Saturday, December 31, 2005

OneHundredOne AND One

All in the same go. 101 posts round up year 1 on this mighty machine humbly known as the blogosphere. I'm glad I made it this far. I admit it has not been as easy I thought it would be. I think I began by thinking this would turn out to be an opportunity to see if I had any 'creative writing' genes, a book in me and a vent for the endless rubbish floating around in my head. It's turned out to be an tree-huggers diary, the online-ness offering up the opportunity to replace/save the numerous notebooks I scribbled in. It's my space, where I've jotted in stuff that I find amusing interesting, not so trivial, very trivial; reviewed books and restaurants that have caught my attention or not so much; but mostly its where I marked the start of my 30th year.
In 101 posts:
  • I have never received more than 6 comments per post - and even then the author had stumbled and deleted 3 of their comments - I still like to think my highest ever comments was 6
  • I have never been tagged
  • I feature on fewer blogrolls than every other blog I read - and being jobless I read a lot.
  • I have had 9037 visitors to my blog - of which half are probably me checking to see if I have any non-existant comments and to check how many bloggers looked me up.
  • I had had my profile viewed 586 times - again that's probably me one third of the time.
  • I can confirm that I am doggedly going to continue - this blog is for my pleasure, not a book deal, money or awards
I am resolute in what this blog is for me. My 30th year marches into 2006, happy healthy and my mind is still full of ideas on what I want to say. Whether anyone but me ever reads it or not. Happy 101/1 to me.

Talking of resolutions. As the earth finished yet another chakkar around the sun, we're mostly making silent resolutions on how we'll change our own worlds next year (silent mainly for fear of people thinking us sissies who need time to define their being; "you can and SHOULD begin resolutions when you think of them, not wait till the 1st" crap). Some of us will keep resolutions till the middle of January or just be-fore/yond, others will strive for the middle of the year or obscene goals such as losing 200lbs. Either way many of the hours without will feel like a sci-fi movie where time forgot about us. But make no mistake, resolutions are being made every minute of this past week, even in the heads of the cynics, the uber-cool, the grouchy. I wish you luck all. It's not always about the result but instead the race.

I made some pretty big resolutions despite being stared at (as if I had just landed from Mars) and told how it was unrealistic, childish, extreme (think up the remainder similar adjectives) and how I would never manage to honour them by almost everyone I told them to (except by V who is my hero). Well I really don't care who says what; I still have a list all pinned up and so far being stuck to (It's only the 3rd but I'm an eternal optimist).

I like the idea of New Year and resolutions walking hand in hand. As for begining them anytime during the year, yes you could do that but then you could just as easily discount New Years and pretend that the calender does not exist. Let Jan 1st be any other day, don't party, stay home and sulk some more. Be an optimist. Imagine that the same way your birthday marks the start of another year in your life, the New Year is just a common birthday for people to celebrate together. A handle on what went by and a clean slate on which you can write your next year. Resolutions whether kept or not will boost your spirits: give up something, take up something new, plan a holiday, smile more. Something will last. Or atleast you'll have the rest of the year to plan next years resolutions.

Meanwhile I hope you usehered in the New Year with gusto whether at home (as 20 new-baby-families probably did) or watching fireworks or at a party. More importantly I hope you brought in 2006 with a smile on your face and with friends by your side. We certainly did. With friends, champagne, music, merriment and laughter. And are all the better for it. Although we needed to sleep off the exhaustion all day on the 1st after rolling home at 6.30am! What a year this promises to be...

May 2006 glow!

Babe name game

This post is not about new years resolutions for 2006. It's about resolutions made by adults to take on new responsibilities further confirming their adult status. It's about tiny creatures who take over small worlds and rule with soft iron fists. Whose tiny tops of heads smell of the nectar of life.

Babies. Born by the million each year. Each one the centre of someones universe. Bringing pride and joy to many a clan.

On the naming of many babies I have heard The Grouchy One argue that often the minimum criteria for producing a baby is body parts and a complete lack of undestanding on how to use them (in short body parts and stupidity). As the world fancies itself more modern with each passing year these little creatures are lovingly bestowed with names that are probably the prime reason they are yelling so much. TGO reckons that prospective parents should have to give an exam to check their suitability and name choosing abilities. Luckily TGO has no say in the matter.

This year V & my wide world of friends and relatives have produced a record breaking number of babies: 20. 9 girls and 11 boys. That may not seem like a lot when compared with the millions born each year but it's the largest number born in any year of our adult lives yet. Maybe it has to do with our age, this need to procreate. The bug is ever far from us thankfully. But as these babies grow into 2006 and begin to take their first tiny steps I can only wish their parents a lifetime of happy memories.

I don't know what TGO would make of any of these names but here they are:

The little ladies:
Hannah, Tara, Rhea, Jia, Karma, Radhika, Anya, Naarayani-Gayatri, Naina

The naughty boys:
Neel, Ishaan, Arjun, Vir, Jiyon, Kavi, Akshat, Arnav, Charlie, Zain, Thomas

I don't know if I like or dislike any of the names - thankfully they aren't mine to decide on. I do know that their parents chose carefully, with thought, numerology, astrology, ancesterology and mostly with love. I am also a self-certified expert on know how much every baby gift ever made costs, whats cool in babydom and what is most definitely so last year, what little girls look cute in and little boys will smile at, what parents will approve of and what colours are sooo this season in little people world.

I also know that (no matter what TGO says) as we coo over other people's babies and tell them what wonderful names they have chosen, their expectations for their babe will have been reinforced and their sensitivities respected.

Good luck babies (and the rest of the world).

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Books & Art 2005 - V

I know. You are looking at the time the past four posts have been posted at and wondering at my super typing speed. I began by typing up what I wanted to write in blogger and found it took simply ages and that I was going off on different tangents ever so often. Decided in the interest of the (very very few) readers of 30in2005 and my own sanity that I would write the posts in a word document and copy paste them. I know its cheating but the blog police is in office at this time so I’ll take my chances!

As I write this (in an actual blogger window) I am quite taken by my own decisiveness in choosing my favourite 3 books. It was a difficult choice but as I sat on the tube yesterday afternoon I quickly made a mental list of 6. This morning I wrote that list down and as soon as I saw it written down I decided which my top 3 were. The The Tiger Claw, Serving Crazy with Curry and Jigs & Reels come in a close 4th, 5th and 6th.

So that's the books.

As for the Art I cannot say more strongly what I feel about the Turner prize as I did here. Boatsheds are not art and I would not keep it in my house if you paid me the $40,000 the artist won for it. He must be thrilled with what he's gotten away with!

Next week I plan to go and see 3 galleries and 3 exhibits to renew my interest in different art forms and confirm that good art can be found outside the confines of the crazy prizes. Art for its own sake. Art that is exciting, refreshing, pleasing to the eye, a view of the world through anothers eyes, an expression that is of intriguing beauty. God help any contrived nonsense masqerading as art that comes in my path!

I hope 2006 is a good year for books and art, particularly. I hope you read something good in 2005. And saw something inspiring. Bet it wasn't the Turner prize longlist though.

Books & Art 2005 - IV

Vernon God Little by DBC Pierre (Book 15): This was borrowed off someone’s bookshelf after a sparkling dinner last weekend and I finished it in less than 24 hours. I had to call the owner just to tell them that this is possibly the best book I’ve read all year. It’s a book I didn’t buy or borrow before because I was convinced that the hype surrounding it was the precursor to a gentle let-down. And the authors' name gave me no confidence whatsoever (I know I know, whats in a name and all that - shame on me)

I was sooo wrong. Since it won the Man Booker Prize in 2003 and I’m years behind in catching up with it, there are a zillion reviews of the book, so choose one from here, here or here.

All I will say is this: It’s a book set in modern day America with a plot based on the rampant availability of guns, juvenile problems, materialism, dyfunctional families, media focus, small town biases and a multitude of scary everyday issues. Vernon Gregory Little narrates the story begining from when his life is irrevocably changed by the Columbine-style slaughter of a group of students at his high school by his best friend Jesus Navarro. The plot finds Vernon charged with the killing despite his innocence and soon he is in the media spotlight, surrounded by his ridiculaous mother and her conman boyfriend Eulalio Ledesma. Vernon is caught up in a chain of events that leads to Mexico, a scary assignation with college girl Taylor Figueros, dying minutes on death row and beyond.

It’s a brilliant book, readable over and over. The plot moves quickly, the language is very teen and the mind is boggled by the attractive simplicity of it. If you haven’t read it, do. Now.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Books & Art 2005 - III

31 Songs by Nick Hornby (Book 14 ): This I bought in Borders, Oxford Street, while waiting to meet a friend. I resisted the lights and bought just the one book!

I love Nick Hornby’s writing. I’ve read every book of fiction he’s written. I’ve seen the movies made out of them and re-read the books again, enjoying each one anew. He has a very connected way of writing, including his reader in the world he creates and encouraging ‘the little people to find the light’ kind of themes in his stories. A modern day feel good above all else magician. The kind of writer I think I’d like to be.

31 songs is not fiction. I bought it much after it came out, postponing the purchase, letting linger the thought that maybe we’d like the same kind of music but knowing deep down that we wouldn’t and that if (or honestly, when) that happened I wouldn’t enjoy his books as much anymore. I was right. Well atleast about us not liking the same kind of music. The only thing we have in common is Bruce Springsteen (hey, no sniggering out there). But the book is evocative and so well written that I feel like I was listening to the wrong stuff in my teens. Nick Hornby draws a brilliant melody with his words, describing how music often makes us feel, articulating what most of us can only do in our heads or when no one else is around.
Even if his music is not your music you should read this book. I promise you will hear things you never read before.

