Wednesday, December 30, 2009

photo: afternoon quota

afternoon quota

Ending the year with a shot of a cake I made in November. It was one of the most decadent cakes that I have made and it tasted divine. Hope the new year will inspire me to continue with my baking streak! Happy new year to all who visit :-)

online sharing

These days one can pretty much live ones life online, right from sharing photos with family and friends to party invitations and baby announcements. I've used the first two, especially sharing photo albums directly with friends, instead of posting them on photo sharing sites, where you're not sure who has actually come to see the photos or not. I'd rather send them directly into a few people's mailbox instead. But just the fact that there are so many options is a great thing, right!

a focused blog or a free-flowing blog?

It's certainly been a very interesting year for blogging. I got back to blogging a lot more this year, although I still haven't kept the focus of the blog strictly to what it should be and have been randomly blogging about everything and anything like acne treatment to tile flooring and so on. It's not the best of approaches to have, but then it's also the reality of a blogger's life. One writes about anything and everything and this very freedom to post just about anything is what makes blogging interesting. Sure, it might confuse readers and stop them from coming back, but in my mind my blog is an expression of myself, and if I only cater it to my reader's tastes, then I'll lose my creativity. Although the title suggests that the blog is about travel, I like to think of it as a journey of my life, the good times, the tough times, the rollicking holidays, the quiet sojourns into the hills as well as my daily life and the travails I face there, big or small, petty or landmark. Happy trails!

Sunday, December 27, 2009

photo: reading time

reading time

Spending time at home always means that I get to sit out on the terrace and read my book for an hour or so everyday. I love the simplicity of life back home, the old routines, the familiar ways and the ease of life. This is a shot taken a week or so back.

Job security to the forefront

And so it continues, just when I get done with writing one of my quick and short posts and hit "publish", I find I want to add something more to it, and so here I am again posting about the same topic, namely jobs. Considering the amount of upheaval the world has seen in the past year, no one takes their jobs for granted anymore, and rightly so. Job security has suddenly become one of the key factors in selecting a job these days and governmental jobs are seeming more and more worthwhile despite their lower pay.

still job hunting?

You wouldn't think Christmas or New Years is a very good time to look for jobs right? That's what I thought as well, since everyone is either preoccupied in holiday stuff or wrapping stuff up for the end of the year accounts and so on, but it seems that for many companies it is the perfect time to hire new people. I read an article online that quoted several HR managers saying this, so decided to go to some job search sites to see if it held true and if more companies were advertising for say jobs in Philadelphia, and it turns out that it holds true. It is possible to find a good job even at this time of the year.

Do the salsa!

Now this is something really interesting: Dancing lessons that you can take online! That's one less excuse for all you people who said there were no good salsa instructors in town. SalsaCrazy's Salsa Dance BootCamp is an innovative way to learn how to salsa. Once you sign up for the classes, you will gain access to hundreds and thousands of online salsa classes that you can see online as well as get via DVDs to your home. One thing is definitely clear, that these lessons are for those who really are serious about learning and also are able to keep themselves motivated about the challenge of learning on ones own. If you fit into one of these categories, then you can be sure of being able to pick up some great salsa dancing skills and impress all your friends and family. Sounds interesting, right!

its browsing time...

So the holiday season has started once more...and so has the cold weather. Till date we've had wonderfully bright and sunny days, but today all we got was watery sunshine and a cool breeze. It's a good time to catch up with stuff inside the house I suppose, pending emails, uploading photos from the holidays and so on I thought. And while I was surfing around I came across some nice sites to browse for home decor for the holidays, nothing to do with industrial safety supplies or anything boring though. A little bit of browsing on the side never hurt anyone, right!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

home for Christmas

It's almost Christmas time and it's a wonderful time to be home with the entire family! It's a bit last minute, but I still haven't got all my presents done as yet. But today, I found something really nice and traditional, something that is a bit different than the usual Christmassy presents. Well, it's certainly not loose diamonds or an iPod or anything like that, but it's a sweet thing to give a child. I've still got a couple of more gifts to buy and then some nice interesting wrapping paper and then I'll be done. It's nice to be home for Christmas!

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

photo: weekend morning

weekend morning

Reading about the local golf scene and drinking cold coffee with chocolate ice cream. Yummm! That's Lee Westwood on the cover...He won the Dubai World Championship a few weeks back, and although this was printed before the tournament finished, the title works very well still.

Getting ready to leave tomorrow for our trip. Not sure how much I will be online, or if I will even take my laptop with me this time.

This shot was taken on a sunny day, but today is hazy, dusty and gusty. A sandstorm is predicted for today, but right now it's just a weird yellowly feel to the sky and sand flying everywhere. Photos of the dusty conditions in Dubai today on a local blog.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

photo: patterns


As a lot of you already know, I love noticing the light that streams into our home. In the desert of Dubai, having sunlight coming into one's home is not necessarily a good thing, but I simply love the energy that it brings with it. And thanks to living in the Middle East, I have started noticing and loving all the patterns one sees here. This one is the shadow of our window grill.

an incentive to buy....a camera or a tv?

We renewed our annual newspaper subscription this afternoon and are now looking forward to our coupons along with tomorrow's edition. Yes, the newspaper subscriptions here give you great deals for subscribing, and so we're going to get the same amount that we paid for the newspaper as coupons for two different a huge electronic store and another a clothing store. The electronic store one will be very handy indeed, since we were thinking of buying one of these new Samsung HDTV or a camera...well, I'm always on the lookout for a good camera but still haven't got around to actually buying one..oh well. Maybe this will spur me on!

our tile crazy landlord

We've lived in so many places, so many cities and have such different types of landlords. This one has been very enthused about making changes in our building, sometimes painting the exterior, sometimes installing some fancy looking glass tile in the entry hallway and at others descending with his team of workmen on the holidays to make as many changes and clean up stuff in the compound. Yes, he is a very different kind of landlord and we're very happy for that. But we all have to admit, he's a bit crazy when it comes to anything to do with tiles!

a new mantra

        A tiny window in a traditional courtyard building in Bastakiya.

Yes, yes, since I mentioned it already...we're leaving on vacation in a few days so have been busy with getting everything sorted out and ready for our trip. It always seems that a hundred pending things all need to be taken care of all at the same time, and there's only so much that I can do, but this time around, I'm not getting hassled with all that I am not able to do, but instead am keeping happy with all that I have managed to do. A new mantra, a new way to live, and a new way to bring in the new year.

a new thank you!

It's been a bit crazy around here, with all sorts of work going on. The landlord got into high gear over the long holidays to get all the pending work sorted out with our recent problems with water leakage from the main line. At first he really didn't know what was going on, and neither did the series of plumbing chaps he brought with him, since the water seemed to leak from a variety of sources, but then he got into battle mode and decided to redo it all. And so we got new tiles in our bath and very nearly got some new Toto sinks and toilets that he was very keen to install, but we resisted since it would have just taken too long and caused too much chaos. Glad it's all done and over with before we head out for the holidays.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Blogging for social interaction

From the time that blogging started out, it really has come a long, long way. At first it was such a niche format, that one had to constantly explain to people what it was. I remember doing that when I started out blogging in 2004. There were so few blogs and many of them were rather technical and IT related. The interesting changes that have happened to blogging over the years is that they have become mainstream and that has led to a vast variety of blogs being written. The bulk of blogs now are personal blogs, where one can share one's thoughts and feelings.

