 

Dark Hollow Falls at Shenondoah Valley

The entry fee to the Luray caverns in quite steep - $23 each, but once you are there what choice do you have right?

---) Two great friends of mine from Netherlands and Canada visited me in the same week. I am becoming a better NYC tourist guide day by day! :-) Two cool things happened when in NYC with my NL friend. 

One - We both could swear we saw SnoopDogg in the metro! Nobody even realized it man! We kept staring at him until he walked off at some station. 
Two - We were standing outside a restaurant in downtown Manhattan trying to figure out where we were and there was this guy all suited up standing right next to us and fidgeting. Within minutes 2 shady looking guys came and handed him a small packet. In exchange the guy in the suit gave them a big bundle of rolled up cash and left in a hurry. It was like a scene out of CSI NY!!! We looked around to check if cameras were rolling somewhere. But No! Hmmmm....

With my friend from Canada, I still can't believe how we managed to talk non-stop for most part of the day! The day flew away so quickly! 

---) Diwali the festival of lights co-incided with my b'day this year. We went to Pennsylvania to celebrate it with some friends. We were all dressed up in traditional clothes and did like 101 poses in front of the camera. :-) 

---) My sister sent us some home-made sweets and savories all the way from Canada. Hubby who barely touches most of the sweets, fought with me for the last one. We want mooreeeee! Are you listening  sis :-D? 

---) Whats with the crazy snow storm last week? NJ faced incredible snow fall with quite serious power cuts and falling trees everywhere. The houses just next block had power shutdowns for upto 4 days!!!! We barely escaped! They even shifted the Halloween trick or treating days in some neighborhoods here. 

---) I got an amazing pair of boots last Saturday - weather proof, furry and all...Just in case :-) 

Do join Mrs. 4444 for the Friday Fragments fun by clicking the button below! 

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Eat Pray Love - Elizabeth Gilbert

This book had been in much discussion in 2010 so decided to pick it up from the library. I read it within two 5 hour flight trips I took recently - which is rarity  these days as I seem to be reading multiple books for several months together with no signs of completing most of them soon :).

The author talks about her own real life in this book. Liz Gilbert has everything that a woman of her age could possibly want - a husband, a house and a career. Somewhere in her mid-life though she begins to wonder whether if all this is what she actually wants or has she been living a life that the society accepts as "normal" enough. A messy divorce and a messier affair later, she decides to take a break from everything.

Liz sets off to three countries - Italy, India and Indonesia over a period of a year to get a new perspective of things. In Italy she discovers the pleasure of food and as the Italians say the "art of doing nothing", in India she spends all her time in an Ashram where she meditates for inner peace and in Indonesia she looks to bring a balance between a normal life while holding on to her spiritual side. How she completes the journey forms the crux of the book.

The book is fascinating in several ways. Liz feels the pulse of the world and her descriptions of places are not "tourist book" type, rather on how she relates to a place/person making things really interesting. I found the India part of her book quite interesting. Her experiences with meditation and prayers are intriguing though I must warn you if you are someone how thinks meditation is an excuse for people to sleep longer, then some details may actually help you get initiated into "meditation" :). If Bali is as beautiful as the author describes, I would want to live there someday!

A good dose of "spiritual/wake up call" book of modern times.  

Friday, October 14, 2011

Friday Fragments - 14th October

Its Fridayyyyy! :-) This week was good. Time really does fly like crazy, it has been almost 6 months since I came to the US.

So here are this week's highlights.

---) I had my first job interview since coming here (ya, it took that long!)and have been selected to go to round 2. Keeping my fingers tightly crossed!

---) You know that afternoon time after lunch, that lull period when you wish the world would wrap up for just a bit so you can snatch a quick look into that enchanted world? Seriously! that afternoon siesta is like the bestest thing in the world. After a long time I went to that enchanted world yesterday. Bliss! :)

---) We have been provided with free Hindi (regional language)channels by our cable people again! All the super "saas" (mother-in-laws) and "bahus" (daughter-in-laws) beware!

---) I made quesedillas today for lunch today from this recipe here. It was just so yummy, I wonder why I have never ventured much into this before despite having a grill.

---) We surprised our neighbor on her birthday with a nice cake and a gift at the stroke of midnight. She was so surprised by us that she was skipping around like a child. Totally worth it :)

---) Its pouring cats and dogs here at the moment. We are off to Virginia and Pennsylvania this weekend to meet up some family and friends.