Books & Art 2005 - II

Anthem by Tim Binding (Book 13): Bought in a bargain store in Greenwich because how can I resist a solid hardback!?

This is the story of four neighbouring families living in Anglefield Road, small town England, in the times of the Falkland war and before. The before is the separation of a young boy Henry Armstrong being separated from his mother during a day trip to London in the last great fog of 1952. Henry grows up and as a bandsman in the Royal Marines bound for the Falklands, finds his life is still overshadowed by the fact that he has still not found his mum.

Thirty years later, in the year of the Falkland war, shoe salesman Richard Roach (coinicidently Henry's childhood friend), finds he is being ousted out of his company by a younger man who is also having an affair with his wife. He is at war with his teenage son, is haunted by his childhood mistakes and things get truly miserable before he deicides to make any changes. His neighbour Freddie Millen is eternally obliged to his brighter, richer brother and remains obsessed with lawns, both causing a huge strain in his marriage. Their neighbours Matty and Suzanne Plimsoll are crew members on the liner Canberra which is requisitioned for the war. While Matty jumps ship at the last minute Suzanne escapes her marriage and stepdaughter by volunteering to accompany the liner as it transports troops to the Falklands. The Plimsolls are next door to the Armstrongs who are missing a son (you know who) and still struggling with their loss all these years later by buying notebooks like the one he had on him when he was lost.

The story is beautifully told and Tim Binding weaves hope well into the intertwining lives of ordinary people in the face of loss, war, ambition and struggles.

Definitely a bookshelf keeper.

Books & Art 2005 - I

Ever so often I pick up a newly authored book (or books; on a deadly whim; in a chain bookstore where the lights are designed to hypnotise you till you hand over the £’s on what seems like a great 3 for 2 offer; HAH!) fully expecting that it will not nearly live up to all the hype surrounding it. Mostly this premise turns out to be true and my hopes of ‘a brilliant read’ are well & truly dashed. Publicists and strategic marketing have won again, given the book a place that it does not truly deserve and e entrapped me into parting with my hard earned cash. I usually put the book down thinking “what was I thinking!?” or “what were they thinking?!”, vowing to listen to my instincts till the next gimmick sucks you in.

In similar strain I have followed the acclaimed Turner prize for art since I got to England in 2002, watching to see how appallingly bad it can get and what it does for the artist who wins it. I went to see the exhibits in the first year but was so shocked by what was on offer (Bubble chamber by Keith Tyson, multi-coloured Perspex ceiling by Liam Gillick, Two films: Flight & Descent by Catherine Yass and wordscapes by Fiona Banner) that I decided to save my money (and buy aforementioned gimmicky books instead). I now follow the Turner addicts (waiting to see when they will STOP this nonsensical prize or shoot the artists) TV option by watching endless programmes alternately loving (nobody does, I’m just being politically correct for that someone out there who loves it/them all) and criticising the artists (for good reason – they’re rubbish), the prize (for good reason – it’s poor show if this is Britains best) and the whole art world. Art wise 2005 did not fare any better than the preceding years. The Turner shortlist continued to look like an effort gone too far down the wrong road and this winning entry is yet another example of why the Turner should be shot in the leg. It’s a reconstituted boatshed for heavens sake. I’m now convinced that beautiful art should not be what other people tell you it is but what you see and enjoy. Good art cannot be contrived.

2005 turned out to be a quite a bit different book-wise (though not for art as the Turner showed - it continues to be a prize for artworks that can most disappoint the public appetite for new, energising and exciting art). For one I ventured into chain bookstores with increasing rarity and always with my darkglasses on. I stayed away from the offers and bought authors who appealed rather than the ones I was told I had to. I increasingly relied on whatever was available in bargain/ basement bookstores and friends bookshelves & tips for things to read. The unpredictability of what was available as a bargain and the tastes of friends made for interesting reading for the most part.

I’ve chosen three of these books, all from different sources, as my top picks in 2005. These weren’t written in 2005, so you may have already read them. For me they were new and excellent. I want to review them post by post. So read on.

Saturday, December 17, 2005


V thinks he is the blog police. Anytime I start to write something even vaguely negative (as I was before this post - backspace key zindabad!) and he's glanced over my shoulder to take a peek he begins a sermon on 'think about it', 'it could have a negative consequence', ' what will our friends who read it think', 'blah', 'blah', 'blah'. Even in my own house there seems to be the missing element of freedom of speech - it's apparently cool to rant at V (which is all I seem to do these days) but it is not cool to rant to the world lest someone we know thinks the post is about them and gets deeply offended.....oh the injustice!

The point of the anonymous blog was for me to write what I thought, felt, experienced. It's mainly my own mistake for telling most of my friends I was now a blogger and that they could look me up on

Maybe I'll start annother blog and not tell anyone (including Mr. Blog Police). In the meanwhile you'll have to just guess what I was going to rant about.

Lesson to self: Don't blog when V is around!

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

This is for 39in2005

... who was 38 till yesterday. She is not a blogger. She's my fave cousin who extrapolated from my blog name and uses the name to leave comments on my blog. Happy 39th birthday!

Turning 30 was a huge deal for me but I always felt safe knowing that she turned 30 before me and in her 30's continued to be one of the coolest people on the planet. She is THE Jill of all trades, who manages her home, multi-tasks her work, deftly brings up my two adorable nieces, deals with endless streams of visiting family & friends, plans epic holdiays to India and manages to stay in touch with our large family with what seems like little effort. She is the leader of our band of 6 cousins, the queen-pin that holds us all in perpetual smiles. It's a mammoth task being the eldest of us cousins and I think sub-consciously she probably takes it very seriously. Not that you would ever guess it.

This year when we were all in India for her mum's birthday and another cousins reception we had a brilliant time. Stayed up most of the nights, yacking, catching up on gossip and letting all our spouses bond. She is always on for a laugh or a spur of the minute dash to the shops. She is the favourite grandchild, the favourite niece, the memory holder of many of our childhood summer holiday stories.

She will be 40in2006 and worries that this might be her midlife crisis time. I think not. She will probably sleep the worry off in no time and make her 40's sparkle more than the 30's. Then we'll all want to follow suit because the 40's will look like fun. And before we know it time will be on our side and we'll be right there! In the meanwhile she thinks she could deal with the crisis by cooking up a storm...but worries the storm might bring too many calories!

So loads of love and birthday wishes from this continent! Sieze the day. Make that list of things you always wanted to do before you hit the big 4-0 and do them....

Happy Birthday!!

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Still sudoku-ing

I don't even know if sudoku-ing is a real word but it best describes what we've been doing. Ever since I began doing it a few months ago I've known that with me it's not a passing fad. And everywhere Sudoku madness is evdient. It's in the Metro and the City AM so I can keep myself occupied in the tube. Bookshelves stock paperbacks from every publisher, with celebrity endorsements and to suit every level of difficulty. There are competitions in local clubs.

As if that were not enough there are newer crazes: killer sudoku, kakuro, other odd sounding games.

I'm still hooked on sudoku though. It's my crossword puzzle. I've consistantly been racing against the clock and finishing the daily puzzle on Fingertime. I'm getting better and better at it. My best ever time is 4:33 although my average is still 6 mins.

Hey ho!

Thursday, December 08, 2005


I'm getting impatient as hell for a job now. I don't know how much longer I will be 'discerning' about my applications before I stoop to applying to McDonald's for a burger flipping job. Where are all the people willing to take a leap of faith etc....

Anyway, that was not the point of the post - it was just the release of writing down what is most frustrating at the moment that I could not resist! This is the story I heard and the point:

Worrywart goes home to his beautiful wife after an evening out socialising in a bar with his colleagues. Enters his home complaining that he dropped his travelcard with a value of about £16 on it. The Mrs tells him not to worry and to look again once he's eaten. He deigns to eat a lukewarm dinner with a furrowed forehead and no conversation. Jumps up after his meal, checks his jacket pocket, threatens to go back to the bar on a freezing night. Mrs. convinces him not to so he locates the number of the bar, calls and gets the guy on that end of the phone to go check if anyone has turned it in. No one has but bar guy takes down Ww's name and number and promises to call if anyone does. Ww tries calling Transport for London but hits some complicated menu and gives up. Mrs says to be patient and that maybe someone in the bar will turn it in overnight. Worry and impatience don't mix well. Ww ignores all pleas and instead goes online to find some way to cancel the travelcard & retrieve its balance. "Eureka!" he cries. TfL will mail him a new card, cancel the old one and his £16 balance is safe. Worry turns into a smile and finally he has more than 3 words and a real conversation to have with the Mrs. She has no time for this nonsense and walks away.

His travelcard was lying on his bedside table.

His patience is somewhere on the otherside of the world digging a hole through someone's garden, trying to get back to him. Maybe it'll be back by the time his new travelcard arrives in the post!

Monday, December 05, 2005


Over the past few years our idea of a good evening changed from dancing the night into morn. It became a relaxed meal with a few friends, sipping wine with candles around us to set the mood, listening to sublime music and talking endlessly. Before we decided to go to clubbing this weekend I was sure that in my 30's my dancing feet had slipped into an amnesiac state and would have not a clue what to do.

Since we were going with friends we decided to go out for dinner (read: line the stomach) before hitting the dance floor. Chose a cuisine that would adequately accomodate vegetarians and a place that was relatively close to where we were going dancing. So we booked and ate at TAS in London Bridge. It's a Turkish eatery, part of a chain. Excellant mezze and lamb casserole. Topped up with coffee we headed to the party.

