Thursday, September 25, 2008

Six quick things

Right. It's high time I got my act together. So here goes:

1. Birthday things: More than two months late but with every good intention here are just a few of my birthday things. The 3 prints on the wall are from V. I chose them from the wall of the very talented Shaylind at her Etsy shop, Constant Dreamer. They arrived on schedule but we didn't get around to framing them for ages after. And then it took a couple more weeks till we got around to hanging them up. And I don't like these frames although they work for now. We may have taken procrastination to a whole new level but I LOVE the prints. They make me smile EVERY SINGLE MORNING. The two cookbooks are Nigella Express and a Madhur Jaffrey bible - thanks to a very generous book voucher from MG. The ipod dock is from Broom and lives in my kitchen. I do not know how I survived without it all these years. It has made using said cookbooks a lot more fun and both have conspired to make the food just a tad tastier! The London walks is a set of cards she 'donated' to my cause(?) of walking(!) from amidst her boxes of packing. It is as yet unused and the blame lies solely with me. The beautiful purple orchid is from G, who comes each week to check that I haven't yet killed it. The American Hot pizza was my sinful lunch on the day. And that beautiful cake is a vanilla chocolate marble lovingly decorated by J and enjoyed by all in the office, all day long.

2. I have uploaded my Paris pictures to the computer. The computer however is playing up and rejecting i-tunes updates, CD's and anything else its mood does not fancy. So the pictures to match our marvellous mini-break will have to wait till SOMEBODY decides to co-operate.

3. Work has been super busy with everyone deciding to take their summer vacations at the same time. I've had to put in longer hours and more brain power in the past two months than at any other time in the past 3 years. But despite all the outwardly moaning I'd be lying if I said I didn't enjoy it. It's been productive and I still find I am passionate and willing where my job is concerned. I think that is a good sign, no? V's has been manic with 5 am starts IN OFFICE and late nights still IN OFFICE for an entire week, thanks to the manic circumstances of his job amidst the financial market turmoil. His eyes need cucumber slices.

4. And amidst the outwardly busy world it's also been a time of quiet contemplation of life in our household. The last post was pretty self-explanatory I think. In a strange ironic way death always makes me think of life and how it is too short to waste or complain about. Which is not to say don't waste or complain but to say if you do either of those figure them quickly, DO SOMETHING, don't just get into a rut of whining. It also brings up all those memories of a wonderful life gone by and the unfairness of sudden loss. It is such a hard and long process, this grieveing, that all I can do is be patient and send my love and thoughts and memories to my friend in the hope that some of them will provide comfort in the face of the seemingly harsh reality that life does go on.

5. V and I are off on vacation. Finally. To Singapore, where our most delightful baby nephew awaits our attention. Or rather we await his. A week of tropical weather, family love, catching up with old friends, retail therapy, foodie heaven and wait for it, F1 GRAND PRIX LIVE WATCHING. If you have any suggestions of where to eat (keep in mind I am allergic to shellfish) or to shop please please do email me at the email address in the sidebar.

6. I will try and blog from there but I might be distracted so forgive me will ya? And I promise that October will be better and I will blog at least twice a week - after I get back that is. Will you hold me to it?

Friday, September 19, 2008

Sometimes there are no words

I am sorry. You are in my thoughts and prayers. And I know that these are of no comfort. Especially across the oceans.

I want to mark this week and specifically the 16th of September 2008. For a person I love who lost someone they love.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Earning (or is that eating?) my keep

I’ve recently been given the same award by two lovely blogger ladies who have very different lives and very different blogs. In an e-mail I asked one of them to please please take hers back and she (rightly) said that it was hers to give and mine to decide whether to do anything with. In the spirit of acquaintance-ship I’ve come around to agreeing. There was a time in the early days of this bloglife where I would have gift wrapped and sent you my left arm had you given me an award (I bet you that’s why I never got any!) but I’ve grown older, wiser and way grumpier. So I choose not to accept awards or pass them on. As I’ve said before, everyone on my blogroll is chosen for a reason, specifically my reasons, and each one of those on it are worthy of a mention. But I find back-patting tiresome. And I don’t think I ‘deserve’ an award any more than the next gal. And I don’t love my blog. Or most of my rambling/ writing. And to top it all I AM JUST PLAIN LAZY. But in the spirit of not pissing everybody off, I am grateful. But I won’t do it (i.e. put it up and and pass it on) with any conviction and that I cannot do without. So I must humbly bow out. Not of blogging (yet) but of award and tag thingies.

Now that that is out of the way let me get on with the business of blogging. Which I seem not to do often enough these days. If I promise to change will you love me?

