Monday, February 22, 2016

A Letter to Letter

Dear Letter,
I miss you. I really miss you. I know we are to be blamed for your disappearance. But I miss you.
I used to wait in my hostel to get the blue inland letter from someone, from anyone. You had come once or twice sneakily inside text books from the boys school too. Yes, I am smiling as I am "typing" the words. I got my share of pink and blue flowery versions of you in my teen years like everyone else too!

Then came the electronic mail version of you. No more checking the letter box. I started checking the "mail box". For that I had to go to an Internet CafĂ©. I found it so difficult initially. Also if the other person did not have an email id, your this new version, was of no use at all. Then how and when I don't remember, I got hooked onto an instant version of you. Yes, not exactly email or letter version. But this was called "Chat". I think staying away from my people and my comfort zone, I was looking for some kind of solace in the virtual world. I could "handle" 10-12 chat windows at a time without missing or mixing the topics of the conversation. Was that something to be proud of? Nah I don't think so. In fact I never took that instant version of you very seriously.

Then one day I met P. Long sessions of your instant version and your proper email version followed till we got hitched. Then that got lost too. Now I get that electronic version of you about a 100 a day (sometimes more) but with an added adjective " official".

But I must say, you have an admirer of your's in P. He sent me few hand written, the actual versions of you, dear letter, during his trips; once from Rajasthan and from Nainital. Boy wasn't I glad.

Just a request : don't disappear completely letter. Hang on. There are old fools like me, so in love with you. I mean your older hand written version.

Much Love


Image source

The post is part of the prompt from the #BlogChatter community. What started as a weekly chat on Twitter, has become a booming, blooming community of bloggers, who blog together to blog better. Come, be a part of it!

Saturday, February 20, 2016

That Fragrance on Indian TV...

I am not a TV buff. Actually I used to be one. Now I don't care much. But yes I have few favorite shows still and but I am not hooked onto them. In other words if I miss one episode, I don't care. Now I mostly watch Travel shows, Food shows or Music shows like Coke Studio or Unplugged. I do not follow hugely popular Big Boss or Roadies or any other "reality show". There was a time I could spend hours on TV watching this serial, this reality show, that talent hunt. My mother would be fed up. My earliest memory of TV are the shows like Fairy Tale Theatre, Vikram Betaal, Dada Dadi ki kahaniyan. I used to spend all my Sunday afternoons watching those award winning regional films. Those were the best days of Doordarshan. Then cable TV came to India and the scenario changed. So many channels so many shows to watch. Along with many shows that time, I even watched Zee Horror show and Ahaat . I loved Hum Paanch, Saans, Kora Kagaz, Shanti. There were shows that portrayed such strong women characters. I shudder to think how did we manage to come from Shanti and Priya ( characters which made Mandira Bedi and Neena Gupta hugely popular) to Nagins and Kaala Tika ( black spot!). Should  I still care to know which show comes on which channel? BTW I know of this shows because since there is nothing much on TV, I just flip through channels and giving each one about 2 minutes. I am referring to GECs here.

So 'If I Could Create A TV Show’ what type of a show will I create? Hmm Let me think.

If I could create a TV show I think I will create a show like Surabhi.  I think many of my age will know which show I am referring to. Surabhi means Fragrance and this show spread such a fragrance across the country which many people still remembers well.This is the cult show which used come on Doordarshan and made Renuka Sahane and Siddharth Kak, the hosts, household names. It was a show everyone in our family would sit together and watch . Renuka Sahane, her bright smile and awesome handloom sarees were what the ladies used to talk about. And Siddharth Kak with his wit and gentle humour made the show a cult one. He was also the producer of the show.
The famous hosts. 

This Culture Magazine showed a part of India in each episode which the rest of India looked forward to see and know about, week after week. The stories, the views, the famous quiz at the end of each episode all were so interesting. Everyone would learn something at the end of each episode. I remember in one episode it showed Avadh Assam Express, then an incredulously slow train. I am not sure if the situation has improved now. I hope so. But that was a sadly hilarious feature to which all in our home in Dibrugarh laughed and felt bad too.

And who can forget that famous title music. It can still transform me to my teen years and those glorious days of Doordarshan and Television in India over all.

Here have a look and listen.

Surabhi ran for 9 seasons and from DD it moved to Star Plus later. But the show ended in 2001 and that's why we miss it.

And most importantly,  'If I Could Create A TV Show’ it will end too after a decent number of episodes. There may be seasons 1,2,3, till 50. But each season must end after 20-25 episodes. 

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


Sunday, February 14, 2016

Long Way from Chocolates,Mushy Cards and Teddy Bears - Vday my way

Who said on every Valentine day you have to do what the whole world ,( ok most of the world) does. Who decided that love can be expressed by chocolates, roses and a cosy candle light dinner at a fancy restaurant only. And more importantly who ever thought of the idea of burning a deep hole in to your pockets / purses every V day. Just forget about that person now and let's think about some other ways to show your love.

When this wonderful and unusual prompt was suggested by Blog Adda, I decided to don my thinking cap and came up with these :

PS: I am married and hence one might find my ideas are mostly for a married couple.