Worries about losing all semblance of co-ordination when on the dancefloor subsequent to turning 30 are gone. No question about it. Dispersed with the music. Kicked away with the Bhangra. Sweated into vapour. WooHoo!! Saturday night was proof that I had nothing to worry about in the first place. Age IS all in the mind. The evening was grand; we danced our feet off till 1 am and then came home with four of our friends to watch the dialogues & sing along the songs from a number of great old hindi films. Thought I'd blog before falling asleep but I was way too excited to be coherent. Went to bed at 5.30am and woke in time for us to all go to Tayyabs to eat lunch.

Sunday afternoon and evening sailed by stuck in a sea of people on Oxford Street, refreshed with energising juice from 'Juiced!', tea with friends at a tiny cafe on James Street, drinks at Ask in Piccadilly before a much needed early night.

The dancing was super even though the music was not great either in quality of songs the DJ chose or the sound system. It was fun because we were all together and I for one really enjoyed myself. I had forgotten what fun V & I have on the dancefloor. I think our cosy evenings with friends, food & wine are great but interspersed with evenings out like this would be even more special. I resolve to plan more WooHoo moments!

TAS: 72 Borough High Street, London SE1 1XF. Tel: 020 7403 7200/ 7277

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Dancing shoes

I'm just getting over a bad cold that has kept me indoors with a box of Kleenex since Thursday.

Started off the weekend with a lovely dinner at Royal China (West Ferry Circus) last evening. Just V and me. After ages it was just us, makes a change from our endlessly busy social lives. I was still sniffling but the hot & sour soup really helped the cause. We had some calamari and dumplings to start, sizzling chicken in blackbean sauce and hot & spice veal with soft noodles and egg fried rice. Far too much food so we ended up packing most of it and bringing it home. Made for a great brunch today! Royal China is a highly successful family owned chain with restaurants in St.Johns Wood, Baker Street, Queenstown and West Ferry Circus. They are known for their dim sum and excellent chinese food. Their food is wholesome, hot and tsaty and they don't douse everything in MSG which is good. We had a lovely evening just catching up with each other, me just glad to be yacking without blowing my nose every 3 seconds and V just unwinding from his hectic week. An evening alone with your partner is highly recommended....

Nice long swim this afternoon to finish off the cold. I'm off to put on my dancing shoes as we plan to go dancing tonight after eons. I think I may have forgotten how to dance, its been that long. So the un-coordinated one on the dance floor, that'll be me. I can't wait!

Have a good weekend all!

Royal China: 30 Westferry Circus, London E14 8RR. Tel: 020 7719 0888

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Skin shallow

I'm not a great believer in the cosmetics industry. This is not a sentiment shared by a majority of the ladies. Googling found me the small (not) fact that " Though slowing, year-on-year growth rates in the global cosmetics and toiletries industry have been positive to date. Last year the world market for cosmetics and toiletries (C&T) was valued at US$201 billion, up 4.8% from 2002 (in fixed exchange rate terms)." Even if you give Toilteries half that share that's still a lot of makeup by any standards!

In theory the youthful twenties are when your skin is recovering from the angst and teenage bouts of acne -- your skin is clear, pores almost invisible, complexion positively rosy, even & taut. A light moisturizer and gentle exfoliating are all the 20 something skin needs to look good.

My twenties were skin-heaven time; I never had pimples, zits, acne, blemishes or poor self-esteem due to a darker that pale colouring. More importantly I could never bring myself to part with my cash on the latest lipstick/ blush/ foundation etc...My make-up kit consisted of kajal and lip gloss for the odd day, eyeliner and the palest blush for an occasion special. I convinced myself that I liked the natural look and accepted that I was too damn lazy to make any effort whatsoever.

The truth is that I have always had an oblique standard for "beautiful" and I never got caught in the race in which many (most) women I knew, regardless of their looks, felt they were failing to meet model standards of perfection. I always wondered how perfectly lovely women found time to layer on the make-up and if they were ever at all disappointed when all the layers were washed off and their face was nothing but a wrinkled up prune (from all those constant chemicals) underneath. Sorry, I'm trying not to be judgemental (but somehow that's not how this reads!). It's just that to my minds eye sometimes the vulnerability of a clear (I don't mean blemish clear; I mean concience clear) face and the innocence of a natural smile on a young woman is a far more attractive proposition.

The 'wise' thirties are quite another story. I'm told that although acne will no longer be an "issue" the first signs of aging will appear. Beside the grey hair springing up all over the head (yes, there's that delight to look forward to!) there is discoloration and premature wrinkles to look forward to (eeks!). It's awful, simply awful.

Here's what happens in the 30's: "The skin under the eyes begins to thin and puffy dark circles become commonplace, the skin's natural process of exfoliation slows down and collagen and elastin fibers decrease."

The suggestion is that I consider boosting my skin care regimen and upgrading my makeup routine. Looking good in my thirties will take more time and effort than in my twenties and I should prepare to be both out of pocket and time where my looks are concerned. I can no longer afford to be judgemental of women who makeup as soon I shall have to take this with some seriousness.

Apparently time stops for no one and no amount of bl**dy expensive Olay Regenerist regime creams and serums is going to help.

I would like to think that inner beauty is everything and that how I look sans makeup is statement-making cool. Yet I can't escape from the fact that in my thirties my skin is taking on a paler shade of grey.

So I shall continue to dabble in makeup to maintain 'natural' as a look. When it all clashes violently and I look terribly grey or way too bright will someone please please give me a heads-up?

Monday, November 28, 2005

Oriental outings

Busy busy weeks with lots of meals eaten out, with friends, with relatives, with each other. I am biased towards oriental food - Japanese, Chinese, Thai, fusion - all yumm in my books. V is not so. I mean he'll eat it with a smile on his face but Italian tops his favourite food bias without a doubt. Say 'Pizza' and the guy who agrees quickest and smiles broadest is V!

The first of our oriental outings was with our friend M to a Korean restuarant in far away Raynes Park, south west London. We combined the plan with a visit to Wimbledon to see friends with a newborn baby girl. On a cold Sunday evening the Korean place was warm and full of Koreans eating dinner (to me the surest sign of authentic and tasty cuisine is that people from the country of origin will slurp it down smiling - although I would say beware of snake and insect eating cultures). We'd never eaten Korean before and had no clue what to expect. Ga-Chi is on a lonely lane close to Raynes Park station. It's sign well lit and welcoming we went into the warmth and carefully read the menu. We made no decisions before M arrived (he's been before) except on Korean beer and a fried Calamari starter. We finally ordered 3 main dishes: the first was a traditional barbeque; the second a chicken in chill garlic sauce and the third a hot pot. The chicken arrived first. Fried chicken in a very light and tasty sauce, eaten with no accompaniment was excellant - it needed no rice or noodles to complete it at all. Then the kind Korean waitress brought the ingredients for the barbeque to our table and cooked them on the hot plate in the centre - marinated sirloin steak and pork with a few mushrooms. The Korean barbeque is eaten in a particular manner. A lettuce leaf forms the base on which you put a few springs of spring onion, some soyabean paste, spicy chilli kimchi. Then whip up a piece of cooked meat from the central hot plate, fold the lettuce leaf much like a dumpling and pop into the mouth. Simply sterling! The final dish was the hot pot. Rice, egg, korean hot sauce, meat and some quick mixing by the waitress at the table and this hot stone pot produced a fine small bowl of steaning food for each of us. It was the prefect ending to a sumptuous meal. It's all fresh ingredients, cooked at the very last minute possible to keep in the nutrients and taste, very neat and tidy and tasty - I am taken with Korean food and Ga-chi is highly recommended! Oh, I think you need a booking as they are very full usually.

Our next oriental eating opportunity was disasterous. V and I were roaming around Oxford Street in search of an elusive red jacket that I want to buy and as the sun went down and the cold fingers of the evening gripped us tighter we decided to nip into the relatively new (a couple of months I think) 'Yo Sushi!' behind the new Boots. What a disappointment! V and I both love Sushi and regularly frequent the other famous sushi bar chain Itsu. We'd never been to Yo! before and decided that some green tea and a plate each of sushi would be our evening warmer. The decor was neat and clean but the couches were mighty uncomfortable to get into. The passing conveyor belt was full of neat little plates of sushi making their way to every diner. Unfortunately not a single palte was marked. All they gave us was this menu. The problem is this: identify sushi that looks good, then flip through all the pages to find out what it is, like the description and decide that that's what you'll have, look up and its long gone, hovering three tables away, where another bewildered guest is doing the same dance. Why couldn't they just put a little holder on each one identifying what it is - like every other sushi bar in the world?! Next problem: two spouts coming up through the centre of the table marked fizzy water and still water, surrounded by numerous glasses. You'd think that it was a kind reaction to every tired Oxford street shopper asking for a glass of water. Or that the person who seated you would mention that it cost some money to use them. I finally gave up on the conveyor belt and chose a mackrel kedgeree from the menu (it was cold and disappointing - in sync with the theme of the place) - and V chose something from the escaping conveyor and pronounced it 'average'. Bill paying time and we've been charged £1 each for the water we drank - "per glass you use madam". Never again. I am on a boycott Yo Sushi stance now......