I came across a site called that offers users a free blog based on exactly this topic. A place to share thoughts and take part in social conversations, a place to interact with a larger community, and a place where one can automatically be updated on one's friends latest posts. You might say that a lot of other sites offer the same thing, but I think the difference here is that they have a lot more control over what information you want or don't want, which is really the key.

So along with the regular posts, there is also a section for users to post breaking news stories and where one can participate in discussions. It's a bit of a combination of blogging, social media sites and viral videos as well. I found their "one love policy" of being respectful to others very nice, since a lot of people find it a great joy to be rude to others while hiding under the anonymous tag.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

recipe: Chocolate Mud Cake

...and here's the cake

I wanted to make something special for the double celebration of my sister's anniversary and our brother-in-law's birthday. I found this recipe that I had saved in my Word files on my computer...for some reason I didn't write the source, and I just can't recall where I got it from. So, if you're the owner of this recipe, thank you so much.

** Edited to add: Ashwin dug up the source and here it is on Katja and Minna's blog Nestled In. **
Edited to add: Katja and Minna closed their blog, so the link is no longer valid.

I loved making it, it's really super simple, and it comes out really rich and dark, even though we don't get any chocolate labeled just "dark chocolate" as one does in the baking section in the US, just as one finds "semisweet" or "bittersweet" chocolates. Here, they are in cocoa percentages, so I selected a 72% dark chocolate for the cake and a 55% dark chocolate for the frosting. Next time, I think I will go for 60-65% for the cake. It's a rich cake in terms of butter as well...I try to stick to cakes that use about 100gms of butter usually, and this was double.

Chocolate (mud) cake Recipe

• 200 grams of butter
• 200 grams of dark chocolate
• 4 eggs
• 2 decilitres of sugar…200ml by volume
• 1.5 decilitres of wheat flour….150ml by volume
• 1 tea-spoon of baking powder
• 4 table-spoons of cacao powder (for baking)

• 150 grams of dark chocolate
• 1 decilitres of cream...100ml by volume
• 1 table-spoon of butter

1. Melt the butter in a pot and add chocolate. Mix until the chocolate has entirely melted.
2. Whip the eggs with sugar.
3. Mix the flour, the baking powder and the cacao powder.
4. Add the melted chocolate into the egg foam and mix carefully.
5. Strain the flour into the dough and mix (still, carefully).
6. Pour the dough into a cake tin (that is greased and dredged).
7. Bake about 45 minutes at 175° Celsius.

After the cake is ready, make the frosting.
1. Heat the cream in a pot (don’t let it boil!).
2. Add the butter and the dark chocolate.
3. Stir until the frosting is even.
4. Let the frosting cool for a while and then spread it on the cake.

And then dig in :-)

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Pls don't call me

Don't you just hate it when some calling list gets hold of your number and you start getting bombarded with calls? It drives me nuts, absolutely nuts. Since yesterday, I've been getting calls for everything from life insurance rates to time share sales to AC repair services, and I'm halfway to the point of just changing my number to stop it all. I know, I know, it shouldn't require such dire measures, I should just be able to ask them to take my number of the list etc etc, but it doesn't seem to work like that here. What list, there is no list, there is no way to be unlisted from their list and so on, and then there's the thing of talking to people who barely understand English and trying to decipher what they're actually saying...Oh well, I needed to rant a bit.....feeling better already!

Monday, November 23, 2009

At the Dubai World Championship

We've had a busy weekend watching the Dubai World Championship golf tournament here in Dubai. We went to see them play two days...Day 1 and Day 3 (thursday and saturday) and it was a wonderful, wonderful event. We walked along with my home town golfer Jeev Milkha Singh on holes 17 and 18 and then followed Sergio Garcia and Robert Allenby on holes 14 and 15, before heading to Costa for a break and then heading back home. Other players we got to see up close were Lee Westwood, who eventually won the championship with a huge margin, Ernie Els, Ian Poulter, Henrick Stenson and many more.

Jeev Milkha Singh sizing up his 3rd shot on the 18th hole in Round 3...should have been his 2nd shot, but he duffed his tee shot to the rough on the left.

Spectators around the 13th green, a short par 4, as Sergio Garcia and Robert Allenby approached in Round 3.

Sergio Garcia getting ready to chip onto the green on the 13th green. Round 3

Spectators around the 13th green. This was on Day 1 of the tournament, so there were few crowds.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

which dvd?

Have you switched to bluray DVD's as yet? We haven't and quite frankly I'm quite sick of figuring out which the right direction to go is. I mean, one could invest in one of these players and later on realize that oh well, this technology is not going to be the one that is going to be around after all. The different brands are just making it too confusing for the average consumer, who is not all that interested in the technical details but just wants to watch a good movie at home. Simple as that!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

and on it goes....

As usual the debate continues on what the best way to lose weight is. The other day I was flipping channels and came across a discussion on the best weight loss supplements. Hmmm, information from first hand users I thought, let's see what they have to say! Well, it really wasn't that exciting or informative. Pretty much everyone seemed to have tried several different products and several had overlapped usage, so there really wasn't a definitive answer on what the best one was. Oh well, so that turned out to be a bit of a time-waster!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

winter or spring? I'm confused!

Sometimes it feels like we live in the Southern Hemisphere! As winter nears, it actually feels more like Spring. We have our windows open during the days, the curtains fluttering in the wind, the birds chirping happily outside. The light coming into the house has changed as it is in this shot in the late afternoon...contrasting with the light of the lamp in the bedroom. I love the warmth of this's one of our few touches of winter in the midst of a spring like feel.

And we started our bbq season last weekend! Several of our neighbors dropped by the see what we were up to and many got ideas of doing some bbq-ing themselves! I didn't take any shots during the bbq...too busy cooking and eating actually! Maybe next time!

traveling to London?

Traveling overseas can be stressful for a lot of people, especially if you're traveling on business and have a ton of things to take care of while you're away, work related and of course the never ending shopping list from home as well! Well, the one thing that can make your life simpler when you're traveling to London is using a car hire service, such as Harmony Cars that specializes in airport shuttles as well as chauffeur car hires.

As someone who has been using a similar service in Dubai for the past 2+ years, I know just how convenient it is. Most people don't bother to even consider the option of a car rental along with a driver, but if you're in a new city it can really make things a lot simpler. You certainly don't end up wasting time driving around looking for addresses, for sure.

From what I've seen of the reviews, Harmony Cars seems to be of the more professional companies that deal in car hire services. Of course, everyone has different experiences, but overall the average user has recommended this company. For one they seem to have a good range of cars available for all kinds of users, business and leisure, so even if you're traveling with kids, you will be able to find a suitable vehicle. Good luck for your travels, and oh by the way, this was a sponsored post!

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

list: what? November already!

It's November,

*time to relish the cool breeze and warm sunshine.
*to enjoy sitting outdoors in the evening with chilled glasses of skanjvi.
*to dig out my barbeque recipes, clean the grill and go shopping for bbq feasts.
*to keep the windows open and let the fresh air in and see the curtains flying in the breeze.
*to finalize plans for the winter vacations.
*to enjoy long walks in the park by the creek and lazy strolls on the beach.
* and so much more

time to call the plumber :-(

Oh dear, nothing as tiresome as plumbing problems is there? My landlord is not going to be happy but then it's his job to get these things fixed. Last week, water leaked from the upstairs bath out onto the lamp on the outer wall, right outside our bath and the maintainance chap just can't figure out what's going on. Since the new people upstairs have moved in, there have been a series of problems. I wonder what all changes they have made up there, like did then install a jacuzzi or walk in tubs or some such thing? I do hope that it gets sorted out and that our bath is left intact.