Have a great weekend all you peeps!!!

Click on the link below to join the "Friday Fragments" fun at Mrs.4444's blog.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Friday Fragments - 7th Oct

I missed the Friday fragments last week! So this week I am trying to be on time.

---) Spent the whole of today cleaning and cooking - I go through this timely rituals mostly when guests come home. If someone comes often enough and has already seen the house messy, then they no longer count as guests :-D

---) I folded almost 200 give away t-shirts in the library as part of my volunteer work. When I told my husband about this, he immediately turned around, looked at my closet and smiled. I do wonder sometimes how my closet can look like I have tried out all clothes at the same time and just hung them out in bunches.

Thursday, October 6, 2011


The trip to Harrisburg in Pennsylvania was also during the Memorial Day weekend (May, 2011). We went off to meet my husband's university buddy and his wife, a couple full of fun and life. Unfortunately for us, both me and hubby fell a bit sick while in Pennsylvania. So our outing was a bit toned down. The highlight of this trip for me was the butterfly garden in Hersey Park. I waited and waited quietly for a butterfly to come and sit on me. But just one came and sat on my finger for a second and immediately flew away. My husband on the other hand had to shoo them away to continue walking. I hope this is not synonymous to those "white dangly" things in "Avatar" movie that sit on only good people. boohoo...Here are some pictures:

Pennsylvania State Capitol building at Harrisburg

A lot of these green colored parts of some old buildings are made of copper which are allowed to then rust to give a green shade! 

We are all kids at heart! The Hershey Gardens

These kids seem to fit in with the background really well

I was trying out the focus some - defocus the rest technique here...:)

Beautiful pathways

and then the butterflies

Notice how the rose alone has a tinge of red

Hershey Chocolate World - absolutely kiddish but is free and worth the sample choclate :D

These three cows sang and explained to us how chocolates are made! :) 

I have visited 4 chocolate factories yet I think. One in Cologne - Germany, one in Bruges - Belgium, one here and one in Antwerp - Belgium. And all of these after I turned 25. :). Yup! Chocoholic of sorts. I love the dark chocolate varieties more though. After some strong doses of cacao, we were actually feeling better by the end of the day. 

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Steve Jobs dies

Steve Jobs (photo link)

God, what a man! It makes me really sad that he is no more. An iconic visionary of our times who has touched a lot of our lives in so many ways. I cannot even begin to comprehend what his driving force was  while he was battling a pancreatic cancer for more than half a decade. His life in itself seems to be some kind of a fantastic/crazy movie. He would be one person whom I would have loved to meet in my lifetime. :-(

I will end up buying his biography. It will be my first. Watch this inspirational speech he made at Stanford's  Commencement ceremony in 2005.

Washington DC

This one was a wonderful trip with my cousins whom I was meeting after a loooooong time in Virginia (around the Memorial Day long weekend in May 2011). We spoke until the wee hours of the morning, reminiscing and sharing some of our new stories. The next day we headed to the capital of the USA, Washington DC. DC was super crowded --> good weather (bordering giving heat strokes to some people) + long weekend craze, but by downing ourselves with icy versions of all sorts of drinks, we made it through.

Taking a train ride from Virginia as we approached DC, the whole place seemed to be engulfed with regal looking buildings. The highlight of the day though was a picnic lunch we had at a random park gobbling up home made food. Here are some photos:

The US Capitol Building far far ahead

The White House: Can you spot the president? 

The Washington Monument: the pyramid like top has Egyptian architecture's influence apparently

National World War II Memorial 

Paying special tribute to the soldiers

Yeaaaaah!!! Go Feminism! 

Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History

And there we met some of our favorite ancestors :) 

Fatigued by all the heat, we wondered how we had actually spent majority of our lives in a tropical country. We headed back home after watching (dozing off to) the "Born to be Wild" 3D movie in the IMAX theater at the museum narrated oh! so soothingly by Morgan Freeman. 

P.S.1 - Does cold coffee mean dumping lot of ice cubes into black coffee?? I paid $3.50 for that crap in the museum. Isn't it supposed to be this blended, creamy, sugary delight? 

