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Summertime

imageHot and dusty winds blow across the day, hinting at summer storms

Cuckoos call out fiendishly in the mango trees, anticipating the ripe fruits

fragrance of the new blossoms on the neem trees, sweetening the evening breeze

Gulmohar trees are aflame with their orange bounty, competing with the sunsets

Not my favourite season in the least, Indian summers are a test on the soul.

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Insta- Corbett – Gram

A sudden work trip had me taking off to #Corbett for a couple of days. As usual with all my journeys, I decided to make the most of it. When I was introduced to the resident naturalist of the resort I was lodging in, I mmediately begged him to take me for a birdwatch walk in the morning. He very happily obliged.

7:00 a.m. and we were off on a brisk walk down to the main road and onto a jungle trail. He talked while we walked; Teak trees planted to create buffer between the jungle and village as they dont encourage undergrowth of any kinds; tiger poop lying on the forest floor (Eyuck! I know. But then we ‘touristy’ types ask for this shit!!! – lliterally!!!!); Mahaseer fish shoals in the river; latest tiger sightings and what not.

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This looked like a mystical bridge to “neverwhere”and led straight to a densely covered forest track! I was sure I would enter another realm past it and maybe never come back! Seeing it, I recalled a few lines from my current read #ElifShafak #TheFortyRulesOfLove :

“Fret not where the road will take you. Instead concentrate on the first step. That’s the hardest part and that’s what you are responsible for. Once you take that step let everything do what it naturally does and the rest will follow. Do not go with the flow. Be the flow.”

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Yup it was another realm all together; for this is where the bridge led. It looked like I just have to reach the cavern ahead and it will be neverwhere for sure.

“There is such a thing in faith as not being able to see the forest for the trees. The totality of religion is far greater and deeper than the sum of its component parts. Individual rules need to be read in the light of the whole. And the whole is concealed in the essence.”  – #ElifShafak #TheFortyRulesOfLove

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The famous #GarjiyaDevi temple perched atop a conical mass of land, almost as if the earth surged up to form a mountain for it to rest on! I loved the red chunris dotting the mountain – Tremulous human faith tied to the mountain of faith!

“God is a meticulous clockmaker. So precise is His order that everything on earth happens in its own time. Neither a minute late nor a minute early. And for everyone without exception, the clock works accurately. For each there is a time to love and a time to die” – #ElifShafak   #TheFortyRulesOfLove

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The vastness of the river Kosi and the tumultous sound it makes as it gushes forth joyously, made me want to fly! I could have stayed here endlessly. Alas! that was not to be!

“A life without love is of no account. Don’t ask yourself what kind of love you should seek, spiritual or material, divine or mundane, Eastern or Western.… Divisions only lead to more divisions. Love has no labels, no definitions. It is what it is, pure and simple. “Love is the water of life. And a lover is a soul of fire! “The universe turns differently when fire loves water.” – #ElifShafak #TheFortyRulesOfLove

 

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My #New #Year’s #Resolutions – tell me yours!

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Well here is another new year that’s rolled in and to me it feels that it rolled in a bit too fast! As usual, the “what’s your resolution” refrain rang out all around! Got me thinking – what were my last year’s???

AAAAHEEEMMMM!!!

Cant remember now!

So then should I make new ones? (damn the ageing neurons)

Might as well stick to the tradition (nobody will fault me with that now!) And since am writing them down, will remember them for sure! (beat that neurons)

Resolution #1 – Listen more! One tends to over-react when something is said to them; I do too! And then repent the reaction later; I do too too! So starting this year, I resolve to keep it in (even though am tempted to speak out), listen, nod my head more and ruminate over it like a good cow…. er… I mean listener!

Resolution #2 – Clear out! This one is just the opposite of the first; need to clear out the excess thoughts and emotions!! OUT! OUT! OUT! I need to let go of all the needless garbage that gets accumulated via all my fears, over-analysis and insecurities! (not to mention the stress caused by the nosey no-good doers who want to poke their useless opinions into my life!)