1. Get up early and go for a morning walk together. Yes even if you do that everyday, do that today too. If you spend 30 minutes walking at the garden, make that to 45 minutes. That extra 15 minutes, just sit together after the walk and hold hands. So what if today is Sunday and it's chutti day from morning walk. Make an exception.

2. Make breakfast together. My man cooks really well. So I can confidently say if I chose to make only tea and he takes it upon himself to "make breakfast" it will be awesome. The role can be reversed if that suits you. Come on, make green tea with a tea bag if you find that easier. Man! BTW I made breakfast and P made masala tea just the way he likes it.

3. Why not let the Bai also enjoy the day of love with her special someone. Go ahead, give her a chutti. Do the house hold chores together for today. See how it feels.

4. For today, whosoever usually dominates the TV on a Sunday, please make some adjustments. I guess with the cricket matches on air, the man will be pining for the remote anyway. Mine did; for the Under 20 finals and India lost!

5. How about a home beauty treatment session for a couple. Here's a quick home remedy to clean up your face and rejuvenate the tired eyes. Get few table spoons of besan and add 2 table spoon of curd. Make a smooth paste and apply that on face avoiding eyes and till your neck. Cut 2 slices of a cucumber and cover your eyes. Lie down for 15-20 minutes and wash with cold water. Voila. You just saved Rs.1500/-

6. Go out and do some grocery shopping together. When you are at this, you can always get a rose or a bunch of his/her favorite flower from the neighbourhood flower guy. Make his day too. Yeah, before you ask us, we did.

7. Now decide; if that's his favorite for lunch and her favorite for dinner or vice versa. What we did, we skipped a heavy lunch as we planned to have a special dinner of both our favoruite dish Pasta with mushroom.

8. That afternoon siesta which working people like us long for. After lunch weight gain if you sleep and blah blah. Forget for today please. If not siesta, just get together and plan for the next holiday. Almost all airlines in India, has special offers for V day. Browse through them and plan your next trip together.

9. Now this completely what happened at my home. Slowly as the V day heading towards end, P sat in front of the TV watching cricket match while I sat to finish my pending works. I had to write this too! But yeah, P is taking charge of the kitchen and making pasta. The wine is already in the freeze, I have done my bit of cleaning the mushrooms and peeling the garlic. Rest over to P.

One additional as a gift to everyone on the day of love

10. Head out to defend all the poor couples who get harassed by the moral police and self appointed conscience keepers of our nation.

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

14th Feb '16

Friday, February 12, 2016

Ram Ashraya - Matunga

It is one of those well known eateries in Mumbai. But I never had the chance to be there and try out anything at Ram Ashraya. But today finally I landed there and that too during lunch time. The place is so famous and I was always wanted to be there. I just made my mind that today I will go to Ram Ashraya and thus I held a cab at Dadar and told the cabbie, Ram Ashraya hotel Matunga. He took me straight there, no questions or directions asked.

Ram Ashraya serves South Indian vegetarian food. The place was packed with few people waiting to be seated. I got a place to sit after 5 minutes. I guessed that the most people were regulars because they were just ordering what they wanted to have. Looking here and there I could see the food items list written next to the kitchen wall. I checked what others were having too. In my table one was having Bisi Bele Bhat and the other was having Puri with Korma. Since I had so much about their Dosas I wanted to try out a dosa. But last minute I opted for a Neer dosa to start with. It took about 7-10 minutes and I thought the waiter forgot about my order! He got me a piping hot Neer dosa with chutney, sambhar, a red chutney and a small katori of grated coconut which was sweetened. I thought of saving the sweet thing to the last.
Neer Dosa with the Chutneys & Sambhar

Then I asked for a vada with rasam. I did that deliberately because I am very particular about Rasam. I order rasam only in very few places and some places serving "South Indian" cuisine also cannot do justice to a simple rasam. It's so easy to get the rasam wrong. Ram Ashraya did not disappoint at all. I loved the Rasam and the vada too.
Vada with rasam

I saw one of the persons in my table order for Pineapple sheera. That looked yum and could smell the ghee already. But I did not have any today. Instead I asked for a cup of filter coffee. It was really good, not too strong and not too sweet. Just perfect.
Filter Kapi

This decision to go and have lunch at Ram Ashraya did not disappoint me at all. This is a simple no nonsense place serving what they claim to be good at. Trust me, they are not exaggerating. I have every plan of going to back to try out the other dishes in the menu soon.

Oh yeah, when the bill came, I had to check again. Rs.109/- for a Neer Dosa, Rasam Vada and an awesome filter coffee! Wow.

Ram Ashray Matunga

Friday, February 5, 2016

Goa in Monsoon - A tragicomic memory.

Love is better when you Laugh together!

