Monday, October 29, 2012

Scarlet Pimpernel, the man!

When I first read Scarlet Pimpernel by Baronness Orczy in high school, I had this huge crush on the protagonist's character. Now, 12 years, a marriage and a baby later, re-reading the book with the husband is indeed exciting all over again, but no more crush on the dashing Scarlet Pimpernel AKA Sir Percy Blakeney!

Monday, January 23, 2012

A new experiment: Baking bread

Finally I bought a combination oven (microwave + convection + grill), a Samsung CE117AE-S model, to start my long awaited baking experiments.

The inauguration was done by our friends Aarthi, her mom-in-law and Prathiba with a yummy Chocolate cake over the last weekend.

Today was my first solo experiment, trying to bake bread. The recipe I used was from a personal finance blog :) Trent@TheSimpleDollar has this popular post Homemade Bread: Cheap, Delicious, Healthy, and Easier Than You Think. Followed the steps quite religiously and here is the outcome:



Looks good to me, and the house smells so delicious right now. I hope it tastes good too :-p

My take from this first time bread making:
  • The effort required is not huge at all. Totally I spent about half an hour in activating the yeast, preparing the dough, kneading it, punching it down, preparing the oven, etc.
  • But the process takes long time, about 3 hours, though your attention is required only for about half an hour.
  • Your kitchen work top can get messy, so some cleaning is necessary afterwards.
  • If you can buy yeast in bulk, and not the sachets which I bought (3 sachets for $3.5), it might be more economical to make bread at home regularly.
  • Just to get the aroma lingering around is worth making the bread!

Friday, June 26, 2009

Vegan Wagon - Part II

So, how is my vegan wagon of almost a month? This is a sequel to my last post.

I have an enthusiastic partner to try the vegan way, and that is my husband. Any initiative or undertaking is definitely much more sustainable when you have a partner who is equally enthusiastic and like-minded. Guess that's behind the "gym buddy" concept, huh?

That apart, our Vegan lifestyle changes:
We have decided to be domestic vegans. That is, no dairy consumption at home but we might relax this when socializing, if need be. Because, we don't want to create a fuss when we dine out with friends if there is no vegan food available. Being vegetarians already, when we dine out with friends, the places that don't have vegetarian choices are automatically out of question. If we place tighter constraints, it would be unfair to the people we go out with, and eventually going out might not be fun anymore with us. Man is a social animal, ain't he?

We don't buy dairy milk anymore. It's Soy milk and Rice milk instead.

We have stopped fermenting curds. Curd is an integral part of a south Indian meal. I thought that would be the most difficult thing to let go of, but surprisingly, it has not been difficult.

To substitute for the calcium cut, we have mandated green leafy vegetables regularly, for now its 2 times a week, thinking of making it daily. I was someone who hated green leaves for food. After learning about its health benefits and having grown out of the "picky-eating child"(this was the difficult part, believe me) syndrome, I am quite Ok to eat them now, and regularly, no less!
For those uninitiated, visit Health Benefits of Green Leafy Vegetables.

And, we have also increased the fruit consumption, at least one fruit a day and a glass of fruit juice. Just to not take chances!

Since our bodies have gotten used to dairy products for so long, and for so many centuries(for the mankind), we don't know if there would be any ill-effects out of rejecting it. But research points otherwise.

I stumbled upon an interesting concept of producing silk without killing the silk worms, called Ahimsa Silk. Quite interesting to read about the concept, technique of producing silk without killing the silkworms, and the patent. Do browse through the website. The downside of silk produced this way: it's less lustrous than the traditional silk, heck, less lustrous is a much better proposition than having 7500 silkworms killed for a single silk sari.

And that makes my journey into Vegan-ism much smoother, I may after all not be required to explain and re-explain to my resolute mother(who, by the way, thinks I am crazy to become a vegan) as to why I refuse to buy silk anymore.