P.S.2 - If you are still staring at the White House picture searching for someone, I was seriously kidding. :) 

Monday, September 26, 2011

Menu Plan Mondays - September Week 4

Last week's menu's big winner was bisibelabath. It came out surprisingly well. Banana bread was a close second. I stuck to most of the menu plan except for the cutlet. Instead I mixed up a ready made bel puri mix, which was a complete flop. The sauces in it tasted like medicine..blaahh...

Cooked so elaborately for Sunday lunch ( had invited people over, thats why ofcourse), that I am sticking to some known/simple recipes for the rest of the week.

Monday - 
Breakfast: Cereals
Lunch: Left overs from a big meal on Sunday
Dinner: Rasam + Carrot/Soy Chunk combo sabzi (courtesy hubby ji, as I am feeling a bit blue)
Snack: Tortilla Chips

Tuesday - 
Breakfast: Kuzhi appam + cocunut chutney
Lunch: Veggie Burger
Dinner: Palak+ mushroom + beans sabzi
Snack: Banana + chocolate chip muffins

Wednesday - 
Breakfast: Scrambled eggs
Lunch: Palak mushroom + roti
Dinner: Chow Chow + radish sambhar + beetroot sabzi
Snack: Trying out baking bread + cheese

Thursday - 
Breakfast: Semiya upma
Lunch: Paneer fried rice + sabzi
Dinner: yellow pumpkin molagootal + stir fried mixed veggies
Snack: kutty pizza

Friday - 
Breakfast: Maggie Noodles
Lunch: Peas Pulav + Stir fried veggies
Dinner: Onion vatta kozhambu + vazhakka sabzi
Snack: Sundal (chana daal)
Thanks to  I'm an Organizing Junkie for organizing the Menu Plan Monday

Friday Fragments - 23rd Sep

Okie, I am cheating. Its Monday already, but what the heck! I am still doing this.

---) The biggest highlight of this week has been that the drip-drip annoyance which has been lingering on and off on our bathroom tub for almost 4 months has been finally repaired and I felt oh so very blissful about it.

---) The libraries here are just great. There is some free event to take part in every other week. Attended a free Yoga class for beginners. Was OK. At parts where you are asked to meditate, I was plain sleepy.                      

---) Saw this incredible Iranian movie called "The Color of Paradise". From the director of "Children of Heaven". Some movies make you think of them and the meaning behind them long after you have finished watching. This is on of those rare jewels. Its a slow movie though, takes time to settle into your system.

---) It is strange how I have gotten to know few of my relatives after coming to the US, some of whom I have never met back home. An uncle, aunt and two of my cousins on their vacation to the US. Met them at their hotel, was good fun. :)

Thanks to "Half - Past Kissin' Time" for hosting the Friday Fragments. Click the button  below to join!

Picture Courtesy

Monday, September 19, 2011

Menu Plan Mondays - September Week 3

It takes a LOT of my time to think what I should be cooking than actually cooking food everyday. And its not even like I have a family of 6 people with complicated agendas, its just 2 people with pretty fixed schedules. So for the past two weeks I have been trying out a weekly routine to actually write down a weekly menu plan, shop accordingly and stick to this plan as much as I can.

Taking it even one step further, I think joining I'm an Organizing Junkie's Menu Plan Mondays gives a bit more inspiration!? Hoping so. Once again thanks to Mub for initiating me to these weekly blog activities all over!

So here goes my weekly plan:

Monday - 
Breakfast: Sabudana kitchdi (after a serious mess up the first time I tried it, it turned into a big joke and made rounds among my friends for a looong time...:(, way to start a Monday! :D)
Lunch: Roti + Aloo sabzi
Dinner: Spring onions, moong daal + Cabbage sabzi + rice
Snack: Banana Bread

Tuesday - 
Breakfast: Pesarattu + coconut chutney
Lunch: Roti + daal
Dinner: Cocunut brocolli stew + Kovakkai sabzi + rice
Snack: Channa dal sundal

Wednesday - 
Breakfast: Sooji rava upma
Lunch: Veggie burgers
Dinner: Bisibelabath + Raita
Snack: Mini Pita Pizza

Thursday - 
Breakfast: Pesarattu + tomato chutney
Lunch: Bisibelabath
Dinner: Rajma + gobi paratha
Snack: Tofu Tikki

Friday - 
Breakfast: Scrambled eggs
Lunch: Rajma + Roti
Dinner: Spinach Tofu + rice
Snack:  Veggie Cutlet

Friday, September 16, 2011

Friday Fragments - for the first time!