V's brother and my brother were here at the weekend and we went to Hamley's in Regent Street in search of toys to keep our young niece happy when her father got back to Mumbai. After an hour in overcrowded toyland, with our hands full of toys and goodies we made our way to the Japan Travel Centre in Picaddilly. The Toku restaurant has been revamped from a squashed few tables next to the travel desk to a bright red walled, many tabled and utterly buzzing restaurant. The last time I had been there with a friend the service and food had been delightful if hurried. The seating is still a bit constrained but the service was friendly and the food every bit as tasty as before. There is a large menu and its not cheap as chips but its good sized portions of fresh food. We had a selection of sushi (and even Nik - my bro - tried some - this is amazing but why is another post) and then all three boys had rice bowls with chilli pork (accompanied by 'can-able bottles' of Sapporo beer) while I devoured a chicken teriyaki set. Our meals were hot, delicious and so beautifully presented that even that quick meal felt wholesome and relaxed. I'm not sure where the travel desk has moved but the basement is a supermarket of Japanese groceries and the first floor a japanese bookshop. If ever in the area and looking for a quick, healthy fast food option the Japan Travel Centre is highly recommended.

There you are - 3 completely different oriental meals with 3 very different outcomes. I still love Oriental food!

34 Durham Road, Raynes Park, London, SW20 0TW; Tel: 020 8947 1081
Yo Sushi! : All over the city like a rash - avoid any and all unless you are a glutton for punishment - don't say you weren't warned!!!
Japan Travel Centre/ Toku restaurant: 212 Piccadilly, London W1J 9HG; Tel: 020 7255 8255

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Cold Snap 101

Frozen person = unloved blog

It's taken 5 days to defrost my fingers and drag myself out from under the world's warmest duvet to get to this post. UK is under the spell of a rather cold snap and I, the original Sun-catcher, is suffering for it. And it's only November.

Cuddlefest with simply adorable nephews aged 5 and 20 months helped warm the heart on Friday. Houseguests from afar (one whose tale is fodder for another post) since Saturday has kept me on toes - all the jogging around the house trying to keep some semblence of tidiness has got the blood flowing.

Not deviating anymore. To battle the fog that envelopes your house and the cold that permeates those thick walls here are my top tips:

1. Hot home-made bubbling chai (not lukewarm latte from Starbucks)

2. Steaming bowls of soup (M&S or Covent Garden heated on the stove will do for the mixie-challenged)

3. Boiling hot baths with lavender oil in them (so what if you look a bit like a lobster by the time you come out, atleast you will be warm)

4. Hot water bottles (24 hour rotation - get your other half to go make them while you preserve the warmth left behind)

5. Knee high woollen socks (one pair or two)

6. Tights (under the socks please, a bit superwoman like?!)

7. Fluffy bedroom slippers (without the pompoms please)

8. Big old (therefore softest) himachali shawl you can find (don't be fashion conscious, this goes over anything, really)

9. Lots of candles - differest sizes, shapes, smells and colours (even when you don't have guests, it makes the place seem cosier and burns that cold smell out)

10. Hugs (endless supply from certain warm human being - I've got mine to take the week off and acclimatise me to this harsh tundra)

It's cold and I'm a bit like an ice cream container - sweet but cold! As you can see I'm suffering with the -5 temperatures that only promise to go lower when the isobars become closer and the wind is from the Arctic. Brrrr....

Any wise suggestions to keep warm O wise bloggers?!

Saturday, November 12, 2005

'Christmas' by any other name

Political correctness is for wimps. People who can't or won't call an apple an apple. And people who couldn't find any other job but have remenant childhood desires to star in their own secret society.

A while ago V was pointing out someone to someone and was strictly reprimanded for saying 'blonde girl'. Apparently he should have said 'girl with golden hair' or some such thing because blondes no longer want to be called that. They are offended by the stereotype of 'blondes' being dumb. I simply have to shake my so-far-so-black head of hair and wonder what next? Should I be offended when someone points to me and says 'Asian looking' or 'brown girl'. Of course I would like to be pointed to as that 'gorgeous woman' but let's face it that ain't going to happen; 'Asian looking' or 'brown girl' is far closer the target and much closer the point. Blonde girl is accurate, its a description when a name is not known, not derogatory and whoever stuffed their heads with trash about stereotypes, well, they should have none of it -be proud to be blonde, black, brown or blue!

This is the latest row in the battle of the political correctness:

Apparently, someone fairly junior and overzealous to protect the 'diversity' of the London borough of Lambeth decided to rename its Christmas lights “winter” or “celebrity” lights, effectively banning the word 'Christmas'. Someone at the Daily Mail decided it was front page news enough and although Lambeth Council responded by quickly taking out a strong press release denying this and applauding the festival of christmas. But not before 'furore' among the christian public and discussion on every talk show on day time telly.

So I had to listen to lisping (and very irritating) Lowri Turner (Brit TV celebrity) tell us on the 'Wright Stuff' (Channel Five) and then the evening news about how she thinks that Christmas is archaic and that no matter how many Brits actually put 'C of E' on applications none of them is a real Christian. Her boyfriend is apparently Asian and she is trying to teach her children about other festivities (ie. 'diversity') and she fully supports this change of 'Christmas' to 'Winter'. Doesn't want her children to feel pressured into celebrating Christmas just because it's a tradition. How is it possible to get such dumb guests on such a great programme - Mathew Wright, get someone half decent to be an 'expert' (This is a rant for another post I think).

Anyway, needless to say I don't agree and I'm not even Christian. I think Christmas lights should be called just that. Changing someone's name doesn't change what it is. Re-branding for the sake of it should not be allowed. Little Christian children wait all year for Christmas and Santa Claus to bring them presents. Should we take away all innocence and just tell them Christmas got cancelled? Next they'll be saying that 'Winter' is cancelled and henceforth being called 'cold season'.

Indian's all over the UK celebrate Diwali with zeal, dressing up for parties, playing taash, eating mithaiyan and bursting pataka's. Wouldn't we hate it if Dwali was cancelled by the political correctness brigade? Whatever happened to tolerance? This is a Christian country for heaven's sake and if they can accept our festivals I think the 'diverse' population should learn to accept theirs. I'm all for political correctness when someone is being hurt or when the remarks are deregatory but not when it will remove a tradition that is revered or when the stereotype is half-baked and all in the mind.

I'm jobless but not desperate enough to join the political correctness secret society!

taash: Cards
mithaiyan: Sweets
pataka's: fireworks

Friday, November 04, 2005

A cricket bit

Guffawing a la ha ha interupted my nightly telly addiction last night. Turned around to see V trying desperately not to fall off his swiss ball while simultaneously shaking with laughter.

This is the reason. Indian cricketing fans (of whom V would like to be crowned King) will enjoy.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

My poor brave Dilli

Sarojini nagar market is a teenage schoolgirls designer outlet on a budget. All through school thats where I went to shop for what I thought were cool clothes and were infact export rejects and seconds. Now it's a bomb site and all the gruesome pictures are playing havoc with the happy memories I have of it. It's where we'd go for Diwali gifts, to eat chaat, to buy our woolies, to buy myriad household items - from bedspreads to plastic containers of every size, colour and shape - to stock up on fresh fruit & veggies.

It's taking me more time than most (probably because of the distance) to get my head around what has happened - 3 near simultaneous bomb blasts in 3 crowded areas. Fleeting news pictures and sketchy accounts of the scale of things show my poor city bleeding and hurt. Even at a non-festive time these markets are always overcrowded and I can only imagine the terror innocent shoppers have gone through in those minutes and hours after the bombings.

I'm thinking of my city this diwali and praying that all dilliwalas use the proverbial and very real lights to find their way ahead.

Diwali ki shubh kamnaye

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Tired eyes meet a warm kitchen

To break the week up and give my eyes a break from this screen I left home on Wednesday for the greenery and clean air of Wimbledon. Our globe-trotting friends have a brilliantly sunny apartment on the top floor of a house just a stone's throw from the Common and I was invited to go and stay. She and I spent the afternoon a bit like kids in a candy shop, looking at toys for children. She had a long list of kids of all sizes and ages to buy gifts for and this was just the research run to see what was available. Wimbledon has every possible high street shop in its confines and we had a jolly old time ooohing and aaahing over adorable winter coats for kiddies, geomag, lego and leapad. All oohed and aahed out, research duly done, we headed to their home to a glass of fine fine wine, Faustino I.

We went to Cocum in nearby Raynes Park. We've been before a few times, V & I, with these friends and a few others. Cocum is an unassuming South Indian gem of a restaurant that makes a mean appam and Nadan meen curry. The Kathakali masks and other Kerala handicrafts suit the small space and make the restaurant feel cosy and inviting. An enjoyable evening was had by all!

Their home, in a very comfortable guest bed and after nights of strange insomnia I was out like a light (well almost - an hour of reading followed by 6 uninterupted hours of shut eye). Woke up to a bright, clear and sunny day. Sat on a swiss ball chatting away while my buddy, a fabulouso cook, dished out hot freshly made gobhi parathas from her tawa and onto our plates. There I was exhausted from sleepless-ness and staring at the computer and TV screen till my eyes smarted almost continuously, now tucking into a steaming delicious paratha in someones warm kitchen. How I needed that! Warm kitchen, the smell of freshly ground spices, a full tum and unseasonably warm sunshine for this time of year - all reminders of an Indian holiday.

Well, its back to reality now. My home. More applications. Still no V. But soon.

There is NOTHING on TV. Thankfully we live in a high-ish rise and from one of the windows (strategically, our sofa is opposite) of our living room there are continuous fireworks magically going off every few second - minutes. This is all practice, buildup to Guy Fawkes day which is round the corner. My refreshed eyes are still resting. Enjoying the starbursts and beautiful dislplays that ligt up the cold London skies. Ta da!

