Friday, November 27, 2015

Not a very fond memory ...!

What is the worse travel memory that I have? Honestly I have not thought much about it. But the other day I was reading about The Worst Trip Ever on Natgeo Travel, and it made me think about that too. There have been instances which were not so pleasant. But I don't know why I have never written about them in my blog. Yeah just once I had this really awful experience in Goa ( one of my fav. place) and I wrote about that on Tripadvisor . Here I am today looking back at the one trip which till date my Mom considers as a "very bad trip" and guess what she was not even a part of that trip.

Here is what happened.

It was a school trip. I was in 6th or 7th standard may be. A group of students and 3 teachers were to go to Nagpur from Dibrugarh to take part in some conference / activities by United Schools Organization of India (USO of India). We had practiced really hard for group dance and I was also to take part in Hindi Speech. If I remember correctly the topic was "United we Stand". For us coming from a vernacular medium school (Assamese medium) and from that part of the country where Hindi was not widely spoken; to take part in a speech competition in Hindi was a BIG thing. I practiced and practiced. That was my first trip without parents and family to somewhere so far. We were to reach Kolkata by some train and then from Kolkata get into another train to Nagpur. I do not remember either of the trains names now. My mother was really worried. She met the teachers and told them two hundred times to "take care" of me. In fact one of my batch mate's mother was our teacher and both my friend and her mother were part of the group.
Thus we reached Nagpur without much drama. I took part in group dance and also in that Hindi Speech. I got a consolation prize too :) I came fourth among all those students from "mainland" India where people spoke Hindi more than us. ( That's some consolation for me) So far so good. Now was the time to return. One day all of us went to Nagpur city for sight seeing and shopping. One of the teachers had really gone overboard with her shopping and had 2 bags full of goodies. So when we reached the station to catch Gitanjali Express from Nagpur to Kolkata, we were heavier with more luggage. I am sure if we were to fly, we would have to pay excess baggage. Everyone got into the train. It was a chaos at the station and inside the coach and one bag of that teacher was left behind on platform. She told me that the bag was still outside. I came out quickly to get the bag and the train started moving. My heart skipped a beat and did not know what to do. I just spread my left hand with the heavy bag on my right hand and pleaded to no one in particular "Mujhe chadha do pls" ( Please make me board the train) Someone held my hand pulled me into the train. After few seconds of stunned silence I burst into tears. I did not know where I was, what to do and what will happen now.  I was inside a general compartment which was full with all sorts of things along with people.The people around me made me sit and gave me some water to drink. Then asked me which coach I was booked. I told them my father my brothers all are in this coach. I was scared and wanted to tell those strangers that I was not alone. My family was with me somewhere in this train. I am referring to nineties here. No pager no cell phones. Those strangers were constantly reassuring that since my family is in the same train, in the next station I could go to that coach. I stopped crying and started to pray for the next station to come. When the next station came 2 persons from the general coach took me out and we ran towards the sleeper coaches. From a distance I could see one of my school senior and her father (who was with another school group where he teaches) running obviously looking for me somewhere. I just ran towards them. A quick bye to the strangers and my senior and her father took me back to the correct coach. My teachers and other students could breathe normal only after our reunion which was no less than Bharat - Milap. Later I realized I did not even thank those strangers. My friend's mother's blood pressure had shot up but luckily nothing major happened and I was back. All this while I had the big bag with me. But the teacher whose bag lead to all these drama did not utter a word. Everyone was upset with her. Later things slowly went normal and all of us reached home in one piece.

This was one experience I would always remember. I decided not tell that to my mother and requested my teachers and friends too. Though reluctantly, they agreed. It was much later one day I narrated this to my mother. I was no longer a school student then and had started travelling alone from Dibrugarh to Guwahati. Mother of course was appalled as how could I keep that a secret all these years and let her wildest imagination run wilder and imagined me in all sorts of places ( read red light areas). She was even ready to confront my school teachers after all these years! I calmed her down and made her think of those 2 strangers instead who helped me that day. She is ever grateful and wishes all the luck and happiness in the world for them.

After so many years, that post in NatGeo Traveller made me look back and recall this incident. All the fun and excitement of the trip was overshadowed by this freak incident. Even I could not imagine what could have gone wrong had it not been for those 2 strangers.

Can I confess that whenever someone mentions Gitanjali Express this one memory come rushing back to my mind and I send a silent prayer to those 2 strangers still. But there is always a "what if" that remains.