Inspired by fellow blogger at The Misadventures of Mub, I have started the Friday Fragments for the first time. It is a cool weekly feature initiated by Half - Past Kissin' Time which sort of recaps the past week's highlights. A neat way to keep track of life, I thought! :)

So here goes my week's highlights:

---) I finally completed my looong time on going crochet project. A simple scarf which I managed to mess up half through and had to undo all the way back and again knit it. I was so excited when I completed this, I tried it out several times even while the sun was shining ever so brightly :). Am thinking what to make next!

---) Being a new driver, I avoid driving on my own through highways as much as possible. After a strong pep talk from my husband and carefully tracing out a route which takes the highway for only few minutes, I managed to make it on my own for a needed car repair! Phew!

---) I joined swimming lessons. Again! It was oddly satisfying to see grown up people who all have some sort of water phobia and have hence not learnt swimming so far. Lets see if I get it this time around.

---) The weather changed dramatically from mid week here in NJ. It was as if the sun got bored and said a sudden brisk good bye. From turning the air-conditioning on one night, to taking out our warm blankies the next night, the "brrrrr.." season begins.

---) After some back and forth thoughts I finally started volunteering at the local library here. Just for a change. The lady there said while showing me how to label books that she found it therapeutic. And then she took me to a big stack of about 500 books. Ahem! Therapeutic, I don't know. Mind numbing, yes! :)

---) I have realized my favorite hangouts in general are two sorts of places - libraries and coffee shops (not the Dutch kind!). There is this cozy, warm, fuzzy feeling about them. After a wonderful Chai Tea Latte, me and hubby just took a walk along the Hudson river to this beautiful view of NYC skyline (above). Small pleasures are the best!

Anyone interested in joining Friday Fragments, please click at the button below! Thank you Mrs. 4444.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Hurircane Irene came and went

Hurricane Irene towards the east coast

"But, why?? you are preparing as if its war time" said my husband controlling his laughter when I told him that we would need to add a transistor to our hurricane shopping list. As he hung up the phone, I could snatch a bit of what he was telling his colleague "Man, my wife is freaking out watching CNN...." :)

Hurricane Irene came out of no where and forced us all to be at home last weekend. With 24x7 coverage on several news channels claiming that even the New York Stock Exchange would be closed, I was expecting something in lines of the movie "The Day After Tomorrow". We shopped extensively and am now quite familiar with the hurricane emergency kit: bottled water, torch and batteries, candles, food supplies, some medicines, filling up gas in the car and a transistor (The NJ Governor said we may need to listen to news when there is a power outage - then, of course we need to!). And thank God, we live above ground level. Oh yeah! We were all ready for the vicious Irene to hit us. My husband's only interest (apart from lazing around most of the two days spent at home) was on getting a day off on Monday.  Alas, the vicious category 3 hurricane Irene turned into a wimpy tropical storm as it hit NJ (No no, I am happy about it, really!).

We were fast asleep as it poured its worst rains on us and in the morning we got up to see even some sun shining on us. :). Better luck next time Irene! After resisting this intense urge to get out on Sunday itself, we all left to NYC on Monday (with a more than eager guest who also spent two looooong days watching the rains from our home), hoping that the city would be less crowded this one time. that would ever happen...NYC was as crazy as always.

Hats off to the government though for carrying out such extensive precautionary measures! While a few felt that they overdid it, I think its always better to be safe than sorry. 

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

What it takes to be an Indian

Who is a true Indian? (photo link)

While living abroad one often wonders about their true identity. Initially you feel alien in the foreign land but after some time you begin to feel alien even in your own country, until you get to this middle fuzzy place where one learns to take things as they come. Being originally from quite a conservative city in India, the stark differences between my past and the western world are not lost upon me. But I have come to accept them in a healthy way. 

I have always wondered though, what children of Indian origin, born and  brought up in the western world go through. How do they create their identity and which way would they/their parents prefer to go - the traditional Indian school way or the much modern western way? 
Bharatanatyam - a traditional Indian dance form (photo link)

A few days back we attended an "Arangetram" (graduation from an Indian dance form) in NJ. I am not really a big fan of the dance form as such, but decided to go for some cultural enrichment (plus the free food!). The young girl gave a dance performance for 3 hours! The event was so well organized and the dance so well performed that  for some time I forgot I live in the US. I have seen several Indian kids here who are so much more culturally proficient of the Indian ways that I wouldn't stand a chance in front of them knowledge wise. Ever! 