Monday, June 08, 2009

The Vegan Wagon

Last week I came across an article on milk, called the milk letter, written by a doctor, Robert M. Kradjian. This well written article tries to claim why cow's milk is not at all necessary for humans, and also about the ill effects of consuming dairy milk. The article is long, but worth a read.

Apart from the health reasons and justifications, I was more struck by the ethical part of it.
A cow's milk is for its calf, as much a human mother's milk is for her baby. How about depriving a baby of his/her mother's milk and using that milk to feed kittens and puppies?
Milk has been an important part of the diet all over the world for a long time. I heard some African tribes do not consume milk.

In India, or rather in India-of-the-olden-days, cattle were treated as a part of the family. While bulls worked in the agricultural fields, cows gave milk, after the calves had their share. Cows were revered as "Gomatha" or the 'mother cow'. The idea was that, after a baby weans from mother's milk, he/she starts drinking cow's milk, and this habit is to stay for life. So in this sense, the cow that provides milk becomes a mother of sorts, for life. The cattle were always treated respectfully, festivals were held in their honor, so on and so forth. You can still find this reverence and culture in rural parts of India.

Sadly, none of this is true in the modern dairy industry. The cows are continuously and artificially impregnated, they are injected with Bovine growth hormones(traces of which are excreted in the milk), if the calves are male, they are sent to slaughter houses, and when the cows had had their time in producing milk, and are no more useful, they are queued up to the slaughterhouse.

I have been a vegetarian for 9 years now. Getting educated on all this, it doesn't feel adequate at all.
Switching from vegetarianism to vegan-ism does not sound easy. "I wanna be a vegetarian" - many people understand that, but if you say, "I wanna become a vegan" - I doubt it.

I love butter, cheese, panneer, ghee, curd, ice creams, pizza, pasta, Gulab Jamun, Pal Payasam and many more food items that contain dairy products. I don't particularly like drinking milk or milk-coffee/tea, and I don't drink these regularly either.

Mayo Clinic has an article on its portal which discusses the vegetarian and vegan diets, and how to make up the diet to have required nutrients, et al. Thats one up in the hope ladder.

If the primary reason to give up dairy products is the cruelty meted out to the animals in the name of human consumption, I guess leather, silk and wool also will have to go.

Hmm, Sounds like a big social exercise. But I am ready for it. I am waiting to see how it goes.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Libraries in Singapore

One of the many things I fell in love with in Singapore is its library system.

I used to be a book-worm during school days. It was quite difficult for me to balance between various activities when I d a book at hand, I had to finish it! So, during times when I needed to devote my time to more important things, I would take care not to start reading new books.

When I was 7-15, I used to read mostly, magazines and newspapers, from 16-~20, it was predominantly fiction. And then, I guess there was a short break to my voracious reading habit. Thanks to the public libraries here in Singapore, I've again started back on reading, but now its moderated and my readings are diversified, I don't read only fiction these days.

Almost all neighborhoods in Singapore have a library, either public libraries, or bigger regional libraries. The national library at Bugis is the biggest one. The value the library adds to the life of the residents is quite remarkable. For citizens and Permanent residents, the library membership is free(with a small joining fee, though). You pay a yearly premium only if you opt for premium membership, with which you could borrow audio-visual material apart from books.

Apart from the fundamental idea of the libraries, i.e. borrowing from a huge collection of books, I find the atmosphere at the libraries itself to be quite a nice experience.

A typical scene at the library:
The floor at ground level would house the 'Kids' section, wherein you can see toddlers to primary school children in various levels of their "reading habits", some getting introduced to the whole amazing world of books, some having a parent reading aloud to them, some browsing through the colorful illustrations in the books, some listening to a voluntary story-teller. I would say that's a nice way for kids to start reading from a young age.

All across the library you could spot school kids doing their home-work, assignments, projects, with a pile of reference books in front of them, some on desks and some squatting on floors. Access to so much material is really a catalyst to independent reading and research.