Gitanjali Express

Friday, November 20, 2015

Pomegranate & Coriander Chutney

There are few food blogs that I follow and try out the recipes at times. One blog is Sindhi Rasoi which I so love. I agree, I have not tried too many dishes from there. But this one quick and simple chutney caught my attention. It's called Dhaarun Ji Chuntey or Pomegranate chutney and the original recipe can be viewed here .
Pomegranate has always been a fruit which I had as it is or juice, and of course as a garnishing item. I have never heard that one can make a chutney of it.
Pomegranate Chutney
One cup fresh Pomegranate seeds
One cup fresh Coriander
Few Mint leaves
1 tea spoon roasted cumin seeds
Few black pepper corns
3 - 4 green chillies
1 piece of ginger
¼ black salt
Salt as per taste

I roasted the Black pepper corns and Cumin seeds together for 1 min. Then once cooled used my mortar and pestle to grind them.  
Blend all the other ingredients together and make a smooth paste. Add the powdered Cumin and Pepper to it. Give a quick whirl in the blender. Pour the chutney out in a bowl to serve.

The sweetness of Pomegranate along with the fresh taste of coriander, mint and green chillies make this chutney really tasty. This is a perfect dip for nachos or any other chips or fries or snacks too.

Dhaarun ji Chutney

Friday, November 13, 2015

Vegetable Manchurian Gravy - Diwali Dinner 2015

Diwali - My favorite festival. Diwali opens a flood gate of memories each year with the glittering shimmering lights all around. After shifting to Mumbai, I was introduced to the Diwali delicacies or Faraal  that my colleagues get from home. My favorite is the Poha Chivda. I just love that. Even though in Assam also we have a variant of the dish, I have not tried making the Maharashtrian way yet. Need to go to my colleague's house to learn the trick soon!

This Diwali I thought of trying out something which I have not tried before. Cabbage Manchurian gravy! I thought since the Chinese lights have become an integral part of Diwali, what's the harm in having an Indianised Chinese dish. So here goes my version of Cabbage Manchurian Gravy.

It's an easy and no fuss recipe.

Ingredients :

For the Vegetarian Balls

One small Cabbage - (grated)
One medium Carrot - (grated)
One medium cup Besan ( some use Corn Flour and Maida but I used only Gram flour or Besan)
2 Green Chillies Chopped
2 Garlic cloves Chopped
Salt as per taste
Oil to fry the balls.

For the Gravy

2/3 strings of Spring Onions - both white and green parts
One full pack of Tomato puree
4 table spoons of Dark Soya sauce
3/4 Garlic cloves chopped
Salt as per taste
2 table spoon of oil

Mix all the ingredients for the vegetarian balls and shape these into round balls. I could make 5 balls of the size of table tennis balls. I suggest not to keep these balls for too long as they will get soggy otherwise. Heat the oil in a wok and place the balls as you round them. I deep fried them since I don't have any air fryer. But I plan to try baking them next time!! Once fried, put them on tissue so that the excess oil is soaked out.

Now for the gravy. I used 2 table spoon from the oil I used for frying the balls. Add the chopped spring onions ( please keep some green portions to garnish) and the chopped garlic cloves. Once they turn slightly golden, pour in the tomato puree and add soya sauce into it. Stir well. Add half a cup of water if you feel the gravy is too thick. Add salt as per taste and mix everything well. As the gravy comes to a boil, add the cabbage balls. Let them simmer for 5 minutes. Switch off the gas and garnish with chopped green spring onions.

Serve hot with fried rice or noodles. I served with plain noodles.

I just boiled the noodles. Then added little olive oil and freshly ground black pepper into the plain noodles.

P loved the dish.

Happy Diwali.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

I am me

I am me  ( Not a poem)

I was born a daughter
I became a sister
Then a girl friend and one day
I became a wife
I slipped into being a daughter in law
From sister to sister in law
But I was always a girl
As I grew to be a woman
A girl who sings, laughs,  runs, jumps and dreams.
I am special because
I remain me.

This post is a part of Write Over the Weekend, an initiative for Indian Bloggers by BlogAdda.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Our India Travel Bucket List - States & UTs

The Road always beckons

It's November already and we are just 2 months away from 2016! Oh MG! 2015 went off in a jiffy. I know it's not "that time of the year to look back" yet and I am not exactly looking back. I am looking back and forward too. The other day while casually chatting P & I thought we would make a list of the places we have to go in India. Since that was sure going to be such a H-U-G-E list; so we thought of finding out the states we have not been yet.

I took out my "travel notebook" to jot down the names of states within India that we have not been and must make a plan to go soon. No sooner than we started, P declared he had been to ALL the states. Ok, here we don't mean the extensive travelling. For us it meant, atleast one place within that state we had been to. Well that's not entirely wrong. P's work takes him to different places and thus he had been to all the states. It's only few Union Territories that he is left with. So I decided I will note down the States I have not been yet, including UTs.

The List :

1. Arunachal Pradesh
Walk Roam Explore

8.Andaman & Nicobar Islands
9. Dadra & Nagar Haveli

All the 3 UTs common between P and I.