Two Saturdays ago we had the ONE day of summer weather surely due to us. It was so beautiful SO BEAUTIFUL that I felt skin tingly all day what with the warm sun beating down on me. After a blazing 60 lap swim (my highest ever and yes, I am very proud!) I abandoned my boy for a Hen Doo. Hen Doo’s are (or is that were?) not de rigueur in India. At least not the ‘lets all go and walk around some Soho-type bars with bunny rabbit/ sex siren costumes and number plates hung around the neck drunk as can be’ sort of variety. All I remember from when I got married is having a massive party organised by best friend for 3 of us chicks who were all getting married within 2 days of each other. Actually that theoretical bit is pretty much all I remember as I consumed about a bottle and a half of wine and danced madly till I fell asleep at 5am. So in some ways the ‘drunk as can be’ bit does fit. No licence plates or traipsing through bars for this girl though.

This Hen Doo was for a girl getting married (maybe I should say woman?) who is quite pregnant. So are some of her dearest friends. She insisted she had no energy to stay up past 8pm and instead decided that we would ‘take tea of the English variety’ at a café followed by a viewing of Grease (her favourite movie) from the safety of her couch. So there I was, in East Dulwich, a part of London I have never had reason to explore. It was to be a late lunch/ early tea thing and since I had had my swim and then traipsed across 2 stations and train changes to get there I was absolutely starving. It was a longish walk to Lordship Lane; the friend I traveled part of the way with and I could have chosen to take the bus but neither of us wanted to waste the sunshine and chose the leisurely walk instead. Lordship Lane is a mix of lovely boutique-y shops and independent grocers. It was buzzing with people and their prams and their shopping. We reached Le Chandelier on time and went in even though no one from the group had arrived. They did arrive a few minutes later and we promptly retired to the (weirdly) French-Moroccan themed room upstairs.

Le Chandelier is a ‘Tea Room’. The downstairs is bright and airy and Oh So Pretty. There are many a different chandeliers hanging from the ceilings and rafters, but not in an in-your-face way. I think some were antique and others quite new. The food menu is quite substantial with proper lunch things like club sandwiches, large salads and omlettes. They also seem to take their loose leaf teas quite seriously with a detailed separate menu explaining the large selection of teas. In fact Le Chandelier sells both loose leaf tea and chandeliers, you have only to ask for the correct menu.

To eat I chose an Afternoon Tea which came as good English teas should, on a tiered platter, each level of delicious indulgence precariously balanced on its own paper lace doily. The bottom layer had half a sandwich each of salmon and egg mayonnaise and two canapés (one each with smoked salmon and ham). The middle tier had a large slice of chocolate cake, a round apricot tart and an apple triangle. The top tier had 3 scones and a generous helping each of strawberry jam and clotted cream. I chose an Oolong tea to wash it all down. It looked beautiful. I only managed to wolf down the canapés and sandwich and then I HAD to have one of the warm scones, so I donated all 3 pastries and the remaining 2 scones to the 3 pregnant women who wolfed them down without letting them touch the sides.

I have to say this is only my second time of having an English afternoon tea. The first was many years ago and it was fab although a bit rich for my system and somewhat at the time unaffordable. I’ve always wanted to go somewhere fancy like the Dorchester or the Savoy or the Marriott in County Hall to try a proper tea. I’ve never managed it, each time being intimidated by both idea and price. Le Chandelier was the real thing at a fraction of the cost.

We looked at some hilarious pictures of the Bride through the years (secretly prepared by her best friend) and were regaled by stories of her childhood and teen years. We laughed a lot, a LOT, considering that most of us had never met before. It was a lovely afternoon. Many (and I mean MANY) hours later we were done, with scones, cups of tea and tales. While a majority of the party went off to enjoy her sunny garden and then watch Grease with a non-alcoholic cocktail in hand, I and the friend I traveled part of the way with headed back into town.

If you want a quirky afternoon tea I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it. Ditto for a chandelier. Make the trek.

Le Chandelier: 161 Lordship Lane, East Dulwich, London SE22 8HX. Tel: 020 82 99 33 44

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Who do you think you are?