It leads me to this interesting question though - who is a true Indian (or put your own country here)?

1. One who lives in India (whether he likes it or not) - manages to survive; the common man who is bringing the country forward, or
2. An Indian origin person living anywhere as long as he wants to and tries to identify himself/herself with the country, sometimes much more than a regular citizen (but possibly shall never step into the land of cows), or
3. The blessed people who live in and love the desi (slang for Indian) ishtyle. 

Does your mouth water when you think of samosa or gulab jamun? Do you get into fainting fits when you look at Shahrukh Khan or Aishwarya Rai? Did your blood boil as the Indian cricketers lost against England in the recent test match? Have you changed your facebook profile picture to support Anna Hazare (the man claimed to be the next Gandhi)? Nah! that doesn't really prove anything. I think the answer is much simpler than that. Just ask yourself where you are from. No matter where your were born and raised and where you live currently you know where your heart wishes to be.

If your answer is:

1. India - True Indian (you love/swear/laugh/cry all at once when you think of India) 
2. Ahem well, I love all countries - Hippindian (Hare Krishna Hare Ram! Peace out!)
3. India is great, but I just love it out here/there - People of Indian origin (best of both worlds or confused desi?)
4. Man, this whole planet sucks, I would rather live in Mars - Beware these types. We suspect them to be actual aliens. (Run!)

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Dhokla Idly

This is what a South Indian turns a Dhokla into - Dhokla idly :D

P.S - for anyone who is like W.T.H, let me try to explain a bit. Dhokla is a dish which is supposed to look like a sponge cake, but I turned into these famous southy style dish - idly..which look like small mounds.

P.S2 - sorry if you still din't get the funny side, its an Indian thing I guess.. :) 

Friday, August 12, 2011

Thank you your honor!

Have you seen Judge Judy's show?

Yup! I guiltily admit I have watched quite a few of Judge Judy's shows. So given a chance to visit a small claims court in New Jersey, a few of those spicy court cases churned around my mind and I didn't want to miss watching a few of them live. No! No! I was not lucky enough to sit through the show. What happened was that hubby & friends' previous landlord decided conveniently to blame them for not getting a new tenant in time, and charged an extra month's rent by framing some interesting stories of his own. Unwilling to even to accept our calls, we had no choice but to drag him to small claim's court.

$3000 is the maximum amount you can claim at such a place, and hiring an attorney can turn out to be super silly cost wise. So we turned lawyers, arranged valid proofs, witnesses, filed a case and got ready for D-day. Now, I was eagerly waiting for this 'larger than life' Judge Judy character to appear and voila! Judge Costello was brilliant! An impressive and majestic lady with sharp wits and cool authority. Don't really know whats with the 'glasses waiting to fall down your nose' style with her as well (maybe its Judge thing), but overall it worked!

It turns out our defendant had 7 cases pending against him since 2004!!! Every defendant and plaintiff has to go through a state authorized mediator initially who helps in discussing the case to resolve it out of court. Our lucky lucky stars, the mediator was so convinced that we would win, that the landlord panicked and agreed to pay up the money, even before we went in front of the judge!! :) From just as a wild thought of going to court, none of us expected the issue to get resolved this way.

We were out of court pretty soon (that is in 3 hours, apparently it takes the whole day). Alas, I watched only a few cases, that too darn boring ones. I was expecting a wild raucous!  Judge Judy, waiting to come to your show! ;) 

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Meeh! I am back, I guess :)

New home, old memories

Its been well over a year since I last blogged. I really can't believe it! Just been a bit busy with a few itsy bitsy things you know, like - my WEDDING, an internship in Canada, graduation and shifting from the Netherlands to the United States of America! :D

Yup, a lot happened over the last year! But every now and then I would have these itches or to put it more delectably, these incredible cravings to write. Perhaps by writing is how I express my self most clearly. This line by Anne Frank summarizes my feeling the best:

" What I still like best of all is that I can at least write down what I think and feel, otherwise I would just choke"

I simply had an incredible time in the Netherlands and it is no wonder why me and hubby darling chose on this picture to adorn our living room - something to remind me everyday of how lucky I have been...

In terms of the blog, I intend to write stories from past and present, some that I missed to write down and others as they happen on topics as varied as my gray cells allow me to come up with. Hope I will be more disciplined this time around! :)
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...