It was shameful realization that I have not been to 3 sisters from the 8 sisters of the North East India. Arunachal Pradesh is actually just on the other side of the river Brahmaputra from Dibrugarh where I grew up. I guess I never paid too much attention to Mizoram and Tripura. Same goes for Jharkhand. Guilty I plead.
I had the chance to be in Bihar about 6-7 years ago when one of our batch mate invited me to his wedding in Gaya. I could not go and thus I am yet to be in Bihar. After planning for 3-4 times to visit Jagannath Temple in Puri when I still couldn't reach Odisha , hence I concluded - Lord Jagannath does not want me in his State! But dear God, this will change and I am sure soon.
Golden temple
(Pic source :

Punjab is one state I would love to go. Blame that on my fully filmy inclination that I have such colourful and vibrant image of this State. I had been to Anandpur Sahib and Virasat E Khalsa but let's not count that as being in Punjab. That was just a day trip from Chandigarh. I will strike off Punjab from the list the day I land in Amritsar and go visit Harmandir Sahib.

Going to Andaman and Lakshadweep is a cherished dream of both P and I. We do not want to rush there. We would want to spend some days in these two places. Managing leaves and planning a holiday will take time but we will be there too. Dadra and Nagar Haveli honestly never thought of, but now I feel why leave that place. Let's explore that too.

It is not that in all States we have travelled every nook and corner of the State. Like in UP I had only been to Agra and Lucknow whereas P had been to Agra, Lucknow, Kanpur, Varanasi and Allahabad. We both have not been to Agra together for that quintessential photograph on the iconic bench with Taj Mahal at the back! I know cheesy; but we both love cheese.

Taj Mahal
(Pic source : )

Sunday, November 1, 2015

3 reasons why I love BNLF and ALL IndiMeets!

Finally I could make it to BNLF (Blog Now Live Forever), the mega event for bloggers by IndiBlogger. Yes. I thought I wont be able to. You know with a day job and the other things ( read household chores). But I could and aren't I glad about it. Actually to say "glad" will be a little too less. I am super happy, excited and very very thankful to P who agreed to stay in a mess of a house for one more day. You see we were home just 2 days back from a week long vacation to hometown in Assam. I kept the cleaning part to the weekend as usual; forgetting about the BNLF. Then I realized while cleaning my mail box that I have to attend BNLF this weekend. P the good guy he is, said no problem. But I am also not a bad girl either. Hence skipped the second day to clean the house and the whole mess! You see marriage or any relationship it's is all about this only, right? You adjust somewhere for the person you love / care for.

Nonetheless I woke up quite early on Saturday 31st Oct which I normally don't do. Weekend after all. I reached the venue, The Lalit near airport at 8.45am. There was already a queue. There were people woke up before me. Wow. Wasn't I impressed. The morning crisp air was bubbling with the enthusiasm of the bloggers. I plunged in too and what a day it turned out to be.

Here's the 3 reasons why I so loved attending the BNLF even if only Day 1.
The stage is set
THE Bruce Dickinson
1. Blog Now Live Forever / BNLF was epic. From the day I received an email few months back I knew I had to be there. This was going to be THE event for bloggers. And then with the line up of speakers and sessions this was sure a not to be missed event. I promptly signed up and confirmed my attendance. It was inspirational listening to all the speakers. Those witty but honest confessions of Purba Ray, Arnab Ray, Kanan Gill, Preety Shenoy and the insight of  Anshul Tewari, Jeff Bullas, Christoph Trapp and Bruce Dickinson really made an impression on me. All the speakers talked about things we as bloggers would surely take home as guidance. I learnt so much and looking forward to more such sessions.

2. I admit I am a very lazy blogger. One can have look at my blog and can easily make that out. I am really ashamed of it and trying hard to "do something " about this. However somehow it's just not happening. Yeah I have a full time day job. I know it's not correct to be this inactive and hence whenever I get the chance to be in these wonderful blogger meets I try and be there. Meeting all those enthusiastic bloggers really inspire me and I come home energized and super charged. This goes in fact for all meets and BNLF was the biggest of all.

3. Living in a city like Mumbai and with a full time job, I find it a bit difficult to physically meet people to stay in touch. Thanks to phone, whatsapp and social media that atleast staying in touch is possible. I have met some wonderful fellow bloggers over the years in such meets. Some of them out of the city. I knew many of them would be attending this event. Thus I met Maniparna from Kolkata after an year. Met Zainab and Tina too. Though they are from Mumbai, we hardly meet each other. There I met these lovely bunch of ladies Somali Radhika and Irene 

Kanan Gill recommends "THIS" book

Cheers to the whole team of Indiblogger for #BNLF. More power to you!

PS:: All photos by Zainab Attari. Thanks girl.