There are 4 categories of people in my gym (and no, it’s not small, medium, large and extra-large):

1. The Everyday, All-the-timers
There are people who you will see no matter how you change your routine. If you turn up one evening because you couldn’t wake up in the morning, they will still be there, working out like their life depend on it. These people usually have premier lockers so they never have to carry another gym bag or wear their trainers with their business suits and look like twats on the train to work ( They probably also spend a large chunk of their wages getting their gym gear laundered by the in-house laundry and placed back in said locker on a regular basis. They look the fittest, most sculpted, utterly muscular and dare I say this, vaguely lonely. They all say hi to one another and the fitness coaches, perceptible nods as they walk by from one machine to another, something of a clique or club-ishness about their demeanor. A trainer recently told me that this is the social life for a few of them – they know all the coaches and trainers, attend staff parties and outings. This IS their spare time. I feel vaguely sad now that I know this. I am almost tempted to walk up to one of them and say “Come watch a movie. Eat some popcorn. Or a brownie. Anything away from here”.

2. The Persevering
The Perseverings think that the gym is important. That it will wash away the calorific sins of the previous night’s meal. They are usually focused on getting themselves between 30 to 45 minutes of exercise. So i-pod gym play list on or headphones plugged into the TV screens they jog, run, cycle, climb stairs or cross train. With brows furrowed. After all, this is a serious business. They must do it intently or not at all. They sweat a lot. I mean A LOT. Like bucket loads. And mostly they won’t get wet wipes to disinfect the handles of any machine they used that is now soaked in sweat. After all, the business of losing weight/ staying fit is way more important than wasting time wiping away sweat. Let the sweat be a lesson to the next loser that ‘no pain, no gain’. And how to achieve pain, you ask? Well sweat it out MAAAN!!

3. The Reluctants
There are people for whom just the effort of getting up in the morning/ packing a gym bag or going to work/ then rushing to the gym is exercise. By the time the bag has been unloaded into the locker (which looks and smells much like an smelly dungeon) and every square inch of branded clothing and perfectly styled hair is in place they are exhausted. Who wouldn’t be after all THAT effort? There are many many women who spend a large chunk of the morning grooming themselves before work, more time than they have spent on the gym floor. There’s an array of eye liners, mascara, shadows, foundations and powders, lipsticks, liners, gloss. And all that is before the mind-blowing hair products. I would say that, combined, my gym locker room cosmetics are worth a small fortune. Of course, before I can steal all of them and sell them on e-bay (yes, I know these are used products but they are snazzy expensive products so who knows) it is more likely we shall all blow up into a flammable mess.

There is a woman whom I see very often in the mornings who arrives in her gym gear wheeling behind her a small red strolly. She then spends between 35 to 40 minutes (I see her before and after my workout and she’s still at her locker!) taking out everything from it and arranging it over two of the lockers. Shampoo, conditioner, 3 different creams, body oil, hair dryer, curling iron (both of which the gym already provides), a variety of hairbrushes, outfit and heels for the day and sometimes entire manicure and pedicure sets. I kid you not. I also think she is just using the gym as her personal washroom, because I have never ever seen her working out. I think she might be an extreme version of this category. Real, but extreme.

4. The Laziness
For this lot coming to the gym is an imposition. They are there under duress, having been dragged towards the idea of fitness by a spouse/ partner or a nagging conscience. Especially in the mornings when the outside world is so hostile, the weather its unwitting partner. They mostly are also the ones who show off more. I have seen dudes in my gym that will wander around the weights floor and sit at for example, a lat machine and use about 20kgs as the weight to pull a bar towards them. As soon as they do a short set they swiftly, within the blink of an eye, change the weight to 70kgs and then sit there looking proud and checking to see who saw them do that. Set that is, not the slimy change of weights. There is a lot of this extremely lliar-like behaviour going on.

I’m not quite sure where I fit in the scheme of things. I think I am part Persevering, part Laziness – I spend 2 seconds every morning after my alarm goes off trying to lie to myself that I had a terrible night with fever/ cold/ tummy ache/ headache/ any ache (none of which is in the slightest bit true – I sleep the sound sleep of a healthy youngster) so I can turn over and have a glorious extra hour in bed. I usually manage to dispel the lie in seconds 3 to 5 and get up; but lately I’ve been doing this a lot more. On the days I do go back to sleep I end up feeling guilty and going in the evening therefore ruining things like line of domino’s where one excuse means I now cannot muster the energy to go the next morning. And so again I set an alarm, ignore it, tell myself I’m tired from yesterday evening and voila! its my very own vicious circle of hell and fat.

On the 4 mornings (or evenings) that I do attempt cardio I focus all 45 minutes on the TV screen. Watching the weather and travel news is my addiction in the mornings. What natural elements and shut down tube line of irate people shall I have to battle on my way to work today? Bad game shows are my thing in the evenings. People unable to answer the simplest of questions on the Weakest Link make me mad. Yet without the distraction I am just not motivated enough to get through. If there were no TV screen I would just not go. Simple.