Every library has one activity or the other going on all the time. The last time I went to Jurong East Regional Library, I saw this campaign to collect old spectacles, in order to donate to less fortunate people around the world who cannot afford spectacles. I've seen friends and relatives discard spectacles for switching to cooler frames or contact lenses, this sounds like a sensible way to put your old specs to use than stashing it away in an old drawer.

I've seen families coming to library, like some family outing. Being someone who loves books, all this seems quite enchanting.

One downside about libraries here(rather, any place in Singapore), they are way too cold. The aircon temperature is set very low, you definitely need a sweater or a jacket if you intend to stay longer.

To sum up, I love libraries in Singapore. For that matter, I would love libraries anywhere in the world, if they are well-maintained, well-stocked, and provide a stimulating environment to read.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

New Kid on the Block - II

Kangal Irandaal

Arithmetic Progression

BJP?

Ray of Hope

The Reluctant Kiss!


Saturday, January 17, 2009

New Kid on the Block!

Concrete Corridors

Cherry Berry

Rock Climbing for Toddlers

Pebble Walk, anyone?

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Friday, December 19, 2008

What a year!

Hi folks,

After my starting to blog, this is the longest hiatus I've taken, not without reasons though.

Lots of changes in life this year and they gave me a hands full.

Used to be in India. Not anymore.
Used to be working. Not anymore.
Used to be single. Not anymore.

In a span of 20 days in July, I got married(to my best friend), quit my job, moved to another country and started going to school for my Masters studies.

So, you see, I had little time for everything else.

Initially, I started blogging to share/record my experiences, ramble about any random feeling I might go through, just to yap any sense/nonsense. But now that I have my hubby to whom I do all these things to, blogging has not been so very necessary for the same purposes in the recent past.

But I do want to keep writing. Maybe with a different flavor. Here's a hi5 to my restarting blogging!

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Messy!

You could call some days happy, some sad, some even in-between.

 

For me, today has been a messy day, till now.

 

After breakfast, I decided to have a lime & mint juice, and somehow manage to feed my salwar too.

 

For the afternoon lunch, the soup I had was coriander & garlic soup. I am this person who cannot talk without gesticulations. I was rattling a lot of non-sense to Vidya, my team-mate and friend, while having soup.

No prizes for guessing, I spilt the soup all over my salwar and some on Vidya’s too. Yikes. Before you start wondering what a messy person I am, I usually concentrate on my food religiously, not letting go off even one morsel’s taste away. I love eating tasty food, and consciously enjoy the gustatory sensations they transmit.

 

Now here I am, smelling of a combination of Eva Deo + Archies Chill! Perfume + lime + mint + coriander + garlic.

 

God bless my cubicle-mates.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Random ramblings

1. Been shuttling between Coimbatore and Bangalore like crazy. I think I 'll get something called train lag one of these days.

2. Finally saw Sivaji. RajniKanth should consider retiring, or at least not pair up with heroines as young as his daughters or even younger. And the movie stole my 'cool'. Yeh, I am someone who uses cool in every other sentence. Once when a friend of mine told me that her father was ill, I replied 'cool' and cursed myself for that for a week.

3. It's raining crazy in Coimbatore. And it brought me a gift - what else, common cold.

4. Diwali is day after tomorrow. Bangalore sucks, absolutely no crackers and the place is QUIET. And added to that I am home alone. House-mates are gone on their vacations. I'll be going to Cbe tomorrow and reach early morning on Diwali, right in time for a Ganga snaanam.

5. It seems mom has made all my favourite Diwali savouries and those being Murukku, Ribbon Pakoda, Adhirasam, Cashew cake, Halwa, Gulab Jamun. Waiting!!!

6. Just discovered that maintaing a wedding website is getting popular, visited a few 'xwedsy.com' kinda websites, and they were cool!

7. An interesting thing I did last weekend was to read "Garuda Puranam". Yeah, the same one that is referred to in Anniyan. An intriguing book. It got me thinking into what are all the paavams and punniyams(good and bad deeds) I have done and that caught me confused.