Cocum: 9, Approach Rd, Raynes Park, London, SW20 8BA. Tel: 020 8540 3250

Appam: fermented rice pancake
Meen: fish
Gobhi: Cauliflower
Paratha: Griddle fried Indian bread

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Sleepless in London

My Other (and Better) Half is the other side of the pond, in another of the world's greatest cities, the Big Apple. Meanwhile I am still in London, having (stupidly) turned down the offer of holidaying for a week with him, in order to stay home and continue applying for jobs. How foolish am I!? Don't answer that, its a rhetorical q...

I won't say I was not tempted but common sense prevailed. Temptation was kept at bay by the hassle of getting a visa (high up on the pain charts) added to the tingles of guilt of not having a job for the last 6 months. It's been a productive few days though. I've spent the last two days fused to this computer churning out applications with supporting statements that make me sound holier than thou. I have a load of application deadlines to meet in the next few days, deadlines I would have missed holidaying, so I'm not feeling completely useless.

What I am though, is sleepless and sleep deprived. It's been 3 nights since I've had a good nights sleep. Applications all day and most of the evening, interspersed by plates of hot gyoza, followed by telly till midnight and then a book till about 4am. Dozing by 5am and sound asleep at 6am when I can see the first lights of day. Up at about at 9.30am and back at this machine. Whatever is the matter with me. I suspect it's a combination of missing V and all the shopping I could have crammed into my suitcases.

Went out to get some fresh air and groceries today. Both were first in a while and I had forgotten how refreshing cold air could be. Now I have chocolate to accompany the endless steamed gyoza!

I'm waiting for the applications to go, V to come back and my days & nights to return to a normal rhythm.

In the meanwhile I hope V goes and sees the Statue of Liberty this time round!

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Please, sir, I want some more

What better remedy on a Sunday afternoon after a partying Saturday night than the new adaptation of Charles Dickens classic Oliver Twist? A remedy it was not.

Roman Polanski's mastery with 'The Pianist' was not in evidence in this much awaited autumn release. My benchmark is certainly the 1968 musical 'Oliver!' which I have seen many a time and for me, brings to life Victorian England through the eyes of young Oliver.

The story is much the same: Victorian England and an innocent orphan walks 70 miles to escape his terrible fate in the countryside, only to become entangled in the dark world of London criminal named Fagin. Innocent Oliver yearns for a better life and a chance meeting with a learned gentleman Mr. Brownlow shows this to be possible. However, this chance and Oliver's life are both threatened as Fagin and his associates want him to be kept in their grimy sordid lifestyle. Fairy tale ending with Oliver escaping to the good life offered by the kind Mr.Brownlow.

Polanski's version is certainly true to the novel and depicted with the finest detail, costumery and sets perfectly rendered. What it lacks is warmth, character building. The decadence of class war and the exploitation of women and children is shown clearly but the film did little else to grip me to my seat.

Young Barnaby Clarke certainly had the fitting look needed for the role but his wide-eyed trembling lip underplayed the part leaving me feeling as though he was an incidental arm to the whole thing. Polanski fell short as a director for this child actor. It was not enough by far.

I liked Mr. Brownlow, well projected by Edward Hardwicke (a familiar face as Dr.Watson from Sherlock Holmes) but the artful dodger was hardly convincing or endearing as he has been in other versions of this film. I was looking forward to Ben Kingsley as Fagin but again this representation with too much make-up and a much mumbled accent left the character cold in his tracks.

V was in office and I watched it with two friends. At the end both declared their love for the movie and quite evidently enjoyed it. I'm the more cynical type. I expected far more from Polanski than sets, costumes and depiction, especally since he chose to make yet another version of something that has already been rendered so well in the past.

I wanted more. I wanted to be transported to another time, to feel the vulnerability and care about the outcome. This was a mere storytelling, jumping from incident to incident without much fire in its belly.

Please, sir, I need more.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Where did all the good news go?

Maybe this is me being morbid.

Or maybe this is a reaction to just sitting at home and filling in job applications that make me sound holier-than-thou with no real results.

Or maybe I need a bit of sunshine through these grey skies.

Everywhere I look the news is bad. Everyday and night I watch the news and keep thinking that the next story will be one of joy, sheer unadulterated happiness. It is yet to happen. Most often the only cheery face is of the BBC weatherperson smiling at the prospect of a sunny day. That even makes me smile, often through a sheet of tears. Take your pick amongst the possible bad pieces of news;
Man-made: invasions, civil war, acts of terror, arson, murder, theft, muggings, cheating...
Nature's wrath: tornado's, typhoons, hurricanes, volcano's, earthquakes, tsunamis, floods, drought, famine...

Whether manmade or natural all this bad news is bearing down upon us. It's a miracle anyone on the news can smile anymore. In such a vast diverse world you would expect that some of the news filtering through would be good. So is it the media or the media-watchers (TV, online, newsprint) who want to know only about the usually terrible, often dramatic scenes that errupt daily somewhere on the planet.

And here's how the projected good news - keep faith - have hope - stories work. The good news is qualified by how good it is in the face of something bad. Like a vaccine for a disease that's killed millions; this cure may or may not work. Or weapons being put down to help people over the line of control because of an earthquake in a region where peace is a rarely used word. In my mind it's all too little, too late.

I'll be the first to admit that maybe I'm just a bit cynical because I intersperse job applications (even that is all horrible news, much closer home) with watching the sensationalist news. One way to feel a bit more cheerful might be to find good happy moments in my own life. That is all I have, the life around me, that's all I can somewhat control.

So here is the last picture I took that makes me smile. Maybe you'll smile too....or maybe you'll share a bit of good news from your own world!

being grown up is a terribly hard thing to do. its much easier to go from one childhood to another - f scott fitzgerald (& V agrees!); this is his birthday cake (from Paul) with a sugar tiger (from Patisserie Valerie) gleefully smiling in the centre.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Before the Booker

For lack of money time and space I rely on Random House’s Borzoi to keep me up to date on what authors are saying, reviews of new books in multiple categories and simple inspiration to read even though I can’t seem to write.

I read about John Banville in passing last year and it somehow stuck in my head that he had been nominated for the Booker Prize in 1989. A short while later, for lack of anything to read on a train journey to Leeds, I wandered into a WH Smith just before and bought Shroud’ (Book 11).

The narrator is Alexander Vander, an elderly professor of literature with an international reputation of being one of the greatest scholarly writers of his time. Early in the novel he admits that his life is a lie: an identity from a friend of his youth, that friends’ bourgeois family in Antwerp that he has claimed as his own, an education fabricated. Alex fled Belgium during the second World War and established himself in California with his wife, whose recent death has brought on the new waves of guilt about his life. He is an unhappy old man, given to a violent temper, alcoholism, rudeness and self-destructive behaviour. His deception weighs heavily and is not helped by a letter from Cass Cleave, a young woman claiming she knows all his secrets. Knowing he must destroy Cass to save his past he meets he in Turin only to discover that she is slightly unhinged herself. His conversations with Cass in a Turin hotel room explore the morality of identity theft, sacrifices people in his life made, the enormity of a life of lies and the path to redemption.

This is an intelligent and detailed novel to say the very least, and it required much more attention than my train journey could possibly give it.

A few weeks later I found 'Eclipse' (Book 12) in a Greenwich bookshop for a fraction of the cost and bought it. What I had not realised is that in 'Shroud' I had inadvertently read the second of the Alex Vander novels. So, upside down I shall continue.

Alexander Cleave faces collapse of his 30 year career, both physically and psychologically. He retreats to his childhood home, now abandoned, in the hope of redeeming his life and being himself rather than all the parts he has been forced to play to the world. Simply be, rather than be for an audience, as it were.

Unfortunately, his abandoned home is full of memories, of his childhood years, his crumbling career and marriage, his estranged relationship with his daughter and his fathers suicide. Also in the house are a strange caretaker and a teenage housekeeper. Memories, inhabitants and apparitions of a woman, a child and a third figure all intertwine to make it a struggle for Alex to confront his own problems. Challenging himself to figure out exactly what has gone wrong with his life Alex comes to realise the ways in which things, time, events and people are not always what they seem and how in time they reveal their true colours.

I wish I had not read them upside down because I knew what to expect with 'Eclipse'. Banville’s prose is brilliant, almost poetic. In both his books he is a bit like a magician, wandering around, setting the scene before with one flash revealing a most amazing trick.

Banville has just yesterday been declared the winner of the Man Booker Prize 2005 for his novel 'The Sea'. This interview with Banville by a brilliant lit blog is evidence though that it takes getting nominated for a Man Booker (as Banville was in 2002) to jump from 4000 copies to 100,000. I’m thrilled Banville got this far. He is a treasure.

I do wonder though, how many brilliant writers are languishing in anonymity, waiting for a literary nomination. If you read something good please buy it, lend it, suggest it, gift it, blog about it.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Rumal(i) chaahiye

This brought tears to my eyes. I miss India so.

Thank you Deirdré Straughan!

Whats in a postcode?

Numerous discussions, different sets of people, lots of loud opinions, semi-correct information and no finality on how the postcode system that identifies each home in the UK works.

This is how it's done.

So now we know.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Smell those roses

Look at a mainline tube station between 7.30am and 10am and you will see a platform full of tense-browed commuters all of whom are packing themselves like sardines in a tin can train. Purportedly they are all rushing to get to work before their company collapses without them. If we did a one-question survey of the office-goers on that platform I can bet most of them would choose 'yes' to a slower pace of life than 'no'. I feel a wistful longing.