Goa in monsoon - that's what both P and I wanted to do for a long time. So finally in 2013, we planned ahead and booked a train to Goa during July sometime. As luck would have it, that year monsoon decided to play hide and seek in Mumbai. It was hardly raining and when we got into the train, we were literally chasing the rain. We boarded the train from Dadar station early in the morning at around 7/7.30am. Even as the train moved out of the city limits we could make out the signs of a sparse monsoon. So much for our much awaited train to Goa during monsoons! We were already disappointed. The train moved through the green paddies and villages with drops of rain here and there. But too few and far between.  Adding to our disappointment was the fact that the train was running late by hour or so.  The only saving grace was the food on the train. We decided to at least to enjoy the hot and fresh medu vadas, bread pakodas, and vada pavs on the train. Finally after 12 hours of a long and tiring train journey we reached Goa in the evening. By that time the romantic idea of being in Goa during the rains had died a sad death!

Now to the hotel that P had pre booked. Since it was only for 2 nights, we thought of staying near the most happening part of Goa, near Baga beach. In all our previous and even later trips to Goa, we always stay somewhere else deliberately avoiding the over crowded Baga and Calangute beaches. We reached the hotel, checked in and after a shower headed out for dinner. As we stepped out of the hotel, we found a place to rent a bike and promptly rented a scooter. Had dinner in a quiet place and came to hotel and went to sleep.

Next morning we went to restaurant for breakfast. The room rate was inclusive of breakfast it was mentioned when we sent the booking request. There was no buffet. Accepted, since it was officially off season no buffet. The server gave us 2 slices each and a cup of tea. We asked him "What about breakfast?" He nonchalantly replied "This is breakfast." WHAT? Now that's it. 2 slices and a cup of tea cannot be passed off as breakfast in a hotel. That too in the most touristy area of one of the most touristy states of India. Unacceptable. P went to the manager and told him that. Manager refused to understand or acknowledge what we were trying to say. He kept saying the same thing - this is what we offer as breakfast. Then he called someone and handed over the phone to P saying please speak to our ma'm. P tried his best to make the lady at the other end understand. But the lady refused again and again and asked us to leave the hotel if we didn't like what they were offering. We both were dumbfounded. We were being thrown out of a hotel and we were not even shouting or creating a ruckus. Since we were asked to pay at the hotel, we offered the room rent for one night. The manager refused that again. We insisted but he was adamant that his "ma'm" asked us to leave and instructed him not to accept any money from us. Finally we came to our room, packed our bags and left on the rented scooter parked outside the hotel. Both P and I were quiet and shocked at what had just happened. He just rode the scooter and I sat on the pillion quietly. He kept driving and I didnot ask where were we going. We reached Anjuna and he stopped. Both got down from the scooter, looked at each other and burst out laughing - we were just thrown out of a hotel for asking for breakfast. Both of us have been to so many places across the country, stayed in so many hotels, from homestays to 5 stars; but this had never happened. We felt like college kids who were thrown out from a hotel for not having money to pay. At last P said " They have thrown us out for asking for breakfast. Now let's go and atleast have a hearty brunch somewhere."

Rest is short. We came back to Baga, returned the scooter and ate out hearts out at Britto's. We booked flight tickets for the same day and flew back by 3pm. And guess what, while on our way to the Dabolim airport, it started pouring and it poured and poured till we reached airport. It was as if the sky also cracked up with laughter with us.

This is not Baga..But Ashwem beach in Goa.

Life sometimes throws lemons at you and both I and P firmly believe that it's up to us whether to make lemonade or use it for tequila shots. But we both agree that the lemons must not get wasted.

“This post is a part of #LoveAndLaughter activity at BlogAdda in association with Caratlane.”

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Jaluk Diya Murgi Mangxo / Pepper Chicken

Middle of the week and I am bitten by the "cook something special but simple" bug. While coming back from work, I could feel the bug stirring inside. So little brain storming and zeroed upon Pepper Chicken. Simple Axomiya / Assamese style Pepper chicken or "Jaluk diya murgi mangxo " as say in Assam. That's something my mother used to make during winters. And since this time Mumbai experienced more winter than ever and before it completely bids adieu, I thought let's cook this.

So here it goes : - 

Ingredients ::

Half kg Chicken cut into medium pieces.
I used 2 table spoon of mustard oil and one tea spoon of turmeric powder to marinade the chicken pieces for about 20 minutes.

2 medium onions sliced
1 tea spoon of Ginger & Garlic paste
2 medium potatoes cut into big pieces.
1 Green chili chopped.
2 table spoon Mustard oil to cook.
1 tea spoon of freshly grounded black pepper.

Salt as per taste.

Heat oil in a kedahi. We in Assam use Mustard oil, hence I used the same. Make sure that the oil is properly heat. Add the sliced onions and cook till brown. Add ginger garlic paste and cook till everything is mixed. Since I had used turmeric to marinade the chicken, I did not use it again.

Put the chicken pieces into this onion, ginger garlic mixture and mix everything well. Add the potato pieces. In Assam, potato in chicken and mutton is a common ingredient. It's just there and no one questions that. Cook the chicken pieces in it for 10 minutes. Add the green chili and pour half cup of warm water. Give everything a thorough stir and put the lid. Put the heat to low and let the chicken cook for about 15 minutes. 

After 15 minutes check if the chicken pieces are cooked. If they are tender, time to add the star of the dish - grounded black pepper. Mix everything thoroughly but carefully. Turn on the heat and let this cook for 5 minutes. Serve hot with steamed rice or chapatti.

Jaluk diya mangxo