Monday, October 26, 2009

quote: time for everything yet nothing at all

"I still find each day too short for all the thoughts I want to think, all the walks I want to take, all the books I want to read, and all the friends I want to see."
-John Burroughs

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Giving a room a glow

I always enjoy researching and looking up new and interesting ways of building houses and interior design, especially on our travels. We were in Washington DC in the summer of 2008 for a family gathering and a wedding and I noticed that a lot of the newer houses there had some something called Travertine tiles installed. Travertine is a natural stone that comes from southern European countries like Italy, Greece and Turkey. The stone has a smooth and creamy texture.

Travertine has been used to build several important buildings in history, with the Coliseum being the most famous one built with it. Apart from Travertine, Accent Glass Tiles can also add to the architectural detail and design. These are a good alternative to ceramic tiles, although the cost is slightly more. Glass Accent tiles are also great for small spaces since they give a "glow" to a room, as they add depth and make the area luminous. These tiles score high marks for durability so offer good value for money.

weekend funnies of a different kind

The people here love to read advise columns of all kinds. The weekend papers and magazines have several of them, from legal advice to career planning, ayurvedic solutions with acne products, doctors diagnosis columns and so forth. I like to read the legal one, since it always has some question or the other about visa issues or landlord hassles, all stuff that one really needs to keep a tab on for one-selves, but the other ones are really quite complicated and convoluted. But it does make for funny reading!

oh for god's sake!

Since I love to go out for walks and am slim built, I often get asked about my reason for walking. Some people outright ask me if it's part of some weight loss diet kind of plan. No, No, No. I just love to walk, can't it be as simple as that. Walking is a habit for me, right from the time I joined boarding school at the age of 8 and 1/2. We had to walk or march everywhere, up and down slopes to the dorms, to the class rooms, to the dining hall, to the playing fields and so on until it became part of me. It's as simple as that.

Sorry, to cut the post short, but I'm off to make a sign that says all this and carry it around when I walk...maybe that will work as weightlifting too :-)

Monday, October 19, 2009

on a morning walk

Morning walks are something that I have really enjoyed in Dubai. Apart from June to mid September, one can really enjoy the early morning time here. I like to go really early, just after sunrise, so I can have a good 25-30 minutes of walking before the sun comes up over the buildings. It's also nice to go early to avoid the morning rush hour and the school buses, which ruin the tranquility with their impatient horns.

There are all villas in the area we live, all single or double storey homes, with high walls and elaborate gates, which makes it quite interesting to walk and admire or gasp in horror at the sights. There are also a large variety of bougainvillea bushes, oleander, jasmine, plumeria and other flowering shrubs for me to refresh my eyes and take photos.

Here are some shots of my walk a few days back. The strings of light decorations are the typical decor for weddings here.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

the price of looking good?

At the grocery store the other day and in my shopping cart, I found someone elses list! How interesting, I thought, I wonder what all she bought! And innocently hidden amongst the lettuce and suntan lotion was an entry for diet pills. Hmmm, I thought, I just can't seem to go anywhere without being bombarded left, right and center with these things.

Everyone knows about the Dubai Stone, the weight that all expats put on after moving here, but then it's also a very looks conscious city and people who look good do get better paid jobs, perks and all the stuff that comes with it, but the obsession with looks can wreck havoc on one's health...but then who's bothered about that...most of the people who come to work here are young and could not be bothered about it at all!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

re-post: My beloved A2

seeing green....
Old wine bottles in the kitchen windowsill of our Bombay apt.

We moved from Bangalore to Bombay in February 2005 and after loving everything about Bangalore, I had a hard time settling into life in Bombay. My blog was a place of lots of rants from that time, thankfully not many people came to my blog those days and some of the rants have since been removed :-)

I was working after several years and I simply hated the commute, till I started traveling on the A2, which is the ac bus that travels through Lokhandwala to south Bombay along Linking Road. As someone who'd never used buses before, I was excited to do the Bombay thing and use public transport. The A2 stop was quite close to our apt in Tarapore Gardens in Lokhandwala and my workplace in Khar was right next to the stop as well, so it was quite perfect.

Here's the post I wrote on 13th May, 2005 as I was adjusting to the city of Bombay.


Initially, one of the worst things about living and working in Bombay was the terrible commute. So much time wasted each day going and coming, that could be used more productively. I used to dread the commute so much that it overtook my life and my job as well. I just could not deal with the crowds, the smells, the heat and the endless traffic.

The AC bus has been my savior. Now, I look forward to this part of my day, as it has become my reading time. Since I started traveling on the A2, I have been able to finish a book every 2 weeks. Its incredible how this turnaround happened. I love my 40 minutes of private reading time that I get each way to and from work. It is what makes me realize that after all the initial struggle, I too am beginning to balance and juggle home and work in this chaotic city.

Reading is my passion and not being able to read on a daily basis makes me cranky and irritable. My other passion, Crosswords, have not fared as well, as the roads are too bumpy and traffic too chaotic to do them.

I just finished reading a very interesting book called Ragtime in Simla by Barbara Cleverly. Its in the vein of MM Kaye's Murder in Kenya. Set in the 1920's, the events slowly unfold to tell the story of a murder that takes place on the road to Simla at Devil's Elbow, just after Tara Devi, where one gets the first sight of Simla. I particularly enjoyed the descriptions of the landmarks and buildings of Simla as I am familiar with them and it brought back lots of memories. The people of Simla, the culture, the levels of society, the importance of gossip to this town have come through well. Overall, a recommended read.

Monday, October 12, 2009

and the searching continues

As a researcher, I find the Internet as an invaluable resource. I know if I search right, I can find out everything from how to build a carburetor to the paperwork required to file for disability appeal. It makes it all very convenient for me not only to find information but also to connect with people. It doesn't matter where in the world I live, just as long as I am connected, I am able to work. The Internet has changed the way so many people work and live and earn their livings as well. Me included.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

...and another Yay!

In continuation of my Yay post in early September, Lonny magazine from the former editors of Domino magazine is finally here. See the mag online here....for me it just wouldn't load in Firefox, but opened right up in Internet Explorer. I love that one can browse through the mag just like a real mag, mouse over the pics and you'll see a link that you can click on to go to the source, even for the advertisements....take a look, you'll love it too!

Monday, September 28, 2009

My reading this year

Besides loving to read books, I love to keep track of the books I have read as well. Here's a tally of the ones I have read so far in 2009. Currently, I am reading Ruskin Bond's Book of Nature, which is a wonderful book that takes me back to being in the hills and mountains of Himachal and Uttrakhand. He describes the simplest of things so beautifully and elegantly, without guile, without pretense. I especially love the way he describes his walks in the forests around Mussoorie and Landour, discovering a small brook once, spotting a Leapard in another, or just noticing the antics of a cat while sitting on the hill above his cottage.