When I worked my hours were never too long but travel and looking after my home meant that I was a bit of a speedaholic, constantly juggling lists in my head. Now, thanks to the fast paced life of one such urbanite, I have taken the summer off work and am able to take my time looking for a new job. All summer I have remained gleefully, gainfully unemployed for the moment. Life has expanded (oh so easily) to fit in all my free time. Continuous houseguests, piles of books, coffee in the sunshine and the odd job application are just a few of the gainful (life experience, not moolah) activities that fill up my day. I have had a few months of the slower pace of life now and consider myself somewhat an authority on the vie paresseuse. With the chance to stop and smell the proverbial roses I've discovered that they smell really nice!

Having said that I'm ready to go back to work and the only change I'd make is to constantly remember that smell. I want my work life to mingle easily with a combination of summer-like laziness (want to think that thought even in dreary winter) and a flurry of social activities.

The work-life balance argument goes both ways. This is the only time in life where we have enough energy to do more, see more, read more, eat more, earn more, be more, more more more more..... By the time we have enough money to stop and smell the roses its our knees that will buckle under! Flip side, we all become slobs, rolling out of bed at noon to soak in the summer sun, doing little else but spouting how this is the time of life to smell those roses, before we're too old and mouldy. result: little or no moolah to bide our elder years by.

So whats the balance? How much should we do, how often should we stop and smell those flower, how much money is enough etc? All questions that have no correct answer or rather an unique answer for each and every individual. While you do some soul searching for your unique answer do stop and smell those roses. May they inspire you!

Monday, September 19, 2005

Nothing but a pile of sand

The brochure that the S-team picked up from somewhere promised the '4th Car free maritime Greenwich festival' at its best with 'car free events'(??) and a 'buzzing programme of free outdoor events'. Greenwich is one of my favourite London weekend destinations with its arts & crafts markets and numerous food stalls. The suggestion of more stuff happening in an already buzzing Greenwich was alluring to say the least. So come mid-day V and I legged it with much enthusiasm and the promise of being 'awash with fun performances, activities and displays'. A brochure picture (I know I know, all pictures look better than the real thing) of a sand sculpture of a horse in the middle of the road by some famous guy was another thing I was keen to see.

Never has a festival been as disappointing as today. The 'car free' was only one small road at the start of which the Dhol Academy was belting out some good stuff (ie loud stuff) to distract from the street art which was nothing like a horse but instead a pile of sand with tiny children crawling all over it. Maybe it was a horse to start with and the 'art' was to unleash 50 kids (average height 1.5 ft each) on it and see what their feet could do to enhance it. I bet some smartie festival organiser thought it would be easier (and much much cheaper) to clear the street by siphoning off the sand in the shoes, clothes and hair of all the little tykes. Let baby shampoo and tub plugholes deal with it.

The market was hardly expanded (face painting stall and unbelievably ugly overpriced art stall do not count) and was so crowded with people looking for those elsuive expansions that we got moved along by sheer sea of humanity.

Olives, feta in chillies, stuffed vine leaves, sun-dried tomato foccacia, lamb megriz and cumberland sausages tucked into our bags (all this is normal fare, nothing added by the so called festival), we decided to lunch at the Coach & Horses, which is a corner pub in the undercover market. Very popular eatery and as a result very overcrowded. We had to share our bench table with two twats who went on (simultaneously) about completely different things to each other; one about diving and the other about his upcoming birthday at Edinburgh; so much so that at one point I wondered if they were part of a conversation with god or just high on something. Here's a sampler:
spiky haired guy 1: I can't believe it's only 170quid for the diving course man
spiky haired guy 2: my birthday party is going to be in Edinburgh in 3 weeks
spiky haired guy 1: I'll be able to go on all these trips before the year is out man
spiky haired guy 2: I think Alisa and Jaime will be there. The party will rock man

(Wierd hanh!?)

V & I ate scrumptuous burgers with fat (truly fat) chips. One of the S's from the S-team had a goats cheese on veggies baked (OK, he said) and the lady-S had a mushroom risotto (horrid campbells soup combined with rice and fried mushrooms).

One book purchase later (Three Junes by Julia Glass) we were home sweet home and a relaxed evening has led me here, to the end of another weekend. All with the disappointing taste of a festival gone awry. Greenwich I love, it's festival I didn't.

The Coach & Horses: 13 Greenwich Market, Greenwich, London, SE10 9HZ; Tel: 020 8293 0880

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Growing old is mandatory; growing up is optional!

V's birthday today. I bought him a baby chocolate mousse (in lieu of a forthcoming cake) but carried it around all day and it was quite squashed and resembled chocolate mashed potatoes(if there is such a thing!) by midnight! Proper cake today and I promise you a pic....

So my V, remember that a birthday is just the first day of another 365-day journey around the sun. Enjoy the trip!

Monday, September 12, 2005

A fishy start

4am alarm screeches from my mobile. Why did I choose that utterly inane and joyous tune on my sony ericsson - because there aren't any other less zingy ones - more importantly why did I set it for a Saturday morning? Well for almost 3 years now we have lived within a fairly close proximity to Billingsgate Market. (yes that's the one in the lyrics of Mary Poppins song, Well done sister suffragettes: From kensington to billingsgate
one hears the restless cry from every corner of the land womankind arise!)
The 5am to 8am opening hours of Friday and Saturday (for retail customers in addition to the wholesale purchasers who are allowed every am) was a real stumbling block. Friday because it was always a workday and it was a rush to just get to work and Saturday, well just because it's the weekend and it defies all commonsense to wake up before the birds when you don't have to. So Billingsgate has been so close and yet so far.

Our houseguests (whom I am going to moniker the S-Team) are enthusiastic fish-eaters and were keen to check it out. So Saturday 4am alarm, a cup of tea and rubber slipper lopping along later and we were there. It was 5.05 as we entered the gates to find a stream of people coming out. Even 5 minutes after it opened we managed to be late. The market is a well-lit, bustling-at-the-seams affair. Wholesale means that they usually don't sell you less than one zillion cases (yes, I am into extremes at the moment)of the same fish; retail (as defined by the King of Billingsgate) apparently means atleast one box. One of the S-Team managed to secure two huge King Sea Bass and some smoked salmon (that was our Saturday night meal; he stuffed them with garlic, red chillies, parsley and tumeric before baking it. The salmon was added to blanched green beans as an accompaniment and a potato&scallion salad completed the meal; we polished off the meal enthusiastically before I remembered that I should have taken a picture of it!? You'll have to imagine it and take my word for it's sumptuousness)

I bought a box of cod fillets (I'm picky about skin, bones etc; I know I know whats a fish without, but hey that's just me), 24 of them to be precise, from the stall of Lobo Fisheries. Mr Lobo, if indeed that was he, assured me and the S-Team that all his fish including two incredible looking pomfret had come all the way from India (woohoo!).

Home, cod seperated, date marked and put into the freezer. Smelly box thrown out of the house, into the main bins and it was only 7.30am. Sleep long gone I set about cleaning my kitchen; scrubbed till it shone. Could not get back to sleep as hard as I tried, so read till V woke up and went for brekka to our local Saturday haunt cafe. A carefree Saturday sparkled and shone ahead of us.....relaxed and replete with the promise of a brilliant meal.

If today were a fish I'd throw it back.

Billingsgate Market: Trafalgar Way, London E14 5ST; Tel 020 7987 1118

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Day out, pictures in

Trudged to Ikea today (the one that's in Neasden) and got away fairly lightly. Is it that it's not as enamouring as before or just that I have no more place to keep a 5 piece set of bamboo baskets, 3 trillion tea lights and 1500 hundred types of paper napkins????

I think its the space because I thoroughly enjoyed myself, just looking at the set-up rooms had me wanting to move permanently to a showroom. Perhaps for the first time ever I listened to the little voice whispering into my ear that keeps saying "it's only things you want not what you need!". Oops sorry that's not my voice or my conscience, it's the voice of my cuz 40in2006 all the way from the US of A!! How thrilled V will be that I have not spent my meagre fortune on an oversized futon, sets of filing racks, 200 glasses and 13 spotlights (I was soooo tempted, just the packaging and economical price bowl me over and make me into an Ikea-hungry maniac)

I have to go now. My cousin A has sent me 4 gazillion photographs to trawl through - all of his wedding in Patna, reception in Madras and my aunt's birthday. All my cousins and spouses and aunts and uncles and nieces and parents and brother and grandfather and family friends from before I was a tinytot.......when will we be together again I wonder.....

It's time to feel nostalgic and homesick all in eyes are geared for the feast of colour and laughter and my heart is geared for the feast of memories.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Music and laughter

It's a combination of a terrible cold and sheer laziness that kept me away from posting till just now. An endlessly runny nose is not a great farewell to a great city, but nonethelss it was the gift that sunny Prague left me with. A days worth of fever when I came back and then just the general run down feeling till about 2 days ago.

A day after we returned we welcomed a couple into our home, friends who have just moved to London from Frankfurt, and so they are staying with us while they househunt. It's like deja vu - remember we had globe-trotting pals stay in Feb-March - the lovely long dinners and general excitement of having more friends in London combine to give a heady feel to things.

Saturday night we went to the Jazz Cafe in Camden (on the advice of another friend) to help celebrate the 20th year anniversary of the release of Snowboy's first album. Now for those of you not familiar with the Afro-cuban Jazz scene, it is quite apparently Snowboy's forte. Yumptuous dinner at Raavi Kebab in Drummond Street before the show set the scene and lined our stomachs for the drinks to come. Jam packed house at the Jazz Cafe and the music was brilliant with everybody swaying/ shuffling to the music. Supported by the Latin Section and with a whole host of guest stars from the Jazz and R&B world, the stage/ music kept our attentions till fairly late on.