Resolution #3 – Mind my own business! Goes back to the first one (well kind of)! So unless someone really asks for it, I am not giving my advise! Mind It!!!!!

Resolution #4 – Books, Books & more books! I want to get back to my love for reading and am going to pursue it through a bookclub of my own! Tried far too many that have been around; disappointed with them all. I keep running out of genres and book reccos to read more – ensuring it all happens this year!

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Check out my book club :

https://www.facebook.com/groups/646485688824653/?fref=ts

Resolution #5 – Passionate about photography! Going to pick up my camera more often and shoot more! Instagram pacts are also keeping me happy. But I will shoot some more portraits this year – maybe once a month.

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https://www.facebook.com/Vanilla-Impressions-108071932560007/

Resolution #5 – Blog regularly! Well for starters once a week atleast! So lookout ahead!

Resolution #6 – Fitness! Yeah this was on my list last year too – hitting 40 and so I need to…….. but well!!!

Ok so before I finish 40, I will get fitter! And I already got onto it with the #GetFitSocial2016 Healthy food was the mantra of the day – freshly pressed juices, yoghurt layered with berries and muesili, soba noodle salad, quinoa and sweet potato burger………………….

( never mind that today i ordered in butter naan and butter chicken!!)

Processed with Moldiv

Processed with Moldiv

Resolution #7 – Travel! Last but by no means the least, travel more…. Give into the gypsy feet and wanderlust urgings!

 

Happy New Year 2016!!!

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25 Random Things about MOI – yours truly!!!! ( this is just the tip of the iceberg – there are so many more)

_MG_3676cThis note is verrrrrrrrry old- found it today!! Edited it and re-posted it – hope you all love reading it too!!

Once you’ve been tagged, you write 25 random things facts habits or goals about you. Afterwards, tag your friends. You have to tag the person who tagged you. If I tagged you, it’s because I want to know 25 things about you.

For fans of 25 Random Things and 25 Random Things About Me and 25 Things About Us and the 25 random things note plus 25 Things About Us

1) Butterflies – those magnificent winged creatures with colours and patterns that tease the mind. How I love thee. I wish I was one – but I think my mind is …. like a butterfly I mean – constantly flitting from here to there – Which is why I have such a short attention span ( you only have to take one look at my CV to see how true this is)

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2) Books – Reading is a passion; especially sci-fi and fantasy fiction but how I hate waiting for the sequels to come out. (Iram I wholly and solely blame you for this grrrrr!!!!!) I tend to totally loose myself in the book I am reading and only when it finishes am I able to pay attention to anything else.

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3) I am going to design the most “rocking” book shelf to house all my gazillion books as soon as there is plenty of space to do so!!! (Its going to be a much sought after design by big furniture companies too!!!)

4) The color RED!!!!! Its exuberant, vibrant, glamourous and just different!!! I wear it as much as possible and have it all around me as well. ( red hair, red wall, red car, red shoes, red chappals, red vase, red gamla………………………..)

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5) Friends – cant live without them. ( Soni, shivi and Sim – how I miss you guys and our bachpan ke times – wish we lived as near a possible). My whacked out friends- the adoreable couple of Mo & Shu and even more aborable ( distance makes the heart grow fonder) Tut n sheila!!!!! And then there are others with whom I have reconnected with after many years and the new ones like Sejal, Jyoti, sravanti, Smita…… list goes on!

 

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6) Rain – oh how I love rains and the sondhi sondhi mitti ki khushbu that comes with it; getting soaked in pouring rain; going out for a long drive; hot cup of tea and the balcony – Ah – rains have it all!!!!! ( Sadaf I can see you rolling your eyes at this)

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7) Movies – ah – the hot buttered popcorn, comfy seats and a good movie. Its an all time stress buster for me; and if there is tonnes of good company , then even a no brainer movie is so much fun!! ( I have been recently told that its because of ppl like me the entertainment industry is surviving!!! – what can I say – I LOVE MOVIES!!!!)