February 2009
1) The Kindness of Strangers-edited by Don George
2) How Starbucks saved my life-Michael Gill
3) The Moonlit Cage-Linda Holeman

March 2009
1) The Virgin's Lover-Philippa Gregory

April 2009
1) Air Babylon
2) Death of a Red Heroine-Qiu Xialong
3) A Loyal Character Dancer-Qiu Xialong
4) Unrooted Childhoods

May 2009
1) The Palace of Illusions-Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni
2) White Mughals-William Dalrymple

June 2009
1) Hill stations of British India-Graeme Westlake
2) A fine family-Gurcharan Das

July 2009
1) The Duchess-Amanda Foreman

August 2009
1) The Right Attitude to Rain-Alexander McCall Smith

September 2009
1) Dubai Creek-Stephen Wilkins

You'll notice that the book in the photo does not feature in my list. Well, that's because, I started to read it, but just lost interest. It was one of the few books that I could not finish, and I'd been looking forward to reading it for so long, well, since it won the Booker Prize.  I just found it to wander around too much, without really getting anywhere.

Travel trends

I've been reading several travel newsletters on how the recession has impacted the industry and also on how travelers are coming up with innovative solutions to still be able to vacation. One of the more popular ways has been to rent an RV, which co-relates with the high number of rv insurance policies that have been sold in the past few months. RV travel has a long history in the US and with people focusing on domestic travel, this trend has really caught on.

Another popular options has been to swap homes with other people, so you can save on hotel rooms. People also swap cars in some cases, so all you have to pay for is the gas and you get to see a new place while staying for free. There are many sites that facilitate these swaps, which makes it easier to organize everything for the first time home swapper.

Timeshares are also popular, and interestingly a lot of people who invest in timeshares do not actually get to use them, due to their endless restrictions, months of advance booking and charges upon charges. The slowdown has changed this, and more timeshare owners are actually using their vacations than before. Many resorts and time share plans are also offering substantial discounts to last minute travelers as a way to not let unsold rooms be wasted.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

photo: green tea time

I never was much of a tea drinker earlier, but have been converted for the past few years. I've even started to enjoy Green Tea and I look forward to a nice cup of green tea in the afternoons. Here's a shot I took several months back in the living room.

green tea time

wishful travel plans

I traveled a fair bit when I lived in the US, initially in college, then working, and then several years later when I returned to the country, but one state I never got to go to was South Carolina. I've always wanted to visit the Carolinas and the islands off their coast. I've visited Virginia several times, but never managed to make a trip to the Carolinas. Now it seems that there are lots of vacation deals in the area such as Myrtle beach hotels oceanfront where one can imagine some really nice relaxing times. I'm so very tempted and kick myself for not visiting the area when we lived on the East coast in Providence.

Happy hunting ground

I'm constantly amazed at the number of people who turn to the internet to look for ways to lose weight and burn fat, often knowing that the results are not of the best quality. After all, we all know that if you have the right keywords and pay the right agent, you can be on the first page of Google's search, but in no way does that mean that the information on the first page is the best information. Often a high number of hits makes the listing a popular search result, often the numbers are fudged and often the result page has nothing to do with your search.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

list: september promises

September seemed to have come up on us so quickly this year. And I'm happy about that. September is when one can finally breathe a sigh a relief for the nearing of the end of the harsh summer, and the promise of better weather.

September promises:
  • to make me sit and wonder how the year flew by.
  • to dream of cold winter days when I have a mug of hot chocolate in my hand.
  • to be able to venture out for pleasure again.
  • to visit my favorite park in the city, Creek Park where I love to watch the water lap softly against the shore. 
  • to be a time of planning for a winter vacation and annual family gettogethers.
  • a time of hope, a time of joy and a time for dreams.
The photo is of the wall behind our house in Dubai and was taken ages ago, while on a morning walk.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Dubai Metro launches

Yesterday and today have been big days here in Dubai. The much awaited Dubai Metro has finally opened with much fanfare and excitement. Only 10 stations on the Red Line have been opened as yet, the rest will open by early 2010, while the Green Line should open by June 2010 (delayed from March 2010). The opening ceremony started off last evening at the Mall of the Emirates where the ruler of Dubai Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al Makhtoum presided over the events. We were there in the mall and heard the cheers and clapping when Sheikh Mohammed arrived, and spotted his son, the crown prince of Dubai, Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid al Makhtoum before the ceremony started.

The metro opened to the public at 6am this morning. We haven't been on it as yet, but are looking forward to explore it and new areas of the city through it soon. This is the first metro project in the middle east, so it's been made a big deal of and rightly so, since one of the highest usages of vehicles is right here in this part of the world.

on developing an expertise

In my last post I wrote about how it is essential for the writer to go beyond the safe boundaries that one sets for oneself. I did it by accepting a research assignment on the weight loss industry and on weight loss pills and how they act as a psychological support for so many millions of people. The topic was completely out of my comfort and knowledge zone, so I had to spend a good amount of time researching and understanding it, but in the end I did create a great white paper on the subject. This way one can expand one's niche and learn how to develop a greater range of expertise.

on not sticking to safe topics

As a writer, I get to cover all sorts of topics, but sometimes there seem to be endless amounts just on one topic. After all, how much can I really write about the best fat burners or mortgage companies and so on, but if you want to be a writer, especially a freelance or a web content writer, then you often don't have a choice. Well, of course, you do have a choice of not taking an assignment, but then if you only want to stick to your own comfortable niche of writing then you're really not expanding your mind or trying to break out of your safe zone. I don't say to write about heart surgery if you don't have the expertise, but it's a good thing to try and do some research and cover new topics as well.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

On living in a foreign country


Living abroad gives you a really great perspective. When we first moved to Dubai, at times it felt just like back home but at others it felt so foreign. Like when you stay at a hotel in transit and turn on the TV and can't find anything familiar, and all the channels are foreign ones. Well, not exactly, but at times it feels exactly like that, especially when the local ads come in between the English programs.

The thing is that there is no one type of language or program here, as there are Egyptian, Jordanian, Syrian, Lebanese, Sudanese, Turkish and Saudi shows on the TV here. The Turkish soaps are apparently very popular with Emiratis and Saudi women and many go to Turkey especially to see the sights where the soap operas were filmed.

Another interesting aspect of living here is buying food from all over the world. It's especially noticeable when buying fruit and vegetables, as they are sorted and priced based on their country of origin. So my receipt looks something like this:

Peaches Turkey
Kiwi Italy
Plum Spain
Garlic China
Ginger China
Lamb Australia
Onion India
Asst vegetables India
Carrots Australia
Chickoo India
Lychee Thailand
Red Delicious Apple New Zealand
Granny Smith Apple USA
Oranges Lebanon

Yes, the country is actually part of the name here as they are priced differently. Take tomatoes for instance, there is a huge difference in prices between locally grown tomatoes to vine ripened tomatoes to plum to cherry and so on, most of which come from several different countries. Some supermarkets even have notices on which fruits and veggies have been flown in by air! Sometimes items have a city name such as "Banana Mysore" instead of a country notation. This sign was for the delightful mini bananas of South India.

Thursday, September 03, 2009


I've got great news and I had to share it with you asap!

I read today that two former editors of Domino Magazine have teamed up to create Lonny Magazine, an online magazine for interior design and lifestyle. I am so thrilled and waiting excitedly to see the magazine in full when it starts in the Fall! Thanks to Michelle at  Design Evolution where I read about it.