The next interesting thing we did was go for the Canary Wharf Comedy club on Tuesday the 6th. This Comdey Club convenes about once a month in the rather grand Cabot Hall in Canary Wharf and each time a whole host of stand-up comics turn up to regale the crowd. At £7.50 a person the 2.5 hours of laughs was well worth the time and effort.
Compered by a rather funny guy himself, John Moloney (endless gags, mainly picking on some poor guy from New York named Alex), the line-up included the wonderful Simon Evans (dry wit), Terry Alderton (brilliant mime) and one not-so-wonderful substitute for Papa CJ (whose name in itself had me curious enough) whose name I have conveniently forgotten! This was a brilliant evening and V & I thoroughly enjoyed ourselves and are quite keen to become regulars at this monthly event.

Music and laughter has been my medicine....

Raavi Kebab: 125 Drummond Street, London NW1 2LH. Tel: 020 7388 1780

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Letting our pictures do the talking

The mighty Powder Tower - once used to store gunpowder

Staromestska Square - the Old Square, huge and its periphery made up of unimaginably beautiful buildings. Completely swamped by the endless tourists .

The Strahov Monastry (near the Pohorelec Tram stop) atop the hills near the Prague Castle; the ringing bells in our memories make this our most magical picture.

Picture postcard from the Strahov Monastry - that's the famous Vlatava flowing under the Charles Bridge.

The magnificant Rudolfinum - where we spent a wonderful evening listening to the Bohemia Saxophone Quartet - music to our ears!

Tyn Church - partially hidden by some newer buildings, this church nonetheless dominates the Staromestska Square skyline. And what a clear blue sky we got....

Looking down the stair well of our very very grand hotel !!! Art Deco at it's very best.

Saturday, August 27, 2005


That's hello in Czech! Yes, V & I are off for a 4 day adventure to the beautiful capital of the Czech Republic, Prague.

We are at the Club Lounge at Heathrow Terminal 1, V breakfasting on a croissant while I sip orange juice and use the free internet to post this.

Will post from sunny climes if I can or else be back with pictures and holiday tales in 4 days.

Meanwhile, Nashledanou (goodbye, if you had not guessed) and have a good weekend.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Experiments with the truth

It's the absolute truth. I have struggled with my weight since my teens. Always been overweight, a fatty, rolypoly, cuddly, 'healthy'. Tried 548 diets between ages 14 and 19. Gave up at age 20. Decided that it was not to be. The aim shifted from thin to healthy instead. Ok, to a thinnie that sounds like a crock, an excuse from the fattie next door. But to this rolypoly it's a realistic goal.

Anyway, long story short, I'm a healthy fatty (or so I like to believe). I can cycle 45 minutes and cover 13 kms in that time without collapsing in a heap. London has taught me to walk (what seem like) endless stretches and my stamina has gone from strength to strength. I eat/drink a good balance of fresh fruit and veg, pulses and lentils, meat and soya, milk and juices. I swim 30 laps of a fairly large pool once a week. Blah blah blah. I'm still no thinner today than when I began this regimen. I'm still a fatty. Albeit a healthier one.

So what's this post about, really. I got handed a flier boasting a 5 day membership to a fairly fancy gym in my area with no strings (like a photocopy of my credit card) attached. Decided to take the chance and move a step up from standstill cycling in front of our TV each evening (or 3 evenings a week, realistically). The decision was threefold:
a. to see if this place was worth it's money and it IS ridiculously expensive
b. to see if I could exercise 5 days in a row, without losing steam, enthusiasm or a body part (trust me, in some of these complicated treadmill/climb/cycle machine morphs it's not hard to imagine)
c. to see if I could fit planned exercise (classes) into my daily regimen of volunteering, job and house hunting

So starting this past Monday I became the proud owner of a 5 day gym pass. Monday (Day 1) I got myself into a 1 hr Pilates class and then swam 30 laps of the pool. Tuesday (Day 2) I just swam 30 laps and gave up. Today (Day 3, Wednesday) I treadmilled at a fair incline for 40 minutes (it took me 20 minutes before that just to figure out how to get the damn machine to work), attended 'express' Pilates (30 minutes) and did beginners yoga (1 hr). The beginners yoga was anything but. The class immediately launched itself into shoulderstands while I huffed and puffed my way into the most basic poses. Luckily there was one other 'newbie', so we looked equally foolish together. I feel healthy because I'm keeping up with most things, not making a complete idiot of myself in a gym of green beans. The yoga class was just unfair...

So far so good, in terms of value for money (although it has been fairly inconvenient to lug myself to the classes during office lunch hours, especially since I'm not working) and available facilities. With two days to go (and I intend to do a whole host of classes and use the machines) I know for certain that this is not for me. My large shadow needs a slower and cheaper alternate, something less bruising to my ego. My ego can't handle the number of thinnies in the gym. Positively anorexic women who have come to be that way from exessive exercise (or have been planted there by the Thin Peeps Association to make me look bad) . Or maybe it's not they who are anorexic but merely thin by comparison (what all I see through my fat eyes!) to us fatty's.

But hey, what can I say, the thin people need us fatty's, to have something to compare their thinness against. We are the benchmark of what not to be. The holy grail of figures is in the opposite direction. I am the potato amongst the green beans as it were.

The experiment: A play with body image among the legions of thinnies
The absolute truth: I will never be thin. I will always aim to be healthy.

Monday, August 22, 2005

A 'Somer' movie

What does any open air event crave beside an enthusiastic crowd? Good weather would be my guess. As luck would have it we woke on Friday to downpours unexpected. The plan was to join friends for an evening on the courtyard tiles enjoying 'Flash Gordon' at Somerset House. Film Four & Somerset House organised 5 days of films under the stars and as luck would have it we chose Friday, the only rainy day.

At mid-day swimming to the venue and being completely soaked was not ruled out. Our pal was curtly informed by Somerset House that as no inclement weather was forcast teh show would indeed go on and there was no way to return our tickets. By 4pm the rain was down to a drizzle and by 8pm we congregated at Thai Square just outside Somerset House. The food was fine if a bit sour, solely due to the attitude of the terrible waitresses. Hot dinner in tums, £12.50 a pop tickets in hand, square plastic coated blankets (at £10 each - refundable on return) spread on the courtyard cobbles among 500 Flash fans and we were set.

I haven't ever seen the classic Flash Gordon movie but I do remember reading the comics as a kid. It was entertaining to say the least - and had 500 fans cheering on Brian Blessed (who introduced the screening) and Emperor Ming, and singing 'FLASSHHH' at the top of their voices while glugging down beer. I found this review online and it says it all better than I possibly could:

"There are films out there that can be described as a guilty pleasure - you know they're quite bad, but somewhere deep down in your heart you can't bring yourself to admit it. Flash Gordon is, in my opinion, the guiltiest pleasure of them all. Cardboard characters, lunatic script, embarrassing dialogue, trashy performances (apart from Max Von Sydow), and hilarious special effects... yet the one thing that comes out in the film's favour is that, despite its seemingly countless faults, it is still irresistibly entertaining.

American football legend Flash Gordon (Sam J. Jones) and sexy babe Dale Arden (Melody Anderson) are aboard a private flight when a weird red-storm forces them to perform an emergency landing. They crash into the back garden of wacky ex-NASA scientist Hans Zarkov (Topol), an eccentric madman who believes the world is under attack from alien forces and who has built his own spaceship to do battle with the enemy. Astonishingly, it turns out that Zarkov was right - and pretty soon, Flash, Dale and Zarkov find themselves on the planet Mongo, battling against its tyrannical emperor Ming the Merciless (Max Von Sydow), with a little help from Ming's treacherous daughter (Ornella Muti), her lover Barin (Timothy Dalton), and the winged warrior Vultan (Brian Blessed).

Flash Gordon is an absolutely insane film. The set design is remarkable, as is the costume design, and a pounding rock soundtrack is provided by the group Queen. Performance-wise, everyone seems to be camping it up like an end-of-term pantomime, though Von Sydow somehow seems to give his villain a deliciously sinister edge. Some of the dialogue is so awful that it becomes eminently quotable by virtue of its badness (a few samples: "This Ming is a psycho!"; "That must be some planet you come from!"; and - my favourite - "Freeze! You bloody bastards!") Flash Gordon should be a total disaster - an awful shambles of a film with no redeeming qualities. It isn't. Perhaps we'll never know how or why it works, but it does. So let the dissection of Flash Gordon the movie end here - analyze it no more, just enjoy it!"

The hard coble courtyard was well worth it, both for the movie and the stunning buildings that surround it.

Pouring out into the night at 11.15 we crossed the road, via the bust of Jawaharlal Nehru in the courtyard of the Indian Embassy (that all the firangs think is the Mahaatma!) and into the impressive bar of One Aldwych. One is a swank bar with a sophisticated mood and a matching bar list. They have some amazing high back chairs that I want in my own house and seriously large scultpures to match the height of the room that I don't. Huge floral decorations that need ladders to be set up and ambient lighting made it the perfect nightcap point.

This was my first brush with Somerset House which I am assured is a wonderful place to enjoy fountains and coffee in the courtyard during the summer and ice skate in the winter. I vow to return.

One Aldwych: London WC2B 4RH. Tel: 020 7300 1000

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Spam hate

As you will see in the comments of the previous post we now have virulent spamming in the blogosphere as well. My friend shoefiend alerted me to this with her wonderful post on spas getting spammed with junk about hair oil.

Any ideas on how to get rid of these guys or do I just delete their comments and pray they stop on their own???