8) Mojitos, Margaritas and wine – above all WINE!!!!! Hmmmmmmm!!!!!! And then getting sloshed totally and absolutely !!!!

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9) Pictionary – the screaming and shouting and banging and the crazy doodling!!!!! Its a total laugh riot and such brilliant fun!! I cant wait to get our friends together to have a session soon!

10) I want to live in a red brick house bordered with green cover on all sides ; amaltas and harshingar trees; swing under the mango tree and lots of rose bushes rambling in every possible corner.

11) The bedroom has to have a window seat to make love; drink tea, read a book , watch stars at night and enjoy the rains.

12) I yearn for curly hair – auburn with a tinge of red and loads of soft curls, tumbling down the face!!!! Oh how I wish my genes allowed for this.

13) Eye Make up – the best part of the face to dress up are the eyes and how I love to indulge in this. Especially love blues on the eyes..

14) Hot chocolate Fudge – ooof is there anything more sinful than this in the world??? I don’t think so and like to indulge in as often as my calorie counting brain lets me.

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15) I hate exercising, gym and any such sweat inducing efforts. But I love to walk – maybe I should adopt “ walk when you talk” anthem and set out with a vengeance.

16) I am an INDOPHILE!! I love everything about India ( yes sceptics – I love my country – never mind the corruption, overpopulation, illiteracy, etc, etc) I love our traditions and love dressing on these occassions and applying mehindi.

17) Fat yellow roses, huge sunflowers and sarson ke khet – the perfect riot of color and beauty. I love them all. I still haven’t gotten that perfect shot in “sarson ka khet”!!

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18) My yoghurt dip is to die for ( so I have been told by countless number of people) Ditto with chocolate cake which I don’t make that often.

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19) I am very good at dilli darshan – taking people around about in delhi ; be it sightseeing or be it shopping or be it eating places. ( Nam di waiting for you to come down – have some eateries tucked away just for you) ( Sadaf – come soon for your shopping trip – its been very long )

20) I simply am adoring the trips I have been able to make this year with my friends – the company itself adds the Zing to these perfect holidays!! nisha, pratibha, yasmin, sailesh, shailja ………One trip I will never ever forget is the one to the Golden Temple – that place blew me away totally. I get tingles down my spine thinking about it. It was a humbling experience – melted me away totally!!!

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21) Photography is my latest passion ( thanks to the training, patience and encouragement from Jogi, Shailan to name a few ppl) and my Canon 400 D – isme to meri jaan bassi hui hai. Now I am getting portfolio requests from friends and family – all for free!!! ( Zubin – I can see you nodding your head)

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22) Lt. Abhimanyu Rai AKA Sharukh Khan – I LOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOVE him and have ever since Fauji 20 years ago!!! He is the perfect lover with those melting chocolate eyes and an adorable dimple. Mmmmmmmmmmmmmm

23) And DDLJ is the alltime favourite love story and then there is Notting Hill!

24) Gulab Jamun – those succulent round delicacies just dripping with delight – can NEVER resist them. Vanilla ice cream from Nirulas and dark chocolates with mint centres are the other two favourites.

25) I love small gestures – “ Its the thought that counts”! I believe in this adage and follow it from my heart. No gift is right or wrong for me or big or small!!! I love surprises ( but I always manage to guess them ……

P.S.

Plenty more from where this came from. Watch out for the next 25 random things!!!!

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When I got to be a Bond Girl!!!

Saturday afternoon saw me flitting about in the latest food festival in town – The gourmet High Street. A gentleman hailed me and said that there is a mixology session about to start with the Speakeasy ( a popular bar n restaurant in gugraon) Bartender – Yangdup Lama! And its a complimentary session (they were supposed to be paid but…)

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Excited, we sauntered into the cocktail studio and immediately were taken with the soft spoken ‘Lama’ who entertained with witty anecdotes about bar tending too.