Monday, August 31, 2009

photo: mango picking

Do you see her? That's one of the mango trees at my neighbor's home, the one I can see from my living room sofa! I spotted her one morning plucking mangoes with this rod that had a mesh bag and some sort of hook at the end to break the mango stems. I like how she almost merges into the leaves of the tree itself. This shot was taken sometime in late July. There still are some mangoes on this tree, but no one seems to be coming to the roof to pick them anymore.

On a different note, I went through my Blogger settings this afternoon and switched to the updated settings for posting. I like that one can re-size the pics after they are loaded and move them around by just dragging them, but I certainly do not like that while the pics are being uploaded you cannot use the post page. I always write my posts while the photos are being uploaded, so that's a definite waste of time for me to have to do them separately. Will try it out for a while and see if I want to stick with it or switch back.

it's been a laptop year!

In the past year, I've spent a good amount of time researching laptops. First, it was mine that crashed and after 3-4 days of enjoying not being connected, I went out and bought a laptop. I purposely did not buy a top of the line one, since I want to replace my laptops every 2-3 years and so I felt it's really no point in spending too much on it. My new laptop has a much larger screen and keypad, with enough space for a number pad as well, which is rather handy!

Then a few months later, my hubby's laptop developed an error in it's screen and rather than replace just the screen, we decided to replace the laptop, which was due anyway, since it was over 3 years old. One of the laptop brands we considered was the Sony Vaio line, but ultimately we went ahead with another brand and he's rather happy with it. So far so good!

on brand names

There are some really interesting brand names these days, much more than earlier names which were quite straightforward and direct. I wonder how a cigar brand came to be known as Rocky Patel, and I wonder if most people know where the name is actually from. Maybe it's because of the internet that people are using more global names that appeal to a wider audience or maybe it just sounds a bit exotic, what ever the reason, it's a lot harder to figure out where a brand is from just based on it's name anymore.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

quote: on really living life to its fullest

People say that what we're all are seeking is a meaning for life... I think that what we're really seeking is an experience of being alive, so that our life experiences on the purely physical plane will have resonance within our innermost being and reality, so that we can actually feel the rapture of being alive.

-Joseph Campbell

Photo originally posted here on my photostream.

Monday, August 24, 2009

re-post: our endless doorbell

View from our dining room in Bombay. The sun set right between the tall buildings.

I wanted to re-post one of my earlier blog posts, which I wrote when we lived in Bombay. It's originally posted here on January 12, 2006.


Anyone who visits our house always remarks and the number of times the doorbell rings, so I decided to keep track of them for a couple of days.

Here is when and why it rang yesterday.

* 6:55am------subhadra, cooking maid
* 7:30am------nitin, milkman
* 8:30am------anjali, cleaning maid
* 9:05am------deepak, driver
* 11:10am-----trash ladies
* 11:30am-----vegetable sellers
* 11:45am-----courier, for landlady who lives in Kerala
* 1:50pm------lunch delivery for my hubby who came back from work
* 4:20pm------delivery
* 9:15pm------eggs and bread wallah
* 10:20pm-----dhobi

And here’s the list for today.

* 7:10am--------subhadra, cooking maid
* 8:20am--------anjali, cleaning maid
* 8:30am--------nitin, milkman
* 8:40am--------nitin (a different one), car washer
* 9:30am--------deepak, driver
* 10:30am-------trash ladies
* 3:40pm--------courier
* 5:30pm--------courier
* 9:20pm--------eggs and bread wallah

Well, it really is endless some days, this incessant ringing of the doorbell and to add salt to our wounded ears, the doorbell is not your ordinary variety. As a tribute to Bollywood, it plays a different film tune each time, sometimes getting lost in the music from the radio. There is a bias towards Madhuri Dixit with mostly her songs like ek, do, teen and didi tere dewar deewana et all but thankfully there are no words, only instruments. Now that we’ve been here for almost a year, we’ve realized that this is quite a popular type of doorbell in Bombay and it’s become part of our experience of living in the city and we’ve got quite used to it, although we still turn it off from a hidden switch inside on Sunday’s for some peace and quiet.

More photos here of our apt.

what's your comfort level in online shopping?

We've all done a bit of shopping here and there online, haven't we? Books, clothes, flowers and so on. I've bought art online too. But have you ever bought insurance online? What about and extended service plan such as from To be a regular shopper, one has to have some kind of trust that what one finds online is good and has value. I'm not quite ready for something like this, but till then, I'll keep myself busy with buying artwork!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

photo: among the clouds

Everyone goes to the hills for different reasons. Some go to see something new, some go for the cooler weather and some for the excitement. I go to the hills for tranquility, for refreshing myself, for spending time with my family.

This was the view from the helipad at Charabara where the Presidential Retreat is located, just before Kufri. It might look like it was a nice serene spot, but in fact it was crowded and noisy, full of tourist vehicles, and vendors selling things like balloons and stuffed toys. There was also an area where tourists could dress up in Himachali clothes and jewelery to get their photo taken.

research or cafe time?

Most of the gyms here are located in malls, and I visited one to do some research for an, not to use the machines, but to see what kinds of machines they had and which were popular. The popularity of ellipticals has been really spreading lately. One never really saw many of these machines in the gyms earlier, and even if they were there, people seemed to always be going for other machines. Now these seem to be a very popular type of machine at gyms as well. Is that because they are now better designed or because they are designed to target specific areas and get faster results.

PS: Doing research like this makes it very easy for me to visit the cafe afterward to collect my thoughts and jot down my findings with a cup of coffee and a chocolate twist!

I'm not an expert on this...

As I've written before, I often get asked on things that I have written about on my blog. One of these queries is usually about the best weight loss supplement these days. Well, to be very frank, I've not used any of them nor do I plan to, and my knowledge of them is purely based on the research assignments that I have done on them, so is more technical and factual than consumer oriented. I did meet a few people who use them to get a consumer perspective from the results standpoint, but that's about it. So, in the past week or so, I received a spate of inquiries about these and more. And so it continues.....

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Morning walks in Mashobra

Looking out from the fire escape of Gables, where we stayed.

A lot of people think of vacations as the time to sleep in as a way to counteract the daily routine of waking up early. I'm not one of them. The reason is that since I am a freelancer, I can wake up whenever I want to, so I don't have any pressure on me. Waking up early for me is a way to view the world differently, a way to gather my thoughts, a way to spend some quiet time.

I have been waking up early on all of my recent vacations, not entirely for a walk, but more to explore the surroundings, to take in the fresh air, and to get a better feel of the place. Our trip to Mashobra in June 2009 was no different. Even though we were watching the T20 Cricket World Cup matches late into the night, I was waking up early for a relaxed exploration of the area.

The bazaar road is hopelessly broken. Beware on puddles on rainy days!

Like so many other small towns in the hills, Mashobra is decaying. The old buildings in the bazaar are disappearing quickly and are being replaced by apartment blocks for weekend visitors. I'm not saying I'm against it, just that the style of most of these blocks is better suited to the plains and they look like misfits in the hills.

Lions at the gate of one of the private developments.

Even the most dilapidated of buildings looks nicer in the morning light, and that's a nicer way to see them, I feel. A gentler way that might make you imagine how they actually looked in better times. In Mashobra, there a just a handful of these buildings left in the bazaar, as most of the buildings being made now are boring concrete structures on stilts.