8. Work is getting interesting after quite some time.

9. Met sissy after 2 full months.

10. Am yearning for an opportunity to wield the camera, and shoot some shots(another episode of misadventures?). Should do that.

11. Something I started all by myself a few months back, looms large in front of me asking some soul searching questions, and I am digging to find the answers.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Kannada songs!

Never did I think I would be hooked on to Kannada songs. I was never exposed to Kannada songs for the first 21 years of my life, despite that being the language of a neighboring state. But I have heard quite a few Malayalam and Telugu songs, which are also from neighboring states.

Well, there are some Kannada songs, recent ones, which are so so so nice. The list:

1. Mungaaru Maleye - Mungaaru Male
2. Anisuthidhe - Mungaaru Male
3. Araluthiru - Mungaaru Male
4. Yeno On tharaah - Hudugaata
5. Ninnindale - Milana

Somebody please pull the song #5 out of my head now!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Operation 'Garbage Disposal'

I and three of my friends, who were my classmates, who are also my colleagues live under one roof since last December.

In the beginning, every house keeping job was done so enthusiastically and regularly by all the four of us. And then you know what follows, 'dailies' became 'weeklies', and 'weeklies' became 'monthlies'.

Previously we used to dispose our garbage daily. Now the frequency is like, once in 3-4 days. But somehow, this time, the gap got wider, a little over 1 week. Oh no, we are not insensitive, it was just that whenever the garbage covers were filled, we'd tie them and put in an alcove in the kitchen. Tonight I thought I'll collect all the garbage and place it near the door, so that we can dispose it off, the first thing in the morning.

I have to tell you that the fruits consumption in our house is enormous. Most of our garbage is composed of skins of Bananas, oranges, sweet limes, and seed chambers of pomes.

And we know what happens when these are left to rot for a week. Putrescence, of course. I just couldn't bear the odour, and was like, "Yuck, yikes, chee", hearing these sounds, Ramya came to the kitchen to see what was going on, and she too joined in the operation "Garbage disposal". We counted 5 garbage bags, and around two of them were the most odoriferous. And it was beyond the tolerance levels of our olfactory systems. I am wondering how we did not get asphyxiated. So we wrapped towels and dupattas around our faces, much like some terrorists.

We succeded in putting the garbage covers in bigger bags for disposal. But still, we could see that the place was smelling like a compost pit. The time was past 12:00 midnight, and we can put them away only tomorrow morning, but no, both of us did not want anything to do with the noisome stench again next morning, but anyway we will have to carry them out. So we decided we'll perfume the garbage bags.

I brought in my ZeroOne and she brought in her Lomani(which she bought from Paris, no less!) to perfume our garbage. There we were, Ramya and I, in our terrorist face masks, at 12:00 in the midnight perfuming our garbage bags! I wish someone had taken pictures of the sight! Now, that place where we have put those bags smells exotic with a fragrance very desirable!

Now we both know, we'll dispose off the garbage DAILY. YEah, we mean DAILY.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

The global village

A friend of mine traveled to France some time back, and see what she clicked on one of the streets of Paris:


[Click for a larger view]

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Chak de, India!

I have to record this before the excitement wears off. I just watched the match, the finals between India and Pakistan in the Twenty20 World Championship Tournament. Boy, What a match!

 

I have not been actively following Cricket for quite some time. I watched only a couple of matches of this twenty20, The Indo-Aus Semifinals and Indo-Pak finals. Awesome matches, in terms of thrill, energy and suspense. The best part is that I watched the finals match at office on big screen and with some 200 colleagues. So much fun, it was. I always thought watching cricket matches with my mom was the best fun, for all the extemporaneous comments my mom make. This was no less. Too much verve and witty comments, most of my friends got nostalgic about their college hostel days. Apparently the scene resembled that. But I have never been in hostel before, during my studies. So it was new to me.

 

The fun we had was topped by India's spectacular victory. Even if India had lost, it would still have been a memorable match.