Sidenotes: Vodka is a silent spirit which takes on the taste of whatver its mixed with; hence a big favourite for cocktails!

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He started with trivia about the Classic Martini, including James Bond’s role in making it a Vodka one rather than the Gin based.

When he asked who in the audience would like to help him make a Classic Martini; how could I miss the opportunity! Up I went along with scores of other ladies, and er…. one gentleman!

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So we poured 30 ML x 2 into a beaker full of ice cubes and then added 10 ML of Dry Vermouth to it and then stirred it all with a stirrer. The trick was to make it cold – thats why stirred and not shaken! Boy this was fun and the fumes were heady! The vermouth is actually a wine and it smelled gorgeous!

Sidenote: put ice cubes in the Martini glass to chill it. Also stirring the drink with loads of ice makes it cold and lets it stay so for long. A great Martini stays the same temperature from first sip to the last!

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And then we poured (like experts) into a cold Martini glass! Plonked in one olive and Voila, we were good to go!

Side note: the brine from the olives is added to make a ‘Dirty’ Martini!!

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Cheers James!!!!

Sidenote: This was too potent for a non-Vodka drinker like me! I personally prefer the gin one!!!

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Palatable or not!?!

Much fanfare and updates on social media about the New Delhi Palate Fest 2015 had me curious enough to plan a day there. Though my last years experience was a disaster at the same fair, this year promised to be a bit different.

Well! The crowds seemed to be huge and food overpriced ( social media reports) – Undeterred, I headed out there on the second day. Prudence triumphed enough for me to take the metro till Racecourse and then auto it. (Last year the parking was more than three nightmares rolled into one).

I entered from the Market Zone (Red) and saw a neatly ringed formation of small kiosks and thelas, each with their vibrant banners and hoopla. Loved the large benches and tables in the middle with dustbins located conveniently all around. Neat and organised was my first impression, with plenty of seating capacity. (Plus 10 from last time’s haphazardness!)

All the vendors seemed to be selling home made food stuffs and were very open to free tasting and sampling! We made a pit stop at Just Pav and loved their simple dish for all the right flavours and textures. The boonda was soft (not mushy) and very fresh in taste. At 50/- we were happy with it!IMG_5293

Next came some home cooks who offered a taste and we simply loved the taste and their enthusiasm for us to try everything on their stall.

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Sugarama had an awesome array of colorful Macaroons on display and in a platter for tasting as well. Our thumbs up to the Peanut butter one!

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The SugarCube had some Teacakes on for tasting and our favourite was the vanilla chiffon with lemon! Their chocolate cake looked scrumptious too! Loved the lovely lady at the helm of things  – wish her all the best for her venture!

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Miss Chhotee’s homemade dips and crisps were damn good and had us buying them outright! Lavaash crisps in beetroot and spinach flavours were our favourite. A tad bit expensive at 150/- for each. They retail at Food hall!

The plum chutney and the white wine mustard at Nilufer’s kitchen are worth a mention too! Shall make some sandwiches and share pics to tease!

Our next halt was The Flip Pan which offered us their biryani for sampling- was delicious with great flavours! Kathal ke Galauti caught our fancy and we weren’t disappointed. Juicy, moist and soft but well cooked with a mild spice flavouring; tangy shredded beetroot and hummus made for great accompaniment with them! The entire plate cost us 200/- and was value for money in our opinion.

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Sated, we checked out the next spot which was packed with crowds – Bombaykery!  Neatly done stall with some great looking desserts! We tried the raspberry cheesecake (60/-) and were pleasantly happy with it. Their selection was impressive and we have made a note to check them out more as they are in DLF phase 4.