Looking down into the garden and orchard around a house in Mashobra.

There is only one road in Mashobra, that goes through the bazaar, so there really isn't much choice in where to walk. The road meanders through the bazaar, climbing towards the village's larger and best maintained homes.

I loved stopping at a different bench everyday on my way back, to stop and listen to the stillness, to try and remember the moment so that I could pull it out when I need it most, and to notice all the little things around me. Often I got to notice more than I wanted, like the guys from the military camp who stopped to pee on the roadside while on their morning jog. They sure were very surprised to see me!

One of my favorite spots on the walk. The wall is of the house that I like most of all in Mashobra and this shady stretch was always nice and cool on my way back.

Well, that's how life in India is, always surprising you, sometimes blindsiding you, but always a memorable experience.

More photos from my trip to Mashobra in June can be seen here.

Monday, August 10, 2009

list: ah august!

So, it's August already, the peak of summer, the time when one starts to wait for the cooler winds of autumn, the anticipation of a change of seasons, the easing up of the heat. I found an advertisement for a water chiller...essentially an AC for your overhead water tank, that cools the boiling water so that you can have a bath without getting second degree burns.

In Dubai, august is when,
~ you burn your hands if you open the taps between 8am and 6pm.
~ it's impossible to do a cold water laundry, unless you wake up before sunrise.
~ clothes come out steaming from the washing machine.
~ it's hot, humid, muggy, still, oppressive, hot and more hot than the month before.
~ sore throats are rampant, from going from back and forth from super hot outside to chilled inside...mine is bad these days...have been having extra glasses of tea and VitC tabs.
~ one starts wilting and hoping that time passes faster till the weather improves.

Posting a cool cool picture to go with my hot hot post. This shot was taken in June in my room at my parents place in Chandigarh.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

recipe: Low-fat Raisin and Honey Bread

This is a great bread to have as a snack or toasted for breakfast. It's super healthy and can be easily fine tuned to the way you like it best by switching one or two ingredients.

This recipe is from a book called "The Complete Book of Baking" edited by Deborah Gray, which has recipes from 15 recipe books and is one of my favorite and most used recipe books. Some of my regular items from this book include, Quiche Lorraine, scotch pancakes, Sachertorte, Lemon Crumble cake and so on. The earlier recipe I posted, Lemon Yogurt Crumble Coffee Cake was also from this book.

Makes 1 loaf
  • 2 & 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 & 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 & 3/4 cups low-fat plain yogurt
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1/3 cup raisins
  • 2 Tbsp honey
  • margarine for greasing pan
1) Mix the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large bowl. Whisk together the yogurt and egg whites and fold into the flour mixture with the raisins and honey.

2) Grease a large loaf pan and spoon in the mixture. Bake in the oven at 425F for 20 minutes until golden. Cool slightly and turn out of the pan. Serve warm.

The simplest ever bread recipe, right? To make it even healthier, I substituted all-purpose flour with whole-wheat flour and sprinkled brown sugar on the top before baking to give it a nice golden crust.

A note on brown sugar: a lot of Indian stores sell brown colored granulated sugar as brown sugar, but the kind of brown sugar that US and UK recipe books talk about is actually like shakhar.

Photo also here, and a different version of the photo posted here.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Banswari, an elegant florist

Every so often I get mails from people wanting me to feature them on my blog. I know it sounds quite flattering but it usually involves a random company who are just looking for another live link and couldn't care less about where the link was. So, I usually ignore them.

Well, once in a while I get mails suggesting some very interesting sites and that is how I heard about Banswari, a floral decoration store in Chennai. Now I've never been to Chennai, so what I write obviously isn't first hand information, but you can go see their site for yourself. I loved the simplicity and pureness of their style, it didn't involve too many theatrics or drama, but was elegant and classy.

There are tons of wedding decorators around, but what intrigued me about Banswari was that it used completely different materials, and more natural materials, which is very different from what one sees at weddings in the north, which are completely excessive in my opinion. Besides just being a floral decorator, they also have created Banswari Platfrom to introduce artists to a new audience in an effort to showcase and promote their art.

All images from Banswari

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Truly the end of an era

I've always admired Maharani Gayatri Devi's effortless style and elegance and was saddened to hear of her death last week. I read her autobiography A Princess Remembers many years ago, which is a great account of her fascinating life. She also features prominently in Lives of the Indian Princes by Charles Allen and Sharda Dwivedi. I have not read Maharanis by Lucy Moore, although I have it with me, which is about 4 different maharani's, including Maharani Gayatri Devi, her mother, the beautiful Maharani Indira Devi of Cooch Behar.

Why am I writing this post? It's because I listed her as one of my style icons in a tagged post I did recently. Here are some links to articles about her life, from The Telegraph, Times of India, an interview with Times of India, and Wikipedia.

Photo from Times of India

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

recipe: Lemon-yogurt-crumble coffee cake

Well, this is really a first for this blog...I've never posted a recipe before!

Don't get put off by the long and wordy recipe...I just wrote it as it is in my through it and you'll see it's a very simple recipe. This one is from my book on Baking that is one of the best recipe books I have. I bought it almost 7 years back and I've used it for a variety of dishes, from my hubby's birthday Sachertorte to Quiche Lorraine, scotch pancakes and more.

Makes 10-12 servings

For Crumble topping:
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup all purpose flour
  • grated zest of one lemon
  • 3 tbsp butter, cut into small pieces
    • 2 cups all-purpose flour
    • 1 & 1/2 tsp baking powder
    • 1/2 tsp baking soda
    • 1/4 tsp salt
    • 1/4 cup finely chopped candied lemon peel
    • 1 stick unsalted butter
    • 1/4 cup sugar
    • 1 cup plain yogurt of buttermilk
    • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
    • grated zest of one lemon
    • 1 tsp vanilla extract
      To make:
      1. Preheat oven to 350F. Grease and lightly flour a 9x5 loaf pan, combine the crumble topping ingredients in a small bowl and rub in the butter using your fingertips, until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs; set aside
      2. Sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt into a large bowl. Stir in the candied lemon peel and make a well in the center.
      3. Put the butter in a saucepan and set over low heat until melted, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and whisk in the sugar, yogurt, eggs, grated lemon zest and vanilla extract. Pour into the well and stir with a form until just blended.
      4. Spoon half the batter into the prepared pan, smoothing the top and pushing into the corners. Sprinkle over half the crumb topping. Drop spoonfuls of the remaining batter over the topping , and spread as evenly as possible, then sprinkle with the remaining topping
      5. Bake until the cake is risen and golden, and a cake tester (I use toothpicks) inserted in the center comes out clean, about 1 hour. Remove to a wire rack to cool for at least 30 minutes. Run a thin bladed knife around the edges to loosen it and remove from pan and let it rest on a wire rack to cool.

      I will be using brown sugar instead of white for the crumble topping next time I make it, since I find the white sugar just too sweet. Here is the shot on my photostream.

      The recipe book is called The Complete Book of Baking and it is edited by Deborah Gray. It is a compilation of recipes from about 15 other books, which is why it's so great, well the recipes are super too! I bought this book at Borders in Providence, RI in December 2002....I searched for it on Amazon and found a listing here.