Thursday, August 18, 2005

The India diaries VI - Monopoly nights

As a gift for V's middle brother R and his wife T, this time round we bought (what we thought was a novel idea) a Classic Monopoly set. Little did we realise how welcome a gift it would be and how much we would use it in 4 short nights! Every night after dinner, V & me, both his brothers and their significant others would settle down to a few rounds of Monopoly. This is what the UK version (which comes ina wonderful wooden box) looks like: all places now so familiar to us.

What we never bargained for is that with 6 people playing it was always a case of the property getting bought up quickly and spread out in such a way that nobody ever owned a whole suite of the same colours. So with colours/ properties divided up the strategy moved to partnerships and amidst the giggles and loyalty-wrangling houses and hotels sprouted up on around the board. Then the inevitable would happen. The game would go nowhere and the person who perceived he/she was losing would declare 'new game, new game' and mix up all the money, forcing us to begin afresh. It's more fun this way, no outcome just the pleasure of play.

As we were taught, it's not winning, it's playing that counts.....i that true!!!???

Anyway, here's a whole new take on Monopoly I stumbled upon.

Monday, August 15, 2005

Swatantrata Diwas ki shubh kamnaye...

... best wishes on Independence day

"Long years ago we made a tryst with destiny, and now the time comes when we will redeem our pledge, not wholly or in full measure, but very substantially. At the stroke of the midnight hour, when the world sleeps, India will awake to life and freedom. A moment comes, which comes but rarely in history, when we step out from the old to the new, when an age ends and when the soul of a nation, long suppressed, finds utterance .... We end today a period of ill fortune, and India discovers herself again."
- Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru (Speech on Indian Independence Day, 1947)

Wherever on the planet you are, be proud to be Indian (if indeed you are)!
Swatantrata: independence
Diwas: day
Shubh: auspicious
Kamnaye: wishes

The India diaries V - under the sand

I have been to Mahabalipuram a zillion times (or so it seems!) but this trip was a bit different. After all the wedding reception and birthday celerations we needed a sack out day. Hired a very comfy Swaraj Mazda and packed 11 adults, 3 kids and a large bag of snacks into it for a day out.

Mahabalipuram, or Mamallapuram, was the chief seaport of the Pallavas who ruled over much of South India from as early as the first century B.C to the eighth century A.D.. It has some marvellous sculptural architecture hewn into the very tough grantie and is visted by tourists from around the world with good reason. Well, why go on about something well documented in a gazillion books and webpages. Here is why:

The Shore Temple with its lying down Vishnu has been a UN World Heritage monument for quite some time now. The legend is that Mahabalipuram is the port of the seven pagodas. The shore temple is one pagoda. As the other 6 were never found the legend grew to incorporate the 5 rathas and Arjuna's penance making up a suitable 7.

This is the Shore temple

And NOW the Tsunami has uncovered this,

the remains of another temple's walls. With a well and beautiful lamp burners built into rock sculptures

So the legend that was built to include the 5 rathas and Arjuna's penance is being revisited. Sonar readings show 5 more such sturctures bruied under the sand along the coast.

Fascinating that the dune behind which we used to hide as kids has been levelled to reveal something of such significant importance. It's all under the sand.

Saturday, August 13, 2005

The India diaries IV - the walk

Forgot to talk about the walk. Sachin walked to our table. We did'nt mob him like crazed fans (not unlikely in my case!). People at every table watched Sachin walk towards us and then the gawking began. After they left we continued to be the subject of whispers. Who were we? Why us? How come he came to our table? And then when we got up to leave, our every step was watched by every table. Oh, how good that felt!

I know it sounds conceited - especially as we did nothing to merit it. But it's never going to happen again so I'm going to revel in it (while the memory stays in my sieve like brain, thank you very much!)

The India diaries III - Dinner with Sachin

We had dinner with Sachin Tendulkar while in Mumbai. Yes, yes, the very same - Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar - object of affection for all cricket loving Indians, highest run scorer in all forms of the game etc. No, this is not just my overactive imagination or the Mumbai malady stomach hallucinations.

OK, I'll admit that it's a half truth. Here's what really happened.

Saturday night. Dinner at Taj Lands End, Bandstand. V's whole family together after what seems like aeons. The in-laws: father, mother, two elder brother, respective spouses and daughter of the eldest brother. Decision is to eat 'Chinese - Chinese' (our term for 'authentic sichuan cuisine') at Ming Yang, where the Head Chef David is known to my eldest brother in-law and therefore always comes to our table to make suggestions on the food like: "I will make for you, no picy or velly 'picy'?'. (At this point my middle sis-in-law and I can only stop ourselves from giggling by sipping at our water and looking at the bonsai on our lazy susan with intense concentration).

Anyway, cut to before we are actually at the table and being picy'd by David. We are waiting in the corridor for our table to become available and who should walk up to us but Anjali Tendulkar. Now, the reason she walks up to us and not right past us is not because we are famous (quite the contrary!) but because above said middle sis-in-law is a teacher at a famous Mumbai school. And Anjali and Sachin's kid was in her class last year. So she walks up to us to say hello to the sis-in-law, is introduced to and shakes hands with my brother-in-law and me, and mentions that they too are waiting for their table at Ming (where no doubt David will suggest the level of 'picy' for their table as well). She leaves saying she will come over and say hi again before she leaves. At this point I'm already gobsmacked. I've met met and shook hands with Sachin's wife's hands. That's like shaking hands with Sachin by association!

Sitting down to dinner. The Tendulkars are with friends at a table close by - he is clearly in our view, in my direct eye line, but too far to get anything clearly on our rubbish mobile phone cameras. Atleast we have seen him up close as he passed by us to be seated at his table. Anything more would be too much to ask. Memory is imprinted on eyelids. Good enough.

Then it's David and the 'picy' issue - we decide on a combination of not too, a bit and velly 'picy' to suit everyone's palate. The food arrives. We eat an extremely yummy meal, all the while keeping one eye on Sachin. Order dessert and while we wait it happens. They get up to leave. Their friends drift to the door and Anjali begins to walk towards us. We think aaahh, how nice of her to come and say bye. Then we think aaaahhhh, (more like yikes!) that's Sachin following her. Panic strikes and those 5 strides toward our table seem like they are from a slow motion movie. Nobody at our table can quite believe it and we remain pinned to our seats as my sis-in-law stands up, quickly followed by her (smart) hubby. Anjali introduces them to Sachin, who shakes hands with both and then turns to us. He says 'Hi' to everyone with a small wave and huge smile on his face. We all mumble back a feeble (collective) 'Hi' as best we can muster (what with our jaws actually stuck between our knees it's a challenge). Meanwhile, my sis-in-law introduces us, eldest to youngest. When it's our turn she says "this is my youngest brother in-law, V. Remember I told you he often goes to Lord's to watch you play". At this point Sachin says "England are in a very strong position" - obviously refering to the ongoing Ashes 2nd test and trying to make polite conversation. V looks completely dazed, he can't stop grinning like a cheshire cat, but gamely nods and mumbles something under his breath, not blinking once. Then they are gone, goodbyes all done. We remain in shock, convinced that this is THE ABSOLUTE COOLEST thing ever to have happened to us.

Sachin walked up to our table, was introduced, said hi, smiled and waved. He ate in the same restaurant, same 'no picy' as us, same time as us - as good as eating with us. If that is not cool, I do not know what is.

Dessert tasted all the sweeter although really, we didn't need anything sweet for that high!!!
Ming Yang: Taj Lands End, Band Stand, Bandra (W), Mumbai - 400 050. Tel: +91 22 5668 1234

Thursday, August 11, 2005

The India diaries II - Swish of silk

Madras (yes, I'm old school, not used to changing names of cities with ease) - what can I say about this wonderful city? From the moment we landed at Chennai Airport I had flashbacks of my time in the city: a month each summer (home to my grandfather, two aunts/ uncles, four cousins and numerous family friends), half of class 4 & 5 at Harrington House School (when it was in a big leftover British house) and the first year of my career between 1996 and 1997. I'm no authority on Madras and although the weather puts a dampner on things, my memories are all happy ones - walks on Marina and Elliot beach, shopping for vegetables in Pondy Bazaar, eating ice cream at Chit Chat, visiting the Ayyapa temple, Anjeneyar temple, eating in Sarvana Bhavan. I won't expound on it's virtues and instead encourage you to look up some interesting blogs on Madras (OK, OK it's Chennai) to get the low down on the city, such as Under the fire star, Chennai Spot, nimbupani

These 5 days were spent celebrating my cousin A's wedding reception, my aunts 60th birthday (very big deal in the realms of the Malayalee's) and generally enjoying the company of my parents and extended families. We are 6 first cousins and this is the first time in 10 years we have all been in the same place at the same time. We spent every evening just chatting, catching up on news that telephone conversations and emails do not do justice to. For V it was his first intense interaction with my cousins and their spouses. He enjoyed it, methinks.

On the shopping front my agenda was to get some silk and this I achived by going to Sundari Silks. Unlike shops where there are massive crowds jostling for space to get a dekho, Sundari Silks is a haven where one can take time, mull over the numerous choices and make one's selection. Situated in a spacious showroom over two floors what I wanted to take home was the beautiful tiled floor! (3300 sq feet each on the ground and first floors) the range has become much wider. With that much choice it was a very difficult hour; trying to eliminate the wonderful colours, textures and huge variety and be sensible can be sooo tiring. After much contemplation I settled on a beautiful silk skirt for myself, and a saree each for my mum, nani and my mum-in-law. The swish of silk is the magic of Madras.