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Elmas bakery and Fat lulu were the other two exciting looking stalls with good crowds. Rest of the stalls were so average in decor n fanfare that it was sad to see, especially the five star hotels. Another thing we noticed was that restaurants had combined in pairs to take up stalls- probably to share the high rentals and ensure proper footfall.

The art installations were too weird for me to understand and did nothing to liven up the atmosphere. The music bands were a dull affair as well- probably Euphoria was the only top billed performer there.

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I detested the fact that everywhere water and beverages were being sold at double or more. This is really sad to see and should be discouraged, drinking water fountains should be put up at such fairs!

I had been longing to try out the Thai food at NeungRoi for ages and took this opportunity to dine there. Simply loved the delicious flavours and crunchy veggies in the green curry. If at a food fest the fare is so good, can’t wait to try it out at their restaurant. And guess what, they handed us a 15% discount voucher for our next visit there. yipeeee! (350/- for the plate)

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To quench our thirst, we had stopped at great Indian kebab factory but were unimpressed by their offerings. Finally picked up lemonade with chia seeds from La Bodega which at 200/- a glass was really expensive. Then we came upon this stall with some really funky looking drinks but each priced at 200/- onwards for a glass! Yup drinks were expensive at the fest all around.

For me the plus points were, free entry, much more organised in layout and spacing than last year and loads of seating options being provided. The number of participating food outlets was also very impressive with tonnes of home bakers. Food sampling in the market zone was the biggest hit with me.

now moving onto the Gourmet HIghstreet which is on 4th-6th December in leisure valley park in Gurgaon. Let’s see how that turns out to be.

 

 

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Superfast or Superslow?

IMG_2514I have been a big advocate of traveling by train and have some lovely journey memories too; but some of my recent experiences have left me in big big doubt about their reliability now. There was a recent news article about the scam concerning the Rail Neer where the contractors and railway staff had colluded to supply packaged drinking water at higher prices and raked in crores.

Read about Rail Neer scam here:

http://www.hindustantimes.com/india/rail-neer-scam-2-officials-raided-by-cbi-suspended/story-Mh1axO7Zl7Ja8jld9SZo7L.html

Experience #1
Travelled by #JammuRajdhani recently and as is my norm, I dont eat train food. Despite that, the catering boys came asking for “tips” from me! I was shocked at this – are they paid so low or is this a quick norm to make money on the side? Is #IRCTC #Indianrailways aware of this? BTW, they insist on more than 10/- and want money from every passenger – its very very shameless and feels so pathetic! It was very sad to see such a disgusting “begging” attempt in a superfast train!

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Experience#2
My friends traveled back to #Jammu via #JammuRajdhani last night. They didnt eat in the train either but requested the catering boy for some tea – they had to pay for the tea (ofcourse) but also HAD TO “tip” the catering boys who served them the tea!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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To top it, one of my friends had her Iphone stolen while she slept. Another passenger in the adjoining cubicle was also robbed of his mobile. And both my friends and their two female co-passengers felt that they were sprayed with something to make them sleep soundly as none of them are able to sleep deeply in the train due to the racket and movement. My friend slept for an hour within which the phone was stolen. The passenger in the adjacent cubicle complained about the catering staff boys walking around a lot in the compartment and opening the curtains randomly too while the passengers were sleeping. One of the passengers had loudly asked one of them for an explanation of this behaviour and the boy bolted.

My friend went to collect the FIR and the cops told her that there was a major heist committed in another train where the victimised passenger had lots of valuables with him as he was in the process of shifting cities. This reeks of collusion between the Xray scanner staff, coolies and the catering staff of Indian Railways.

How sad has Indian railways become these days, especially in the premium trains like a Rajdhani! The X-ray scanner staff, coolies and the catering staff of railways have nothing better to do than scheme, loot and ripoff the passengers! Is there some way to bring this to the notice of the concerned authority or do we just shrug our shoulders and say – this only happens in India!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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