      Sunday, July 26, 2009

      Remembering the Bombay rains

      Monsoon rain
      Watching the rain from our 3rd floor apt in Lokhandwala, Bombay

      Remembering the endless rains on July 26th 2005, when we lived in Bombay. We had moved there at the beginning of the year and this was our first experience of the famed Bombay monsoon rain. For me it was a lot of fun, especially since by then I had started working from home, so loved watching and enjoying the rains from the safety and security of my home, with a cup of coffee in my hand.

      July 26th started as a regular day and when it started to rain it wasn't any different from any other monsoon day, but with the combination of high tide which led to the drains being closed and a non-stop rain for hours on end, there was no where for the water to go.

      Money plant in the window
      My sunny view from the dining room windows

      Pretty soon the road outside our apartment complex, Tarapore Gardens in Lokhandwala was flooded, then the electricity was shut off by Reliance Power to prevent short circuits and we were left without much news about the rain. My hubby's office was nearby in Laxmi Industrial Estate and he managed to drive through the flooded New Link Road, without too much damage...or so we thought. Here's a post I wrote about what happened to our brand new car and how we got it fixed after it's starter got rusted thanks to the flooding.

      We were without power for almost 24 hours, but luckily had enough candles, matches and batteries to be OK. And we had enough food and milk to manage on as well, until one could go to the stores. The items that were flying off the shelves in markets were Maggi noodle packs, Nestle milk tetra packs and candles. Since then, I've always had a good supply of these items in my home at all times.

      Here's a few other interesting posts I wrote about the rains that year.

      Rained out Mumbai
      Bombay Blues
      Tales of Courage

      And here are more photos from our apartment in Bombay.

      guessing the economy's recovery time

      With the way the economy has been doing, this really was inevitable. The extras are usually the first to go...the luxury car, the designer clothing, the business class travel and of course the weekend home. The Outer Banks in North Carolina are particularly vulnerable, since they have a large number of vacation homes and the local economy depends a fair bit on this weekend and summer population. Seeing signs for Outer Banks foreclosures would be hard for the locals I'm sure and for those who work in the support industry.

      According to some reports, the worst is said to be over and things will definitely start looking up from now. The question is how long the recovery will take, will it be a W or a V recovery or the dreaded M or L shaped recoveries. Thanks to the downturn, there is a new breed of forecasters and predictors who have been coining new terms to describe the recovery pattern. It was actually started by the chairman of the Federal Reserve Bernanke, who said the ideal recovery would be a W shaped one.

      Wednesday, July 22, 2009

      Is it hot enough for you?

      Check out the temperatures we've been having lately.

      Posting screen shots of both the Centigrade and Fahrenheit versions. Besides having really high temperatures, it's the Heat Factor that really makes it miserable. The Heat Factor is what it actually feels like and can be equated to the Wind Chill factor in cold weather. Read the first lines in the blue boxes for this reading.

      Actual temperature: 39C
      What it feels like: 56C

      Actual temperature: 102F
      What it feels like: 132F

      PS: I'll be avoiding the heat, hiding out at home, enjoying the AC, looking through my recipe books to make some cool treats :-)

      Tuesday, July 21, 2009

      Thank you!

      Thanks Arya Kamath of ROTI KAPDA MAKAN for giving me this Kreativ Blogger award! I'm long overdue in responding to sorry about that!

      I'd like to pass it on to some of the blogs that I enjoy reading.
      Celebrations of Life
      Once upon a tea time
      Nestled In
      Rang Decor

      on going the natural way

      The whole business of doing anything to look good has gone to an entirely new tangent it seems. Instead of going the healthy route, it seems to be going the shortcut route for quick solutions. Doesn't anyone have any patience any more, any will to try and do it oneself? If it isn't some new pill it's a new fangled natural appetite suppressant or the other. In a way, natural remedies are much preferred, but I do wonder if some people will take it as a short cut and not put in any effort on their own.

      keeping in touch

      Lately, I've been getting lots of invitations on the email. Invitations to parties, for baby announcements and showers and so on, and interestingly enough all from people half a world away, where I'm really not going to be showing up. In a way it's not really an actual invitation, but a way of keeping everyone informed and involved with events going on across the globe. With the way families are spread out in different countries and cities, this is a good way to make sure that you're connecting with everyone. The popularity of sites and programs such as Facebook are a testament to this phenomenon.

      Sunday, July 19, 2009

      in the header

      Just a quick note to say thanks to everyone who said that they liked my new header photo. I love taking shots of doors and windows, as much as I love taking shots of the little things around my home. This was taken on Princess street in Fort Kochi in December 2008 just down the road from Old Courtyard Hotel and the Chinese fishing nets. I remember this day well, since it was my hubby's birthday and we wanted to eat some continental seafood, his two favorite kinds of food.

      I'm not that great at taking shots of people, or maybe it's just that I haven't done it enough, or that I'm self conscious, but for whatever reason, these urban shots without people are becoming quite a favorite type of shots for me, espeically when I travel.

      See it where I'd posted this shot on my flickr photostream earlier this year. Posting a small version of it here, so that this post makes sense when I change the header photo :-)
      colorful street flowers

      Wednesday, July 15, 2009

      on an old addiction

      There are some things that turn into addictions, that end up consuming all your time, frustrating you and giving you joy at the same time. Well, golf used to be one of them for me. There was a time that I spent a lot of time on practicing my game, heading to the practice area early in the morning, working with a golf coach, using golf training aids and so on. For a while I really was stuck to the schedule, but then it just wore me out and I went to the other extreme of not playing a round of golf for ages.

      I still love the game, but realize that it's not a game that one can take up as and when one feels like it and still end up with good results. To be a good golfer, you have to be consistent. That's it, really. You don't have to spend lots of money or hours and hours on the course, but you do have play the game on somewhat of a regular basis.

      Monday, July 13, 2009

      tag: 29 things and counting

      I'm way behind in responding to tags, so I thought I'd start with this fun one that Patricia tagged me with. So sit back with a cup of tea or coffee and get to know me better.

      1. What is your current obsession?
      Figuring out which camera to buy, baking, buying artwork from Etsy, using my new juice extractor and crafting.

      2. What is your weirdest obsession?
      Endlessly putting stuff away in the kitchen at night.

      3. What are you wearing today?
      Jeans and a cap sleeved eyelet top. I work at home as a freelance writer and researcher so I can wear anything I want :-)

      4. What’s for dinner?
      Something healthy....but not sure what...just had lunch.

      5. What’s the last thing you bought?
      A set of postcards from Ikea a couple of days back.

      6. What are you listening to right now?
      Pandit Jasraj Live at Shivaji Park CD and of course the ever present hum of the air conditioners.

      7. What do you think about the person who tagged you?
      Patricia's always got so much energy, and it comes across so effortlessly in her posts and photographs. I'm always impressed with her creativity and vibrancy.

      8. If you could have a house totally paid for, fully furnished anywhere in the world, where would you like it to be?
      So many choices....I think I'd love to have a place in the 360 Yeti in the Kumaon hills of Uttranchal.

      9. What are your must-have pieces for summer?
      Fun summer sandals, capris, dark glasses and an umbrella to combat the heat.

      10. If you could go anywhere in the world for the next hour,where would you go?
      Anyplace where it's raining!

      11. Which language do you want to learn?
      French and German. The hubby speaks Germain, and he's really keen that I learn. I already know how to count in German and say the essentials, like "I love you" and "oh crap"!

      12. What’s your favorite quote?
      "Be the change you want to see in the world."
      Mohandas K Gandhi

      13. Who do you want to meet right now?
      My new nephew, Alexander Indus

      14. What is your favorite color?
      All colors....but lately greens, yellows and blues.

      15. What is your favorite piece of clothing in your own closet?
      A floaty cream colored top with crochet details at the neck, so perfect for this heat.

      16. What is your dream job?
      What I do right now...freelance writer and researcher. I work at home, which I love, set my own hours, take up as much work as I want to, and best of all, I don't have to ask anyone for time off!

      17. What’s your favorite magazine?
      Used to be Domino, but since that's shut down, am browsing through a whole bunch of other ones. I like Living etc quite a bit.

      18. If you had $100 now, what would you spend it on?
      Artwork from's an addiction.

      19. What do you consider a fashion faux pas?
      Sari's tied too high, white socks with black pants, wearing see-through clothes...

      20. Who are your style icons?
      In the Indian sphere, I love the effortless style of Maharani Gayatri Devi. Internationally, Isabela Rosalini.

      21. Describe your personal style.
      Something that I feel comfortable in, well fitted but not skin tight, natural fabrics, vibrant colors.

      22. What are you going to do after this?
      Get back to work and have a cup of green tea to keep me going.

      23. What are your favorite movies?
      Too many to list....but some that I have seen again lately historicals like Jodha Akbar, Ben Hur and Cleopatra and crime capers of all kinds.

      24. What are three cosmetic/makeup/perfume products that you can't live without?
      Eyeliner, moisturizer, lip gloss

      25. What inspires you?
      Beauty in nature

      26. Give us three styling tips that always work for you
      1) Be your clothes and in your skin.
      2) Don't try too hard to be something that you're not.
      3) Stay away from impulsive buys, it's just not worth it.

      27. What do you do when you “have nothing to wear” (even though your closet’s packed)?
      Put on some music and dance! I always come up with cool combination's of clothes after doing this!

      28. Coffee or tea?
      Both...just depends on the time of day and my mood.

      29. Pet peeve?
      People cutting in line.

      **The rules are: Respond and rework – answer the questions on your own blog, replace one question that you dislike with a question of your own invention, and add one more question of your own. Then tag eight or ten other people.

      I'm not tagging anyone, but feel free to take this up if you'd like.

      PS: The cup in the photo is neither tea nor coffee (obviously!). It's a cinnamon and honey concoction that tastes really good and feels very soothing.

      Saturday, July 11, 2009

      photo: outside the door

      A shot from several months back of the lovely bougainvillea bush outside our door. I'm sad to say that this lovely plant is drying up and dying. The gardener changed a few months back and the new chap really doesn't know how to look after any plants, and I have no idea how he really became a gardener. Well, the more likely explanation is that he really isn't a gardener, but just does this kind of stuff for some extra money. The landlord is away on vacation and until he comes back nothing can be done, except give the plans a bit extra attention between all of us.

      on learning something new

      Don't you think that sometimes life takes on such a routine course that one forgets to make any changes or do anything different. One just seems to carry on without making any effort to learn something new, it seems. I've been feeling that I've been getting just too comfortable in my usual routine and must do something different. The options really are quite varied here, everything from riding lessons to ceramic classes to foreign languages. The requirement for riding lessons include breeches which are an essential part of the experience and I'm really quite keen on learning, but for the weather which makes it quite a bit like torture I'm sure. I should probably be smart about it and go in for indoor activities until the weather improves.

      travel notes

      As an avid traveler, there are some things that I always carry with me on our travels, such as a camera, notebook, and either a roaming phone service or prepaid phone card when traveling overseas. Phone services have changed a lot in the past few years and it has become extremely simple to get connected to any part of the world, so why not stay connected with loved ones while you are away as well! It is the simplest thing in the world to carry some prepaid phone cards and use them from anywhere to anywhere, without worry about having the right currency, the right change or any such thing.

      Now, when you search for prepaid phone cards on the Internet, you will get lots and lots of results, but be sure of where you actually buy it, since it's no fun getting stranded with a dud phone card, right? Sometimes, I find that it's really important to be able to get away from it all and like to go on vacation where there are no connections at all, just so I can switch off my phone for some time. It's such a relief not to be connected all the time.

      Good luck on your travels!

      I'm no expert on this...

      Continuing on from my last post, I must add that I'm not really sure how I became such an "expert" or rather perceived to be an expert for topics like top diet pills, weight loss and so on. I think I should go back in my archives and dig up the post that started it out, right! It might all make more sense to me than it does now. There are lots of actual experts that readers should be going to, instead of coming to a casual blogger like me, well at least on this subject, but what is a girl to do. Stop extra traffic from coming to my blog, no way....I welcome all visitors, no matter how you came here. Enjoy the reading and bits of expertise, although I'm not saying what I'm an expert on :-)

      Writing according to what is expected by readers

      Well, the thing is that it turns out that my reviews for many products are in hot demand. How, you say? I know, I find it hard to believe to, but apparently it is so. The number of people coming to my blog searching for things like diet pill reviews and best ways to lose weight seem only to be increasing, much to my consternation. I mean, how many more times do I write about the best ways to be slim and trim, how to do it healthily and so on. To be very frank, I'm not that much of an expert anyway, well, not any kind of expert at all, but my unseen readers seem to think I am and they're visiting me in droves. How can I disappoint them?

      Thursday, July 02, 2009

      Happy Weekending!

      Happy Weekending everyone! I'll be away from the computer on my weekly computer free day....there seems to be so much time when I don't turn the computer on :) I hope to finish The Duchess by Amanda Foreman that my dearest hubby gave me when I reached Dubai and I plan to dig out and sort out all my recipe books and cook up something wonderful to impress my dearest one!

      Hope all of you have a nice weekend too!

      How many computers are too many?

      I was so relieved when our computer saga was over earlier this year. Saga, as in both of us looking to update our laptops and buy them before they crashed due to old age. Well, we did manage to get good deals for both of us and thought that it was all over. But now, we realize that we do need to have some kind of desktops too, since there are still some advantages over having one of these laptops. But the thing is that we already have two laptops, and my old laptop is still around, so do we need another toy to play with? I'm hoping to have a look at some of them and let the decision come over me....or is that wishful thinking!

      Tuesday, June 30, 2009

      list: The simple sounds of Summer

      While I load some new CDs onto my iPod, I jot down some of the little sounds of summer that make me happy.

      some of the little things that I love....
      ~hearing the tiny birds peck at the window in the afternoons...
      ~listening to the dull thud of a ripe mango falling to the ground outside my windows...
      ~reliving the joy of listening to old music....currently listening to In the Ghetto by Elvis Presley....
      ~enjoying a revival of old style music....Duffy's Mercy coming up next....
      ~setting a fun ringtone on my new cell phone...
      ~relishing the sound of lawn mowers from the neighborhood. It's the desert here, remember, having a lawn is a luxury....
      ~missing the sound of the all the ice cream vendors....
      ~water splashing from the hose as the kids play in the water....
      ~the tinkling of ice cubes in a glass....

      Enjoy the summer!
      It's burning up here....46C here yesterday and with the heat factor added in about 50C. Can't wait for cooler weather....just 5 more months :-) It's a test of will power to focus on just the good things about summer!